Bill C-44 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.
David Collenette Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
March 1st, 2011 / 1:20 p.m.
Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the important matter of Bill C-42, concerning the personal information of Canadians on flights over the U.S.
Although we will support the legislation, I will speak to the history of the bill, how we got to that point and why we can now support the bill.
First, it should be noted the way in which the government went about introducing the bill. As is the practice of the government, which we have become all too familiar with, it either tables legislation that it has no plans on following through with or it introduces legislation that it is not serious in following through with in such a way that it limits serious debate.
The government waited until the last sitting day before the summer recess to introduce this bill, a move to avoid parliamentary scrutiny over these measures by leaving little time for debate.
As it stands right now, the Aeronautics Act already allows for the disclosure of personal information by airlines to foreign states if the flight lands within the foreign state. The act also provides a legislative authority to create the no-fly list intended to identify potential terrorists in airline passenger lists and block them from boarding domestic or international flights.
The no-fly list, however, has proven seriously problematic. Further, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has expressed concerns with the measures enabled under the Aeronautics Act.
The Privacy Commissioner has testified before committee that the Canadian government should ask the United States to quickly destroy the information it will be collecting on airline passengers flying over the U.S. because there is nothing to prevent that information from being shared on a wide scale basis both in the U.S. and abroad.
The Privacy Commissioner has also noted that there is nothing in the new secure flight policy that precludes the Department of Homeland Security from sharing passenger names, birthdates and genders, passport information and travel itineraries with immigration and law enforcement authorities at home and abroad.
This assessment of the policy contradicts the assertions of the public safety minister, who told the transport committee that the information collected on Canadian passengers was intended to be used solely to protect aviation security.
No wonder there are some serious concerns when we have conflicting views from the minister and the Privacy Commissioner.
By further changing the act to force Canadian airlines to disclose personal information of Canadian passengers who are simply flying over the United States, Bill C-42 would further endanger the privacy rights of Canadians.
Maintaining public security, however, is important and a balance must be achieved. Liberal Party members expressed this concern when the bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
Liberal members have amended the bill in three specific ways: first, the House of Commons will be required to conduct a review of these measures two years from the date they come into force and every five years thereafter; second, this data transfer will be limited to the U.S. in legislation, as the original version of the bill allowed the Canadian government to add other countries by order-in-council; and, third, airlines and travel agents will be required by Canadian law to inform passengers of this impending data transfer before their ticket is purchased.
This may only be a one paragraph bill that would make a minor change to the wording of one section of the Aeronautics Act, however, these changes would be significant in practice. The bill could effectively be used as legal justification for airlines and travel agents to supply foreign governments with personal information about passengers when a plane they are on flies through a country's airspace. Currently, the act allows for this transmission of information only when a Canadian plane lands in that country.
Let me take a moment to go over the history of these provisions in the Aeronautics Act.
At question is subsection 4.83 (1). This allows for the cabinet to make regulations regarding the transmission of certain information to foreign governments. Subsection 4.83 essentially creates legislative exemption to the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
The supporting regulations remain the critical component of this piece of the framework.
Schedule 1 of the regulations lists the category of information that may be automatically provided to an authorized foreign government. This includes basic information such as name, gender and passport number.
Schedule 2 of the regulations provides what detailed information may be provided to a foreign government. These details include the passenger's address, phone number, class of ticket, for example, business or economy, method of payment for the ticket and whether the passenger in question actually paid for the ticket.
The final schedule in these regulations, Schedule 3, lists the governments and agencies that are authorized to request or receive any of the information listed in either of the first two schedules. There is only one country and agency on the list: the United States and its commissioner of customs.
The regulations in question were introduced in 2001 during the 37th Parliament. Bill C-44 amended the Aeronautics Act to allow the transmission of this information to foreign governments. This was in response to new U.S. requirements for any plane landing inside that country.
Subsequent U.S. legislation requires other countries to provide the U.S. government with details of any passenger in a plane flying over the U.S., not landing, but actually flying over the U.S.
The Liberal Party has very strong concerns about the erosion of Canadian sovereignty expressed in the bill. We also have very real concerns about the privacy of Canadians and about the ability of the government to conduct foreign affairs in a way that benefits Canadians.
The balance between national security and personal freedom is a crucial balance for any government. I, as well as my Liberal colleagues in the official opposition, am very concerned that Bill C-42 goes too far. Hence, the need for our amendments.
For starters, the bill was not designed to protect the national security of Canadians. It was designed to transmit information to other countries for flights outside Canadian airspace. Once this information is in the hands of a foreign government, we cannot control what they do with it.
In May of last year, assistant privacy commissioner, Chantal Bernier, spoke to the transport committee. She said that the U.S. government, the only government currently authorized to receive this data, could keep the personal information of Canadians anywhere from seven days to 99 years. She also stated that the U.S. could use that information for any purpose, even those not related to air-land security, such as law enforcement.
When the United States passed the patriot act in the aftermath of September 11, it caused concern to many nations around the world. The patriot act allows the U.S. government unfettered access to and control of information about citizens from all over the world. It is no small matter to put private information of citizens into the hands of the U.S. government, where it will be subject to the wider net of the patriot act.
We must be concerned about any law that allows information about Canadians not accused of any crime to be put in the U.S. intelligence machine. We could be creating a situation where the government helps to provide a foreign government information that is used to prosecute Canadians without any formal judicial process.
It should be clarified that these are not information-gathering agreements. Rather the legislation would create a one-way flow of information out of Canada and into the hands of foreign governments.
In passing the legislation, we are creating a legal framework that will require diligent monitoring. It is important that we exercise our right to ensure that Canadians are protected. Hopefully, we can do that with the amendments that we put forward, which are now a part of this. As well, we must ensure that we stay on top of this and monitor very closely what is done over the course of the time.
We must understand that in creating this legislation we are opening the door for other countries to ask the same things. We are saying publicly that we are willing to provide personal and private information about our citizens to other countries. This is a troubling development that we must be willing to abandon if it proves to be more sinister than good.
Just because a Liberal amendment has been adopted to limit this information sharing with the U.S., it does not prevent other countries from now wanting to negotiate similar information transfers. Therefore, we need to be very vigilant in terms of what the government will do once this bill has been passed and can move forward with it.
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
October 19th, 2010 / 3:20 p.m.
Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC
Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question surprises me. He is a seasoned parliamentarian, a veteran of this House.
We might agree with the principle of a bill at second reading, but that does not necessarily mean we will support it at third reading. That is precisely why our parliamentary procedure dictates that after passing second reading, bills are referred to committee to hear from witnesses, specialists and experts.
If, because of his experience, my hon. colleague could claim the title of expert, he could appear before the committee, enlighten us and give us the benefit of his wisdom. That is why I do not see any contradiction in the Bloc Québécois' position. In 2001 we were in agreement, to some extent, with Bill C-44, in cases where landing and take-off did in fact occur.
We think this now goes just a little further. Does it go too far? Is it too much? What information will be disclosed? Was the same thing asked of other countries or was it only the United States? I cannot answer these questions today, which is why we are sending this bill to committee.
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
October 19th, 2010 / 3:05 p.m.
Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC
Mr. Speaker, I will try to make myself understood in this cacophony. We know that since 2001, in the wake of September 11, a series of measures has been implemented, in the United States in particular, to improve public safety.
Sometimes these measures infringed and still infringe in a real, tangible or perceived way on the right to privacy. In the aftermath came the implementation of what is commonly referred to in the airline industry as the no-fly list. Being on this list means being prohibited from boarding flights. In order for this list to be fully operational, it is important to know passengers' identity ahead of time. That is why, in 2001, at the request of the United States, the Canadian government introduced Bill C-44, which received the Bloc Québécois' support.
That bill was passed quickly. It authorized airline companies to disclose to local authorities all passenger information prescribed by regulation. The next words I am about to say are important, if not crucial, because they make a distinction between Bill C-44 and the bill currently before us. Bill C-44 allowed all information to be given to authorities in the country of arrival or transit, where the plane touches the ground, whereas Bill C-42 before us covers flying through a given country's airspace. That distinction is of capital importance.
The information requested was name, date of birth, sex, and sometimes, passport number. If, at first glance, access to that information seems innocuous, keep in mind the many problems with the no-fly list.
To show just how ridiculous the United States' no-fly list is, I want to mention two cases where the system went very wrong. One of the people whose name appeared on the no-fly list was Ted Kennedy, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, who died just a few months ago. In 2004, he was apprehended and interrogated five times at the airport, even though his name should not have been on the list. Despite his fame and influence, it took more than three weeks for his team of Congressional aides to get his name off the list. That was one of the mistakes that received the most media coverage, but it was not the only one. There is another example of how ridiculous this list is. Last May in the United States, the Thomas family was apprehended at the airport. Why? Because the name of one of the Thomas girls, who was six years old, was on the no-fly list.
People certainly realized there had been a mistake. It was still very difficult, though, to get on the plane. That is basically what I had to say.
I just want to repeat what I said before the members’ statements and question period, namely that the Bloc Québécois will vote for this bill in principle. We will agree to send it to a committee so that it can be studied seriously and in depth, with witnesses, specialists and experts. I want to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Ahuntsic, who is our outstanding public safety critic. She sent me an email suggesting the names of witnesses, groups and individuals who could enlighten the committee with their expertise so that Bill C-42 can be subjected to some serious analysis.
I want to be clear. The Bloc Québécois will vote at second reading in favour of the principle of this bill so that it can be sent to a committee. Regarding how we will proceed after that, though, we reserve the right to change our position on this issue if necessary.
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
October 19th, 2010 / 1:50 p.m.
Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC
Mr. Speaker, I gather that my speech will be cut short by question period unless I request the unanimous consent of the House to delay members' statements. Rest assured though, I will not be doing that.
