Public Safety Act, 2002

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

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.

Sponsor

David Collenette  Liberal

Status

Not active, as of April 29, 2002
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

June 20th, 2002 / 3 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to answer the question of the hon. member about the business of the House for the foreseeable future. Like most people I would not want the attendance of the opposition to dwindle any further next week than it has this week, so I do not think we should venture on that ground too much.

First, I express my thanks and that of my predecessor to members on all sides of the House for their co-operation in making progress on the government's legislative program since January. I say so on behalf of myself, perhaps myself once reincarnated, and of course my immediate predecessor as well.

This afternoon we will consider government Motion No. 30 concerning the Special Joint Committee on a Code of Conduct, and we will do it tomorrow if necessary if the item has not been disposed of by then. We will then return to Bill C-58, the Canada pension plan legislation. If there is any time left, and subject to further negotiation with hon. members and officers of all parties in the House, we will then return to Bill C-55, the public safety bill which some but not all members have expressed enthusiasm in passing. Should there be time we will then return to Bill C-57, the nuclear safety bill.

It is my intention to inform colleagues about our agenda upon our return in early September. I have done that in previous years, contacting members a few days ahead of time so party critics could be available when debate resumed. I intend to do the same when the House resumes in September.

Meanwhile, Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to wish you, our staff and all hon. members my very best wishes for an interesting, fruitful and, to a point I hope, restful summer.

Violence against WomenOral Questions

June 18th, 2002 / 2:40 p.m.
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP 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?

Message from the SenateThe Royal Assent

June 13th, 2002 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I understand that some hon. colleagues in the House were inquiring earlier as a result of a point of order, which was somehow described as a question of privilege, as to what the next item on the agenda would be after the completion of the bill that is before the House.

Should I not obtain the answers on Bill C-58 that I had committed to getting to the House, which it does not look like I will get now, I will not call the bill. I will not call Bill C-58 if I cannot get the answers by the time we get to the completion of this. Instead I will call Bill C-55 as the next item.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

June 13th, 2002 / 3:15 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there has been a reference to a deadline made by the hon. member regarding this issue, which of course is a serious issue and I am not diminishing the importance of it. He says to buttress his argument that there is no deadline in this and it is based on the consideration which he refers to as forthwith.

Notwithstanding the fact that it is there, during the course of his presentation the hon. member might have forgotten one of the original propositions he raised in the House. It stated that it was in the chief actuary's opinion to trigger the mechanism of issuing this letter, or note which was the expression the hon. member used a while ago. I do not know, nor do I suggest the House knows yet whether the chief actuary has given such an opinion at this time.

I have asked officials to verify and to report to me. I will report to the House as early as possible. Hopefully later this day I would be able obtain that information for the benefit not only of the Speaker but of course for the benefit of all hon. members. However I do think that the triggering mechanism, which the hon. member admitted is there, is the chief actuary's opinion.

I would undertake to verify if he has given such an opinion and what the opinion is. If the chief actuary has given an opinion that in fact the triggering mechanism does not apply, the point of course is not valid. If he has not given an opinion at all, it is not valid either because the whole argument is based on the chief actuary providing that opinion, and that is the contention of the hon. member who raised the proposition in the House.

Perhaps I can assist the House and undertake that if, by the time we complete consideration of the bill now before the House, I have not obtained the information to be able to rise and give further explanation to hon. members, I would then call the other bill that is on the order paper instead, namely, Bill C-55, and call Bill C-58 at a later time, perhaps tomorrow. That would satisfy the hon. member because the proposition is not before the House given that the bill has not been called for debate and I could delay perhaps for a little while.

That being said, if anytime between now and the completion of the debate on the other bill, Bill C-53, I could rise on a point of order and give further explanation to the House, I would do so at that time.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

June 13th, 2002 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I understand that many members would have suggestions about the government business over the next few days. However, in the absence of hearing all that, I will inform the House of the following.

We will continue this afternoon tomorrow with the following: Bill C-53, the pesticide legislation, to be followed by Bill C-58, the Canada pension plan investment board bill and any time remaining on Bill C-55, the public safety bill.

On Monday we will begin with a motion by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to refer to committee before second reading the bill on first nations governance that he will introducing tomorrow, notice of which is already on the order paper. We would then turn to report stage and third reading of Bill C-54, respecting sports. We would then turn to the specific claims bill introduced earlier today and any business left from this week, that is the bills I named a moment ago.

