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

4:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. Resuming debate, the hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie.

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

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am delighted that so many of my fellow MPs are here to listen to my speech.

I would say first of all that Bill C-30 is legitimate in what it ultimately wants to accomplish, which is to assist police authorities in uncovering and pursuing criminals. No one can disagree with that aim but it has never been the reason the bill has provoked so much public outcry.

How we can uncover and pursue criminals is very much the question today, but if we do it by infringing on people's most basic rights, then we have a problem.

In Canada there is a charter, brought in by a Liberal government some 30 years ago. This document is very important. In fact, its content is paramount in any consideration of the Criminal Code of Canada. The charter is the guarantor of the most basic rights and freedoms of Canadians. As an aside, I personally regard the charter, whose 30th anniversary we will celebrate in April, as such an important document that I took a copy of it with me on my second space flight in 1996 to then be able to present it to the prime minister, which I did.

In Bill C-30 as currently written we have a potential violation of the charter, specifically as regards unreasonable search and seizure. More fundamentally, this is also about the privacy of individual Canadians, something that we all cherish and must be extremely vigilant to preserve. Our task is to achieve the right balance between civil liberties and police oversight.

In this context, I must remind this government that it was the first to speak out when it decided that protecting the rights of Canadians with regard to the firearms registry was of the utmost importance. We all remember the government's indignation when individuals had to provide certain personal information when registering a long gun. We also remember the government's position on the census.

I can remember coming here several times in the summer of 2010 to discuss the census issue, particularly the fact that the government wanted to take the compulsory long form census and turn it into a voluntary national household survey. Why? It was because the census was going to be an attack on people's personal privacy, as I remember the Minister of Foreign Affairs mentioning, in wanting to know how many bathrooms people might have in their houses. I remember how indignant he was about that kind of information. Yet we know that the bill as presently written is very much at risk of trampling on citizens' most basic rights to privacy, by inappropriately authorizing access by police authorities to sensitive personal information without a warrant.

I do not want the police knowing whom I phone, email or text, and when and how often I do it, unless the police have some sort of authorization to track me. This presupposes some sort of warrant to ensure that such checking of Canadians by police does not get out of control. I am very open to looking into ways of expediting such warrants, but I want there to be some protection from potential abuse. It also presupposes that we have to incorporate measures once a warrant is issued so we do not leave the process completely open ended.

Some Conservative members have dared to suggest that the personal information collected could be found in a telephone book. Could anything be more innocent? What a pathetic attempt to trivialize something as important as privacy.

Amendments must be made to Bill C-30 in order to ensure that a balance is achieved between the right to privacy and public safety, of course. I would even go so far as to say that the process transcends this bill because it pertains to the fundamental balance of our country and what that should mean to all Canadians.

We are dealing here with the essence of our fundamental values, the very ones that are found in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. How can the minister ignore this reality?

Our position is clear: all parliamentarians have a duty to recognize the fundamental right of every Canadian as set out in the charter and to recognize every Canadian's fundamental right to privacy.

I know that Bill C-30 will be sent to committee before second reading and, needless to say, I support this step, which validates our position. However, this is just the first step, and we must now be vigilant in order to ensure, on behalf of Canadians, that this is not just a smokescreen.

Will the government set aside its ideological modus operandi in order to adopt a modus vivendi in the interest of all Canadians? We must take the time required to conduct an in-depth examination of this bill. We will have to hear from many witnesses and experts, and I hope that we will not accept half measures when it comes to legitimately respecting procedures.

We need to recognize that, given these realities and what they mean, the Liberals' reasons for introducing this motion today are quite legitimate. The democratic nature of a society is measured by the manner in which it balances the protection of public safety with civil liberties and individual rights and freedoms.

The Conservatives want to destroy the data about long gun owners, but at the same time, they are planning to collect much more personal information about some Canadians. This bill is a major violation of individual rights and freedoms. We will ask the government to seriously consider the amendments that the Liberals propose in committee in order to ensure that the right to privacy of law-abiding web-surfing Canadians is maintained.

The Liberals are currently consulting experts, including federal and provincial privacy commissioners, with a view to formulating sound amendments to this bill. Even Conservative backbenchers have recognized that this bill goes too far and is a violation of Canadians' privacy.

The Minister of Public Safety's now-infamous suggestion that those opposing the bill stand with child pornographers is disgusting. The minister has not yet apologized in the House. The minister's comment is in the same category as disturbing remarks uttered repeatedly by government members slandering anyone who does not share their opinions, calling them Hitler or Taliban supporters. That kind of remark undermines the parliamentary process and the entire political system.

It is important to bear in mind that police forces already have plenty of tools in terms of investigative powers, tools that could be enhanced in an effective, structured operational framework that meets the needs and expectations of Canadians.

Not only do the current provisions in Bill C-30 go against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but they will be very expensive, and my hon. colleagues can be sure that the cost will be passed on to consumers. Such a broad measure as the minister is proposing will also put an additional burden on wireless and Internet service providers.

Everything depends on the government's willingness to accept the amendments needed to make this an effective bill, particularly concerning the obligation to secure warrants from a judge beforehand.