This bill deals with disclosing the identity of passengers flying over the United States who are not stopping there. Given that we have just started debate at second reading, I would like to say, on behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, that we will be supporting this bill simply because we want to examine it more thoroughly in committee. I do not want to get into a long speech about parliamentary law, but typically the vote at second reading is about the principle of the bill.
We will vote in favour of the bill because we want it to be studied in committee. There we will be able to hear from witnesses who will share their diverse experiences and talk about the problems that this bill raises. To prepare for my speech earlier, I was talking to our colleague, the hon. member for Ahuntsic, who is the excellent Bloc Québécois public safety critic. She gave me the names of people who represent various groups that might be interested in providing testimony on this bill.
As I have already mentioned, the purpose of this bill is to allow airline companies to disclose information about their passengers to the countries whose airspace they will be using. That is slightly different wording from the former Bill C-44, which we adopted in 2001, when it was a question of stopovers and passengers in transit. It is appropriate for the country receiving the airline passengers to know the past and present of these individuals.
This bill talks about planes travelling through an airspace, which raises a few questions among members of the Bloc Québécois. We understand that this bill responds to a specific request by the United States. We recognize that the United States is a major trading partner, but that does not mean we have to blindly accept every request the U.S. makes. We saw what type of democracy the Americans had under George W. Bush.
The Bloc Québécois obviously recognizes that every country has the right to regulate its airspace, but the fact remains that we think this measure goes too far. As I was saying earlier, the identified passengers will not even land—or at least not during this trip—in the country that would be receiving confidential and substantial information. I hope I am not telling the House anything new, but planes travel through the air and not always through free or international zones. Sometimes, at 33,000 or 35,000 feet, planes travel through airspace subject to the sovereignty of certain countries, but the passengers of those planes will never touch the soil of those countries. They will only fly over those countries.
The bill gives the countries being flown over the right to receive personal information. We want to study this bill in committee to determine if that is really necessary. The Bloc Québécois wants to ensure that we are doing everything we can to avoid violating travellers' privacy. For instance, one of the questions we would like to ask the department's witnesses regarding the government's approach in this bill is whether the Canadian government tried to reason with the United States and ask it to justify this measure.
As vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, I will have the opportunity to ask such questions on this measure, which, as we all know, comes from the United States. We believe that the information available must be kept to the absolute minimum required. We are concerned about the lack of any guidelines, including for instance, ensuring that only the information requested by the United States will be transmitted. But that is not the case; a blanket disclosure can be made.
Will the transmitted information be determined by legislation rather than regulations? Should the transmission, if necessary, be conditional on the signing of a protocol between Canada and the country requesting the information? Such a protocol would govern how the information is used, stored and deleted. Furthermore, it could provide a mechanism to give the victims of errors an opportunity to correct their information, as well as a process to compensate them if necessary.
Lastly, we believe that passengers must be clearly informed, before they purchase their plane tickets, about the fact that certain countries will be receiving some of their personal information. Given these many problems, the Bloc Québécois reserves the right to oppose the bill at future stages in the parliamentary process. The responses we obtain in committee will determine how we decide to proceed during the clause-by-clause study of the bill and how we vote at third reading.
Mr. Speaker, since you are indicating that the time for members' statements is about to begin, I will continue after question period.
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
October 19th, 2010 / 1:30 p.m.
John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take this opportunity to speak about Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, on behalf of the official opposition. This is a one-paragraph bill that makes a minor change to the wording of one section of the Aeronautics Act. However, these changes are significant in practice.
The bill would provide legal cover for airlines and travel agents to provide foreign governments with personal information about passengers when a plane they are on flies through a country's airspace. Currently, the act allows for this transmission of information only when a Canadian plane lands in that country.
Let me take a moment to go over the history of these provisions in the Aeronautics Act. The subsection in question is 4.83(1). It allows for the Governor in Council to make regulations regarding the transmission of this information. Subsection 4.83(1) only creates the legislative exemption to the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
The supporting regulations remain the critical component of this piece of the framework. Schedule one of the regulations lists the category of information that may be automatically provided to an authorized foreign government. This includes basic information such as name, gender, passport number, et cetera. However, authorized foreign governments may request more specific information.
Schedule two of the regulations provides what detailed information may be provided to a foreign government. These details include the passenger's address; the passenger's phone number; the class of ticket, for example, business or economy; method of payment for the ticket; and whether the passenger in question paid for the ticket.
The final schedule in these regulations, schedule three, lists the government and agencies that are authorized to request or receive any of the information listed in either of the first two schedules. There is only one country and agency on the list, the United States and its commissioner of customs.
Where did these regulations come from? Introduced on November 28, 2001 during the 37th Parliament, Bill C-44 amended the Aeronautics Act to allow the transmission of this information to foreign governments. This was in response to new U.S. requirements for any plane landing inside that country. Subsequent U.S. legislation has required that any country provide their government with details of any passenger in a plane flying over the U.S.
The Liberal Party has very strong concerns about the erosion of Canadian sovereignty expressed in this bill. We have very real concerns about the privacy of Canadians and about the ability of the government to conduct foreign affairs to the benefit of Canadians.
Before the heckles start to arise from the government benches that Liberals are “soft on terror”, let me remind hon. members that it was a Liberal government that created the Anti-terrorism Act in the first place, and that it was a Liberal government that created the exemption in section 4.83. However, when the previous Liberal government tackled these issues, it always did so with an eye to protecting the rights of Canadians.
The most powerful and controversial provisions of the anti-terror bill came with a sunset clause. We recognized the heated and emotional environment that existed immediately after the tragic events of September 11, and Liberal lawmakers wanted to ensure that Parliament would revisit these parts of the law five years after that bill was made law. The balance between national security and personal freedom is a crucial balance for any government, and I, as well as my colleagues in the official opposition, am very concerned that Bill C-42 goes too far.
For starters, this bill is not designed to protect the national security of Canadians. It is designed to transmit information to other countries for flights outside Canadian airspace. Once this information is in the hands of a foreign government, we cannot control what they do with it.
In May of this year, Assistant Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier was speaking to the transport committee and said that the U.S. government, the only government currently authorized to receive this data, could keep the personal information of Canadians anywhere from 7 days to 99 years. She also stated that the U.S. can use that information for any purpose, even those not related to airline security such as law enforcement.
The U.S. Patriot Act, passed in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, is a piece of legislation that caused concern all around the world. It allows the U.S. government unprecedented access to, and control of, information about citizens from a number of countries. When a foreign government puts information, even information about that country's own citizens, in the hands of the U.S. government, it is consumed by the mechanisms in the Patriot Act.
We must be concerned about any law that allows information about Canadians not accused of any crime to be put in the U.S. intelligence machine. We could be creating a situation where the government helps to provide to a foreign government information that is used to prosecute Canadians, all without any formal judicial process. It should be clarified that these are not information-sharing agreements. Rather, this legislation would create a one-way flow of information out of Canada and into the hands of foreign governments.
By passing this legislation, we are creating a troubling legal framework. Members of this place must ask themselves if they want to create the legal framework for other countries to ask for this information. In effect, by passing this legislation and allowing the government to add other countries as it sees fit, we are saying publicly that we as a country are willing to provide this information to other nations. For example, I wonder if the government would be willing to add the United Arab Emirates to such a list and allow it to receive all this information about Canadians flying over its airspace.
Currently, only the U.S.A. is authorized to receive this information. However, the legislative framework in the Aeronautics Act is not exclusive to the United States. As I mentioned before, the Canadian government may add other countries to the list through order in council.
What happens when other countries start to ask for this privilege? It is no secret that the Conservative government is woefully inept when it comes to foreign relations. Let us take a look at its track record.
In the past few weeks the government managed to get our military kicked out of Dubai and embarrassed us at the United Nations by failing, for the first time in 40 years, to obtain a seat on the Security Council. We have gone from a country that is respected around the world to one that commits blunder after blunder, all culminating in our embarrassing loss of the seat last week.
The government's inability to handle sensitive diplomatic negotiations has led to a falling out with the United Arab Emirates. That relationship is critical to our efforts in Afghanistan, but the government and the Prime Minister's obstinate nature led to such an impasse that Canada is now scrambling to find another base for our troops.
For the past four and a half years, the government has eroded Canada's standing in the world, failed policy after failed policy.
Should we pass this legislation, how are we to know that the government will not botch another important diplomatic negotiation involving information transfer rights? What if another country asks for an information transfer agreement? Could we trust the Conservative government to protect our interests without destroying another important international relationship? I do not think so, and at this point I think most Canadians have these same doubts. The Conservative government has an abysmal diplomatic track record. As parliamentarians, do we want to give it one more angle, one more complication to misunderstand in the already complicated world of international relations?
Canada has invested billions of dollars over the past decade in security. Why after all these upgrades and all the spending do foreign governments still not trust Canada to ensure that only safe passengers fly? Our closest allies should be able to trust that, when the Canadian government allows someone to board a plane, that person has been cleared and is not a threat to their country or to ours. In allowing this information to be transferred, is the government not admitting either a failure of security or a failure of diplomacy?
Government is a difficult task. My Liberal colleagues and I know this first-hand. I spoke earlier of striking the balance between personal freedoms and national security. This balance is not found in the overwrought rhetoric that comes from the benches opposite me. It comes from careful consideration, from listening to experts and listening to Canadians.
Also important is Canada's sovereignty. If this legislation were enacted as is, Canadians on domestic flights may have their information transferred to another country. Canadians travelling to foreign destinations such as Mexico or the Caribbean would also have their information transferred to a third country.