We would also like to debate report stage and third reading hopefully of Bill C-48, the copyright legislation and, subject to some progress, I would also like to resume consideration at second reading of Bill C-57, the nuclear safety bill.

In addition, it would be the wish of the government to dispose of the motion to establish a special joint committee to review proposals made concerning the code of conduct for parliamentarians.

This is the list of legislation that I would like to see completed over the next several days.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

June 13th, 2002 / 2:40 p.m.
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Bourassa Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, they have to do two things. First, they have to apologize, like the Deputy Prime Minister has said, and second, if they pass Bill C-55 they will not have that kind of problem. I can assure the House that information is placed on a network and not on hard disk, so, another scapegoat.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

June 13th, 2002 / 2:35 p.m.
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Bourassa Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, if the official opposition is so eager for security, why does it not pass Bill C-55? They should support Bill C-55 because there are some issues there.

Second, when that happened we reacted immediately and I can assure the Canadian people that there is no problem regarding security. They stole some information and some computers, but it was nothing relating to important information.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

June 6th, 2002 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I do not usually comment on the content of question period. We all have our own views of how good or bad they were. I will instead refer to the government's legislative program.

This afternoon and this evening we will consider the business of supply with the opposed motions and so on. That takes place as it does normally, with the later completion of the appropriations bill.

Tomorrow we will do the following business. I would like to first call Bill C-53, the pest control bill, at report stage. Once that is completed we will then call Bill C-55, the public safety legislation. I believe those two bills should complete the day tomorrow.

Next Monday it is my intention to call the report stage of Bill C-5 and third reading of Bill C-5 on Tuesday.

On Wednesday of next week and/or after the completion of Bill C-5, I would then call Bill S-41 respecting legislative language. We will consider at that point an address to Her Majesty concerning the jubilee.

Once that is completed, and in the event the House wants to continue with other business, the bills I would call next Tuesday, subject of course to consultation between House leaders, would probably be the following: Bill C-19, the environmental protection legislation; Bill C-48, the copyright bill; and possibly Bill C-54, the sports bill which I understand should be out of committee sometime within the next short while.

That is the business I propose to call after we complete the address to Her Majesty that I described.

I also intend to consult with opposition House leaders to see if it is still their wish to hold the take note debate next Wednesday on the future of Canada's health care system.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

June 4th, 2002 / 1:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Sherbrooke for his question. He has interpreted the dichotomy in the Liberal Party's position very well.

In Bill C-55, the government is submitted to pressure from the machinery of government, from the bureaucrats, who for dozens of years have dreamed of imposing their views and their policies on Canadians, one department at a time. Using September 11 as an excuse, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-55, saying to Canadians “Canada will be a safer place once Bill C-55 is passed”.

The question we have been asking the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport, responsible for this question, has always been the same: what could you not have done prior to September 11 that a bill like Bill C-55 would allow you to do?

Once again, based on the statements made by the Prime Minister and all of the ministers, we do not know any more. They talk about national security. Today, with Bill C-57, dealing with nuclear safety and regulations, the Government of Canada is shirking its responsibility for the safety of people who could be threatened by nuclear pollution.

This government is led and directed by its public servants. It is currently much more concerned about its Liberal leadership race than it is about problems experienced by the public. It just introduced a bill in the House in the name of security.

The only security provided in Bill C-57 is for their banker friends, who will now have no responsibility whatsoever if they decide to invest in nuclear energy. This is the security the government is providing for its banker friends with Bill C-57, while Bill C-55 is intended to provide security for all Canadians.

This is the sign of a government that, at this time, has a great many other concerns than the security of Canadians or Quebecers.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

June 4th, 2002 / 1:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all Quebecers and Canadians, I want to thank the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel for his efforts to protect the environment in Quebec and in Canada.

I would like to make a comparison with one of the main issues that my colleague is responsible for, namely Bill C-55 on controlled access military zones. In this bill, which is brilliantly reviewed by my colleague, I cannot help but see how, on the one hand, the government is prepared to interfere with people's freedom in the name of security and, on the other hand, how it is prepared to jeopardize public safety for the benefit of the nuclear energy industry. We are well aware that nuclear energy produces waste that is difficult to control.

