Antarctic Environmental Protection Act

An Act respecting the protection of the Antarctic Environment

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in November 2003.

Sponsor

David Anderson  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now 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.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my hon. colleague on the job he has done on Bill C-17, which was not an easy one. This bill concerns our fundamental rights as human beings, as individuals. I want to congratulate him because he has put forward very useful amendments. Unfortunately, the government rejected them all, as is often the case here, in this Parliament.

Allow me to set things in context for the benefit of listeners. It is not the first time that this kind of a bill has been introduced in the House of Commons. The current bill is a new version of Bill C-55 on public safety introduced in 2002, itself a new version of Bill C-42.

Last spring, our remarks on Bill C-55 focussed on three major areas: controlled access military zones, interim orders and information sharing. These are three vital areas.

Regarding the controlled access military zones, we could claim victory, given that these were completely dropped from the bill. The bill does, however, still contain provisions concerning interim orders, although the timeframes for their tabling in Parliament and approval by cabinet have been considerably reduced. And our main concern, namely the lack of advance verification for consistency, remains.

I have here a press release from the information commissioner. I am sure that no one has read all of it. Let me do so, because it is important and it will help members understand why we have such concerns about this bill.

This news release was written November 1, 2002 by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. I quote:

Since last May, I have expressed extremely grave concerns about one provision of what was then Bill C-55, the federal Government’s Public Safety Act. This same provision has now been reintroduced, with only minimal and unsatisfactory change, in the replacement legislation, Bill C-17.

The provision in question, section 4.82 of both bills, would give the RCMP and CSIS unrestricted access to the personal information held by airlines about all Canadian air travellers on domestic as well as international flights.

I have raised no objection to the primary purpose of this provision, which is to enable the RCMP and CSIS to use this passenger information for anti-terrorist “transportation security” and “national security” screening. But my concern is that the RCMP would also be expressly empowered to use this information to seek out persons wanted on warrants for Criminal Code offences that have nothing to do with terrorism, transportation security or national security.

The implications of this are extraordinarily far-reaching.

In Canada, it is well established that we are not required to identify ourselves to police unless we are being arrested or we are carrying out a licensed activity such as driving. The right to anonymity with regard to the state is a crucial privacy right. Since we are required to identify ourselves to airlines as a condition of air travel and since section 4.82 would give the RCMP unrestricted access to the passenger information obtained by airlines, this would set the extraordinarily privacy-invasive precedent of effectively requiring compulsory self-identification to the police.

I am prepared, with some reluctance, to accept this as an exceptional measure that can be justified, in the wake of September 11, for the limited and specific purposes of aviation security and national security against terrorism. But I can find no reason why the use of this de facto self-identification to the police should be extended to searching for individuals who are of interest to the state because they are the subject of warrants for Criminal Code offences unrelated to terrorism. That has the same effect as requiring us to notify the police every time we travel, so that they can check whether we are wanted for something.

The Commissioner then said:

If the police were able to carry out their regular Criminal Code law enforcement duties without this new power before September 11, they should likewise be able to do so now. The events of September 11 were a great tragedy and a great crime; they should not be manipulated into becoming an opportunity—an opportunity to expand privacy-invasive police powers for purposes that have nothing to do with anti-terrorism.

If we accept the principle that air travellers within Canada can in effect be forced by law to identify themselves to police for scrutiny against lists of wanted suspects, then there is nothing to prevent the same logic from being applied in future to other modes of transportation. Particularly since this provision might well discourage wanted individuals from travelling by air, why not extend the same scrutiny to train travellers, bus passengers or anyone renting a car? Indeed, the precedent set by this provision could ultimately open the door to practices similar to those that exist in societies where police routinely board trains, establish roadblocks or stop people on the street to check identification papers in search of anyone of interest to the state.

The place to draw the line in protecting the fundamental human right of privacy is at the very outset, at the first unjustifiable intrusion. In this instance, that means amending the bill to remove all reference to warrants and thus limit the police to matching passenger information against anti-terrorism and national security databases.

The concerns that I have raised in this matter since last spring have been publically endorsed by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario; by members of every party in the House of Commons, notably including a member of the government's own Liberal caucus who is an internationally recognized expert on human rights—

I cannot not name that person, but I am sure you know who it is.

and by editorials in newspapers including the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, the Vancouver Province, the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal.

These concerns have now been ignored by the Government.

The changes that have been made in this provision in the new bill do nothing to address the fundamental issues of principle that are at stake.

The Government now proposes to have regulations limiting the Criminal Code offence warrants for which the RCMP will be searching. But this does nothing to address the fundamental point of principle that the police have no business using this extraordinary access to personal information to search for people wanted on warrants for any offences unrelated to terrorism.

As well, in the new bill the Government has removed the “identification of persons for whom a warrant has been issued” as a “purpose” for accessing passenger information under the legislation. But this is meaningless--indeed disingenuous--since the RCMP would remain empowered to match this information against a database of persons wanted on warrants and to use such matches to bring about arrests. It insults the intelligence of Canadians to suggest, as the Government does in its press release accompanying the bill, that the RCMP may “incidentally” come upon individuals wanted on Criminal Code warrants--if the police are to match names of passengers against a database of individuals wanted on Criminal Code warrants, there can be nothing “incidental” about finding them.

Madam Speaker, here we have the commissioner's fundamental reaction and it is serious; he has gone to the trouble of analyzing this entire issue in depth. Therefore, I am very much afraid of seeing this bill pass. I hope that there is still some chance, as we are now at the report stage, of amending the bill and ensuring that no one's rights will be injured.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, unlike some previous speakers, it is with a lot a frustration that I rise on Bill C-17.

This is the third time that the government has introduced a public safety bill. We first had Bill C-42, which contained a whole series of safety measures that were clearly excessive in terms of rights and freedoms. Then, marginal corrections were made with Bill C-55. And now, the government has introduced Bill C-17, which is essentially identical to Bill C-42 and Bill C-55.

Clearly, the government did not learn from its mistakes. As with Bill C-35—which was passed—as with the airport security tax, the government has adopted or is proposing a whole series of measures, in the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, which ultimately do not seem to be of any use in the fight against terrorism. I remind the House that Bill C-35, which was passed despite the Bloc Quebecois' opposition, contains all kinds of threats and injuries to rights and freedoms and has not been of any use whatsoever in the fight against terrorism in Canada since it was passed.

I would now like to talk about the air security charge; the government has been unable to demonstrate that this tax contributes in any way to paying for the equipment and technologies necessary to ensure airport security. While the airline industry, both in Canada and in the United States, is going through a catastrophic crisis, an additional tax does not help matters. There was so much government improvisation on this issue that, in the last budget in February, the Finance Minister had to reduce the tax significantly; yet, he kept it, which akes no sense whatsoever.

As I said, the government has been unable to demonstrate that this tax was needed.

On several occasions I have wanted to make this point in the House. Bill C-17 now gives me that opportunity. We have been led to believe, in Canada and in the United States, that a person taking a taxi, a bus or a train is considered as a customer, but the Canadian and U.S. governments consider airport or airline customers as potential criminals or terrorists. No wonder people are staying away from the airlines and airports: they are being treated as potential terrorists and criminals.

Bill C-17 is very much a part of all this. I think this act is of no use whatsoever in the fight against terrorism. Members will recall that this was the purpose. The government should have realized, since the tragic events of September 11, that it should have found another way to fight terrorism. As months passed by, one would have expected the government to understand that such measures dare of no use in the fight against terrorism, and it should have dropped the idea after Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper. Yet, the government introduced a new bill, Bill C-17, which, except for one element as I said, goes along the exact same lines as Bills C-42 and C-55.

This was raised by the hon. member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, and I think that it must be stressed. Bill C-17 dropped the excessive idea of controlled access military zones, or military security zones as they were called in Bill C-42. In large part, this is a Bloc Quebecois victory. We will recall that these zones could be of unlimited size, without any control being exercised, that the RCMP could declare them without providing any justification, without having to check with or be accountable to anyone, and that this could be done without the consent of the affected provinces.

Think, for example, of the Quebec City summit. The federal government could have unilaterally decided to declare a controlled access military zone for the whole of Quebec City, the national capital of Quebeckers. The purpose would have been to prevent the potential arrival of terrorists, and particularly to prevent citizens concerned with the current negotiations on the free trade zone of the Americas from coming to express their concern to the leaders and heads of state of the 34 countries that are parties to these negotiations.

