House of Commons Hansard #128 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

Public Safety
Adjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, on February 17, I asked the government the following question.

Madam Speaker, my question is for the government's chief spymaster who is so intent on snooping into Canadians' private emails and the laptops of the nation. However, Conservatives are not stopping at emails. The minister's bill would allow government agents to enter on an Internet service provider when they wanted, without a warrant and demand to see absolutely everything and even to copy it all.

My question was:

Why does the government see every Canadian as an enemy of the state and why has the minister given Conservative agents absolute power to pry?

As one might imagine, I received a non-answer from the government, in fact from a senior minister. Instead of getting an answer, I received a rant and an attack against the NDP.

The question really was in relation to the provisions of Bill C-30, which was introduced with much fanfare in February of this year and now seems to have disappeared from the order paper.

The concerns expressed by Canadians across the country were consistent. This legislation was designed to enable the government to gain a level of surveillance that has not been seen in this country ever.

However, the government's clear view is that anyone who criticizes its actions, questions them in any way, is described as an enemy, as a radical, as being un-Canadian. Members may remember the Minister of Public Safety's ludicrous remark that one is either with the government or with the child pornographers. These are the kinds of intemperate, belligerent and disgraceful characterizations the government uses against Canadians who raise even legitimate and appropriate questions against the government.

Although this legislation is off the order paper, the Minister of Public Safety seems to have made it clear recently that it will be coming up again in the fall.

This legislation and the elements of intrusion, which have nothing to do with the real issues, should have been the end result of serious consultations, a process the Conservative government seems to know nothing about. The Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development the other day in her comments on employment insurance said she consulted. Premiers have come out and said they have not been consulted. As far as we know the unemployed have not been consulted.

Do ministers think consultation means sitting down with a business partner or a friend and having a glass of wine? That is not consultation. If the government is going to do consultations, they have to be wide open, transparent and public. That is not what the government has done.

The government is not just using surveillance and basically spying on people as an attack on democracy. The government monitors and cuts funding to organizations that disagree with it. We just need to look at the KAIROS funding. That organization has done tremendous work internationally. There have been cuts to peace and development. The public service has expressed fear, with public servants scared to even use their own personal email and Facebook as a result of the government's tactics.

Instead of acting like a legitimate democracy, the Conservative government is instilling fear in people with the kind of attitude it is portraying toward Canadian citizens.

Public Safety
Adjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

Portage—Lisgar
Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by saying what complete misrepresentation that member of Parliament has just displayed, which shows why that party is over there in the corner with a reduced amount of seats. Canadians recognize that the Liberal Party unfortunately has lost complete touch with the Canadian people.

The government will send Bill C-30 to committee for major review before proceeding further. The fact of the matter is that this legislation was introduced by the previous Liberal government with fewer privacy safeguards.

We have answered this question. We have indicated what our government is prepared to do.

What is very disturbing is what appears to be complete hypocrisy on the side of the Liberal third party in regard to this issue. It is disturbing to hear that member talk about the bill and this issue with complete disregard for what his party did previously on this issue.

As I said, the bill will be sent to committee before we proceed any further. We are listening to Canadians on this issue and we will continue to listen.

Public Safety
Adjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the member goes on a great attack against the Liberal Party, but she fails to answer our question.

The Conservatives have not done serious consultations with Canadians to see what they need on this particular issue, whether it be Internet surveillance or whatever. It is the same with every other bill.

What I said in my remarks is absolutely true. This is a government that operates on the politics of division. It is a government that operates on the politics of fear. We are seeing that everywhere.

Canadians should be worried about the Internet surveillance bill because, as it said in the bill, which I quoted earlier, not only can the government go in and look at what has been on the Internet; it can actually copy it. That is the serious risk.

I would ask the parliamentary secretary if the Conservatives are going to withdraw those sections of the bill and do proper consultations.

Public Safety
Adjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, shame on that member for completely misrepresenting the facts. Yes, Canadians were afraid, but now they are resting at peace because that party is in the third party position, thankfully.

That being said, we are always interested in listening to Canadians on issues that concern them, such as the economy and increasing and making sure that our technology and public safety infrastructure is in line with current technology. We want to find the best ways to keep Canadians safe from online crime, as well as protect privacy rights.

The Liberal Party introduced this bill. It had less privacy protection. We are making sure we balance the rights of Canadians with their rights to privacy. This bill will be sent to committee for major review before we proceed any further.

It is very disturbing and yet very telling to see the Liberals in their third party state continue with this complete flip-flop on so many issues, including the long gun registry.

41st General Election
Adjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is on the very serious issue of election fraud in the election of 2011. The science of voter suppression, well documented at stealingdemocracy.com, has been systematically executed by the Conservative Party of Canada.

In my riding of St. Paul's in the last election, fraudulent calls impersonating my campaign went to the homes of Jewish voters during the sacred Seder of Passover. We reported these calls to Elections Canada at that time.