This is very clear. On the one hand, the government is leaning in one direction, while on the other hand it is leaning in the other direction. Who is the Liberal government trying to protect? The public or the interests of a nuclear energy program, this at the expense of public safety? I would like to hear the hon. member on this issue.

Sex Offender Registry ActPrivate Members' Business

May 30th, 2002 / 5:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to second reading of Bill C-333, an act to establish and maintain a national registry of sex offenders to protect our children, as proposed by the member for Langley--Abbotsford.

I am sure all of us in this place are unequivocal in expressing our support for any feasible measure that will effectively protect our children, indeed all our citizens from sexual predators. I would like to outline the efforts of the solicitor general to date on this matter.

The solicitor general has stated many times that he supports a registry of sex offenders. This nation already possesses one of the most technologically advanced criminal history registries in the world in the Canadian Police Information Centre, CPIC. The solicitor general told the House that his department would consider improvements to CPIC in the specific area of sex offences, citing concerns that CPIC was not address searchable by police officers.

In a very short period of time he met that commitment when he announced, on September 11, 2001, that a new database within the CPIC system would be created and known as the sex offender category. Further, he announced that this database would be both address and offence searchable, that it would be up and running within a year and that it would be funded completely by the federal government.

That is not all the government has done in recent years to combat the dangers of sexual predators.

In 1997 we proclaimed Bill C-55 which strengthened the dangerous offender rules in the criminal code and also created a new sentencing provision called long term offender.

As a result of these changes, prosecutors in almost every province are now aggressively pursuing dangerous offender and long term offender options. In fact, since 1997 the number of successful dangerous offender applications has doubled each year.

The 1997 legislative package also created a new category called long term offender, targeting individuals who were clearly a threat but would not meet the threshold of dangerous offender. This new designation recognized that released sex offenders who received supervision and treatment in the community experienced dramatically lower reoffending rates than an offender who entered the community at the end of his sentence without conditions for supervision or treatment.

In addition to the long term custodial term, long term offenders can be ordered to comply with a further 10 years of community supervision and conditions. This innovative measure has already resulted in over 100 long term offender orders.

In addition, another provision was created in section 810 of the criminal code called community protection orders. These are issued by a court and reviewed every 12 months to place conditions on a sex offender even when no sentence is being served.

As well, on November 17, 1994, the government introduced a national screening system to help organizations screen out child sex abusers applying for work with children by disclosing their criminal record.

None of these initiatives happened overnight. While I agree with my colleagues in the House that this is a pressing problem, cobbling together a mandatory sex offender registry without looking at all of the issues, all the details and all the facts will not result in effective legislation.

The solicitor general has taken a slightly different approach. He has asked his officials to work with all the provinces and territories to fully explore this issue, to determine what is and what is not feasible in a Canadian context and to find out where some jurisdictions have succeeded and where others have failed. I fully support this approach. It now appears that all of the provinces support this approach. Why else would they be participating fully in the federal-provincial-territorial working group on high risk offenders currently seized with this matter?

This approach makes sense. If we are going to have a registry, we want one that works, that is efficient and affordable and that is supported by all of the provinces. We want one that will recognize the impact of the charter of rights and freedoms. We want one that is not in breach of federal or provincial privacy laws. We want one that local agencies will have the ability and resources to administer and enforce. We want one for which all provinces from coast to coast can agree upon a consistent approach. Finally, we want one that will not drive convicted sex offenders underground with assumed identities and no assistance with their rehabilitation.

At the Moncton meeting last February federal ministers agreed to bring forward legislation to support a national registration process in the same time frame as the completion of enhancements to CPIC including mandatory registration of specified offenders as hon. the member for Langley--Abbotsford has referred to. They will again discuss the matter when they meet in early June a couple of weeks from now.

It is essential for senior officials to continue this important work and develop a common model before deciding how best to proceed. A detailed model would help us consider and, it is hoped, come to agreement on important matters such as cost, charter compliance, privacy issues and potential liability. We do not know how much the entire system would cost. We would prefer not to enter into a new system arbitrarily but to do so knowing what the real costs would be at all levels of government.

We must carefully address the issue in the context of a national system while recognizing that not all jurisdictions have the same needs. Without completing this work it will not be possible to decide with precision what the legislation should contain.

The bill put forward by the hon. member proposes policy and legislative options. It has support on both sides of the House although there are differences in terms of timing and detail. I congratulate the hon. member for his continuing work on the issue. Although his remarks were phrased somewhat in the negative he should not underestimate the importance of private members' business in fostering, promoting and exhorting government legislation in the House.

