House of Commons Hansard #71 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was spam.

Topics

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence for some insight. The last time he spoke, Stefano was having a birthday. He always talks about family.

In talking about family, there is the issue of the harm that is being done already and the problem that we are trying to address and why this is also a public safety and security issue, as well as a nuisance issue that we are dealing with.

Would the member care to comment on the dimensions of the problem and why it is so important that we get this legislation in place.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for recognizing that in this place we can talk about human things and family, as well as the important things of legislation because the two are very often intertwined.

I spoke about Stefano last time. This time let me talk about Matteo. Matteo is only about 20 months old but he is celebrating, in the culture that I come from, his name day. His name day is, of course, St. Matthew. I do not know whether he is watching. He is probably missing his grandfather, I hope. However, as the member said, it is important to mix together the evolution of our society.

As I said a few moments ago, our society has moved in leaps and bounds. There is exponential growth in a commercial activity associated with Internet usage, there is exponential growth in the dissemination of knowledge and there is exponential growth in the use of that knowledge for the realization of one's personal ambition and, because we are in this place, of our collective and national ambition.

We are so far behind from a legislative perspective that some people could say that Canada, which I think the parliamentary secretary acknowledged, is still the wild west of the western world in terms of Internet usage, Internet regulation, the protection of privacy, the protection of commerce and the establishment of an environment for productive and competitive businesses and relationships.

One of our NDP colleagues talked about online governments. That is one of the initiatives that was begun by members of the Liberal caucus. I think the member for Mississauga South was a part of that, just a few short years ago. All of his work and the work of that caucus went to nil because the current government decided to go to sleep for the last five and a half years.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a very simple question. One can always criticize the government for being so slow regarding a bill like this one. The task force was created in 2004 and the final report was released in 2005. Here we are in 2010 and spam has been around for quite some time.

We have a task force that has presented interesting ideas and possible solutions. We would really like the Minister of Finance to build on the work already done on this file. Consultations have been done, but we have to wonder how reliable they are. Consultations are currently underway for the next budget.

Should creating task forces like that one, which focus on very specific issues, not be the way to go, as well as using new technology, in order to allow the general public to share their opinions on things like transport, fisheries, local and regional development, and any other issues?

This example shows that when the government takes an issue seriously, participates in the process and moves more swiftly than it has in this case, we can really achieve something.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for once again explaining to us the challenge inherent in any government bill.

Six or seven years ago, the working group was tasked with finding ways to implement a bill that would have achieved something our colleague believes is desirable for Canadians. In other words, the Minister of Finance should have received a call from the then-minister of Industry giving him the funding to carry out the project. The minister at the time was responsible for establishing a timeline and conducting the necessary analysis to justify costs. The Industry minister at the time, like the current Minister of Industry, always had to work with other ministers to convince the Minister of Finance, who was responsible for allocating financial resources.

I do not know if the current minister is inspired enough to do this. He is always talking about the problem of the coalitions of knowledgeable people. I find it uninspiring when I see that he has had several opportunities to supply the resources our colleague was talking about a few minutes ago.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-28 introduces measures that people and businesses have been waiting for for a long time. The government also put this measure forward as Bill C-27. Now we are dealing with Bill C-28.

I asked this question earlier, but I would like to hear the member's opinion, which may differ from that of the NDP member. Why does he think it took so long to get to Bill C-28?

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, my reply will be brief. As a legislator, I am frustrated because we already had a plan. After waiting four and a half years, almost five years, the government is finally waking up. With hints of an election in the air, the government wants to give the impression that it is responding to the public's demands. I believe that the government is not yet convinced, as it has not been for the past five years. It is that simple. There was no interest in promoting the interests of Canadians no matter where they live. The Internet is international—

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Unfortunately, we do not have time to hear any more comments.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-28, which has a slightly misleading title because I do not know if we will really be able to eliminate spam. It is called the “fighting Internet and wireless spam act”. I hope we will be able to fight spam and eliminate it, but it will not be easy to completely block fraudsters and dishonest people. These people inundate our email with spam.

We listened to a number of speeches, including that of my illustrious colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, the Bloc Québécois industry critic, who has worked very hard on this file. His speech was very eloquent and provided a good explanation of the multi-faceted manner in which this scourge attacks businesses, offices, service providers and all those in business. I will repeat, it is a real scourge.

I remember very well that when I arrived here on Parliament Hill, not as a member of Parliament, but as an assistant, it was the first time that I had to work so much with computers. My previous job had me working with computers only occasionally. I was shocked by the number of spam messages and how much of our time they took up every day. I imagine that that is still the case for many businesses. Here in the House of Commons, and we must give credit to our tech team, we get far fewer spam messages. I will not go into detail, but we were getting some completely unacceptable emails. In some cases, pop-ups would take over our computers and sometimes cause them to freeze. The computers were frozen, not us. It was a serious problem.