A recent EKOS poll in seven ridings across the country found that Liberal, NDP and Green Party supporters were much more likely than Conservative supporters to report receiving a telephone call in the last election directing them to the wrong polling station. As EKOS president Frank Graves stated, the pattern is “highly statistically significant and we can say with confidence that this is not an artifact of chance”. Claims are coming from all corners of the country, and it seems increasingly likely that this was a coordinated effort to keep Canadians from the polls last year.

Unfortunately, this does not end at phone calls. We have heard reports of aggressive people acting on behalf of the Conservative Party outside polling locations misleading voters, often seniors or new Canadians, in an attempt to prevent them from casting a ballot.

There are also extremely disturbing reports of scores of instant voters who cast ballots in certain ridings in which they were not actually residents. Elections Canada is investigating these allegations, but now faces a $7.5 million a year cut by the Conservative government.

Liberals are committed to co-operating with the investigation. We are setting the standard for openness and transparency, and we expect that all other political parties will follow suit. The Liberal Party of Canada has proactively disclosed its calling data related to the 2011 federal campaign in an effort to assist Elections Canada with its ongoing investigation into possible election fraud.

As I asked before, when will the Conservative government stop the “I am not a crook” rhetoric and comply fully with Elections Canada and the RCMP to get to the bottom of the largest electoral fraud known in Canadian history?

41st General Election
Adjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, that was remarkable rhetoric from the member for St. Paul's.

Here is one of the really troubling things about what the Liberal Party has been saying. The member indicated that the Liberals had been open, honest and transparent from the get-go. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ultimately, it had to be found out. It had to be investigated and researched. Information had to come forward, evidence that could not be refuted.

The Liberal member for Guelph, for example, the riding where so much of this has been talked about, actually conducted an illegal robocall using a false number, using a false person, targeting Conservatives supporters, targeting supporters of every party with a message specifically working toward suppressing votes. That is what the Liberals did. That is what the Liberals always do. They accuse others of what they do.

The member for St. Paul's has stood many times and complained about things that went on in her riding during the election. However, the member also has to acknowledge a couple of things. Several thousand more people voted in St. Paul's in the last election than the election immediately previous. That sounds like a vote increase, not a vote suppression. I am sure she has an equation that actually works that into somehow having an impact.

Here is the other thing the Liberal Party has to get good with in its heart. It has to accept this and acknowledge it. She had her “I am not a” quote. They are not popular. That is what this is really about.

Thousands more Canadians voted, almost a million more. Over 900,000 more Canadians voted in the last election, but we know who they did not vote for. They did not vote for the Liberal Party because of what the Liberal Party stood for, and of what it continues to stand for.

Canadians voted for our Prime Minister and this party for an economic vision and an ongoing commitment for jobs, opportunities and success right across the country.

What the Liberal Party knows and knows in its heart is that these allegations it is bringing are false and phony. We have fully supported and assisted Elections Canada from the get-go. We have nothing to hide on this side. I am proud of this party and proud of how we have fought this battle.

41st General Election
Adjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we have said, the reason we have not called this scandal “robocall” is it really is about election fraud that included voter augmentation.

Today, we know that former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj had the means to go to the courts to remedy the electoral irregularities in his riding. The court has now overturned the Etobicoke Centre election results. However, the Conservatives, rather than calling a byelection, have decided to appeal to the Supreme Court and further drag out this process.

Unfortunately, most candidates do not have the significant financial means required to remedy electoral irregularities through the courts. Reports and allegations of electoral fraud are widespread, and many cases are still under investigation.

Will the Conservative government explain why it is cutting the budget to Elections Canada, just as Canadians need reassurance that it has the needed resources to conduct fair elections and properly investigate allegations of wrongdoing?

41st General Election
Adjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the Liberal Party may hear but does not listen.

What the court actually came forward with on Etobicoke Centre and said was that no party played any role or did anything wrong in that byelection whatsoever. Parliament has set up an automatic right to appeal, because this specific subsection in the elections code has never been used to overturn an election. It is an automatic right to appeal at the Supreme Court.

The member talks about voter suppression. Perhaps she would like to stand on the floor of the House of Commons and apologize for the appalling ten percenter she sent out to first nations communities in our country featuring body bags. If that is not suppressing votes, I want to know what is. It is that member who did it. That member should be ashamed of her actions, not this party.

I am proud of how we have acted and the integrity with which we have approached Canadian voters.

Telecommunications
Adjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week, The Globe and Mail published an article titled, “Life in the slow lane: Dial-up Internet still a reality for hundreds of thousands in Canada”. The article explained both the alarmingly high number of Canadians who have no option but to use dial-up Internet connections and the problems that face these Canadians as Internet sites continue to add more data-reliant content.

I know the problems faced by constituents in my riding: travel just a few kilometres outside of the downtown core of Sudbury and high-speed Internet is non-existent. I can tell residents almost to the metre where my cell phone loses both 3G Internet access and cell service, the so-called digital divide that separates the high-speed haves from the have nots.

This has real repercussions. Yes, people lose out on social media but, more important, businesses are unable to participate in the e-economy and, as more government services move online, people have less access to programs that their taxes fund.

Unfortunately, the government seems determined to do nothing to rectify the situation.