The work of the hon. member and other members in this place has fostered support for the type of sex offender registry now evolving within the CPIC registry system. With the co-operation of the provinces and territories we in the government hope to have in place a system of mandatory registration for certain offenders so we can make the system work as the hon. member stated earlier.

In closing, I note the importance of Bill C-333 and all private members' business in spurring the government and this place to enact better policy and legislation.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 30th, 2002 / 5:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, I had the opportunity to speak earlier today when we were not discussing the amendment now before us, and I had a few more things to say. I am happy that our last amendment incorporates things said by Amnesty International. This is not without insignificance, in the current context. Perhaps it can enlighten us before we proceeed any further with consideration of the bill before us.

Bill C-55 is a new version of a bill that was even worse initially, that is Bill C-42. Today, a certain amount of time has gone by since September 11, so that we can now better assess things. As more time goes by, we will be able to determine what we must do even better.

In my opinion, we must first ask this question: would we have thought of passing measures such as those in Bill C-55 this time last year? Certainly not. Have things changed since September 11? Yes, of course. But nothing justifies the current panic and psychosis. That is what Amnesty International is saying.

This is what we find in the newspapers. In the Journal de Montréal , Michel C. Auger writes:

Almost everywhere in the world, national security and the war against terrorism are becoming the best excuses to violate fundamental human rights.

It is disturbing to see such a tendency in many countries. It is not unique to this government. What is shameful is that we find the same tendency in our government in Ottawa, that is possibly to encourage abuse or create a climate that could lead to further measures. People wanted more security. After September 11, they felt very insecure, but not to the point of violating some fundamental rights as we are doing now.

We see it again today in Le Devoir . The editorial is entitled “Security versus freedom”. When we have to ask ourselves these types of questions, it means that there is a problem with what is being done here and we really have to think about it.

Few members on that side of the House addressed this issue today. The member from Mount Royal did it in the media but his colleagues remained silent throughout the day. Their silence disturbs me. We do not know their views, their positions in this important debate for our society. Our role is to step back as much as possible before passing these kinds of legislation, which will put so much power in the hands of a minister. It is all the more worrisome, members will agree, when this minister's competence is questionable. We have had these kinds of ministers throughout history and there will be more of them.

I do not have any problem with ministers having powers in a number of areas, but when these powers have an impact on fundamental freedoms, this is going too far. A minister is given the ability to act without following the usual procedure whereby a whole series of assessments is done before any legislation is passed. The problem with these powers is that they are often exercised in an atmosphere of sheer panic.

For example, one would never think of holding a debate here on something like the death penalty two days after some heinous crime. Often, government members are critical of the Canadian Alliance for using events in the news to make a dramatic plea for a tougher criminal code. They are doing exactly the same thing by giving themselves these powers in the wake of September 11. That is what we are seeing right now, and we must say “Enough is enough”.

Another thing that worries me is the constant tendency of the government to almost blindly follow the lead of the Americans in everything. Canada never stands out from the Americans in any original way. It is all very fine and well for us to have common standards on a certain number of things, but we are always falling in with what they want.

If the last federal budgets had been prepared in Washington, they would not have been any different from what we saw here. We had the impression that the government just tabled a carbon copy here and read it out in parliament.

We wonder where bills are written. Earlier, the member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie spoke about international treaties which were not signed by some countries. Oddly, when Canada was missing from the list, so was the United States. One might wonder just how real a voice Canada has internationally. Is it not increasingly seen as a mascot of the United States?

At some point, we must ask ourselves some questions. If I were in the shoes of the folks who are so full of advice about Canadian sovereignty and so on, I would be worried, because we are seeing less and less of it. On issues as important as this one, if there are differences—and I think there are in the public—we must ensure that they reflect our values and act responsibly when it comes to—

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 30th, 2002 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned, not only has this bill been criticized on this side of the House, not only has it been criticized by the privacy commissioner, but it has also been criticized by the Liberal member for Mount Royal.

As I was saying earlier, as recently as May 3, the member for Mount Royal stated that the new terrorism bill constitutes a troubling threat to civil liberties. So, this is rather troubling for a bill, and there seems to be some consensus on this.