As I said, this idea of this kind of controlled access military zone was dropped. Still, the new proposal to establish zones through orders is cause for concern to us. Nowhere does it say that the consent of the affected provinces will be required for these military security zones to be created.

The Bloc Quebecois would have liked for all of this to just disappear, but we will remain extremely vigilant, even though, as I said earlier, the fact that the initial idea of controlled access military zones was dropped must be regarded as a Bloc Quebecois victory.

There were two other elements that worried us and that still worry us: everything related to the interim orders as well as everything related to sharing information on airline passengers, who are now viewed by the Canadian government as potential terrorists, as I was saying earlier, regardless of whom they may be. These are concerns that also have to do with the protection of privacy.

I would like to say more about both of these matters, the interim orders and the exchange of information, particularly between the RCMP and CSIS. I know what I am talking about with regard to CSIS because when I was the president of the Conseil central de Montréal of the CSN, we realized that we had been infiltrated by CSIS. This occurred even though everyone knows that the CSN and all unions in Quebec are institutions that are not only recognized, but extremely democratic and transparent. So, I may have more apprehensions than others when it comes to giving special powers to the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

With regard to interim orders, the new bill stipulates—or it will if, unfortunately, it is passed—that, “The Minister may make an interimorder that contains any provision that may becontained in a regulation made under this Actif the Minister believes that immediate actionis required to deal with a significant risk,direct or indirect, to health, safety or theenvironment”.

In subsection 4, we read the following, “An interim order is exempt from the application of sections 3, 5 and 11 of the Statutory Instruments Act and published in the Canada Gazette within twenty-three days after it is made.

So, under the new section 30.1 and subsection 4, proposed interim orders will not be required to comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights. It is quite significant and worrisome that a minister could decide to issue an interim order without first having to ensure it complies with instruments that are supposed to protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians and Quebeckers.

These provisions are extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, I have just one minute left, and I have addressed only the matter of interim orders. We believe that these interim orders must be required to pass the test of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In conclusion, I want to say that the privacy commissioner is extremely concerned by the possibility that the RCMP and CSIS could exchange information on airline passengers, and we believe that the legislation should be much more restrictive than this.

For all these reasons, I am not only somewhat frustrated, but I will be voting against Bill C-17.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased today to speak to Bill C-17 on public safety. Hon. members will recall that this bill, while containing some changes, has basically already been C-42 and then C-55. Today we are looking at a new version which, as I will explain a little later, has been modified based on Bill C-42.

Initially, I took part in the debate on Bill C-55, particularly in connection with three fundamental aspects of that bill. I spoke about the matter of the controlled access military zone, which the bill stipulated established a security perimeter.

The second aspect I addressed during the debate on C-55 concerned the matter of interim orders, which are still there in Bill C-17, although some changes have been made. These include the time lapse between the making of the interim order and the time it is tabled. Despite the changes in deadlines, I will explain how the essence and the very bases of the verification process for the use of these orders are still flawed. We would have liked to have seen a verification on the use of these orders within a broader framework that would include the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and not just the enabling legislation.

The third aspect I addressed, which has to all intents and purposes undergone no change whatsoever in becoming Bill C-17, is the matter of the exchange of information. In Bill C-17 there is still a significant role played by the RCMP, no longer necessarily in gathering the information, but Bill C-17 still retains the possibility of being able to pass on certain information, to law enforcement officers among others.

We might have expected the government to respect not just what the Bloc Quebecois was calling for, but also the opinion voiced by the Privacy Commissioner.

Therefore, of course, as to the controlled access military zones, we have to admit that the Bloc Quebecois won the battle. Indeed, members will recall that, at the time, we opposed such a zone that would create a perimeter. However, last October 31, the government took this change into account after repeated demands by the Bloc Quebecois, and this provision was deleted from Bill C-17. We essentially wanted to maintain the necessary balance between security and freedom. The controlled access military zone did create a fundamental imbalance, which was not consisten with a democratic society.

There was also another aspect to this issue because the government could certainly have abused its power, the minister having a clearly established discretionary power. We felt that by granting such power to the minister, the government had gone too far.

Finally, with this security perimeter that would have been established—I say “would”, because it is not provided for in Bill C-17— the government had, to all intents and purposes, stripped the population of rights they were entitled to expect to enjoy. Indeed, this controlled access zone denied people living within its boundaries and perimeter some basic democratic rights that Canada has always proudly advocated.

Luckily, we won the battle thanks to the efforts of the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. We clearly stated on October 31 that we had won. However, I will remind the House that we will monitor this issue very closely, because this balance between security and freedom must be maintained.

Another important aspect is the issue of interim orders. Again, we saw that the bill contains provisions to this effect. Of course, in terms of tabling in Parliament, the period between the tabling of the order in Parliament and the moment it comes into force was reduced. We would obviously have liked it to be reduced to five days. The government decided instead to keep a 15 day period, as in Bill C-55. Remember that in Bill C-42, the order took effect immediately upon being tabled in Parliament. So, this is a bit of an improvement over Bill C-55. Of course it is better than C-42, but we would have like the order to come into force within five days of being tabled.

Not only is the time lapse a problem, but it is also important that there be a preliminary check for compliance with the enabling legislation and with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Bill C-42 contained nothing to this effect, and nor did Bill C-55. However, we would have liked to see this preliminary check included in Bill C-17. However, there is nothing of the sort. Several motions to that effect were moved, but unfortunately they were all rejected.

The third aspect of the bill I would like to talk about, after the controlled access military zone and after the interim order, is the issue of information exchange.

I know I do not have much time left, but it is important to recall that what the Bloc Quebecois was calling for was that the right to privacy be protected. Incidentally, on November 1, 2002, the Privacy Commissioner gave his interpretation of the bill, with respect to this issue of information sharing. On November 1, 2002, he said:

—my concern is that the RCMP would also be expressly empowered to use this information to seek out persons wanted on warrants for Criminal Code offences that have nothing to do with terrorism, transportation security or national security.

He also said:

The implications of this are extraordinarily far-reaching.

There are two aspects to this exchange of information. The first is that even if we are quite satisfied with the fact that the RCMP will no longer be responsible for the collection of data, we are still concerned about the powers the RCMP to pass on information to peace officers, among others.

We must not forget that in a democracy, the right to privacy is a fundamental right. In Canada, it is established that people are not required to identify themselves to the police except if they are arrested or doing something that requires a permit, such as driving a motor vehicle.

I will conclude by saying that, with regard to the three iaspects of Bill C-42, Bill C-55 and Bill C-17, which is before the House today, the Bloc won its case on the issue of controlled access military zones.

On the issue of interim orders, we would have preferred a shorter time lapse between the tabling of these interim orders in the House and their coming into force. We would have preferred that it be shortened from 15 to 5 days. Moreover, we would have preferred that a preliminary check be made under the enabling legislation, and also the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Finally, concerning the exchange of information, we would have preferred that the RCMP not have the power to pass on certin information on people.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-17 today.

As we can see and as listeners will be able to see at report stage, this bill is similar to previous bills, namely Bill C-55 and Bill C-42.

At second reading of this bill, the Bloc Quebecois voted against it. Despite the outstanding work my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel did during of this bill, by pointing out and tackling serious problems, the government has refused to listen and to accept any amendment. Yet amendments could have been a step in the right direction, for the government, but as usual, it ignored the opposition.

I think the government is still doing what it has done since it was elected several years ago. Everything that comes from its side is perfect, while it does not want to listen to anything that opposition parties want to suggest to enhance, clarify and improve their bills in committee. The eight government members always adopt a common stand against the opposition members. Often, despite the fact that several government members do not even know what they will be voting on, they always agree with the government's amendments and are automatically against opposition parties' amendments, even though these amendments would improve the bills.

Let us not forget that, when this government introduces a bill, opposition members do their homework. We consult people and ask them what they think and what they would like to have improved in the bill. We connect with the reality in our communities. But we see that, while we are doing our homework, this government takes the bills that its bureaucrats provide it and endorses them unquestioningly.

This has happened once again with Bill C-17. Moreover, despite all the amendments and motions brought forward by the opposition, this bill goes against the privacy commissioner's proposals. There is a part of this bill that deals with everything that affects privacy.

During the study of the second version of this bill, Bill C-55, the privacy commissioner said that he had major objections. When that bill was withdrawn, we thought that, when it was reintroduced as Bill C-17, the government would take the privacy commissioner's objections into consideration. But the opposition is unable to change the government's position. Even the privacy commissioner, who was appointed to protect Canadians' privacy, is unable to do so.

