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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is liberal.

Liberal MP for Winnipeg North (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 35.80% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Red Tape Reduction Act October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, S.O. 31s are somewhat restrictive too, and I am sure that I could try to at least attempt to express concerns that our business communities and others have regarding red tape. The government has had an approach that at the best of times could be somewhat questionable in terms of dealing with red tape. There is no doubt a need for us to take a more holistic and comprehensive approach to the different ways we could dismiss a lot of red tape out there.

I recall talking about the amount of regulations that need to be addressed and taken off the books. We are talking about literally thousands in terms of regulations in place today that could be dealt with and that would reduce the amount of red tape.

There is no shortage of things that government could do to deal with the issue of red tape. Without necessarily knowing the specifics of the legislation, there is always room for improvement. The whole issue of red tape is an important issue, and government should always strive to do what it can to reduce the amount of red tape that is currently there.

Digital Privacy Act October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is an interesting process that we are in today. However, it is very rare. I cannot recall the government moving a motion that would see us bring legislation before committee and then when it comes back, it will be into a second/report stage reading. It means that the government has given an indication that it is looking at potential substantial amendments going into the committee stage. I am hoping this is not a false expectation.

I wonder if the member concurs that there is a need for some substantial changes or amendments. This is one of the reasons I believe there is opposition party support, whether New Democrats or Liberals, in terms of the bill going forward.

The government is giving a clear indication that it is looking at substantial amendments. Does the member share in the optimism or expectation that the government will be materializing on some amendments?

Digital Privacy Act October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, if I were to take a real example, let us say PayPal, as an organization or as a corporation, to what degree does the member believe that there needs to be any form of protection for consumers so that PayPal, for example, does not just release personal information it has acquired to a private company in regard to a purchase of an item or anything of that nature that could be related to copyright?

Does the member believe that there should be some sort of check in place to protect the privacy of Canadians?

Digital Privacy Act October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member would comment on information between two companies, one a telecom and the other a private corporation that might have some dealings with that telecom company. There is an agreement between the two. One has concerns with respect to a copyright infringement issue and asks for information regarding one of the telecom's customers. Does the member share any concerns regarding the telecom company not having gone through any form of warrant or anything of this nature and could transfer literally millions of pieces of information to a private corporation? How would that protect the private interests of the everyday Canadian who is on the web?

Digital Privacy Act October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that is why at the beginning of my presentation I commented on the importance of the government providing the necessary legal opinions from within the department to provide assurances that this legislation has been thought out. I know there have been concerns with regard to whether it will end up in the Supreme Court and that we will be back at the drawing board. It is only a question of time.

When the government does not do its homework and fails to ensure that its legislation meets constitutional and charter requirements, it ultimately ends up costing Canadians millions and millions of dollars because it did not do its homework correctly the first time.

As I indicated in my speech, there are areas where Liberals believe the government needs to improve upon in order to ultimately make it even more constitutional.

Digital Privacy Act October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the member does not seem to understand why the Liberal Party voted in favour of Bill C-13. It was the cyberbullying piece of legislation. Even though we had some concerns with the legislation, as our party critic expressed during debate, we needed to understand and appreciate the desire of a vast majority of Canadians, 95% plus, who recognize it is not appropriate, for example, for an individual to put inappropriate pictures on the Internet without the consent of the person who has been photographed.

It is a form of cyberbullying that needed to be dealt with. It was at least a step in the right direction. Was the legislation perfect? No, if was far from perfect, but at least it was a step in the right direction. Actually, I was quite surprised that the NDP did not recognize the importance of dealing with that particular issue.

Digital Privacy Act October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the member is somewhat playing with words. An agreement to share information between two companies is a bit of a play on words. We need to recognize that if we get telecom company x talking to private corporation y and y asks for information because it is concerned about copyright infringement, what that means, through an agreement between companies, is very close to a warrantless search where company y is being given personal information.

The member should be concerned about that company sharing personal information. We could ultimately see collection agencies being created based on information that is being provided to a particular company and individuals are being phoned. When they ask, “What is going on here?” Was it because there was an agreement between two companies?

We need to be very concerned. At the very least, let us put some checks in there to protect Canadian consumers.

Digital Privacy Act October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise to speak to Bill S-4 this afternoon.

It is an important piece of legislation, as it at least attempts to deal with an issue that many Canadians are quite concerned about. They see the merit of the government introducing legislation on how Canadians can be protected. However, there is also a great deal of concern about the manner in which the Conservative government, as it has in the past, appears to be attempting to overstep concerns related to privacy and protecting the privacy of Canadians.

We have before us Bill S-4 this afternoon. It attempts to deal with and expand warrantless access to subscribers' data. This is an issue which can no doubt be exceptionally controversial. It is something that needs to have more consultation and work with the different stakeholders so that we do not make mistakes.