The Liberal Party, and I believe all opposition parties, have some very serious concerns with the bill and with the erosion of Canadian sovereignty that is associated with it. We have concerns about the effects it will have on the rights of Canadians to privacy. We have concerns about whether this does anything to increase the safety of Canadians. Finally, we have difficulty with the ability of the government to navigate the subtle and complex arena of international relations.
The official opposition may support the bill at second reading in order to send it to committee, but this is no guarantee that we will necessarily support the bill further. If it does go to committee, the bill will need to be studied thoroughly. MPs and Canadians need to hear from authorities such as the Privacy Commissioner, the U.S. and other experts in security and civil rights before we can come to a final conclusion.
Violence against Women
June 18th, 2002 / 2:40 p.m.
Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB
Mr. Speaker, let me try to put the question more directly then.
We have had from the government a string of anti-terrorism bills, Bill C-36, Bill C-42, Bill C-44 and Bill C-55. The government spends millions of dollars fighting terrorism yet women in this country live with violence every minute of their lives. The government refuses to make the issues pertaining to women in abusive relationships a priority.
My question is, where is the money to protect women and for public security for women in violent situations? Where is a national strategy on domestic violence against women?
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 4:10 p.m.
Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Quebecers and Canadians who are listening to us, I am pleased to rise for the second time today in the House in the debate on Bill C-55 and on the amendment moved by our colleague from the Progressive Conservative Party.
A few Liberal members have spoken today. We have been dealing with Bill C-55 for about three days now and they have not really taken part in these discussions. The same goes for the Canadian Alliance members. It shows that human rights and freedoms are not of major interest to Liberal members from Quebec and Canada, as well as to Canadian Alliance members.
Why? Because the Liberal government is a centralizing one and the Canadian Alliance is no better. It would probably want to centralize powers much more in the hands of the central government. For those who are listening to us, I will try to drive home the importance of the statements that have been in the newspapers for over a month now.
I will mention only the titles. On Thursday, May 2, 2002, a La Presse headline read “The privacy commissioner condemns Bill C-55. Some measures are taken directly from some totalitarian states, he said”.
On May 19, a headline read “The fight against terrorism: half-truth and misleading statement. The privacy commissioner accuses the solicitor general of using the September 11 attacks to give police undue extra powers”. We must never forget that the solicitor general is responsible, among other things, for the RCMP and CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. The privacy commissioner therefore made a serious accusation.
Even yesterday, another headline read “Amnesty International takes stock. September 11 has hurt human rights”.
This is what we are facing in Bill C-55. In the short time that I have, I will try to explain the elements that have been added, that is, that were not in Bill C-42 and that we find in Bill C-55, concerning the provision of personal information.
For example, clause 4.81(1) says:
4.81(1) The Minister, or any officer of the Department of Transport authorized by the Minister for the purposes of this section, may, for the purposes of transportation security, require any air carrier or operator of an aviation reservation system to provide the Minister or officer, as the case may be, within the time and in the manner specified by the Minister or officer, with information set out in the schedule—
This means that from now on airlines will be required to release this information to the Department of Transport for security reasons. I will explain later to whom the Minister of Transport or his officials are required to release this information.
First, I would like to refer to the information listed in the schedule which you will have to give to your airliner:
The number of the person's passport—
The city or country in which the travel included in the person's passenger name record—
The itinerary cities—
The name of the operator of the aircraft on which the person is on board or expected to be on board—
The phone numbers of the person—
The person's address—
that means your address and your phone number;
- The manner in which the person's ticket was paid for
which means how you paid for the ticket
We are talking here about your credit card. They will have your credit card number.
- If applicable, a notation that there are gaps in the itinerary included in the person's passenger name record that necessitate travel by an undetermined method—
Therefore you will have to say where you are going, to what city and how you will travel from one point to another in that city. Also:
- Routing information in respect of the travel included in the person's passenger name record—
This means your whole itinerary.
The Department of Transport requires airlines to release this information. What will the Minister of Transport and his officials do with it? This is how they will be able to use it and, again, I quote from section 4.81 of the Bill:
(3) Information provided under subsection (1) may be disclosed to persons outside the Department of Transport only for the purposes of transportation security, and it may be disclosed only to:
(a) the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration;
(b) the Minister of National Revenue;
(c) the chief executive officer of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority—
A new agency, which does not exist yet, will be responsible for security across Canada.
(d) a person designated under subsection 4.82(2) or (3).
What is important in subsections (2) and (3) is very simple: the reference to the commissioner of the RCMP in (2) and to the dIrector of CSIS in (3).
Now the Minister of Transport can require the air carrier to provide him with information when he deems there is a security problem, and can transfer them to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Minister of National Revenue, the Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, the Commissioner of the RCMP and the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
And what can these people do? We are told that, within citizenship and immigration, customs and excise and air transport security, this information cannot be disclosed except for security purposes.
But how long will they be kept? The three departments or agencies I have listed, citizenship and immigration, customs and revenue and transportation safety, can retain them for seven days. These individuals and organizations, as well as the Department of Transport, can therefore retain the information for seven days. You are off on a trip, on vacation, but your itinerary, your credit card number, your home phone number, your address, will be wandering about the various departments for seven days, in the name of security.
What is going to be done with this information you provide? They want to use it for security purposes and so they can carry out investigations. What if they turn up a security problem? They are going to transfer the information to the RCMP and CSIS, both of whom have no obligation to destroy them after seven days. The other organizations have that obligation, but they do not. The RCMP and CSIS can retain them as long as they please.
People who are listening have certainly understood that new powers are being granted to these organizations. That is why the privacy commissioner has protested that this is pure nonsense. On top of that, you would have to give this information before you leave and it can be kept for seven days. If you are unfortunate enough, you will board the same plane as one of those Hells Angels we were talking about this morning, who have been invited to the festivities in England for the Queen and will be allowed on their bikes in the Queen's parade. If that biker has a criminal record, he could be inspected, searched and investigated. Of course, all passagers aboard the same plane could undergo the same procedure.
That is the purpose of the bill. We are now in the same situation as in the US. They asked for this information a few months ago, so we passed Bill C-44. What are the Americans doing now? When the Americans see people, men or women, who are in the company of people who have been flagged, especially when they all want to go to international meetings, the investigation drags on so much that it so happened once that more than 40 passengers could not board their plane. The intelligence people came and decided to investigate and hold back all those who were going to campaign for an association. This procedure was used to restrict their freedom. They had to miss their flight. Why? Because there was an investigation on the information they had given. One of them had a criminal record, so they decided to investigate all the other people.
So if you are a man or a woman boarding a flight with a potential criminal, you might have the misfortune of being submitted to an investigation, something that I do not wish to you. In the country you are heading to, they might not have the same respect for human rights and you might get arrested by that country's military police, who will tell you that Canadian authorities called to know where you are now. That is where we are at now, and that is not funny. That is what the privacy commissioner was describing.
Mr. Speaker, allow me to move an amendment to the amendment under consideration. I move:
That the motion be amended by adding the following:
“and a denial of rights and freedoms that was denounced by Amnesty International in its most recent report.”
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / noon
Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise again to speak to Bill C-55. It is important that the people from Quebec and Canada who are listening understand in what terrible context this bill is being submitted to the House.
If I may say so, if we could have chosen the timing for the introduction of Bill C-55, it would certainly not have been at a time when the Liberal government and its ministers are up to their ears in scandal. Why? Because never in Canadian history has a bill ever given so much power to individuals in a ministerial position. The defence minister is not alone. The bill also gives powers to the ministers of health, transport, immigration, the environment, and a score of ministers who, under Bill C-55, will be given exceptional powers that will not be subject to the approval of this House. That is the most terrible aspect of Bill C-55, and that was the most terrible aspect of Bill C-42.
Why has the Bloc Quebecois done such good work? Because we had just one question to ask, one thing to say to the government and all its ministers, and that was “What were you unable to do on September 11 that bills like C-42 and C-55 would have allowed you to do? When you can give us an answer, we will talk”.
That is why Bill C-42 is no longer on the order. Bill C-44 was introduced because an important measure had to be implemented following September 11, so that the government could provide personal information to the Americans, based on their own formula, in order for airplanes to be allowed to fly over the United States. That was the only measure the government needed. We approved that bill in the House so that our airline companies could resume their operations.
Now we have Bill C-55. Bill C-42 had 98 pages from which they removed the part dealing with personal information to be supplied to the U.S. as I just explained. Believe it or not, this new Bill C-55 has 102 pages. It is a bigger bill, one which still gives exceptional powers to ordinary individuals and ordinary ministers who, on their own initiative, can designate military zones. For his part, the health minister could make an interim order and make vaccination mandatory. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would not apply to all this.
Orders in council and interim orders, which would have the force of regulations, and which the ministers I listed a moment ago would have the power to make, would be beyond the control of this House and beyond the control of the regulatory process, which requires that regulations be reviewed by the Privy Council to ensure they are consistent with the charter of rights and freedoms.
For 15 days and up to 45 days, the decisions of a single individual, of a single minister, could affect the whole population of a whole territory, and the House would not be allowed to look at them. Worse still, within controlled access military zones, people would not be able to call for the protection of the courts or their lawyers. The would lose their rights, especially the right to sue the government.
Of course, this is what we are opposing and what other opposition parties are opposing. The government is trampling on rights, on the authority of a single person.
To stress that the current debate is not about party politics, but is a societal debate, especially on Bill C-55, I will read quotes from various sources including newspaper articles. I will give the dates. On May 2, 2002, an article in the newspaper La Presse read as follows “The privacy commissioner condemns Bill C-55. Some measures are directly inspired by totalitarian states, he warned”.
That was in the daily La Presse , but this statement was also made in most newspapers in Canada.
It is following these discussions that the Prime Minister of Canada, who even refused to answer our questions on Bill C-55 in the House, went so far as to say, outside the House, “There are days when I am a democrat and then there are days when I am a dictator”. This came following discussions on Bill C-55, when journalists were asking him “Can you explain to us the content of Bill C-55?”