I would like those listening to know how important it is that this government listen to the Privacy Commissioner. He believes that the provision in question, section 4.82 of both bills, would give the RCMP and CSIS unrestricted access to the personal information held by airlines about all Canadian air travellers on domestic as well as international flights, and this worries him enormously.

Why is he worried? He is worried that the RCMP would also be expressly empowered to use this information to seek out persons wanted on warrants for Criminal Code offences that have nothing to do with terrorism, transportation security or national security.

Although we in the Bloc Quebecois wish Quebec to become a sovereign nation, at present we are still part of Canada. In Canada, it is well established that we are not required to identify ourselves to police unless we are being arrested or we are carrying out a licensed activity such as driving. The right to anonymity with regard to the state is a crucial privacy right.

Since we are required to identify ourselves to airlines as a condition of air travel and since section 4.82 would give the RCMP unrestricted access to the passenger information obtained by airlines, this would set the extraordinarily privacy-invasive precedent—and invasive it is—of effectively requiring compulsory self-identification to the police.

Finally, there is a very serious problem with Bill C-17. We share the opinion of the privacy commissioner, who says that the proposed amendments are an insult to the intelligence of Canadians. It is serious when a privacy commissioner tells the government that, in Bill C-17, clause 4.82 is an insult to the intelligence of Canadians. The government has turned a deaf ear, and I am dumbfounded. The amendments proposed under this new bill present no new solutions to the fundamental issues regarding the principle.

The government is now proposing regulations limiting the Criminal Code offence warrants under which the RCMP will be conducting searches. However, it does nothing to address the fundamental principle that the police have no business using this extraordinary access to personal information to search for people wanted on warrants for any offences unrelated to terrorism.

The privacy commissioner is so discouraged that he is appealing to parliamentarians, because this is insulting to Parliament; he says that it is now up to Parliament to explain to these people that privacy is a fundamental human right of Canadians that must be respected, rather than treated with the apparent indifference that the government is showing.

I think that the privacy commissioner's statements reflect the values that the Bloc Quebecois is defending. We agree with his words and utter them in turn, because people's privacy is at stake.

That is why the Bloc Quebecois is asking that the government's proposed amendments on the powers of the RCMP and CSIS to collect information cease to exist, and that this bill be taken back to the drawing board to ensure that privacy is respected.

For now, Canada is not a totalitarian state. We enjoy freedom of expression in this country, where privacy is one of the most important things we have.

I join my hon. colleague for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel in telling the government that the Bloc Quebecois will be voting against this bill. Furthermore, I will go further than my colleague and ask the government to withdraw Bill C-17.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 10:25 a.m.
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Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again we are debating Bill C-17, the half-brother of the short-lived twins, Bill C-42 and Bill C-55.

Since September 11, 2001, many say that nothing is the same, that the world is changing, as evidenced by the recent events in Iraq. Obviously, although the world often changes for the better, we must recognize that, in this case, it is changing for the worse.

Everybody agrees that logic is essential to the drafting of any bill, and the government must listen to that logic. However, it seems that the government is hard of hearing, and I am very sorry about that.

We are certainly happy that controlled access military zones have been removed from the bill before us, but does this mean that we should stop being vigilant? Absolutely not. We must see that the decisions being made today respect the balance between the three branches in our society, namely the executive, legislative and judiciary branches. In its current form, Bill C-17 poses a threat to the balance between the executive and the legislative branches, since it includes specific provisions allowing ministers and officials to make interim orders.

Interim orders are exempt from the application of section 3 of the Statutory Instruments Act. An order is considered to be a statutory instrument; therefore, it should undergo a preliminary check by the Clerk of the Privy Council. His role is precisely to ensure that the proposed regulation does not, and I quote:

—trespass unduly on existing rights and freedoms and is not, in any case, inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights.

So we should ask ourselves the following question: if the purpose is not to trespass unduly on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, why are we exempting the interim orders from the proper examination that would prove they are in compliance with the charter? By chance, would the government have the secret intention of transgressing the most basic rules of our free and democratic society by infringing on the fundamental rights of those individuals who form that society?

We do not question the importance of preventing all possible terrorist acts, and we do not question the necessity of equipping ourselves with all the tools we need to expose those who would threaten the security of citizens.

But there is one inescapable fact and that is that in order to fight against terrorism, we must fight against its main cause, and that is the extreme poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

If we all agree that it is important to eliminate the conditions that breed terrorism, we also agree that we must fight against those who would come to our borders with the intent of committing terrorist acts. Once again, however, this cannot be done at any cost.

One price we must refuse to pay is waiving the right to privacy. In the past, we made choices. We made the choice to live in a constitutional state instead of a police state. We must be careful not to open the door to this style of governance where police are everywhere, always checking what everyone is doing.

Would any of us blindly agree to have personal information relating to us processed and used for purposes other than those related to the fight against terrorism? Should the simple fact of taking a plane warrant the RCMP and CSIS having a record on a person? No. That has been made abundantly clear in the debates on Bill C-55.

It is interesting to know what the Privacy Commissioner thinks of Bill C-17. First, it would appear that his concerns about the defunct Bill C-55 were and are still being completely ignored. The ministers and top government officials have failed, so far, to provide him with an appropriate response. I believe he is still waiting. This is why he is now calling on Parliament to ensure his concerns finally receive the attention they deserve.

I shall quote his words:

But my concern is that the RCMP would also be expressly empowered to use this information to seek out persons wanted on warrants for Criminal Code offences that have nothing to do with terrorism, transportation security or national security.

What we must guard against is the risk of creating a precedent that would eventually open the door to increased police control over various areas of our daily lives. For example, if we allowed special powers intended primarily to protect national security and to counter terrorism to be made available to the RCMP with respect to air passengers, who is to say that this special situation will not be extended to rail, bus or metro passengers?

If, for example, a suicide bomber were to blow himself up on a crowded train, would we go so far as to flag train travellers and use this same opportunity to look for people with outstanding warrants? There is always a tendency to be overzealous. There is always a point of no return when it comes to overzealousness, a point beyond which we must not go for fear of destroying the fragile balance required to maintain a free and democratic society.

The commissioner also raises another point that we must not lose sight of. The right to anonymity with regard to the state is a crucial privacy right. With Bill C-17, that right to anonymity will be set aside the moment we are unwise enough to set foot aboard a plane. If it were set out in the act that personal information can be used only in the case of persons representing a true threat to national security, we could feel a bit reassured, but that is not the case. Obviously, the right to privacy will be meaningless as soon as Bill C-17 comes into force, if the government maintains its position. We have confidence, Mr. Speaker, that you will not have to reserve passage on a ship in order to visit your girlfriend overseas. It is likely that your name would end up on a file somewhere.

The members of the Bloc Quebecois are here to serve the interests of the public, and so they will fight energetically to see that the right to privacy is respected. We share the Privacy Commissioner's view that there are some major changes needed in Bill C-17. What we have before us today could not be called major changes.

Privacy is one of our basic rights. We are entitled to expect information on us to be used sparingly, at the very least. For the government to confer upon itself the right to collect information on air travellers is one thing, but the right to exchange and distribute that information is quite another.

In fact, Bill C-17 gives the minister the right to disclose the information to the whole world. Not only that, but it allows the minister to disclose and release the information but does not provide a detailed framework for such activities. That is what I call increasing ministerial authority without proper monitoring.

As we have said before, maintaining a balance is crucial to a healthy society and the risks of a faux pas are too high.

With the new powers that the bill would give the minister, he could be authorized to disclose to U.S. authorities information on applications for refugee status made in Canada. Do we have the right to authorize the release of personal information like this? One thing is clear, as soon as information is shared with another party, we lose control of it.

It is naive, idealistic and even rash to believe that we could control a situation when we have not established sufficient limits.

In conclusion, the government cannot always defend the indefensible. The same goes for the protection of privacy.

Let me quote a short sentence from Khalil Gibran, and I dedicate it particularly to my colleagues in the government. This is my gift for today. He said, and I quote:

Strange that we all defend our wrongs with more vigor than we do our rights.

This sentence is food for thought. I hope that it will lead to conclusions that are worthy of the Canadian society, which is, as everyone knows, the best in the world.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

Mississauga West Ontario

Liberal

Steve Mahoney LiberalSecretary of State (Selected Crown Corporations)

Mr. Speaker, before I was given the opportunity to work on my current responsibilities for crown corporations, I was parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Transport and assigned the task of trying to shepherd this bill through committee. I have been away from it for a little while, but I am pleased to have an opportunity to comment on some of the issues that people are concerned about.