As suggested in the bill's title, this bill has come from the Senate. There were concerns upon its departure from the Senate and entry into the House regarding the constitutionality of the legislation. I have found that quite often the government will bring legislation into the House in anticipation that it will ultimately pass, yet a great deal of concern has been expressed regarding the degree to which it would be in compliance with Canada's Constitution, the Charter of Rights, and so forth.

Time and time again, I have heard it suggested, and I have suggested it myself, that the government needs to be more forthright in providing information which clearly shows that the legislation it is bringing forward would pass our laws. More often than not, we do not receive the legal opinions from the department giving clear indication that the legislation being debated is in fact constitutional and will pass the Supreme Court. That is important to note, for the simple reason that when the House of Commons passes legislation and it gets challenged, it costs literally millions of dollars, especially if the government has done it wrong.

The idea of seeing Bill S-4 go to the committee is something we are quite comfortable with. Going through the summary of the bill gives us the sense of the scope we are dealing with. The act would amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act to do a litany of things. It covers quite a broad area. We have expressed a great deal of concern about some of it to the Liberal Party critic.

The primary concern we have is ensuring that the privacy of Canadians is being respected. Checks need to be put into place to ensure that there is accountability.

Let me give members a couple of very specific examples of what the legislation is proposing. This comes from the summary of the bill itself. It would “permit the disclosure of personal information without the knowledge or consent of an individual for the purposes of...”

Here it lists some very specific things. These are:

(i) identifying an injured, ill or deceased individual and communicating with their next of kin,

(ii) preventing, detecting or suppressing fraud, or

(iii) protecting victims of financial abuse;

As I said, there are a litany of things. One that really caught my eye and that I think is a very strong positive is related to the Privacy Commissioner. The bill says, “modify the information that the Privacy Commissioner may make it public if he or she considers that it is in the public interest to do so”.

We have seen an expansion of the role, if I can put it that way, of the Privacy Commissioner, and giving more authority to him or her. Through the legislation, we are also seeing more penalties being brought in.

This is not only the first but the second piece of legislation over the last number of months dealing with privacy. It was not that long ago that I was speaking to Bill C-13, the protecting Canadians from online crime act. It deals with cyberbullying. Canadians have little tolerance for cyberbullying and the types of things that take place.

Bill C-13 focuses a great deal of attention on the distribution of pictures without consent onto the Internet. We had some difficulty with Bill C-13, as we do with Bill S-4, but we ultimately ended up supporting the legislation because we recognized how important it was to stop cyberbullying. There were concerns with that legislation just like there are concerns with this particular piece of legislation.

We would like the government to provide more answers and be a bit more transparent about what it hopes to achieve with this legislation. We call upon the government to do just that in anticipation of the bill going to committee where it will be changed in order to provide some comfort to Canadians with respect to their privacy. Privacy is an issue that the Liberal Party takes seriously. Our party critic has had the opportunity to express many of our concerns with regard to it.

Bill S-4 would allow for warrantless requests of companies. Telecom companies and service providers could be approached in order to access personal information.

Over the last decade we have seen an explosion of technology in the computer and Internet areas. Who would have thought 15 or 20 years ago that we would be where we are today? In many ways we are playing catch-up in terms of trying to bring forward legislation in order to protect Canadians. Canadians have great access to the Internet as a whole. Many things are done through the Internet and unfortunately, at times, people are exploited, so we need bills such as Bill S-4 to deal with that.

Today we are talking about corporations getting personal information about people living in Canada who ultimately go to a particular telecom provider. That means company x could request specific information from a telecom provider about a particular customer who is being serviced by that provider. All of us should be concerned about that. All of us should want to do what we can to ensure that the privacy of Canadians is respected and that there are checks in place to ensure no abuse is taking place.

What we are talking about are warrantless requests. People would be surprised to know that in 2011, almost 800,000 warrantless requests by telecom companies were documented. People would be amazed to know the amount of information that leaves Canada through the Internet via, for example, the United States and ultimately comes back into Canada. The U.S. national security agency no doubt has access to a lot of Canadians' personal information.

At the end of the day, the bottom line is that the government has a responsibility to provide assurances to Canadians that their right to privacy is being protected. This is the greatest concern I have as the bill continues to go forward.

The challenge is to ask the government to provide the necessary amendments that would protect and provide assurances to Canadians that their privacy would in fact be protected. I am very concerned that private corporations, on a whim, could say a copyright has been infringed, or there is a perceived illegal activity and then are able to get personal information on Canadians.

Canada Post October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Canadians know that it is this Prime Minister and this Conservative government who led the charge to get rid of door-to-door delivery. To make matters worse, we now have the government saying that Canadian companies are not even allowed to participate in the replacement of those community mailboxes.

The question is, why is the government not allowing Canadian companies to participate in the tendering process?

Citizenship and Immigration October 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, tens of thousands of Canadians all across our country are waiting to get their citizenship. They are waiting in excess of three years quite often because the Conservative government has created a crisis of paperwork in which it often takes over three years to process a simple citizenship.

When will the Conservative government take the issue of processing times to the degree in which it will reduce it to under 12 months? When will that happen?