From this morning's editorials, it is clear that there is a trend, and that this government would like to give the impression that it is, in theory, the defender of fundamental rights, the rights of citizens around the world. Which begs us to ask a number of questions.

In its report, Amnesty International—a fairly well known organization—points out that there are no less than six regional human rights treaties that Canada has yet to ratify.

This is rather troublesome when one considers, for example, that next Tuesday, the House of Commons will be debating a motion that I moved and that calls on the government to ratify the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, which comes under the Organization of American States, and that only nine countries, including Canada and the United States, have not ratified.

If we want to establish a free trade zone for the Americas, it seems to be fundamental to me—and I will end on this—to maintain this important balance between freedom and security, something towards which this government seems very insensitive, given Bill C-55.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 30th, 2002 / 5:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, getting back to Bill C-55, the measures it contains are rather worrisome because, as I have said, they resemble measures and laws in totalitarian countries so much that you cannot tell them apart.

We are not the only ones saying so. The privacy commissioner said so. It is rather worrisome and it is even more disturbing that certain Liberal members opposite--whose names I will not mention because it is forbidden to do so--including one member in particular, have asked for a review of the national security bill, saying that “the new anti-terrorism bill is a serious threat to civil liberties”.

As I said, it is rather worrisome to see the government introduce such measures. We need to be vigilant and remember that, yes, September 11 profoundly changed the circumstances for the United States, the relationship that may exist in terms of service delivery in different areas—

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 30th, 2002 / 5:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to speak again to Bill C-55. The government revamped this bill in order to introduce, for all practical purposes, some rather special measures.

In doing so, it set the tone for what the government probably did not foresee in terms of an impact on the international stage. It triggered in the rest of the world a movement restricting fundamental human rights and freedoms.

I will come back to this in a moment, because the very essence of my whole argument lies in the amendment moved by my colleague, the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. This amendment puts the emphasis on Amnesty International's recent report. According to this report, in the aftermath of September 11, measures were taken and legislation was passed in many countries, but these also resulted in a restriction of the most fundamental freedoms.

On the international stage, Canada has always boasted of being one of the greatest champions of fundamental human rights and of passing a charter of rights. Some countries—Zimbabwe or India, for example—were inspired to a certain degree by the measures taken by this government in Bill C-55.

As several editorial writers have indicated this morning, whether in the Journal de Montréal or in Le Devoir , Bill C-55 would clearly lead to abuse, which is totally unacceptable. Why? Because, where controlled access military zones are concerned, for example, it is still the minister alone who would have the power to designate such zones, the same minister who omitted to inform his government in the prisoners of war matter. It is not only the Bloc Quebecois that said this several weeks and several months ago. Earlier this week, even Amnesty International indicated in its report, and I quote from the editorial in this morning edition of Le Devoir , “The Canadian section of Amnesty International said that it was concerned with policies that have been developed for refugees, with Ottawa's cowardly agreement with the legal status given by the Americans to prisoners of war”.

This was already part of our arguments on Bill C-55. My colleagues pointed that out several weeks ago. These are essentially the same findings that were made in an Amnesty International report that was made public yesterday or the day before.

The first argument of the Bloc then is to the effect that it is still the minister who would have the power to designate these controlled access military zones. The Amnesty International report said that this is totally unacceptable, given the way prisoners of war are being treated.

Another aspect is the fact that the consent of the Quebec government is still not required to establish a controlled access military zone on its territory. It seems essential that the federal government would inform the Quebec government of its intention to set up such controlled access military zones.

So, in light of all this, there is not much change between what was proposed in Bill C-42 and what we now find in Bill C-55.

This is cause for concern, because a number of countries refer to Canada as a protector of fundamental rights. This bill gives some legitimacy to and, unfortunately, justifies up to a point measures taken in Zimbabwe or in India, because Canada itself, which is seen as a protector of rights, adopts measures that violate freedoms. So, this is rather disturbing. The message sent by the federal government today is that it is now prepared to adopt measures that, until now, were associated with totalitarian countries and states.

One would never had thought that Canada would adopt such measures. No one would ever have believed that. I see that the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord is smiling. He does not agree with my comments. Yet, the Bloc Quebecois is not the only saying it. The privacy commissioner condemned Bill C-55, as the Bloc Quebecois did, when he said—and I would ask the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord to listen—“that some practices are similar to those that exist in totalitarian states”.