House of Commons Hansard #135 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Statements by Minister Regarding KAIROS Funding
Privilege
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief.

I appreciate the member saying that all of the facts are on the table and that he is ready to vote. I just want to make sure that I have the facts right. My colleague does not have to answer the following, because it is not a question.

I am assuming that the form signed by CIDA went to the minister, who then signed it some time later. Some time later, the “not” was put in. If that is not true, then I hope the member will clarify this, but we are assuming it is true in this situation. The minister signed it, having at one time intended to approve it, and then later a “not” was put in.

Second, the member said he had put all of the facts on the table so that we can make a decision. However, now that it is a major parliamentary issue, could he let the House know who actually put the “not” in? I am sure he knows that.

Statements by Minister Regarding KAIROS Funding
Privilege
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I have heard enough on this issue for now. This is not a debate. Question period was at 2:15 p.m. and there will be another one tomorrow. If members have these types of specific questions, they can raise them then.

We are going to move on. I have heard from several members and not everything being raised is actually substantive to the question of privilege, so I am hesitant to give the floor to the member, but if he assures me he has something pertinent to this substantive question of privilege, I will hear him.

Statements by Minister Regarding KAIROS Funding
Privilege
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, privileges need to be taken very seriously. When a member stands up and raises the issue of privilege, meaning that someone has really abused a rule within the chamber, and the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader chooses at 6 o'clock to start talking about a privilege that has been talked about inside this chamber, I would suggest that it just adds more confusion to the issue.

Mr. Speaker, if one starts to acknowledge the parliamentary secretary to just stand up to say what he thinks or just to read a statement, I do not see how that clarifies the issue. If anything, he put more of a cloud of confusion over it.

The Prime Minister--

Statements by Minister Regarding KAIROS Funding
Privilege
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order.

I am going to stop the member there. I have not heard anything that would add to the subject before the Chair. It is not unusual to have members at various times of the day come in and argue points on questions of privilege. We will move on.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Churchill.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, be read the third time and passed, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, while I was preparing to speak to Bill C-42, I found it quite shocking that the government put forward a motion for closure just a few minutes ago.

The comments by the parliamentary secretary who prefaced that motion were equally problematic. He referred to the need to move on, that this was fearmongering and that Canadians are not concerned about the substance of Bill C-42, something I feel is both problematic and unsubstantiated.

When speaking with Canadians, issues of privacy in an increasingly globalized world are very much issues of concern. Whether it is the Internet, travel that many of us do in a much bigger way, or the way we move around in general across our country and around the world, the security of Canadians, our information and privacy is something we value.

As Canadians, we also have confidence in our government to protect that security. Unfortunately, Bill C-42, a bill that the government supports, flies in the face of the sense of security that Canadians want and the security that is tied in with the respect for privacy that they feel is critical. We are seeing the government shrug its shoulders and say the U.S. is making it do this, so this is how it goes.

This speaks overall to a larger question of sovereignty and the extent to which we stand up as a sovereign country and say that we have real problems with what is being asked of us, we do not feel that pieces of this legislation are in line with establishing a safer, more secure world and, in fact, the bill is rife with problems, gaps and challenges that we cannot even predict properly in terms of what kind of trouble they could bring.

Whether it is in committee or here in the House, I am proud to stand as a member of the NDP in saying that we need to put a stop to the bill. We need to go back to the drawing table to find a way of securing people's privacy, working toward more secure travel and standing up to the U.S. government, which has not only made clear what it wants but, quite frankly, has threatened our freedom of mobility as Canadians if we do not comply with what it wants. Many Canadians would want to see their government show some courage on this and stand up for our sovereignty on something that is as critical as individual Canadians' privacy.

The bill is problematic for many reasons and that is why we in the NDP are saying the debate ought not end and that we need to go back to the drawing board. For example, the information forwarded as a result of this bill would be the passenger name records, which are files travel agents create when they book vacations. These records can include credit card information, who people are travelling with, their hotels, other booking information such as tours or rental cars or any serious medical conditions of passengers.

Why would this information be pertinent? Who people are travelling with, what hotels they are staying in, or what tours they decide to take, whether it is sightseeing, snorkelling or whatever people do during their holidays, it is a completely ridiculous notion that this somehow has to do with maintaining national or international security.

Even medical conditions being shared is something we know can be problematic for many people. Without proper regulation as to who might access this information, potential employers or corporate actors could use such information not only in a problematic way but in malicious ways as well.

Other problematic points include that the information collected can be retained by the United States for up to 40 years. This information may be forwarded to the security service of a third nation beyond the U.S. without the consent or notification of the other signatories.

It has been referenced in many cases in this House. We have seen how this has backfired in such a horrific way in the case of Mr. Maher Arar, someone who went through an incredible trauma. He has shared his story with our country. The government took a stand to compensate him, but we still see that the U.S. refuses to take him off the list. If this is the partner we are supposed to be reasonably dealing with to protect our own citizens, we can just go to past experience to find out quite quickly that a great deal of harm can be done by this kind of legislation.