Members opposite, particularly the Canadian Alliance, tend to want to hold up the United States as the way to do things. The previous speaker said that President Bush did this and he did that following September 11. One of the things that is interesting about the U.S. system is that when a crisis occurs, the American people, the congress, the senate, and everybody in Washington tends to get behind the president regardless of his political stripe. They tend to rally around the flag.

One of the differences in our situation, for better or for worse, is that no such thing ever happens. In fact, I find that the opposition use every opportunity it can to somehow blame the government for everything from the weather to whatever we can imagine. It is an interesting approach. We give the member what he wants.

He said at the beginning of his remarks that he was pleased that the government had eliminated certain issues. Some witnesses who appeared before the committee, and I was there for many meetings until this recent appointment, expressed their strong concerns about the effect of the inclusion of inexplosive ammunition components in part 7 of the bill. This is an issue that this member, in his zest to fight anything to do with ammunition or gun control, was very adamant about.

It was not the government's intention to burden lawful shooting activities within part 7, and the witnesses from Natural Resources Canada indicated that in their testimony before the committee. The government listened closely to the concerns that were expressed by the stakeholders and decided to introduce motions to remove all references to inexplosive ammunition components from Bill C-17.

It is like people here cannot take yes for an answer. We listened, we heard, and we removed the references. While the member did say at the beginning of his remarks that he appreciated it, he then went on with other areas that I would suggest are not related to this.

How did the government react? Let me tell members that the current Minister of Transport, who was the minister on September 11, reacted by immediately closing down the skies. There were 5,000 aircraft flying around the skies over North America. Members should remember what happened in Gander. We should give credit to the people of Gander, and rightly so, for opening their hearts and their homes, their churches and their community halls to help these stranded people. However, do we think that all those planes were diverted to Gander miraculously and landed without incident?

We all saw the pictures in the news of the planes on the tarmac, lined up one after another. When they finally had to leave, just the management of the air traffic control aspect of that was incredible. Is there any thought how some 5,000 aircraft, which were diverted and many of which landed in various airports in Canada, including Gander, were managed? Did the pilots just talk it over among themselves and say, “let us go to Gander, I think it is safe there”?

Let us be fair and give credit where credit is due. The government gave the direction. It is not up to the government to actually physically do it. We have professionals in place in NAV Canada and Transport Canada. But it is up to the government, in this case the Minister of Transport, to set the tone, to give the direction, and to give the order.

I recall that this minister was on a cell phone in a car, driving from Montreal back to Ottawa, when this crisis occurred. Within minutes he took action that I would say could have saved lives; we will never know. But the fact that it was handled so professionally and so smoothly, members should at least be fair and say that it was an issue that happened on the watch of the government.

We do not need to stand and crow that we did it all because that is not true. We relied on the professionals in our employ and on the people of Canada to respond in such a positive way. But what do we hear? We hear members in the House saying we need to change the government because it did not act quickly enough. It is just such nonsense.

There may be reasons that members opposite think we need to change the government. There may be reasons why Canadians think we need to change the government. Who knows? They might change the government. That is why we have such a great democratic country because that option is there. However that is the wrong issue. We should be getting behind the government on this critical bill.

There was much debate in committee about whether or not we were going too far. Concerns were expressed by the Privacy Commissioner. The bar associations that were before us were saying that if we found information on a person travelling from Vancouver to Toronto and the indication was that person was a terrorist, their position was that we should not be able to go further in terms of reviewing the passenger list. However, if we did that and discovered that there was someone else onboard that aircraft who had an outstanding warrant for a crime that had been specified in this bill, a crime that would result in a sentence in excess of five years--and in this country that is a crime such as murder, kidnapping and that kind of thing, the most serious of crimes that one can imagine--we would not have the right to arrest that person when he or she got off the aircraft according to the bar associations.

I remember asking the lawyers who were there representing the bar associations to help me understand this. They were suggesting that I tell my constituents that even though, as a result of our work against terrorism and as a result of our work in following up on information provided by CSIS and the RCMP, we discovered a third party on an aircraft with an outstanding warrant for having murdered someone that we had to let them walk off the plane. Their answer was, yes, that is what they were saying, in the aid of privacy rights.

I believe the official opposition was onside with our position in that particular area. But we have members standing in the House objecting to criminals being given the right to vote and all of these issues. Yet, we are supposed to allow people to walk free when we have an outstanding warrant for their arrest for murder or for kidnapping or for some other vile crime. It just makes no sense at all.

This bill has taken time. Let us review the process. The government responded very quickly after we took the initial action on this bill. The initial action was to provide safe haven for tens of thousands of people. We did that, we did it well, and our officials acted responsibly. Our next step was to bring in a bill that would deal with some of the concerns around Bill C-17. Bill C-42 was introduced and there was a big furor over the bill. A lot of concern was expressed about that bill.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

May 9th, 2003 / 10:05 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to address this bill. Before I get into the main part of my speech I want to congratulate the government and the special legislative committee on Bill C-17 for passing 25 amendments that deleted the expression “inexplosive ammunition component” from part 7 of Bill C-17. We worked very hard in trying to get rid of these particular parts of the bill. It was just absurd that they were being put into legislation. It would have created another mess, probably similar to the firearms fiasco.

In particular I would like to thank the office of the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for working with my office to identify, draft and submit the amendments for consideration by the committee. I must also recognize the member for Churchill, as her office also submitted identical amendments.

The committee owes a debt of gratitude to James M. Hinter, national president, and David A. Tomlinson, legal chairman, of the National Firearms Association, as well as Tony Bernardo, the executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, for appearing before us and encouraging us to stop short of “criminalizing brass and lead”, in Mr. Hinter's words, and, in the words of Tony Bernardo, “regulating little bits of margarine containers, little pieces of cotton fabric and fishing sinkers”.

The committee must also thank those members of Canada's film and television community who wrote to committee members to inform us of the negative impact, especially on the production of action movies, of including the term “inexplosive ammunition component” in part 7 of Bill C-17.

The words “inexplosive ammunition component” first appeared in part V of Bill C-42. That was the first predecessor of Bill C-17 which we are debating today. They appeared on November 22, 2001. That bill was so flawed that the government withdrew it four months later, but in the interim, a Library of Parliament research paper prepared on January 18, 2002, by Gérald Lafrenière, pointed out the potential problems of regulating inexplosive ammunition components. Naturally, when the Liberals brought back Bill C-42 as Bill C-55 on April 29, 2002, I hoped that they had read the Library of Parliament report. They had not and on May 9, 2002, exactly a year ago today, I told the House the following:

The trouble with the [inexplosive ammunition component] sections is that they will most likely hit the wrong target by potentially criminalizing tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens who load their own ammunition for legal pastimes and sports.

Consequently, law-abiding citizens who manufacture their own ammunition would end up being charged with the new offences proposed in the amendments, offences that call for fines up to $500,000 and imprisonment of up to five years in jail.

Offences that are targeting law-abiding Canadians in this act include: acquiring, possessing, selling, offering for sale, transporting or delivering any illicit inexplosive ammunition component and making or manufacturing any explosive from an illicitly trafficked inexplosive ammunition component. The government has not told us how it thinks anyone can make an explosive from an inexplosive ammunition component. The definition in the act states “inexplosive ammunition component” means any cartridge case or bullet, or any projectile that is used in a firearm as defined in section 2 of the criminal code.

Even the government's own definition clearly demonstrates that no one could possibly make an explosive out of inexplosive ammunition components. I would like to propose at the appropriate time that an amendment be made to remove all references to inexplosive ammunition components from the proposed amendments to the explosives act.

That was exactly a year ago today.

Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper on September 16, 2002, and was brought back in slightly modified form as Bill C-17 on October 21. Again the Liberals missed the opportunity to delete the term “inexplosive ammunition component” from the bill. On Monday, November 18, 2002, I spoke on Bill C-17 at second reading and once again called for removal of all references to “inexplosive ammunition components” from the bill.

I am glad to note that some of the members of other parties were listening. I believe that the hard work of members of the firearms community, the film and television community and various members of the committee, including the members for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam and Churchill, as well as some of the Liberal members, helped to convince a majority of Liberal members of the committee that this particular change was essential to making Bill C-17 more acceptable to Canadians, and I thank them.