These amendments must be presented, debated and voted on in a truly transparent context in which all Canadians can witness this bill's progress. To that end, a full debate, complete with testimony from stakeholders on all sides, is absolutely crucial.

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

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I think it is important to remind members that every provincial and territorial attorney general across Canada supports this legislation. In addition to that, police officers across this country are supporting this legislation. The president of the Canadian Police Association, Tom Stamatakis, said: “Without this legislation we're asking our police to use pagers and typewriters to keep up with criminals using smart phones and tablets”. Earlier today I also quoted the chief of police for the Waterloo Regional Police Service. He is also the president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.

These police officers are asking for these changes. Thus I have two questions. Does the hon. member think that our police officers and police chiefs are out of touch? Or what sinister motives does he think motivate our police officers to ask for the changes that are included in Bill C-30?

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

February 28th, 2012 / 5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I might be tempted to ask the member about his feelings regarding the police wanting to continue to support the long gun registry and why his side of the House has had such a problem with that.

The reality is that solicitors general support the bill in principle. So do we, in principle. However, the devil is in the details.

I might also point out that privacy commissioners in this country have a considerably different interpretation, and they count as well: it is not just the solicitors general of this country who count.

If my hon. colleague believes that police commissioners have some sort of monopoly on what should be done in this country, then I would ask him to refer back to their position with respect to the long gun registry.

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

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, we support the Liberal motion because we support the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and we know that Bill C-30 breaches the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians as well as their privacy in a number of ways. In particular, the authorities will be able to investigate an individual without a warrant, and there is no protection against abuses. Furthermore, the Prime Minister himself has recognized that this bill has a number of shortcomings.

Yet, I find it odd that this very bill was introduced previously by the Liberals several times—or at least twice. What has changed so that the Liberals now completely oppose this bill, which we find completely intrusive and contrary to a number of aspects of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

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

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague wants to know what has changed. I would say that the world is changing at breakneck speed. When we introduced the bill six years ago, the world was a different place.

That is why some members on the Conservative side oppose this bill. That is why there has been a nationwide outcry. People are more and more aware of the importance of protecting their privacy. The Liberal Party did not create the outcry. The outcry came from Canadians themselves.

The world continues to evolve in terms of technology, and people are becoming increasingly aware of their rights. And those rights are extremely important, as my colleagues know, because they support the charter.

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

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, we support the principle of the bill, but the devil is in the details. We hope that those concerns will be brought forward at the committee hearings.

Members of the Conservative Party have raised concerns about the bill. I have not seen the members who raised those concerns engaged in the debate today. Maybe they are not allowed to raise those concerns in the House.

Some good amendments were put forward by our colleague from Mount Royal on Bill C-10 and they were dismissed totally by the government--

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

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order. I must give the hon. member for Westmount--Ville-Marie at least 15 seconds to respond.

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

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, Bill C-10 is in the Senate at the moment where the senators are adopting what we in the Liberal Party call the member for Mount Royal's amendments. We expect the bill to be improved as a result of that.

When we get to talking about Bill C-30, we hope that the very sensible Liberal amendments that will be put forward will be adopted in committee so we will not have to go to the Senate and backfill if members understand my meaning.

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

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak to the opposition motion. I am a little perplexed by the motion, but my inclination is to support it.

I listened to the debate all day and it seemed that members on both sides of the House were more intent on debating Bill C-30 as opposed to the actual motion, and they do not have that much in common. However, I will talk briefly about the bill that is referenced in paragraph (c) of the five proposals contained in the Liberal motion and that is with respect to the constitutionality and compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

As a member of the House and of both the public safety and the justice standing committees, I am quite confident that Bill C-30 is charter compliant. Is it a perfect bill? No. Is perfection ever going to be attained when one balances national security and police issues with respect to weeding out child pornography and child predators versus privacy rights? No. We will never obtain perfection because that is a very delicate and precarious balance. We have to make reasonable accommodations for privacy. Privacy must be protected because Canadians expect that their privacy will be protected.

Let me dispel a couple of myths. One of the biggest myths is that somehow the police will have the right to search without warrant the private emails and browser histories of what sites individuals have visited. That is absolutely false. The only information that will be provided without warrant is basic subscriber information which is limited to customer name, address, email address, telephone number, Internet protocol address and the name of the telecommunications service provider. As members who have studied this issue know, that information is already voluntarily provided by the telecommunications providers. Some take longer than others and some provide different information. The bill would make it standard, mandatory and on a more time efficient basis.

With respect to the actual motion that is before the House and on which we will be voting in just over 30 minutes, the motion itself is supportable. Of course legislation ought to be charter compliant. I would suggest that Bill C-30 is charter compliant. It is not perfect. It tries to balance Canadians' needs and the expectation of privacy versus the needs of police to provide security for citizens.

The government has taken the nearly unprecedented step of referring Bill C-30 to committee prior to second reading debate in the House so that Canadians can have an even more fulsome debate than normal trying to balance the rights of privacy versus the needs of national security. It is a good bill. It is not a perfect bill, but we are going to make it better.

On the wording of the motion, the motion is supportable.

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

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

It being 5:15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

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

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.