Furthermore, no person may know what information is being held about him or her by the United States and may not correct that information if there are errors. Any Canadian who would hear this would be horrified to know that there would not be the opportunity to correct the record, whether it is the mix-up of a name, or a whole host of information that is going to be out there. The failure to recognize this as a gap, as potential for real trouble and not just for the individual, but for families, communities and Canadians in general, that their government would not stand up and say this is wrong, is quite shocking.

To bring closure to such a serious debate around security and privacy and recognizing that the two are not at opposite ends but in fact can complement each other, something that is not in Bill C-42, is certainly in line with what we have seen from the government time and again. It is an effort to silence debate and muzzle those who are speaking out against what is being said on behalf of Canadians. The effort is to silence those speaking based on past practices and experience and research by qualified witnesses who have said there are gaps that need to be looked at. We also need to recognize that pressure is being put on us as the Canadian Parliament by the United States. Why can we as a sovereign country not stand up and say this is wrong? It puts our citizens at risk. It is rife with problems and can only be problematic in the future. We need to look at it.

Whether it is in terms of the government's muzzling of debate through prorogation, whether it is through its actions on important parts of our country, whether it is the census, the forced exodus of senior officials who have questioned the government's agenda, all we have seen is an effort to silence and muzzle time and again. The reasoning brought out is that somehow it is fearmongering or somehow Canadians do not think this. This comes from a party that has spoken for the importance of respecting individuals' privacy and respecting Canadian citizens. This is at the heart of respecting Canadian citizens and their rights. They feel this is a country that respects privacy and security and says we are not going to be put at risk and we are not going to be threatened by the U.S.

This is not the only example of this government's failing to stand up for us as a sovereign country. We see this on economic issues time and again. The House will have heard that I have stood up to fight for my home community which is suffering at the hands of a foreign takeover gone wrong by Vale, which announced that it would close the smelter and refinery in my hometown of Thompson. It is an unnecessary battle given that the reason we are at this juncture is because the government opened the door to the sale of a profitable Canadian company to a resource that is integral to us as a sovereign country and is now being called upon to stand up for Canadian workers, for Canadian people, and to stand up for our sovereignty, whether it is in terms of our economy, our resources, or our privacy.

That is what Canadians expect from their government and it is definitely not what we see with this closure motion or with Bill C-42.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, this is a difficult issue for Canadians. It is an issue that will have numerous ramifications, one of them being the proposed perimeter security deal that the United States president and our Prime Minister have entered into.

Those details have not been made available to Parliament and we do not really understand how that particular information is going to be given up, whether we are going to be put in a position where our security services will be sharing information on flights within Canada with a secure perimeter with the United States again.

It is interesting to note that the United States gave an exemption to domestic flights that overfly the United States. What was behind that? Did the United States give that exemption because in the future we will be looking at a more complete information sharing deal on all passengers in Canada and this is just simply one part of it that has to be completed?

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for the work that he has done on behalf of our party as the MP for Western Arctic and as our critic on transportation issues. He has worked tirelessly going through this legislation, asking the tough questions, and opposing it.

What we see here is part of that slippery slope in seeing the government's failure to stand up to the U.S., in seeing the government's failure to note the major gaps, the potential for real abuse of people's privacy, for the mining of people's information with not just the secret service of other countries but also third parties and however that list may go.

The government's failure to stand up for our citizens in this case will be seen as a failure to stand up for them in the future, and that is something that we ought to take seriously.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the fact that we are still debating this bill on February 28, 2011 is proof that the scare has not worked. The government introduced the bill on the second last day of sitting in June. It told us that we had to pass the bill by December 31 or the planes would stop flying. Not only are the planes still flying but we even managed to get an exemption from the U.S.

The Americans were not planning on giving us an exemption for flights from a point in Canada to another point in Canada that flew over American airspace when those flights can be close to sensitive sites such as large cities. What is the American government's intention when it gives an exemption which could cut the heart out of what it is trying to accomplish?

The United States has not stopped the flights. The government should withdraw this bill and negotiate a better deal.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague made a comment with regard to the exemption and the fact that the sky has not fallen, that in 2011 we are still debating this legislation and the U.S. has not cut us off. That speaks to the fact that there might truly be an opportunity for us to take a stand, to say this is not working for us, that this will not work for Canadians. Let us go back to the drawing board and find a solution to our neighbour's concerns.

It is pretty ridiculous that such a significant threat is being put on us when we have been willing partners in working to ensure that our airspace and our countries are safer. We have an opportunity to make good out of a bad piece of legislation, good on behalf of our citizens, and we are not doing that.

The role of the Canadian government is to stand up for its people, to stand up for our security. It has to find a way of balancing that with privacy. What is the government's role?

The House resumed from February 17 consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
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 relating to the business of supply.

Call in the members.

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

Vote #187

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

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