It is quite clear that the committee state version of Bill C-17 is a definite improvement over Bill C-42 as first presented 17 months ago, but more changes, particularly in the area of increased parliamentary scrutiny, are required.

If Canadians were prepared to sacrifice their liberties for the promise of increased security in the aftermath of September 11, that feeling has faded in the intervening year and a half. For this reason, the government would be wise to carefully consider increased parliamentary scrutiny on the same level as the Emergencies Act if it wants opposition parties to support Bill C-17.

The report stage of Bill C-17, 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, otherwise known as the Public Safety Act, will be the subject of the rest of my speech.

I would like to divide my remarks in the remaining time I have into three general categories: general comments on the bill, continuing concerns about the bill's broad use of interim orders, and our reaction to what the committee did. I have already done the third part.

I would like to trace a little of the history of the bill because those watching and reading the Hansard record will of course probably forget how this all began. There are many parts of it that go to trying to make Canadians feel safe in a post-September 11 world, but that is part of the bill's problem. It was first drafted in reaction to the terrible terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001.

As I end my remarks today, I would like to make this point. If the true measure of a man is what he does rather than what he says, then the measure of a country must be in part its reaction to times of trial and stress. In the United States 10 days after the September 11 attack, Senator Fritz Hollings was on his feet to introduce America's reaction, S.1447, “a bill to improve aviation security, and for other purposes”. With lightning speed, and despite an anthrax scare on Capitol Hill, both the House of Representatives and the Senate quickly passed the legislation and President Bush signed it on November 19, 2001. That is right: from the time the first airplane hit the first tower to the moment President Bush signed his approval of the new bill, barely 10 weeks passed.

During the same 10 weeks this Liberal government slept. In fact it was a full three days after President Bush signed the U.S. law that this Liberal government tabled the first version of the public safety act, then called Bill C-42, on November 22. That bill lived for five months, never went to any committee and was withdrawn on April 24, 2002.

Five days later, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-42's replacement, Bill C-55. It was so complex that a special committee was struck on May 9 solely for the purpose of studying it, but that committee never met. Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper on September 16, 2002, when Parliament prorogued.

I think we can get the drift. Inaction is what marked this government. In fact, the current legislation, Bill C-17, was not tabled in the House until October 31, 2002, fully 13 months after the September 11 attack and nearly 11 months after President Bush signed America's aviation and transportation security act into legislation as public law 107-71.

It is now May 9, 2003, and this bill is just coming back to us from a special legislative committee. There will be debate and hopefully further amendments, and then votes. Then the bill will presumably be referred to the Senate for deliberation. It is unlikely that Bill C-17 will be ready to receive royal assent before October.

September 11 happened and the U.S. had a law signed by the President and in place on November 18, roughly two months later. Canada will not have its law in place until nearly two years have passed. That is simply unacceptable. If it takes a Liberal dominated Parliament two years to react to a major crisis, that is a strong argument for a change in government.

I want to conclude by making people aware that the government should be judged by what it does, not by what it says, and that this bill is a clear indication of the inaction of the government in the face of a crisis.

TerrorismRoutine Proceedings

November 27th, 2002 / 3:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, given the importance of this issue, it is disappointing to see the shortness of the statement of the Solicitor General on terrorists, terrorism and innocent civilian victims.

The opportunity given to ministers to make statements in the House is usually a solemn occasion marking a major change in government policy. However, the Solicitor General's statement, far from meeting these criteria, shows the government's flippancy when it comes to fulfilling its responsibilities in the fight against terrorism.

This is not serious. In the fall of 2001, Bill C-36 was rammed through Parliament as if terrorism were a new reality. Then, it took the government almost a whole year to realize that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas are terrorist entities. Yet, for years now, they have been claiming responsibility for suicide attacks. Normally, it should not have taken close to a year to add these organizations to the list.

The addition at this point of these six entities to the very short list of organizations having direct or indirect ties with terrorist activities in Canada or abroad is stunning.

It seems to us that merely mentioning the name Hamas should be enough to trigger thoughts of terrorist activities in the Middle East and all over the world. The same is true of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

It would have been interesting to know why the government suddenly woke up today. This would have given some substance to the minister's statement.

Since the government singled out these organizations and put them on its list of terrorist entities, I am surprised that Hezbollah is not mentioned anywhere. We are fully aware that, as charities go, this entity is nothing like the Knights of Columbus.

Generally speaking, we feel that the government, particularly with Bill C-17, formerly known as Bill C-42 and Bill C-55, has not managed to strike a balance between public safety and individual rights and freedoms. The comments made by the Privacy Commissioner are evidence of that.

In conclusion, the Bloc Quebecois is pleased that these entities were added to the government's list, but it is disappointed to see the Solicitor General using a piecemeal approach on such an important issue. We would to know when the list will be made longer, to paraphrase the Solicitor General, and we would like to know why it is currently not as complete as it should be.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 18th, 2002 / 1:35 p.m.
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NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, on behalf of the NDP caucus I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-17.

We note that Bill C-17 represents just the latest incarnation in a series of bills that have been introduced to try and address the aftermath of 9/11. It is a top of mind issue for every Canadian and for every global citizen as we take necessary steps to add to the security of ordinary Canadians and the sense of security that they should enjoy in a great country like Canada.

Bill C-17, building off of Bill C-42, building off of Bill C-55, building off of Bill C-36 attempts once again to find a reasonable balance between the needed measures that must be taken to give Canadians confidence and those precious personal rights and freedoms by which we define ourselves as Canadians. We believe that we are still struggling to find that balance and we are not satisfied that we are there yet today. We are still very concerned that Bill C-17 may fall under the quote that was referenced earlier, that those who would trade personal and individual rights and freedoms in exchange for short term and temporary security really deserve neither.

If we are willing to compromise the very personal freedoms by which we define ourselves as Canadians for an unproven commodity, we are really being asked to buy a pig in a poke because we are not even sure that the measures that are recommended under Bill C-17 in many ways will be satisfactory or will in fact improve the level of comfort that Canadians enjoy while being secure within our own boundaries. We are not sure that balance has been reached.

Bill C-17 will be an omnibus bill once again and will seek to address the issue of the safety of Canadians in a variety of acts. An enormous number of acts are influenced by the bill, for example the Aeronautics Act, the National Defence Act, the interim order of powers, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act, the Criminal Code, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. That will give an idea to those who might be listening at home how broad and sweeping Bill C-17 really is.

We have to question if the bill has really had enough scrutiny, attention and study. Even though we debated at length Bill C-36, Bill C-55 and then Bill C-42, the same issues that we on the opposition benches have raised over and over again either have not been taken seriously or someone has failed to understand the legitimate points that keep being raised over and over by the people on this side at least.

There are people who have gone the whole broad spectrum of criticism, and there are some who fear that we are starting up that slippery slope to a police state. I do not believe that personally. I think that is badly overstating the issue. We do have to caution when we make fundamental changes to the way we have always done things and the way things have always been treated that there are those who in their zeal or just in their willingness to do their jobs well may take advantage of these measures in areas where they were never meant to be used.

I think of the simple right to protest. I come from the labour movement where it is not uncommon for my colleagues and I to find ourselves in a confrontational situation as we take our arguments to some sort of act of civil disobedience, if one will. Now, especially in what are called new military zones, that type of protest could be seriously limited. The new authorities under Bill C-17 could be exercised to stifle that sort of legitimate protest. I raise that as a point that concerns the trade unionists very much, as did Bill C-55, Bill C-42 and all the other bills leading up to this. That is only one point.

I will speak for a moment to an issue raised by one of the members of the Canadian Alliance. The Alliance believes the police or customs authorities should not have additional powers when it comes to seizing the components of explosives. I disagree 100%. I believe our customs and revenue agents should have the right to seize the makings of explosives, just as much as they have the right to seize a bomb.

As a former blaster in underground and open pit mines, I know that fairly innocuous elements can become very dangerous when put together for the purposes of making a bomb. In the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, which everyone remembers very well, the actual bomb that went off was made with ordinary Prell fertilizer. Anyone with a farming background will recognize that as a fertilizer farmers use every day. Diammonium phosphate mixed with ordinary diesel fuel blew up the Oklahoma federal building. Perhaps I should not use the brand name Prell but that is the common pellet form of that fertilizer.