The problem for Liberal members in this House is that they have not read Bill C-55 and, more importantly, they do not understand its nature. Moreover, the leader of the government, the Prime Minister himself said, of course, “Wait, we will discuss it in committee”. This is what the Liberal government spokesperson said.
On May 19, 2002, the headline in the daily Le Soleil read “Anti-Terrorism, Half Truth and Misleading Statement: Privacy Commissioner accuses Solicitor General of using September 11 Attacks to give Police Undue Extra Powers”.
We are talking here about the solicitor general, who is at the centre of the scandal condemned by several opposition parties in the House and who, of course, was defending Bill C-55, which deals with powers that will be given to him and to other ministers. Again, the privacy commissioner was calling the solicitor general to order.
On May 29, 2002, Le Devoir wrote “September 11 has hurt human rights. Amnesty International has taken stock. Canada has followed the world tendency by adopting anti-terrorism legislation, and by attacking fundamental rights, privacy rights”.
Today, Michel C. Auger, who is a highly respected journalist, writes in the Journal de Montréal that “All over the world, the law of terror, national security and anti-terrorism are becoming the best excuses to violate fundamental rights. The fight against terrorism has become a pretext for all sorts of abuse”. And he talks about Canada and says “Today again, parliamentarians are discussing”.
This is in today's edition of the Journal de Montréal . It says “Today again, parliamentarians are discussing another bill, namely Bill C-55, which gives the government and security forces all sorts of new powers that would have been unacceptable to the public just a few months ago”.
This is what we are talking about. In this regard, it is difficult to have to speak in the House and, particularly to get through to Quebec Liberal members, who hardly spoke on this. Of course, the majority of other Liberal members and, particularly the ministers affected by Bill C-55, toe the party line.
We heard earlier a Liberal member say “I trust the minister of defence”. It is not even the same person; a new one has been in office since the shuffle a few days ago. Last weekend, he surely saw that the former defence minister, who had been in office for several years, disappeared among the scandals. Of course, we have now a new defence minister, a banker.
I have a great deal of respect for bankers, but what have bankers been doing in the last 10 years in Canada? They have been digging into our pockets to show profits to their shareholders every quarter. This is what they have been doing. They have been raising fees, monthly charges, for all the small users of banking services, and they have paid less interest to seniors on their investments. This is what bankers are doing today: they take away from the poor to make their shareholders rich.
We now have a banker as minister of defence. We are going trust this new minister of defence and give him the power to designate controlled access military zones that extend beyond military property.
The Bloc Quebecois recognizes that the government and the Canadian Forces must defend their facilities; this it true. However, we have a problem with Bill C-55 allowing the government to go beyond its territory to protect, as they say or as they try to say, personnel and property that could be located outside defence establishments.
Controlled access military zones will be created, and the new minister of defence, a former banker, will make this decision alone without consulting anyone, especially not the provincial governments and those responsible for safety in most Canadian provinces.
That is what the Bloc Quebecois opposes and what all Canadians, particularly Quebecers, are concerned about.
With all the scandals involving various ministers, why is the government so intent on conferring upon individual ministers the power to make decisions that, in an emergency, will no longer be submitted to this House or to provincial authorities?
Business of the House
May 2nd, 2002 / 4:35 p.m.
Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central I am pleased to rise and participate in the debate on Bill C-55, an act to amend certain acts of Canada and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety.
It has been almost eight months since September 11. This is the Liberal's third attempt at legislation. It was first introduced as Bill C-42. Then it was split. Its offshoot, Bill C-44 was passed. The government reintroduced Bill C-42, then pulled it again last week. Now it has introduced Bill C-55.
This shows a reaction to the September 11 event rather than how the government needs to address the issue. This also shows a lack of vision and strategy by the government. It does not enhance the confidence in the government's ability to lead in the war on terrorism.
The legislation is a feeble reflection of its American counterpart. The U.S. introduced, debated, amended and enacted much more comprehensive security legislation in eight weeks, setting out tasks and defining government responsibilities. President Bush even signed it into law in November 2001, despite an anthrax scare.
It has taken the government eight months to introduce Canada's legislation in three different drafts to give us a sense of comprehension of security and third rate management. Actually all it has done is raised taxes and grabbed more power since September 11.
I am pleased that the Liberals withdrew their last flawed terror bill, Bill C-42. However they seemed to have missed the concerns Canadians had about it regarding an apparent power grab by ministers.
Bill C-55 has many flawed elements but two of them are the power grab by ministers and half-baked measures designed to mirror U.S. legislation. The stated purposes of the bill include: making air rage an offence; strengthening security at restricted areas in airports; requiring transportation companies to provide information on passengers; criminalizing terrorist hoaxes; providing for more control over explosives and sensitive exports; providing for the naming of controlled access military zones by the defence minister; protecting the jobs of reservists called up for service; and implementing the biological and toxin weapons convention.
This is an omnibus bill amending 19 different acts of parliament and implementing one international treaty, as well as impacting nine different ministries, which makes fair scrutiny by one committee almost impossible, amounting to even less accountability in government.
It gives the ministers of the environment, health, transport and fisheries and oceans the authority to issue an interim order effectively giving them the power to act without consulting cabinet or parliament and thus making the government even more arrogant.
This general increase in authority is not accompanied by any new specifics, or an assumption of responsibility by the ministries concerned. It is without any judicial or parliamentary oversight to safeguard the rights of Canadians. Allowing ministers to impose interim orders in contentious areas limits accountability for a bad decision to a single cabinet minister, rather than the Prime Minister or the whole government. This is not a step forward toward more accountable government.
Given the sweeping powers that already exist in the Emergencies Act to declare a public order emergency, an international emergency or even a war emergency, the new interim orders are probably not necessary in most cases.
Although the timeframe for cabinet review of ministerial imposed orders has been reduced from 90 days to 45 days it is a cosmetic change that is still too long a time period. It is 31 days more than the 14 days currently required under the act.
The legislation is inadequate, vague and seems to only be window dressing. It will probably be loaded with regulations. The government is not only weak and arrogant but also infamous for thwarting democracy in the House. The regulations would be imposed without any oversight or debate in parliament. This is not called governing but rather ruling through the back door.
As co-chair of the scrutiny of regulations committee I know how badly we need regulatory reform in the country. Some of the provinces are doing quite a bit, at least more than the federal government. The government needs to submit regulations along with the legislation when it puts it forward for debate in the House so that we know what it is following. As they say, the devil is in the details and the devil has to follow.
The government would now require air transportation companies to provide information about passengers en route to Canada but would not require them to ensure that passengers have documents when they board and when they disembark. There are no provisions to fine companies and require them to return the passengers if they do not have their documents.
The problem of invalid or missing travel documents remains. All persons who do not have documents should be detained automatically until they can prove their identity or their identity can be proven by running criminal checks overseas.
The auditor general said that 40% of potential refugees applying for refugee status in Canada land in the country without any kind of documents in their hands. That puts security at risk. Although airlines are required to check the passports of passengers for citizenship information, it is for immigration purposes only, not for security or ensuring that they land in this country with the documents with which they were able to board the plane.
There is no provision in the bill to send people back. If they were to come through a safe third country nothing could be done about them. All such persons should automatically be sent back. The transportation company should foot the bill for failing to screen the passengers. That is the law in the United States, why not in Canada?
According to the bill collected information would not be shared with law enforcement agencies and could not therefore be used in profiling. Further, the bill would not provide a means by which such information might be processed. It lacks co-ordination and a utilization strategy for the information.
There is little controversy about the provisions for greater sharing of information among financial institutions and regulators in order to comply with the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act. There is nothing about that in the bill. Again it is a lack of co-ordination and co-operation. The government does not understand how to create a synergy of resources and information.
There should be a reasonable balance between security and the privacy rights of Canadians. The provisions proposed in section 4.82 would give the RCMP and CSIS unrestricted access to the personal information of all Canadian air travellers on flights within Canada as well as on international routes without any judicial authorization, explanation or justification as to its necessity.
Only air travellers within Canada would be forced by law to identify themselves to police for scrutiny, not travellers by train, bus or car. It is discriminatory. Similar practices exist in only totalitarian societies where police routinely board trains or establish roadblocks to check identification of people in search of anything in the interest of the state. Such countries have issued compulsory national identity cards or numbers. This provision would be an infringement on the privacy of citizens.
There are other issues, for example, how about law abiding citizens? They would also be required to provide information. Similarly, the amendments to the criminal code deal with hoaxes which are not real terrorist threats. There are so many things that are limiting to democracy.
The bill is contrary to Canadian Alliance policy of calling for more accountability in the government. The Canadian Alliance opposes the bill unless the government amends certain things we have put forward and limits the blanket interim order powers given to the ministers. I look forward to the government making those possible amendments.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 2nd, 2002 / 12:45 p.m.
Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Lethbridge.
I rise today to discuss Bill C-55, the public safety act. We all live in a different world in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Legislation is needed to address the security concerns we all face, however, Bill C-55 has very serious flaws that need to be addressed if it is to become law.
This is the third attempt to put the bill before the House. The bill began as Bill C-42, which was later split into two parts, with Bill C-44 being passed earlier in the session. We are pleased that the bill was split at the time so as to allow our support for the air safety regulations in Bill C-44. Now we have Bill C-55, supposedly the new and improved version; however, the government has not addressed any of the serious issues that caused the collapse of Bill C-42. The bill remains flawed.
The government has a poor track record of controversial legislation. The species at risk act was recently pulled from the order paper after a third aborted attempt. Long awaited amendments to the Divorce Act are delayed yet again while the government tries to find a way not to offend anyone.