The bill is creating a new electronic commerce protection act to set limits on the sending of spam. Spam can be defined as a commercial electronic message sent without the express consent of the recipient. It can be any commercial electronic message, any text, audio, voice or visual message sent by any means of telecommunication. Email was mentioned earlier, but there is also cellular phone text messaging—which is popular with young people—and instant messaging. Based on the content, it is reasonable to conclude that the purpose of the message is to encourage participation in commercial activity. That is the case, of course, with electronic messages that offer to purchase, sell, barter or lease a product, good, service, land or an interest or right in land, or offer a business, investment or gaming opportunity.

The Bloc Québécois is in favour of the principle of Bill C-28. As was mentioned earlier, it is new legislation that specifically targets unsolicited commercial electronic messages. We need this new legislation, and it has long been requested by society as a whole. The members who spoke before me said that it took a ridiculously long time for the government to wake up and put a real policy in place.

This bill is not yet in effect. It must be examined in committee. A task force has been studying the issue since 2004. We would have expected it to be quicker. These kinds of emails are costing us billions of dollars.

Nevertheless, the Bloc Québécois is pleased to see that Bill C-28 takes into account most of the recommendations in the final report of the task force on spam. However, we are not pleased that the legislative process took four long years.

Consideration of the bill in committee should give many industry stakeholders and consumer protection groups an opportunity to express their views on the new electronic commerce protection legislation created by Bill C-28.

I would now like to go over how Bill C-28 came about. First of all, the task force on spam was struck in 2004 to look into this problem and find ways of dealing with it. It brought together Internet service providers, as well as electronic marketing experts and government and consumer representatives. Consumers are often the main victims of spam.

I am thinking of fraud spam primarily. For instance, a bank or credit union asks someone to provide all of his or her contact information because of a bogus problem. I will come back to that. I will no doubt have time at a later date.

I am pleased to say that the Bloc Québécois supports the principle of this bill.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

When this bill is brought forth again in the House, the hon. member will have 15 minutes left.

The House resumed from September 23 consideration of the motion that Bill C-5, An Act to amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

It being 6:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the second reading stage of Bill C-5.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #89

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) Act
Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, last May I asked the minister, while world attention was focused on the devastating offshore oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana, if the Canadian government was prepared should such a disastrous oil spill hit our Arctic waters from a ship or drill rig.

I also pointed out that with increased drilling activities in waters adjacent to ours, the risk of such an incident would increase, and that the Canadian government has to be prepared for a spill that could originate in international waters and that oil spills do not recognize jurisdictional boundaries.

It was truly disappointing to hear in the government's response to my questions that it was not aware of what other countries were doing in neighbouring Arctic waters, and it did not answer what it expected to do to deal with an oil spill in Arctic waters or what to do if that oil spill would get under Arctic ice.

Not getting any answers from the minister, I raised the issue again as a question on the order paper. It will surprise members to learn that since 2006, to date, the Government of Canada has spent a total of approximately $10.25 million on research and development on methods to deal with offshore blowouts and offshore spills, including possible events in Arctic waters.

It was $10.25 million over the past five years. Let me put that in perspective. The United States government spends $7 million yearly in such research, and in fact used to spend twice as much. Except for the coast of Alaska, it has nowhere near the Arctic coastline and territory that we have.

Initial estimates from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico placed the damage in the billions of dollars. BP has set aside $500 million in an effort to respond to concerns over the effects of the oil spill on the U.S. coast; $25 million of that money has been donated for research to the Florida Institute of Oceanography. The oil industry in the gulf has now cooperated with contributions of millions of dollars for the research to help ensure this disaster of unprecedented proportions does not happen again. As the Beaufort project determined in the 1970s, cleaning up oil spills in ice-covered waters is even more challenging.

In his answer, the minister should have pointed out that money has been spent by Canada to understand seabed conditions in order to improve the design of drilling wells, contribute to the overall prevention of an offshore blowout, quantify the effect of chemical dispersants on oil spills, record the behaviour of oil spills in cold waters and broken ice, and study the biological effects of oil dispersants on marine populations, among others.

It is a good start, but all these studies confirm one thing that northerners understand: there is not enough known about oil spills in Arctic waters. There is not enough being done. For that reason, the government should not be looking at any immediate drilling activity and should be directing more funds for research efforts, equipment and supplies, et cetera, recommended by the upcoming National Energy Board review.

The departments have outlined some levels of equipment that could contain small spills around Arctic communities, and this is helpful. However, what would they do to deal with a spill of the magnitude of the Exxon Valdez or the gulf?

Once again I ask, will the government table its plan to deal with an unfortunate but potentially disastrous oil spill in the Arctic from a ship or a drilling rig, originating in either Canadian or foreign waters?