Frankly, if I saw a customs officer seizing a shipment of Prell fertilizer, the purposes of which could not be clearly explained, I think those revenue agents would be doing us all a service to at least use added scrutiny when they see that type of material crossing our border. That is one element of Bill C-17 with which I have no objection at all. In fact, I applaud the initiative.

We believe that the broadening of the new military zones goes far beyond what is necessary. We note that the new military zones designated by order in council would include the Esquimalt military base and the area surrounding it, areas around Halifax, et cetera. We recognize that our military bases need to have additional scrutiny because if we are to be targeted in any way, our military zones would have to be viewed. We also think this could cross a line between what is needed and what may be used in another way.

I have seen anti-nuclear protestors outside the Nanoose Bay installations, for instance, on Vancouver Island. They were peaceful protestors who simply disagreed with allowing American nuclear submarines into Canadian waters. Under the new rules, those peaceful protestors could be hauled away, held without charge and have their personal freedom to protest violated under the bill.

The NDP has spoken out loudly against these additional measures, not all the measures but those we deem to be unnecessary and even questionable and of questionable benefit. No one has really been able to demonstrate to us why all these measures are absolutely necessary.

It was perfectly understandable after 9/11 that the government used a fairly scattergun approach. North America and our American colleagues were under attack. For all we know that same level of alert should still be in place today. However we are using a completely scattergun approach and, in our effort to cover the bases necessary, we believe we are going too far in covering things that may not have been necessary and may have been frivolous. A more cynical person would say that we are trying to achieve measures that could not be achieved through the normal course of legislation by giving additional powers to police and to officers, which the country would normally balk at.

The new tax on air transportation is one example where we believe the government took advantage of a desperate situation to initiate a tax grab that never would have been tolerated under normal circumstances. Under the guise of this renewed need to resecure our borders, we believe it snuck this new cash cow under the wire.

Let me just state for the record that the NDP caucus still opposes Bill C-17. We have serious reservations. We question the motivation of the introduction of many of these clauses. We look forward to having the opportunity to address them further.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 18th, 2002 / 1:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, it is appropriate to begin by reminding the House what led to today's debate on Bill C-17. This bill has been before us for a long time. It previously had different titles. It was originally known as Bill C-55, before becoming Bill C-42. It is now before us as Bill C-17. This legislation was changed and improved somewhat to meet the major concerns of the public, the main stakeholders and the opposition in recent years.

The bill was significantly amended as regards designated military zones. We can say—as my colleagues have done, and it is only normal to do so without being too boastful—that it is a victory for the opposition, a victory for individual rights over security. In this regard, the fact that this legislation has been tightened up the way it has is a victory for democracy and for the public.

During the week of recess, we went back to our respective ridings. People often ask us “What exactly is the role of the opposition?” Bill C-17 provides a good example of the role of the opposition. I do not agree with the former Minister of Finance who said that the opposition does not make solid suggestions to the House. An example of a solid suggestion that we made to the government is when we said “Listen, you are probably going a little too far with these designated military zones”. We called the government to order.

This bill, like the young offenders legislation and other bills that I could mention, provides an example of the role of an informed opposition. It provides an example of how it helps correct proposed measures. At no time have Bloc Quebecois members, and members of the other opposition parties, said “We are opposed to the bill, whether it is Bill C-55 or Bill C-42”. However, we said “Even though we agree with the idea of providing greater security for the general public, individual and civil rights must not be violated for the benefit of collective security. Let us be cautious in this regard”. We said it time and again.

People ask “What point is there to a debate, if there is no vote immediately afterward? Are these just empty debates?” We have, however, been heeded by someone somewhere. Between the two sessions there have been some positive changes made which enable us to say that this bill is an improvement. We are therefore encouraged to continue to make improvements. We are all in agreement with the principle of ensuring people's safety. As I have said, however, their rights must not be sacrificed in the process.

The Bloc Quebecois is therefore very pleased with the amendment relating to military security zones, namely that they have been done away with. On the other hand, we are still wary. We are saying to the government and the stakeholders “Heed us as you did for the military security zones. We feel some improvements still need to be made if this bill is to be the object of consensus. Consensus is the goal of everyone in this House”.

There are still problems, however, one of them concerning interim orders. Here again we have evidence of how the opposition can bring about constructive improvements to a bill, if only through what is said here in the House. Let us compare the three bills we have had presented to us concerning these interim measures: Bills C-42, C-55 and C-17. Initially, we were vehemently opposed to C-42 and C-55 as far as military zones and interim orders were concerned.

What did Bill C-42 have to say about these interim orders? The interim order was made by a minister, or in certain cases by departmental officials. It ceased to be in effect after 90 days, unless ratified by the governor in council. In other words, these were 90-day interim orders.

We said “This is terrible; it is wrong; it is dangerous. It goes beyond common senses to give so much power with respect to interim orders”. If memory serves, the government members' reaction at that time was to label us irresponsible, to tell us “These responsibilities are justified. We are entitled to have 90-day interim orders”. They listened to us, nevertheless.

When Bill C-55 was introduced, the period was reduced from 90 to 45 days, “unless it is approved by the Governor in Council”. At least, the government listened to us and reduced the period to 45 days. Still, the timeframe was felt to be unreasonable and, as a result, in Bill C-17, it was further reduced to 14 days. It went all the way from 90 days to 14 days.

To those who ask what good the opposition and its speeches are, I say that we have the ability to influence the government and bring it to make changes when it goes too far—in negotiating, one often asks for more just to get what is reasonable—and 14 days is probably more reasonable.

With regard to the introduction in Parliament of a bill like this one and the important role played by parliamentarians, members should know that there were no provisions for the tabling of interim orders in Parliament. At no time could the people's representatives have voted on or examined the orders, had Bill C-42 been passed.

In Bill C-55, the provision read “within 15 days after it has been made”. Under Bill C-55, the timeframe was 15 days from the time an interim order was tabled, and this timeframe has been maintained.

Naturally, we see that substantial improvements have been made from the initial version of the bill. However, the main problem, the lack of a preliminary review period to ensure compliance with the charter and enabling legislation, remains.

While welcoming improvements with respect to the powers of the various ministers and officials in connection with interim orders, there is a more serious problem with the new legislation before us—we are not alone to say so—and it concerns the exchange of information.

In this respect, if time permits, I would like to read two excerpts from the release by the privacy commissioner:

This same provision has now been reintroduced, with only minimal and unsatisfactory change, in the replacement legislation, Bill C-17.

He is talking about the exchange of information. And he adds:

But my concern is that the RCMP would also be expressly empowered to use this information to seek out persons wanted on warrants for Criminal Code offences that have nothing to do with terrorism, transportation security or national security.

I would like to point out to the President of the Treasury Board that the Privacy Commissioner does not respect the Official Languages Act, as far as I am concerned, or at least the spirit of the act, because he seems to have problems with our language, unlike the Commissioner of Official Languages and the Auditor General, both of whom respect the act and the spirit of the act. However, I am sure that the President of the Treasury Board was aware of this. Just a quick aside.

The Privacy Commissioner found other problems and when Bill C-42 was introduced, he was quick to voice his concerns about the broad powers that were being given to CSIS and the RCMP to obtain information on matters unrelated to security, terrorism or the protection of citizens. With these new powers, they would be able to arrest other criminals here and there, based on information they received. There was a great deal of talk about this, and “Big Brother” was what we saw.

To conclude, this bill is very interesting. It proves that it is possible to improve upon a bill. It also proves that the opposition, when confronted with a bill as important to public safety as this one is, can make real and specific proposals to improve it, calling on the government and stakeholders, so that everyone can support it.

However, at this time, we in the Bloc Quebecois still cannot support this bill because of the interim orders but, more importantly, because of the sharing of information, which, as the Privacy Commissioner has said, goes beyond the powers of this government.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 18th, 2002 / 12:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for informing me, in your great wisdom, of the speaking time I have left. Naturally, I will endeavour to use this time appropriately. When I spoke on Bill C-17, I pointed out that this was an improved version of the bill put before us last spring, the public safety bill, Bill C-55.

At the time that bill was introduced, I rose to express great concern about, among other things, controlled access military zones, now referred to as military security zones, as defined in Bill C-42.

This was a very important point. I should remind hon. members that the concept of controlled access military zones, at the time, made it possible for the government to establish protected military zones, which could cover any area where there are military facilities. This could lead to abuse. At the time, I gave the very specific example of Quebec City as a potential controlled access military zone. It would have been very difficult to do anything in Quebec City if there had been problems of terrorism.