The government simply cannot cope with difficult legislation. Why? A government without any policy direction is revealed when called on to make policy. Its lack of ideas is exposed. When it does come up with ideas they are often not well thought out, they anger all sides of the political debate and they do not address the needs of Canadians. Worse, when it does bow to public pressure and withdraw a bad bill, which is rare, it does not make any real changes. Bill C-55 does not adequately address any of our concerns with respect to Bill C-42. Why introduce the bill at all if the government will not fix it?
My main concern with Bill C-42 was the unreasonable amount of power that was given to a handful of ministers. The Canadian Alliance believes that the powers under the Emergencies Act to declare various stages of public emergency are adequate. The Aeronautics Act also allows for ministerial discretion, but forces its ratification by parliament or cabinet within 14 days. Bill C-42 allowed cabinet ministers to unilaterally declare an emergency in an area, as a result giving them very broad enforcement powers. Those decisions did not have to be reviewed by cabinet for three months. Parliament as a whole might never have been consulted at all.
Bill C-55 purports to address this by reducing the review period from 90 days to 40 days. Imagine, he now can get his cabinet together in 45 days. It must be pretty tough to pull them all together. This is ridiculous. Both periods are equally extreme. Invoking extreme measures that limit democratic rights in Canada should be relied upon only as a last resort. When they are invoked they should be debated in parliament, not in a closed door cabinet meeting. This should happen in a matter of days, not weeks or months. Furthermore, this authority to be given to ministers is not accompanied by any specifics as to how it would be implemented. It is not indicated that ministers would be responsible for enforcing the order or, more important, that they would be accountable for it.
Frankly, Bill C-55, like Bill C-42, looks suspiciously like nothing more than another power grab. We owe it to Canadians to ensure that their civil liberties will not be suspended without very good reason and within very strict parameters. Furthermore, the sheer size and scope of Bill C-55 make discussion difficult. No single committee can be tasked with so many changes. The Canadian Alliance requests that the bill be split into sections to allow more informed, useful debate both in this place and in committee.
No one is denying that there is a need for security measures to protect Canadians. For this reason I support bringing about fair laws. Bill C-55 does address a few of these areas, and in particular the measures that would protect the jobs of the reservists when they are called into active service. That is excellent and I fully support that. This law is long overdue. We have been calling for this for some time.
We also support measures to update the Explosives Act and measures that would make terrorist hoaxes an offence. Our security personnel have a tough enough time dealing with real terrorists without having to waste valuable resources on pranksters.
Again, these are positive steps in the bill, but unfortunately the balance is not acceptable. The overwhelming power grab, not having to come back to cabinet for weeks, discussing it behind closed doors, and not even having to come before parliament, all of these are not acceptable. I would like to support this type of legislation to actually enhance and protect public safety, but the bill should be about people's protection. Instead it is more about giving more unaccountability to government. It is famous for that. The single fatal flaw in this institution is the lack of accountability of the executive of the government. This is a bill that will give them more powers with no accountability. The government is famous for allowing ministers to do as they will with no regard for the House of Commons. Bill C-55 is another classic example. Ultimately, eight months and three drafts later, the bill remains a failure. I ask the government to make significant amendments to address the faults I have outlined.
I would like to add one other point about the whole security situation with regard to September 11. The government is now collecting the $24 air tax from travellers in the country. It is having a huge impact in my riding. The Victoria airport is in my riding, which generally has short flights, and $24 is a significant burden.
Worse than that, what I learned last week was appalling. The government is scrambling to find a way to create an appearance or a perception that the travelling public is actually getting something for that $24. What is the government going to do? For any airports that have flights to the U.S. or national flights, it is going to put armed RCMP or police officers in the airport beside security so that there is a perception, and I emphasize perception, that travellers are getting something for their $24, because right now the travelling public is saying that there is not a lot of difference. They go through security and their bags go through an X-ray machine, so not a lot has changed.
The government talked about explosive detection equipment but when we actually speak to the people in the airports they tell us it will take two to three years to even order that equipment because there is such a huge backlog. Yet the government is collecting another tax and putting the money into general revenues. It is wrong. In my community there are only 24 police officers. It would take five police officers from that detachment just to man the airport. That would pull police officers off the street. Again the frustrating part is that the government is not interested in the public or in accountability. It is interested in creating a perception. It says it has to give people something for that $24 so if it throws some armed police into airports people will think they are a lot safer. It is wrong.
Let me emphasize that the biggest fatal flaw in Bill C-55 is the power grab it is giving to the ministers, with zero accountability. They do not even have to come before the House. They can wait weeks before they have to go to cabinet. That is not acceptable. Cabinet could be convened in a matter of hours, if not days. Parliament could be recalled if those kinds of extraordinary powers were necessary. Unfortunately again the government has demonstrated that when it comes to accountability it is still getting an F.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 2nd, 2002 / 12:15 p.m.
André Harvey Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member said that we have lost our close relationship with our fellow citizens. The time to check that relationship is during a general election. We will see about this during the next election campaign. I always like to campaign against my Bloc Quebecois friends. I am also looking forward to seeing how close our relationship is with our fellow citizens.
I want to pay tribute to the hon. member, because he takes a very close look at the whole issue of security, including the security measures taken by the government since September 11. However, he said that though the measures we are taking, we are letting the terrorists win.
We passed the anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-44 on the sharing of information with the U.S. government. We will improve this measure to promote better co-operation between our security services. We also announced very substantial investments of close to $8 billion for security and the hiring of personnel in strategic locations. Yet the hon. member described this as letting the terrorists win.
I wonder if he could elaborate on this. I find it hard to see how this could be the case.
The government is doing the maximum with the resources available to it to reassure our citizens, working very closely with the United States, which is our main trading partner and which saw thousands of lives lost in the terrorist attack.
My colleague says that we are playing into the hands of terrorists by adopting specific measures: improved exchange of information, supplementary budget to provide even greater assurance of safety for all.
Personally, I feel that, while not perfect, our initiatives will reassure citizens and increase our co-operation with other countries.
I therefore ask my colleague to explain more clearly what he means by saying that we are playing into the hands of international terrorism. I have a little trouble understanding.
Even if the bill is referred to committee, we will have an opportunity to debate it with all our colleagues. I see my colleague, a member of the official opposition. Obviously, when a bill is introduced, it is never perfect. It does, however, contain certain features, which are fundamentally good and important for the future safety of our country.
I would like the hon. member to expand a bit on the notion that we are playing into the hands of terrorists.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 2nd, 2002 / 10:55 a.m.
André Harvey Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport
Madam Speaker, I would like to point out my colleague's good speech. He demonstrated a great deal of knowledge on this matter. In fact, it prompts us to adopt 20 amendments to 20 different acts.
There have been concerns voiced on one of the aspects of Bill C-55, which is part of our antiterrorism plan. It is obvious that we will not get rid of terrorism with a little soap and water.
When Bill C-44 was being considered, there was fairly broad support for the exchange of information between our services and the U.S. government. We must not forget that the reaction of most western countries to terrorism is a result of solidarity with the U.S., particularly in this country, given that it is our main trading partner. After all, the United States is our neighbour. They suffered thousands of deaths because of terrorism, which has infiltrated just about every country.
At the time, we believed, and we still do, that exchanging information on passengers to the United States was perfectly legitimate. It was broadly accepted that we should share this information.
With this bill, clearly what we also want is that the information exchanges with the U.S. government to detect international terrorists be done in direct co-operation with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
I would like my colleague to highlight the importance of very close co-operation between carriers and our security services here in the country.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 1st, 2002 / 4:55 p.m.
Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC
Madam Speaker, in this bill, the expression “reasonably necessary” is used four times to define size. The dimensions of the zone are set out in paragraph (4):
(4) The dimensions of a controlled access military zone may not be greater than is reasonably necessary—
(6) A designation or renewal may not be for a period longer than is reasonably necessary—
What will the time limit be for that zone and what area will it cover? Under what conditions do we give to a single individual the authority to determine what is reasonably necessary? One must hope that it will be a reasonable person because, otherwise, we could find ourselves in a bad spot, and that is exactly what is happening.
In Quebec, it is clear what the Bloc Quebecois is asking for will remain unchanged. I hope the other parties will understand that, to preserve a degree of control, the provinces must be consulted and the federal government must obtain their consent, and that applies not only to the Quebec government and the Quebec people, but also to all other provincial governments.
We cannot have controlled access military zones in Quebec without the Quebec government's consent. That is the reality.
That leads us to the last part of the bill. It is not complicated. There are a few paragraphs that give the legislation all its meaning. I could explain, for the benefit of our fellow citizens, the Quebecers who are listening, why the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to those controlled access military zones. Some might have questions for us.
For example, paragraph (12) states:
(12) The Canadian Forces may permit, control, restrict or prohibit access to a controlled access military zone.
So, they are the ones controlling everything that is going on in that area. Moreover, paragraph (14) states:
(14) No action for loss, damage or injury lies by reason only of the designation of a controlled access military zone or the implementation of measures to enforce the designation.
Not only the military will restrict our movements and control us within that zone, but citizens arrested or prevented from functioning or under arrest will have no recourse against the government, and that in spite of the statements made by the defence minister who is telling us “Yes, recourse through the courts is always available to them”.
Give me a break. Once again, I am pleased to read this text, which does state:
(14) No action for loss, damage or injury lies by reason only of the designation of a controlled access military zone or the implementation of measures to enforce the designation.
One can always go before the court to challenge the military zone. That is what the defence minister is telling us. “You can challenge it”. Yes, we can challenge a military zone. But, in the meantime, citizens, Quebecers will be arrested, imprisoned and will have no recourse against the federal government. They will be stripped of their rights and liberties, and they will have no recourse. Again, this is what the federal government wants to do.
