House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-30.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, committees are the authors of whatever they wish to do in their committees.

Quite frankly, I would wonder why Liberal members would not be standing up supporting this. They have brought it forward in three different parliaments. I do not know what their big problem is. This bill does protect the privacy of Canadians. It provides judicial oversight for that which is being done without judicial oversight.

This is a good piece of legislation. With every bill that goes to committee there is an opportunity for all kinds of input. In this case, I think the member should be supportive of the bill and deal with it in committee.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this motion which points out the fundamental nature of privacy in Canadian law and calls on the government to ensure that the legislation it proposes engenders a respect for privacy. It is on this point that I will speak. I will highlight some of the ways in which Bill C-30 would reflect continuing respect for the privacy and civil liberties of Canadians.

One of the most consistent themes in Bill C-30 is privacy with precision. Every investigative power would have specific and appropriate privacy safeguards in place, calibrated to the level of intrusiveness of the techniques for which the power is designed. In plain language, the standard for authorizing an investigative technique would be directly related to its level of intrusiveness. Bill C-30 would move Canada away from a one size fits all approach where a single investigative power can authorize a wide range of investigative actions toward more specialized investigative powers drafted with particular investigative actions in mind.

I will give a few examples of how Bill C-30 would promote privacy with precision. The first of these is production orders. A production order is a court order that requires a third party who has possession or control of certain types of data or documents to deliver this material to the police within a specified period of time. Production orders are used in cases where it is more practical to have the holder of the documents or data retrieve information for the police rather than having the police conduct the search themselves with a search warrant. The use of production orders not only offers the police increased efficiency in protecting all of us, but also provides increased privacy protection for all Canadians. Third-party holders of computer data are best placed to be able to locate the requested information precisely and without inadvertently collecting information that is outside the scope of the request. Therefore, as an investigative technique, production orders actually help to minimize inadvertent intrusions on privacy. Production orders enhance privacy.

Production orders already exist in the Criminal Code. There is already a general production order as well as one that relates to a narrow set of financial information. Because of the broad nature of a general production order, it has a higher judicial threshold than the financial production order. To use a general production order, police must satisfy a judge that they have reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed and that the information requested would provide evidence of that offence. However, most investigations are not general in nature. Often the requirements of an investigation are quite targeted. In those cases, it makes sense to create specific tools that would allow police to obtain the specific data that they are looking for and which are designed to reflect the expectation of privacy associated with that kind of data.

Bill C-30 proposes the creation of three new production orders that have been designed with specific investigative techniques in mind. We are proposing to create a production order for data related to the routing of telecommunications, which would be known as transmission data; a production order for tracking data; and a production order designed to trace specified communications.

This last type of production order would be a very important tool for addressing the complexities of modern communication. It would allow police to trace the origin of a communication that may have gone through several different telecommunication providers before it reached its final destination. It would protect Canadians from inadvertent intrusions into their privacy.

I cannot stress enough that all of these production orders would have important built-in privacy protections. For example, both a production order to trace specified communications and a production order for transmission data relate to transmission data. Transmission data is a term clearly defined in the Criminal Code to expressly exclude the content of communication. Not even the subject line of an email would be available using either of these powers. It is important to stress that. We hear about people being concerned that others would be able to access the content of our emails. Not even the subject line would be available for these powers.

Information in the possession or control of an individual that does not fall under any of the specialized production orders could be obtained by the police using the general production order. However, the police would need to satisfy a judge of the higher belief-based standard. The same applies today.

Important privacy safeguards have been included throughout Bill C-30. Each investigative power in the bill has been carefully designed to strike a balance between the safety and security and the rights and liberties of all Canadians, such as preservation orders. This kind of tool is essential to our ability to conduct effective investigations in an era where crucial evidence can be deleted in the blink of an eye. Police officers will be able to do their jobs without fear that the data they need will be lost or deleted either intentionally or inadvertently as a matter of regular business practice during the period it takes to obtain a warrant or production order for that data.

If a police officer does not get a court order or search warrant to obtain the preserved data before the demand expires, any data that would not be retained in the ordinary course of business would be destroyed. The data would not be provided to the police without a court order or warrant. Should the preservation demand need to be extended, police officers would have to obtain a preservation order from a judge or justice. The order would then give them up to 90 days to get a production order or search warrant to obtain the data that had been preserved.