The other point I raised at the time concerned the interim orders. The new bill before us today also contains provisions on interim orders. We were primarily concerned about the deadlines for these orders and the way they could be made, the fact that the decision to make interim orders could be made by an individual, either the minister or an official.

A problem remains concerning interim orders, and I will come back to that. I am talking about the lack of preliminary compliance audits. I will address this issue later, to explain why we oppose the new version of the bill, Bill C-17, before us today and dealing with interim orders.

We also strongly emphasized another point: the exchange of information. In this respect, the amendments proposed to the previous bill fall far short of what is needed. A great deal of information can still be exchanged and, as far as I am concerned, too much control and power is given to the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. I will come back to that also. The privacy commissioner commented on this last spring. He is saying pretty much the same thing now, stating that the provisions do not represent the proper balance between safety and security, and privacy.

So, I said in the first part of my remarks, that we would vote against the bill in its present form. We will do so for reasons that are essentially the same as those mentioned last spring, because, in our opinion, the changes made to the bill are clearly insufficient.

More specifically, on the subject of military security zones, a recent news release issued by the Department of Transport indicated the following:

The government concluded that it needed to take a more measured approach and re-engineer these provisions in a way that achieves a better balance between the public interest and the ongoing legitimate security needs of Canadian Forces and visiting forces in Canada. The government recognizes the need to deal with these security concerns as a matter of some urgency. As a result, it has decided to establish, through Order-in-Council, controlled access zones in Halifax, Esquimalt and Nanoose Bay harbours.

The same news release, which was issued when the bill was introduced, also said:

These controlled access zones will be much narrower in scope than the earlier provisions and will apply only to the three naval ports in question, although other such zones could be considered on a case-by-case basis, should the security situation dictate.

This last comment is a source of concern for us.

Of course, we are pleased that, in the new bill, the government did not include the military security zones that were being considered at the time. However, the fact is that these zones can still be established through orders in council.

This measure seems much more reasonable to us than the prior one. However, it still leaves room for abuse and this is one of the reasons we are not supporting this bill.

We must be sure, obviously, that when military zones are established, particularly in Quebec, they be established with the agreement of the Government of Quebec, particularly if the zone in question includes Quebec City, or other military bases located in Quebec.

As for the interim orders, the bill still contains provisions that would allow various ministers, and in at least one case, bureaucrats, to make interim orders and we have concerns regarding this. When it comes to interim orders, they really must be tabled in Parliament so that Parliament is informed of the situation, and aware of what is really happening.

The time period has been shortened, from 45 to 14 days before cabinet approves it, which is still far too long as far as we are concerned. What is more, the major problem regarding interim orders is, as I said earlier, that there is no prior assessment to ensure that they respect the charter and enabling legislation.

As for the sharing of information, as I said, this is a very, very important element, especially for us, because we are used to certain freedoms and we try, as much as possible, to avoid giving the police too many powers. In fact, Bill C-17 allows two different individuals, in addition to the Minister of Transport, or an official designated by the minister, to have direct access to information on passengers from airlines and airline reservation systems operators. These two individuals are the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. This information may be requested in the case of an imminent threat to the safety of transportation. In the case of CSIS, this information may also be requested for investigations into threats to Canadian security. Bill C-55 also allowed for the disclosure of information about persons for whom a warrant has been issued.

Usually, the information collected by the RCMP and CSIS must be destroyed within seven days of being received or obtained, unless it is reasonably necessary for transportation safety, or to investigate a threat to Canada's security.

Once again, we are granting what I would call a discretionary power. We are giving the Royal Canadian Mounted Police the authority to retain this information and not destroy it if the commissioner determines that it could be useful.

Personally, I consider that to be a serious threat because we should require that this information, and all the other information, be destroyed within the prescribed time limits, unless, of course, special authorization is granted by the minister or the cabinet.

Last May, the Privacy Commissioner issued a letter in which he expressed his concerns about the provisions of Bill C-55 giving the RCMP and CSIS unrestricted access to personal information. He said he was troubled about the provisions, and I quote:

a) Empowering the RCMP to obtain and scan passenger lists in search of anyone subject to an outstanding warrant for any offence punishable by imprisonment of five years or more; and

b) Allowing CSIS and the RCMP to retain passenger information in search of suspicious travel patterns.

With respect to paragraph a), several provisions were problematic at the time and still are. Among others, there was the definition of the term warrant and those provisions allowing the RCMP to collect and communicate information about individuals subject to an outstanding warrant. The commissioner suggested that these provisions be withdrawn from the bill.

Basically, the RCMP would compile a file, share the information with other police services or other institutions in order to do checks. To what extent should these files be destroyed or eliminated? That question has been raised.

Currently, from the way we understand Bill C-17, the government has tried to tighten up these provisions, but in the end the door is still ajar and there is still a danger when it comes to files being compiled, information sharing and the disclosure of personal information regarding Canadians and Quebeckers who travel. I think that the door is open far too wide when it comes to the RCMP obtaining personal information.

Even though, under Bill C-17, the RCMP no longer has the power to collect information in order to find a person for whom a warrant has been issued, it still has the power to share information obtained under the provisions of Bill C-17 with a peace officer if it has reason to believe that it could be useful in executing a warrant. This is still what I would describe as a discretionary power, which in my opinion is a very problematic element when it comes to Bill C-17.

In fact, it is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police itself that decides when a situation is a threat to transportation security, which allows it to ask an airline for information concerning passengers. As soon as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has any doubt, it would be allowed, under Bill C-17, to ask the airline for information concerning passengers. This leaves room for abuse.

In the bill, there is no control mechanism concerning this provision. I believe that the government should have included restrictions throughout Bill C-17, that it should not have opened the door so wide with respect to this provision and allowed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to obtain information relating to all airline passengers.

This gives the Royal Canadian Mounted Police carte blanche as it were. Furthermore, once the information is obtained, nothing prevents the RCMP from keeping it, as long as the reasons for doing so are recorded. This means that a file would be created on people who travel within the country or elsewhere. A file would be created on all the people using air transportation and all the information concerning passengers could be obtained through the airlines, which appears extremely dangerous to us and also appears dangerous to the Privacy Commissioner, George Radwanski.

In concluding, I would like to reiterate that we will vote against Bill C-17, for the reasons that I just mentioned, among others.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 5th, 2002 / 5:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

As my colleague from Sherbrooke says, there is either too much time or not enough time. In my opinion, there is surely not enough time. I would point out that we are talking about a bill that is an improved version of Bills C-55 and C-42, that is, Bill C-17.

When I spoke before on Bill C-55 as well as on Bill C-42, I asked myself a very basic question: Was Bill C-55 really necessary? Was it not in fact legislation introduced, let us say, at a very critical moment, in a wave of panic, after the events of September 11? And we all thought then, after seeing the legislation, that the government actually already had all the means it required to respond to what happened as a result of the events of September 11.

However, the debate continued. We made representations, particularly as regards controlled access military zones, about which we were very concerned. During oral question period and in our comments, we often mentioned, as an example, that overnight the federal government could unilaterally decree Quebec City a controlled access military zone, since there are military facilities within that city.

Fortunately, the government realized the excessive nature of Bill C-55. The issue of controlled access military zones is completely or almost completely solved, largely because of the work of opposition and Bloc Quebecois members. This proposal was removed from the legislation in the form that it had when Bill C-55 was introduced.

The other issue is that of interim orders. We also fought this proposal when it was made in Bill C-55 and, later on, in Bill C-42. Bill C-17 also includes provisions on interim orders, but the timeframes for their tabling in Parliament and approval by cabinet have been considerably reduced. However, these interim orders and timeframes remain. Our main problem is the lack of prior verification for compliance, as the hon. member for Laval Centre mentioned earlier. There is still no prior verification for compliance in the case of interim orders.

The third problem that we mentioned at the time was the exchange of information. Personally, I am very concerned that the government may again create a file that will include information on a large segment of the public, on travellers, on air passengers. This file will be created. The government says yes, but the information that will be included in this file will have to be destroyed within 48 hours by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. However, a small provision provides that, if necessary, the RCMP will be allowed to keep this information for a longer period.

I am quite concerned about this file that would be set up. We have seen cases in the past where files have been created. Orders were even given for those files to be destroyed. Just think about the Department of Human Resources Development, for example. Later on, we discovered that, unfortunately, the files had not been destroyed, that they still existed and that they contained a great deal of information about people.