This is an attempt by the government, the officer corps or the land staff to centralize in the hands of the defence minister and his staff the power to control more and more the movements of individuals and groups which may want to protest.
They will not be able to protest near a building, a defence facility or piece of equipment, not even near an army vehicle. They will not be able to do that anymore.
They will not be able to protest if someone in the federal government feels threatened. This person will ask the military staff to make a recommendation to the defence minister, who, in my opinion, has not been a reasonable person up until now. The defence minister will then have the power to designate military zones, presumably to protect the interests of the government, all this to the detriment of the interests, rights and liberties of our fellow citizens.
I would like to close by commenting on the third part, which deals with providing personal information. We recall Bill C-42 and wonder why a government would withdraw a bill. Once again, it is because of what the opposition did, and the fierce battle led by the leader of the Bloc Quebecois and all of the members from our party against Bill C-42. We saw that the government appeared to back down.
However, the big question raised at the time that made the government back down—we all remember it—was when we asked the Prime Minister , “What were you not able to do after September 11 that you could have done if you had had Bill C-42?”
The same question applies today. What is the Canadian government not able to do if ever a situation like September 11 were to occur, which would be the worst incident in the history of Canada? What is it that it could not do then, and therefore could still not do today, that it could do with Bill C-55?
We could not get an answer today from the Prime Minister, nor from the Minister of National Defence, nor from the Minister of Transport in his speech. Nobody answered us. When one is politically strong, as is the Liberal government right now, riding high in the polls, everything is fine, everything is coming up roses,and one becomes arrogant. This is what happens when one is arrogant. Mistakes are made, bad bills are introduced. Slight changes are made, and the bill comes back with four more pages than it used to have.
This is how it works, and the government thinks that people will swallow it. The Prime Minister said yesterday in a scrum, “There are days when I am a dictator, and other days when I am not a dictator”. This is what he said yesterday. Unbelievable. This is in Canada, and our Prime Minister said in a press scrum, “Today I am not a dictator, but tomorrow I will be a dictator. I am the one who decides”.
In the end, he is the one who decides. He decided to introduce Bill C-55. He decided that with his Liberal majority, he would succeed in showing that he was right and that, in any case, people will have no other choice. They will accept it and the Liberal Party will not suffer in the polls. This is the reality. This is why we have to deal with Bill C-55 today.
When we questioned the government about Bill C-42 on November 22, 2001, we were told that there were two important elements in this bill. First, there was the information required by the Americans so that Canadian airlines could fly over their territory. The whole section dealing with personal information was taken out of Bill C-42. It became Bill C-44. Bill C-42 had a whole section dealing with immigration. Our listeners will have understood, after watching 60 Minutes , that there are problems with immigration in Canada. Despite anything the immigration minister may say, there is a problem. As some would say, there is a certain uneasiness about the whole issue.
Once again, they took out the part on immigration and introduced Bill C-11 on immigration. That is fine, we supported it. We supported Bill C-44. In fact, this is what the government needed after September 11. It needed a bill that would allow it to give the Americans the personal information they require so that our airline companies could fly over their territory.
But believe it or not, in Bill C-44, the list of information that the American government requires from the airline companies in title 130 of its act, which is equivalent to ours, is not the same list. They require about 15 items. I will come back to this later.
We are having fun today, we are reacting, but in the coming weeks we will have the opportunity to talk about this list. However, Canada is asking for about 20 items of information more than the Americans. This is the reality. We must provide personal information and a schedule was made and tabled.
This schedule is designed to please public officials, who are asking for an increasingly controlling and centralizing state as regards people's privacy. They asked for things that the Americans are not asking for. These things are in the schedule. This is what the minister was telling us. From now on, airlines will be required to provide personal information to authorities. I will say to which authorities, but first I want to read part of the schedule. Perhaps I should begin by reading an excerpt of the act, so people will believe me. We must be careful with the Liberals. They may well claim that I am wrong.
This government's legislation reads as follows:
The Minister, or any officer of the Department of Transport authorized by the Minister for the purposes of this section, may, for the purposes of transportation security, require any air carrier or operator of an aviation reservation system to provide the Minister or officer, as the case may be, within the time and in the manner specified by the Minister of officer, with information set out in the schedule that is in the air carrier's or operator's control concerning the persons on board or expected to be on board an aircraft.
The information that government officials wish to have includes, among other things:
The passport number of the person and, as the case may be, the visa number, or the proof of stay;
the city, country or travel covered by the passenger file;
the cities listed on the itinerary as points of departure or arrival;
the name of the user of the aircraft on board of which the person is likely to be;
the telephone number of the person;
the address of the person;
the type of payment used for the person's ticket;
as the case may be, an indication that the itinerary covered by the passenger file includes any segment that must be travelled by using an undetermined mode of transportation;
the itinerary of the trip covered by the passenger file, namely the points of departure and arrival, the codes of aircraft users, the stopovers and the land portions of the trip.
They want to know everything. When you are travelling, they want to be sure they control you. Of course, the airline company has to keep this information and disclose it to the authorities. This is always done for reasons of security.
That is the beauty of it all. The minister, or a transport department official authorizing what the minister can authorize, can obtain this information. But the government says:
Information provided under subsection(1) may be disclosed to persons outside theDepartment of Transport only for the purposesof transportation security, and it may bedisclosed only to--
When the Department of Transport requests this information, it can disclosed it to:
(a) the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration;
(b) the Minister of National Revenue;
(c) the chief executive officer of the CanadianAir Transport Security Authority;
--it does not exist yet, but it is in the works--and
(d) a person designated under subsection4.82(2) or (3).
The persons designated under subsection4.82(2) or (3) are theCommissioner ofthe Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Director of the CanadianSecurity Intelligence Service, or CSIS.
All the personal information mentioned on the form filled out when you buy a plane ticket to go on a trip can be shared with five or six departments, at the whim of the minister.
People will say, “Look, this is the information that the U.S. will be asking for anyway.” I said earlier that the information required by the U.S. is not the same as that required by Canada. Also, pursuant to the following provision, the government can make changes to that list.
(10) The Governor in Council may, on therecommendation of the Minister, by orderamend the schedule.
So, the minister could, on his own initiative, have a talk with the governor in council and decide to amend the list of information to be gathered by the airline company. This is serious.
Again, the government wants to gain control. I am geeting the signal that I only have a minute left, so I will conclude by giving the House an example. I hope no Quebecer and no Canadian will be flying on a plane with a suspect, because we know how things will be done.
Pursuant to this bill, for seven days, while someone is on vacation, all the departments I have just mentioned, including the revenue department, the RCMP and CSIS, will be able to investigate the suspect and determine that he or she presents a security risk. Knowing in which country this individual is, they could have him or her arrested and interrogated in a country that might not have the same respect for human rights than we have in Canada. Again, this is what the Bloc Quebecois will try to fight--
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 1st, 2002 / 4:05 p.m.
James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the transport minister on at least waking up the justice minister to his wonderful display of arm waving which was good.
First, I want to comment on his final comments with regard to airport traffic. I will move specifically to Bill C-55 in a moment. The minister said that airport traffic is back after September 11 and somehow that is a great feat by the government.
First, airport traffic is back because people already bought their tickets prior to April 1, so they did not have to pay the $24 tax. Second, people are booking their flights today for the summer to avoid paying the $24 tax and it is the travel season. Third, the vast majority of air carriers are having broad seat sales right now because they are scared of going under because the government is taxing them into the ground.
I rise on Bill C-55 which is an act to amend certain acts of Canada and to enact measures for implementing the biological and toxin weapons convention to enhance public safety. It is also known as the public security act.
Bill C-55 gives cabinet members acting alone outrageous and broad new powers with limited checks and balances. If these powers were exercised to their fullest possible extent, they could represent a grave threat to the notion of parliamentary democracy that Canadians hold so dearly.
We were glad that the Liberals withdrew their Bill C-42, but they seem to have missed the entire reason why so many members of the House and so many members of the public were exercised with concern about the problems of Bill C-42.
Specifically, the concerns that Canadians had with Bill C-42, which are still present in Bill C-55, are the capacity of cabinet ministers to invoke a number of interim order measures and the capacity for the minister of defence acting alone to create military security zones. Both of those aspects of Bill C-42 are alive and well in Bill C-55. It is because of those aspects that a number of Canadians will continue to have concerns about the bill and that the official opposition will oppose the bill and encourage all others to do so as well.
As I said, the government can still create a military security zone to protect, as the bill says, “property that is provided for the armed forces for the department and is situated outside a defence establishment”.
In the old bill the government could have declared an area like Kananaskis where the G-8 summit will be a military security zone. It still can in Bill C-55. All it has to do is put some military equipment like a jeep or a helicopter in the zone and they can therefore declare it a security zone under section 260.1(3) which reads:
A controlled access military zone may consist of an area of land or water, a portion of airspace, or a structure or part of one, surrounding a thing referred to in subsection (1) [basically equipment and personnel]...The zone automatically includes all corresponding airspace above, and water and land below, the earth's surface.
This power should not be in the sole, arbitrary hands of the minister of defence.
A recent poll has shown that 69% of Canadians see our federal political system as being corrupt. Canadians are unlikely to be thrilled by this legislation such as this, where the government grabs more unchecked power for ministers. At present the public's faith in democracy is tainted more than ever by the Liberal government's track record on things such as imposing a $24 air tax, despite the fact that air security at most airports has not been improved as the minister says and that the transport committee recommended against such an extreme airline killing measure.
Also, the government invoked closure to impose the legislation, Bill C-49, and which imposed the tax. These things do not build confidence with Canadians. The government also has a lack of respect for free votes in this place and the treatment of private members' bill. It has a lack of commitment to a democratically elected Senate. It has muzzled politically free speech for their own backbenchers. It has a lack of free votes allowed by Liberals in this place. There are also countless other examples and they do not build the confidence of Canadians.