If the police are unable to get the production order or warrant by the time the preservation order expires, the person in possession of the preserved data is required to destroy it unless his or her business practices otherwise require that it be retained. What this means is that only specific data would be preserved under this scheme for a limited period of time and only for the purpose of the investigation. An even more fundamental privacy safeguard of this scheme is that data which would not otherwise be kept by a business would be destroyed as soon as it was no longer needed for an investigation.

These safeguards exemplify our efforts to respect privacy throughout the bill and respect privacy rights under Canadian law.

With regard to respect for privacy, let me quote Matt Torigian, Chief of Waterloo Regional Police Service and president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. His statement clearly rebuts the fears expressed by the opposition. He stated:

We (the police) would also, en masse, be the first group to speak out on anything that has the potential to violate the integrity and the rights and freedoms of Canadians.

These are just a few examples of how Bill C-30 would promote privacy. As I have noted, the government's approach is one privacy with precision, well-defined investigative powers with strong privacy safeguards that will have been carefully calibrated to a particular investigative context. Our government believes we have proposed legislation that will ensure Canada's laws adequately protect Canadians online.

We also, however, expect Parliament to conduct a thorough review of our proposed legislation to ensure that we do strike the right balance between protecting Canadians from crime while respecting Canadians' privacy rights. I would ask hon. members to exercise due diligence in that review.

I will highlight the need for this legislation. Chief Torigian has noted that Bill C-30 would require the same types of judicial approval as old-fashioned wiretaps and would in cases even increase the regulatory burden. However, as Chief Torigian said:

We need to ensure that investigative bodies in Canada have the necessary tools to safeguard institutions, public bodies and private individuals.

As a grandfather of nine grandchildren, I cannot overstate the need to update our laws so they adequately protect all Canadians from online exploitation.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I note the member made the very reasonable comment that Conservatives expected Parliament to conduct a thorough review of the bill to ensure it achieved the right balance, et cetera. It was exactly the same wording and statement made by the previous speaker on the Conservative side, so clearly there are some talking points.

Since the government won its majority last May, there has not been, as far as I know, a single bill that was reviewed at committee in which the majority Conservative members accepted any of the amendments, ideas or results of the thorough review, including Bill C-10, a massive, complex bill with many amendments offered. All were rejected at committee.

Could the member please tell us why any member of Parliament in the opposition parties should actually believe there will be anything different this time?

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, the illustration the member gave was Bill C-10. Everyone in the House knows that Bill C-10 had been debated in various forms and that different parts made up the total of Bill C-10. Canadians expected us to get moving on many of those initiatives. That was exactly what needed to be done. It does not mean the amendments were not considered, but it is the obligation of government to implement its agenda when it comes to protecting Canadians.

The member commented about using talking points. I would just like to read from a news release from November 15, 2005, when the then deputy prime minister and minister of public safety, Anne McLellan, stated:

We consulted extensively to ensure this legislation strikes the right balance between the needs of police to maintain their investigative capabilities and the business considerations of the industry, while respecting Canadians’ privacy, rights and freedoms.

What has changed? This was introduced by the Liberal government of that day. Today the Liberals are trying to make it look like we are somehow intruding on the privacy of Canadians.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, I know my colleague is passionate and believes of what he speaks.

What he has not talked about is clause 34 of the legislation, which really gives unfettered discretion to the minister to appoint an agent who can walk into an ISP establishment, second all of the employees in that establishment, have them open up all the books and records without a warrant and in total and absolute unfettered discretion.

Therefore, I am surprised to hear his remarks that there are protections within the legislation when in fact clause 34 speaks of exactly the opposite circumstances.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, let me remind the member, first, that every attorney general of every province and territory of our country endorses Bill C-30.

As I stated in my earlier remarks, Chief Matt Torigian of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, who is the chair of the Canadian Association for Chiefs of Police, said, “We would also, en masse, be the first group to speak out on anything that has the potential to violate the integrity and the rights and freedoms of Canadians.”