The announcement of the upcoming spectrum auction made by the minister in March offered a real opportunity for the government to overcome the digital divide. A strong rural rollout requirement would have forced telecom companies to expand the areas covered by wireless high-speed networks and set asides for the so-called new entrants would have ensured real competition to drive down prices. Instead, we got an announcement that, in trying to unsuccessfully please everyone, failed to deliver on any of its promises.

The rural rollout component of the auction is so convoluted that it is actually unlikely to be met by any one company unless it acts in concert with another telecom provider, and even then, those firms will only be required to roll out new services to a percentage of areas that are already covered by their current high-speed networks. This rollout requirement should have been designed to ensure rural and suburban Canadians have access to these vital Internet services. Instead, it can be met by building out service to Canada's urban cores.

Instead of a strong set-aside for smaller cell phone companies to ensure real competition in Canadian firms, we got a cap for Rogers, Bell and Telus, coupled with a relaxing of the foreign ownership rules for all other telecom companies. In effect, the government delivered a gold-embossed invitation to big foreign telecoms to buy spectrum and compete in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal while ignoring the concerns for Canadians living in rural areas and even in small urban centres like my riding of Sudbury.

In summary, the government seems so unprepared on this file that when the minister appeared before the industry committee, he said that his department had not even come up with an estimate of the revenue that would be generated from this auction, and the government is unwilling or unable to say where the proceeds will go.

The government still has time to rectify this situation, to strengthen the rural rollout component, to ensure real competition across the country and to reinvest revenue to make Canada a digital leader but time is running out.

Telecommunications
Adjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont
Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I will talk briefly about recent steps that our government has taken to help provide Canadians with more choices at low prices for the wireless services that have become so important in their everyday lives.

In 2008, our government took action to encourage the entry of new competitors into the wireless market. Since then, new players have launched services and are providing more choice to Canadians. In addition to these new competitors, large telecom companies have made substantial investments to better serve their subscribers. Because of these actions, consumers are seeing the benefits of access to more advanced services, greater choice and lower prices.

We recently announced decisions that will continue to promote our goals of increased competition and investment in the sector and to see that all Canadians, including those in rural areas, benefit.

First, we would amend the foreign ownership rules under the Telecommunications Act, meeting a commitment we made in the 2010 Speech from the Throne. These amendments are included in Bill C-38. We are lifting these restrictions for companies with a small share of the telecommunications market so they can better compete and grow.

Access to capital is an important issue, especially for the new wireless competitors, and our targeted actions would remove a barrier to investment for the telecommunications companies that need it most, so that Canadian families and businesses can continue to benefit from more choices and competitive prices.

In addition, we will support competition and investment in the upcoming auctions by applying rules that will enable new wireless competitors access to the spectrum up for auction.

We will also extend and improve the existing wireless roaming and tower-sharing policy to further facilitate competition. These policies provide access to existing networks and infrastructure and support better coverage and services for consumers.

We believe all Canadians should share in the benefits of advanced wireless services and that rural Canadian families should have access to the same services as those in cities. We are applying specific measures in the upcoming auction to see that Canadians in rural areas have access to the most advanced services in a timely manner. All Canadians should be able to benefit from the fastest mobile speeds and latest devices, such as the newest iPad, PlayBook or smartphone. These are the first such specific measures of their kind in Canada.

Finally, to improve the safety of Canadians and first responders, we will be reserving some spectrum for exclusive use by public safety users across Canada. Our government believes that Canadians, in both rural and urban areas, deserve value for their hard-earned money, and our government is taking action to see that they get it.

Telecommunications
Adjournment Proceedings

May 28th, 2012 / 7:30 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his answer but I would like a bit more clarification on what the government plans to do in relation to ensuring that the larger companies that are out there right now bidding ensure we get spectrum in the rural areas.

What I talked about in my speech was how in our opinion we did not see how the government was rolling out to ensure that there is a strong roll out for rural areas. I know we did some great work in the industry committee talking about the e-commerce and the e-economy. However, when we have individuals and businesses in communities that do not have high-speed and are still stuck on dial-up, they cannot be part of that. What we did not hear from the government was whether it will use the revenue it can gain from this auction and put it back into another broadband fund to create high-speed Internet in other communities that do not have it, and even with the spectrum piece to ensure there is roll out so everyone can have high-speed Internet.

Telecommunications
Adjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend talked about stakeholder reaction and talked about his own party's position on this. Let us listen to what they had to say.

A new player, Mobilicity, called the decision “a real victory for Canadian consumers”. Meanwhile, an incumbent, Telus, noted that the new rules “will allow all competitors to have fair and reasonable access to the critical 700-megahertz spectrum in the upcoming auction”. The NDP's former industry critic said:

...we heard the intention of the government to cover 90 percent of the Canadian territory within five years. We like the idea. I come from a rural riding. There are major problems of coverage in my riding so this is something that is very dear to me....

Incumbents like the decision, new entrants like the decision and even the NDP can agree with parts of the decision. I would say that we got this one right.

Telecommunications
Adjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:36 p.m.)