The government should be building the confidence of Canadians in democracy and governance. Bill C-55 will only work to continue the downward spiral of public faith in the institution of governance.
Bill C-55 is a vast and comprehensive bill affecting some nine federal departments. It amends 20 federal statutes and implements in domestic law an international convention that Canada ratified back on March 26, 1975. That treaty is the biological and toxin weapons convention and it shows a stunning lack of vision that it has taken us a quarter of a century to finally make it part of our laws.
In times of trial lucky nations remember great leaders. The British remember Winston Churchill. His unbroken spirit strengthened British resolve during the darkest days of the second world war. Americans remember Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the president who led their nation to great victories across two different oceans at a time when freedom itself was at stake.
All those who are alive today know that President Bush, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and Prime Minister Blair will fare similarly well with historians. As we struggle to deal with the aftermath of September 11, now roughly eight months ago, these three leaders have set the standard by which the world will judge political courage in a time of crisis in the years to come.
Those standards are tough. They mandate a committed ongoing and continuous fight against terrorism and the defence of our way of life, the rule of law, pluralism and democracy. Tougher still, they will require respect for diversity and understanding through dialogue so that in our zeal to protect the democratic Liberal values, which the western world so shares, we do not inadvertently diminish or deny that which we are striving to protect.
Finally and perhaps most important, those standards require firm, principled leadership. That leadership requires two very simple things: a clearly identified goal and a precise way of reaching it.
In the immediate aftermath of September 11 President Bush led. He set a goal of making America safe against further terrorist attacks and of restoring the confidence of Americans. He launched six different initiatives.
The first was the office of homeland security to deal with threats against American territory and appointed Vietnam veteran, former army ranger and former Pennsylvania governor, Tom Ridge as its director.
Second, he created a military campaign to fight terrorism abroad and involve America's allies in that campaign.
Third, he launched an aggressive worldwide campaign to identify and prosecute those who were responsible for the September 11 attacks.
Fourth, blocking of terrorist financing was a priority and access to international banking networks was fought.
Fifth, he launched a concerted diplomatic effort with America's allies to secure the co-operation of the United Nations Security Council, NATO and the Organization of American States in collectively fighting terrorism.
Sixth, he established a fund to help Afghan children, recognizing that they too were victims of the events of September 11.
Each of President Bush's initiatives were and are distinct and well designed, rather like the blades of a Swiss army knife. Each has a specific purpose but the six together are a powerful and comprehensive combination. Quite simply, they have been designed like a Swiss army knife, to work well together so as to be greater than the sum of their parts and like a Swiss army knife they are designed to get the job done.
If we think of President Bush's initiatives as a Swiss army knife, this government's attempts to deal with the aftermath of September 11 are rather like the tools we might find at the bottom of a box at a rummage sale. Some are good, some are missing pieces, some are quite beyond redemption and even the ones that work are not necessarily designed to work together.
Of all the governments on this continent, the Canadian federal government has by far the most legislative and administrative power. An arrogant Prime Minister can appoint his cabinet ministers and he can make them do his bidding or face political exile in the obscurity of the government backbenches. His decisions are supported by 170 plus Liberal voting machines. Their unquestioning support of every piece of government legislation gives the Prime Minister a degree of concentration of power unseen in other liberal democracies.
Given the vast powers of the Canadian Prime Minister, virtually any bold incisive solution was possible in response to September 11. Whatever measure, whichever regulation desired would have easily become a legal reality. Given such latitude, it is sad, perhaps even a bit frightening, that with respect to the public safety act this is the third time in three attempts that the Liberal government has dropped the ball.
When after September 11 Canadians clamored for a collective sense of security, the government increased taxes on air travellers. Today in reaction to polls showing that Canadians do not trust government, the federal Liberals offer up not accountability but a power grab for the cabinet.
Bill C-55 is another omnibus bill that the government has tabled since September 11 and the tragedy therein. The first was Bill C-36 which the government introduced on October 15, over a month after the tragedy and which amended over a dozen statutes and added a new one.
Bill C-55, the public safety act, is just as cumbersome and every bit as complex as Bill C-36. Indeed this bill's complexity and the ham-fisted way incompatible themes have been duct taped together into one bill is obviously a sign of a government unable to and arguably incapable of leading in a time of crisis.
On November 20, 2001 at about 5.25 in the evening the government House leader sought unanimous consent to suspend the standing orders and introduce a government bill at 2 p.m. the next afternoon. The bill, “An Act to amend certain Acts of Canada and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety”, would be complex and a briefing to staff would be offered. After two months of hibernation on aviation security legislation, there was now a flicker of hope that our government would finally react.
At 2 p.m. on November 21, 2001 the promised bill was nowhere in sight. Last minute problems delayed its introduction. Bill C-42 was introduced the following day on November 22 and contained some 19 parts dealing with everything from money laundering to the implementation of a 1977 treaty on biotoxins. A miniature section on aviation security was thrown in for measured optics.
With the same deft touch that marked the bill's introduction on Wednesday, November 28, within a week of its first reading in the House, the government House leader was again on his feet to state that unanimous consent had been required and obtained to delete clause 5 which dealt with section 4.83 of the Aeronautics Act regarding the provision of information. The clause was to be reintroduced in Bill C-44, an act to amend the Aeronautics Act, which was ordered for consideration at second reading a mere two sitting days later.
Examination showed that the clause which was deleted had been written to comply with section 115 of the U.S. aviation and transportation security act which had been signed by President Bush days prior. In short, airlines would not be able to fly into the United States after January 18 unless they provided certain information to the U.S. customs service.
There was one problem. The clause allowing Canadian airlines to comply with the U.S. legislation was buried deep in a massive omnibus bill and there was no hope of getting the omnibus bill passed before January 18, 2002. The government took the only possible option. It took the useful clause out of Bill C-42 and introduced it as Bill C-44, a one clause bill which was passed in the House on December 6 and received royal assent on December 18.
The Liberals' stunning mishandling of the public safety act is underlined by the fact that more than five months after Bill C-42 was introduced we are discussing and debating a virtually identical bill with most of the same problems. The government seems to have learned nothing.
Bill C-55 addresses a number of totally unrelated ideas. It should be broken up. Just as it made sense last November to put clauses of Bill C-42 into a separate bill, Bill C-44, it now makes sense to break Bill C-55 into separate bills so they might in turn get the committee's scrutiny. This is what our system of government was designed for. It is what Canadians expect. It would allow the various committees of the House to study the relevant parts of the bill instead of sending the entire bill to a single committee, in this case the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations.
Bill C-55 deals with money laundering and the implementation of a 1977 treaty on biotoxins, topics which would hardly be considered the domain and responsibility of a transport committee. Having said that, I will deal in specific terms with the sections of the bill that deal truly with transport. It is our intention to give each of our party's critics the opportunity to speak to the parts of Bill C-55 that would affect the departments they monitor. It is also our intention to allow our justice critic the hon. member for Provencher to address the parts of the bill that would give ministers the power to make interim orders with respect to unforeseen threats in their departments.
I will address the key areas with respect to transport. The first is the apportionment of security costs. As members opposite may notice, this is not dealt with in Bill C-55. That is part of the problem. Bill C-42 which Bill C-55 replaces was also called the public safety act. It contained a clause which would have introduced a new subsection to the Aeronautics Act. Proposed subsection 4.75(1) read:
The Minister may apportion the costs of any security measure between the persons to whom it is directed, or by whom it is carried out, and any person or persons who, in the opinion of the Minister, would reasonably be expected to benefit from the security measure.
In the context of passenger screening this might have apportioned costs among the flying public to whom it was directed, the airlines and airport authorities who carried it out, and any person who could have reasonably benefited from it. Given that the September 11 victims were mostly in office towers and on the ground, this might well have been the general taxpayer.
These sentiments were expressed in recommendation 14 of the report of the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations, “Building a Transportation Security Culture: Aviation as the Starting Point”, which was released on Friday, December 7. I am glad the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport is here because the report which tabled 15 recommendations on airport and airline security was supported unanimously at committee.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, the hon. member of parliament from Chicoutimi, said the government should not impose a $24 tax and put it all on the shoulders of passengers. He said we should spread out the costs. The view was supported unanimously but the government rejected it. It rejected its own parliamentary secretary and the hard work of the committee.
The recommendation I am referring to reads:
All stakeholders--including airports, air carriers, airline passengers and/or residents of Canada--contribute to the cost of improved aviation security. In particular, the amounts currently spent by airports and air carriers should be continued--
They are not now continued by law. The recommendation goes on:
--with appropriate adjustments for inflation. A ticket surtax could also be implemented, and any funding shortfalls could be financed out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The initial apportionment of security costs was a good idea. It was in the spirit of what the transport committee had recommended. I was surprised the clause was not included in the new public safety act Bill C-55. After all, we read constantly in the press that the Liberals want to listen to Canadians and their concerns.
When I heard WestJet was cutting 13 weekly flights between Edmonton and Calgary and dropping its Victoria-Kelowna service as a result of the oppressive impact of the Liberal government's air tax on short haul carriers, I hoped the Liberals were listening. I thought maybe they were having a change of heart. Then I noticed the apportionment of costs clause was gone from Bill C-55. If Bill C-42 had not been withdrawn and had been reintroduced in virtually its original form with only a number change, the apportionment of security costs would have ended up being debated and scrutinized by the transport committee which had recommended an apportionment of security costs model in the first place.