The Calgary deputy chief of police said, “We really need to modernize this area of the law...We can’t create safe havens where criminals can ply their trade”.

The Canadian Police Association President Tom Stamatakis said, “Without this legislation we are asking our police to use pagers and typewriters to keep up with criminals using smartphones and tablets”.

It is clear. All we are asking is to update the laws of this land to give police officers the tools they need in the current environment with the telecommunications that we have.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for York West.

I am very pleased to speak to the motion today because of the important principles that are so fundamental to Canadian democracy. The motion calls on the House to recognize the fundamental right of all Canadians to freedom of speech, communication, privacy and an affirmation of the need for these rights to be respected. It talks about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protection against unreasonable search and seizure. It mentions that any legislation put forward by the government must respect these provisions of the charter and its commitment to the principles of due process, respect for privacy and the presumption of innocence.

A lot of the debate on this today has centred on Bill C-30 and it will be that bill that I address my remarks toward.

I want to quote the interim leader of the Liberal Party because what he has said captures the balance that Parliament needs to find on the bill, and that is “The mark of a democratic society is how it balances collective security with individual rights and freedoms”.

I am not at all objecting to the idea of strengthening the ability for police officers to carry out their surveillance work and their investigative work in an age of Internet and electronic communications. Surely we do need to update these provisions that are in the laws and that is what the bill has sought to do. In fact, when the attorney general and solicitor general of British Columbia came to Ottawa saying that the province supported the need for new powers, I supported that. It is something we do need to do.

The question is whether this bill achieves that end? I will be speaking about the ways in which it does not find that balance and the ways it, either inadvertently or deliberately, changes the landscape for the public in terms of our security and our right to privacy of information. It makes changes through very vague language and vague concepts that are not well defined in the bill and that are open to subjective interpretation in terms of grounds for accessing people's information without a warrant.

People across Canada have been concerned about this. It is not surprising when most of the privacy commissioners across the country said that the bill went too far, that it was bad legislation. I will quote the federal Privacy Commissioner who said:

On the balance...the new Bill...contains serious privacy concerns...In particular, we are concerned about access, without a warrant, to subscriber information behind an IP address. Since this broad power is not limited to reasonable grounds to suspect criminal activity or to a criminal investigation, it could affect any law-abiding citizen.

That is a mild comment compared with the comments of the Ontario privacy commissioner who had a great deal of concern about the bill and called it an encroachment of surveillance as it was presently configured in the bill. She said that the bill was wrong. She said that it actually terrified her and could become the norm, that there was a huge downloading onto websites of information that service providers did because they were unable to serve the one-by-one requirements under the bill. That has happened in other countries. According to the commissioner, this is fundamentally wrong, it flies in the face of freedom and liberty and this freedom is not based on the state access to whatever information it wants on its citizens. This is how she characterized the potential result of the bill.

The state is supposed to have a reason for the collection of information from citizens. It is supposed to be limited and for particular purposes that are specifically identified to individuals. Her view is that this is under attack with the bill.

The bill creates a structure for this widespread surveillance. Again, I will quote the privacy commissioner of Ontario:

This is going to be like the Fort Knox of information that the hackers and the real bad guys will want to go after. This is going to be a gold mine.

She is also concerned about the new powers created for the police that are designed to obtain access to surveillance data, and about the whole framework that companies will have to put in place by installing equipment for real-time surveillance.

Given the response by privacy commissioners, who know what they speak of, it is not surprising that people in civil society became concerned and started to speak out. In Vancouver Quadra at the town hall I hosted last week, I can say that people were very concerned about the change in the tenor of privacy under the bill.

With these kinds of reasonable concerns it was that much more offensive and insulting when the Minister of Public Safety essentially said that either we agreed with the bill and the government or were on the side of child pornographers. That level of discourse we cannot allow to continue in this House of Commons. It has undermined any moral authority of that minister with the bill as presented.

It was ironic that afterwards the minister had to admit on public television that he had not read the bill and did not actually understand some of its provisions and the repercussions thereof. That was after he had made that very offensive statement we are all familiar with.

The bill has had a rocky start. It was not properly thought out and the consultations were not properly done with privacy commissioners.

I will also give a couple of examples of concerns that were raised by an Internet business CEO and president at my town hall very clearly.

Some of the previous speakers have talked to section 34. However, I am speaking about sections subsections 371(1) and 371(2). This is where the legislation creates a wide class of offences that are vague in description, using terms that could be interpreted by law enforcement with an extremely wide range of discretion. That is the nub of what people are concerned about.

Subsection 372(1) says:

Everyone commits an offence who, with intent to injure or alarm a person, conveys information that they know is false, or causes such information to be conveyed by letter or any means of telecommunication.

That is pretty subjective. How does one define an intent to alarm a person? That could be a phone bank calling the constituents of Mount Royal, asking if they knew that their member of Parliament had stepped down. That could be an alarming piece of information. Therefore, whoever made those calls would actually be committing an offence under this and would be liable to imprisonment for up to two years. I hope the members on the Conservative side of the bench really let that sink in.

That subsection is about conveying information that someone knows is false with the intent to alarm a person. That would be against the law and subject to a jail sentence. Think about how widely that could be interpreted.

Here is another one, subsection 372(2):

Everyone commits an offence who, with intent to alarm or annoy a person.

Has anyone on the Conservative benches ever sent an email with some intent to annoy someone? If so, it would be an offence if they were making an indecent communication. Who is defining what is decent and indecent? Some people think that a photo of clothing that is too tight might be indecent. What about a swear word? It might be considered indecent. If a member opposite sent an email or communication that was indecent but intended to annoy, he or she would then be committing an offence and subject to up to two years in prison. I think I am making my point that—

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order. The hon. member's time has elapsed. Perhaps she can add some more comments in questions and comments.

The hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to most of the speeches, along with the rhetoric and fearmongering. She used terms to the effect that it was not thought out and there was not adequate consultation and yet, just a few years ago, the deputy prime minister and minister of public safety, the hon. Anne McLellan, tabled the same bill and said, “We consulted extensively to ensure this legislation strikes the right balance....”

My question is simply this. Was Anne McLellan wrong or was she lying?

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, even Liberal members sometimes disagreed with their government and voted against it at committee. That would never be allowed by the Conservative government. The government does not allow its members to disagree. These things would have been hashed out in committee in a way that has not been possible under this over-controlling and dictatorial government.

Another point is that it is a matter of trust. This is a government that has lost the trust of the public. It has muzzled scientists, independent officers of Parliament, and civil society by cutting the funding of those who do not agree with it. It is trying to muzzle MPs and we will not let that happen. This bill would put a chill on the debate and the marketplace of ideas happening on the Internet and it would be an attempt to muzzle—

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. I see many MPs rising.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Madam Speaker, in 2002 the Liberal government at the time launched consultations, but did not seem to have listened to them. It received feedback from privacy and information commissioners across Canada who said, “The proposed measures go far beyond what is necessary to maintain existing capabilities and authorities in the face of modern communications technology”.

My question for the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra is this. Given this feedback, why did the Liberal government continue down the path of creating legislation with measures that Liberals are today criticizing, like warrantless access provisions?

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, frankly I am surprised that the member is calling on me to justify something from 10 years ago in a government that I was not here for. In fact, the debate that we are having now is one that is raising some very serious issues and my concern is that despite the good intentions of the NDP and Liberal members, the Conservative members might do what they have been doing for the last seven months, and barrel ahead with bad legislation and ignore all of the input from civil society and members of Parliament to improve the legislation so that it would actually deliver a public good.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to know what my colleague thinks of the provisions in this bill, which I believe give excessive powers to CSIS and the Competition Bureau, two agencies that are not police forces. Furthermore, we recently learned that the government issued a directive to CSIS allowing the agency to use information obtained through torture.

How are we supposed to trust these people?

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. This is very worrying. This is not just about the use of information obtained through torture; it is also about the fact that the Minister of Public Safety announced that Canada's anti-terrorism strategy will list environmentalists and animal rights activists as threats.

This puts a great chill on the ability of those organizations to communicate.

Also, according to section 184.4, a peace officer may, without a warrant, intercept communication if the peace officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the urgency of the situation is such that it is necessary. However, who defines that?

The Prime Minister has said that a particular pipeline is in the national interest. Could that be—