Given that the model was rejected by the finance committee after the Liberals who supported it were removed and by the Liberal voting machine which heeded the Prime Minister's orders on Bill C-49, the government did not want the apportionment of security costs clause going back before the committee. Since it was the only way to avoid having such a clause debated by committee the government pulled the bill, deleted the clause, renumbered the bill and reintroduced it as a brand new piece of legislation in Bill C-55. After all this government members wonder why 69% of Canadians think federal politics is corrupt.
The second transport related clause of Bill C-55 that I will address is the new anti-air rage provision. Clause 17 of Bill C-55 would introduce a new section to the Aeronautics Act, section 7.41. In many ways the section would build on concepts contained in the 1963 Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft which Canada ratified on November 7, 1969, and the 1971 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation which Canada ratified on June 19, 1972.
Essentially these treaties make interference with cockpit crew an international offence. Clause 17 of Bill C-55 would make it an offence punishable by a $100,000 fine and/or up to five years in jail to interfere with any crew member in the performance of his or her duties or anyone who is following the instruction of a crew member. We in our party fully support clause 17 of Bill C-55 and applaud its introduction by the government.
Clause 5 of Bill C-55 deals with the type of information an airline or other transport authority may provide to authorities. It would modify sections 4.7 and 4.8 of the Aeronautics Act. Under clause 5 of Bill C-55 the new subsection 4.82(4) of the Aeronautics Act would read:
The Commissioner, or a person designated under subsection (2), may, for the purposes of transportation security or the identification of persons for whom a warrant has been issued, require any air carrier or operator of an aviation reservation system to provide a person designated under subsection (2), within the time and in the manner specified by the person imposing the requirement, with the information set out in the schedule
(a) that is in the air carrier's or operator's control concerning the persons on board or expected to be on board an aircraft for any flight specified by the person imposing the requirement; or
(b) that is in the air carrier's or operator's control, or that comes into their control within 30 days after the requirement is imposed on them, concerning any particular person specified by the person imposing the requirement.
The modified subsection 4.82(5) of the Aeronautics Act would enable the RCMP to share this information with CSIS. These powers, correctly used and perhaps modified by committee, might give Canadian intelligence authorities access to the same type of information the Americans have in their Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System or CAPPS. It is imperative that this be the case.
For years Canadians have bragged about having the world's longest undefended border. We have had access to America like no other nation. Those days are over because of the government's mismanagement since September 11. Armed national guardsmen now protect the previously undefended border. That single fact, breaking with years of tradition, is a damning indictment of the government's post-September 11 record. By guarding the border the Americans are sending Canada a simple, four word message: “We don't trust you”.
Sunday's 60 Minutes report may help convince some of the voting machines opposite of the urgent need to act. We face a choice as a nation. With regard to the new fortress America we can either be inside looking out or outside looking in. We are on probation. It matters greatly what we do in the coming months.
It is critical that we build computer system like the one America has, the Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System or CAPPS. This would show we were serious about protecting our border from terrorism and those who would use our tremendous support of legitimate refugees as a cover for criminal acts. A cornerstone of CAPPS is getting information from airlines. Bill C-55's modifications to subsections 4.82(4) and 4.82(5) of the Aeronautics Act are a step in the right direction.
It may come as a surprise to members of the House that airlines maintain two types of files on their passengers. First, they maintain a passenger name record or PNR. This is the file airlines create when they reserve a seat for a passenger. It contains information such as the passenger's name, address, phone number and form of payment. It also contains reservation information such as boarding city, destination, connections, flight numbers, dates, stops and seat assignment. Based on this information the manifest is prepared for each flight showing who is sitting where. Routinely at present this is the information handed over to authorities when there is an airline accident.
Second, airlines maintain the APIS or advanced passenger information system data. It includes five fields: passenger name; date of birth; citizenship, nationality and document issuing country; gender; and passport or document number. Other than the passenger's name this information is not normally collected by the airlines. Unless passports are machine readable much of the information must be entered manually. For this reason airlines only collect it when they must provide it to immigration authorities.
The U.S. currently requires this type of information for U.S. bound Asian passengers transiting through Vancouver under the Canada-U.S. memorandum of understanding which allows such passengers to go through U.S. customs without first passing through Canadian customs. It is not immediately clear whether the modified subsections 4.82(4) and 4.82(5) of the Aeronautics Act would apply only to PNR information which airlines normally have in their reservations systems or also to APIS information which may be collected as passengers board flights overseas destined for Canada.
In the U.S. the new aviation and transportation security act mandates that the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration require air carriers to expand the application of the Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System or CAPPS to all passengers regardless of baggage. In addition, passengers selected under the system are subject to additional security measures before boarding including checks of carry on baggage and of their person. Both the PNR and APIS information is sent electronically to the U.S. customs supercomputer in Newington, Virginia where the CAPPS system enables the passenger profiling that keeps America's skies safe.
The U.S. is actively fighting a war on terrorism. It is walking the walk, unlike the Liberal government. Given that page 95 of the budget allocates $76 million to improving co-ordination and information sharing among government agencies, I call on the government to follow America's lead and send both PNR and APIS information to a single agency so Canada can create its own CAPPS system to enhance intelligence gathering on would-be terrorists. This would keep Canadians safe in the air and on the ground. More importantly, it would help restore America's trust in Canada's commitment to fighting terrorism as opposed to merely talking about fighting terrorism which is all we have seen from the government. It would be nice if the government would make the real legislative and budgetary commitments to send that signal. With a view to enabling this type of information gathering the Canadian Alliance will be tabling amendments at committee.
I conclude by calling on the government to divide Bill C-55 so the appropriate standing committees may give the bill proper examination. I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after “that” and substituting the following:
“this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-55, An Act to amend certain Acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety, since the Bill reflects several principles unrelated to transport and government operations rendering it impractical for the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations to properly consider it”.
An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act
April 12th, 2002 / 10 a.m.
Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK
Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Bill C-43 is to make minor technical amendments and corrections to various statutes and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act.
The enactment would make technical corrections to the Access to Information Act, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Public Service Staff Relations Act, the Yukon First Nations Self-Government Act, and a number of acts that come under the jurisdiction of the Departments of Canadian Heritage and Finance.
The government announced in December 1994 that it would streamline government agencies, boards and advisory bodies. Much of the so-called streamlining simply removed appointments from parliamentary scrutiny by what had been order-in-council appointments. Following the December 1994 announcement the board ceased operations on March 31, 1995.
This is the third time the repeal of the Fisheries Prices Support Act has been before parliament. It was first introduced in June 1996 as Bill C-49 but did not get beyond second reading prior to the call of the election. The repeal was reintroduced as part of Bill C-44 in June 1998. Once again Bill C-44 did not get beyond second reading and was not reintroduced prior to the last election. The repeal of the act has had a low priority for the government as have all matters relating to the fishery.
The Fisheries Prices Support Act was passed in 1994 establishing the Fisheries Prices Support Board which was responsible for investigating sharp declines in fish prices and, where appropriate, recommending price support. The board was empowered to purchase fish products, to sell or otherwise dispose of these products, and to make deficiency payments to producers. The intent of the act was to protect fishermen against sharp declines in prices and consequent loss of income due to causes beyond the control of fishermen or the fishing industry.
The board has not undertaken any significant price support activities since 1982 except for the purchase of fish as food aid for distribution by CIDA.
Bill C-43 can be considered a hybrid of the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act. Bill C-43 contains a number of provisions omitted from the draft of the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, MSLA, Bill C-40. The miscellaneous statute law amendment program was initiated in 1975 to allow for minor, non-controversial amendments to federal statutes in an omnibus bill. A draft version of Bill C-40 was submitted to the standing committees on justice of the House and the Senate.
The MSLA process requires any item objected to by a Senate or House committee to be withdrawn from the bill. To be included, the proposed amendments must meet certain criteria. They must not be controversial, not involve the spending of public funds, not unfairly affect the rights of persons, not create a new offence, and not subject a new class of persons to any existing offence.
The procedure is designed to eliminate any potential controversial items ensuring quick passage of the bill. Bill C-43 contains items objected to in Bill C-40 and also contains new items regarding the repeal of the Fisheries Prices Support Act as well as items that did not make it into Bill C-40 on time.
While Bill C-43 contains minor technical changes similar to an MSLA bill it cannot be treated as an MSLA bill since a few of the amendments did not meet the criteria for an MSLA bill. Quick passage could not be granted and a committee hearing was deemed necessary.
Both the House and Senate committees objected to clauses in Bill C-40 that appear in Bill C-43 as clauses 2, 3 and 4 because they allowed the minister to enter into agreements with the government of any province or provinces in Atlantic Canada respecting the carrying out of any program or project of the agency. This is a change from cabinet authority to ministerial authority.
The Senate and House committees objected to a clause in Bill C-40 that appears as clause 21 in Bill C-43 because it would require royal recommendation. Clause 21 would repeal a section of the National Film Act that limits the National Film Board's ability to appoint staff with salaries of over $99,000 without seeking the approval of cabinet. The clause is viewed by the film board as an unnecessary administrative requirement. The original intent of the provision dates back to 1939. The change would not increase the film board's budget that is approved by parliament.
We in the official opposition support Bill C-43. However it is the first fisheries legislation the government has enacted since coming to office in 1993. It would repeal the defunct Fisheries Prices Support Act that has been little used since 1982 and whose board was shut down in 1995.
The Canadian Alliance would support a fisheries policy that protected the public fishery, fish stocks and fish habitat. We would support a policy that provided for a fishery with equal access for all, healthy sustainable stocks, and a habitat that ensured stocks for the future. The CA supports the strategic purchase of surplus fish products by CIDA for use as part of Canada's food aid programs. The continued existence of the Fisheries Prices Support Act with its defunct board has not contributed to nor has it been a necessary precondition for a healthy fishery.
Bill C-43 is a reminder that fishermen, fisheries legislation and fisheries policy have not been a priority for the government.