At the time, a lot of the information was false. The data were completely wrong because the file had not been properly kept. Somehow, all the information got mixed up. So I am concerned about that. Unfortunately, this kind of file is still mentioned in the bill. The privacy commissioner also shares this concern.

Finally, I would say that, as citizens, we are the ones responsible for protecting our privacy. As citizens, it is our responsibility to tell the government that we will not accept any further interference in our private lives and that we do not want the government to create files. We will not allow the government to once again take our privacy and use it for its own purposes, whether the motive is security or something else.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 5th, 2002 / 5:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague from Laval Centre. I know the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord joins me in expressing our congratulations to her on a well-researched speech full of literary allusions. We know how well read she is.

How does the hon. member explain the repeated refusal of the government to bow to the arguments of the Privacy Commissioner? How does she account for the fact that the proposed changes were much less widespread in the new Bill C-17 than in the bills that she called twins, that is, Bill C-42 and Bill C-55? What would she suggest to improve the bill so that it would be acceptable for all Quebeckers and all Canadians?

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 5th, 2002 / 5:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have been debating this bill, the half-brother of the twins, Bill C-42 and Bill C-55, for a few hours now.

A few years ago, a Quebec performer that you surely know, Richard Séguin, had his own version of this excellent Bob Dylan song called Times they are a changin' . Indeed, times are changing. And since September 11, 2001, many are saying that nothing is the same any more, that our world is changing. The case of Maher Arar, this Canadian citizen of Syrian descent who was deported from the U.S. to Syria without any justification, is proof that things are no longer the same since September 11.

We could also mention the fact that the people targeted by our American neighbours because of their country of origin can no longer travel without worry. There is no doubt that, while the world is changing, most of the time for the better, in this case it is for the worse.

Not long ago, we had the opportunity to speak to a certain bill on public safety. That was Bill C-42. The criticism was harsh, for a good reason. The government proposed a makeshift solution to a new problem in a changing context. Had it passed this Bill C-42, Parliament would have accepted that the most fundamental of civil rights and liberties be sacrificed on the altar of the constant fight, as we were told, against terrorism. But the cost was much too high and, in the end, reason prevailed and Bill C-42 was returned to where it came from, probably some computer's random access memory. We were naive enough to believe that the government had understood the essence of our criticism. But no.

Instead of showing some understanding of our views, the government used a ploy, but we did not fall for it. The new Bill C-55 was the twin brother of Bill C-42, even though it was born a few weeks later. Absolutely. For the second time, we would debate a bill on public safety. Unfortunately, the minister's imagination quickly revealed its limits. We were not fooled. This is why, for the second time, we opposed the idea of interfering with the rights and freedoms that form the basis of any democratic society that acts in accordance with its principles. Fortunately, when Parliament was prorogued, Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same, and today we are debating Bill C-17, the half-brother of the other two. How times change. This bill is the offspring of a blended family or, in this case, a family which, actually, is divided into two clans.

Before mentioning the common features of Bill C-42, Bill C-55 and their half-brother, Bill C-17, I want to congratulate all the hon. members who strongly condemned the infamous controlled access military zones included in the previous two bills. Thanks to the work of citizens, civil society groups and people who care about fundamental rights, we managed to convince the government to listen to reason. The government had no choice but to see the obvious. It could no longer defend the indefensible. Logic should also help the government party, if only on certain occasions. This is why we should acknowledge this gesture of openness in the face of criticism. This shows that there is a constructive opposition in this chamber, an opposition that listens to the people.

Should we stop being vigilant now that controlled access military zones are not included in the new Bill C-17? Absolutely not. We must see that the decisions being made today respect the balance between the three branches in our society, namely the executive, legislative and judiciary branches.

In its current form, Bill C-17 poses a threat to the balance between the executive and the legislative branches, since it includes specific provisions allowing ministers and officials to make interim orders.

While there are some differences in the monitoring of interim orders as compared with the provisions of the old Bill C-42, the absence of a preliminary check to ensure compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the enabling legislation poses a problem.

We can see clearly, when we read Bill C-17, that interim orders are exempt from the application of section 3 of the Statutory Instruments Act. As you know, an order is considered to be a statutory instrument; therefore, it should undergo a preliminary check by the Clerk of the Privy Council. His role is precisely to ensure that the proposed regulations do not, and I quote:

--trespass unduly on existing rights and freedoms and is not, in any case, inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights.

So we should ask ourselves the following question: if the purpose is not to trespass unduly on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, why are we exempting the interim orders from the proper examination that would prove they are in compliance with the charter? By chance, would the government have the secret intention of transgressing the most basic rules of our free and democratic society by infringing on the fundamental rights of those individuals who form that society?

We do not question the importance of preventing all possible terrorist acts, and we do not question the necessity of equipping ourselves all the tools we need to expose those who would threaten the security of the citizens.

We even tabled, in the fall of 2001, a motion requesting that the government implement all the necessary measures for us to reach our goal of giving 0.7% of our GDP for international aid. The reason was simple and still is: in order to fight against terrorism, we must fight against its main cause, and that is the extreme poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

If we all agree that it is important to eliminate the conditions that breed terrorism, we also agree that we must fight against those who would come to our borders with the intent of committing terrorist acts. Once again, however, this cannot be done at any cost.

One price we must refuse to pay is waiving the right to privacy. In the past, we made choices. We made the choice to live in a constitutional state instead of a police state. We must be careful not to open the door to this style of governance where police are everywhere, always checking what everyone is doing. Would any of us blindly agree to have personal information relating to us processed and used for purposes other than those related to the fight against terrorism? Should the simple fact of taking a plane warrant the RCMP and CSIS having a record on a person? No. That has been made abundantly clear in the debates on Bill C-55, both by members of this House and by the privacy commissioner.

It is interesting to know what the privacy commission thinks of Bill C-17. First, it would appear that his concerns about the defunct Bill C-55 were ignored, the ministers and top government officials having failed, so far, to provide him with an appropriate response. This is why he is now calling on Parliament to ensure his concerns finally receive the attention they deserve.

What is so worrisome in terms of privacy in Bill C-17? About clause 4.82 of the bill, which does not place appropriate limits on the powers of the RCMP, the commissioner says, and I quote:

But my concern is that the RCMP would also be expressly empowered to use this information to seek out persons wanted on warrants for Criminal Code offences that have nothing to do with terrorism, transportation security or national security.

What we must guard against is the risk of creating a precedent that would eventually open the door to increased police control over various areas of our daily lives. For example, if we allowed special powers intended primarily to protect national security and to counter terrorism to be made available to the RCMP with respect to air passengers, who is to say that this special situation will not be extended to rail, bus or metro passengers?

If, for example, a suicide bomber were to blow himself up on a crowded train, would we go so far as to flag train travellers and use this same opportunity to look for people with outstanding warrants? There is always a tendency to be overzealous. There is always a point of no return when it comes to overzealousness, a point beyond which we must not go for fear of destroying the fragile equilibrium required to maintain a free and democratic society.

The commissioner also raises another point that we must not lose sight of. The right to anonymity with regard to the state is a crucial privacy right. With Bill C-17, that right to anonymity will be set aside the moment we are unwise enough to set foot aboard a plane. If it were set out in the act that personal information can be used only in the case of persons representing a true threat to national security, we could feel a bit reassured, but that is not the case. Obviously, the right to privacy will be meaningless as soon as Bill C-17 comes into force if the government maintains its position. We have confidence, Mr. Speaker, that you will not have to reserve passage on a ship in order to visit your girlfriend overseas.

The members of the Bloc Quebecois are here to serve the interests of the public, and so they will fight energetically to see that the right to privacy is respected. We share the privacy commissioner's view that there are some major changes needed in Bill C-17.

Privacy is one of our basic rights. We are entitled to expect information on us to be used sparingly, at the very least. For the government to confer upon itself the right to collect information on air travellers is one thing, but the right to exchange and distribute that information is quite another.

As hon. members may be aware, I have been on the citizenship and immigration committee for close to two years. The recent headlines leave no doubt as to the concerns raised by what our powerful neighbours to the south have been doing. If the government is trying to be subtle, as subtle as an elephant doing a polka on the clerk's table would be, that must not make us let down our guard in the least.

First, we have to realize that the public safety bill, just like several other bills, amends a number of pieces of legislation to keep them in sync with today's reality. Part 5 of Bill C-17 amends the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act, as follows:

  1. (1) The Minister, with the approval of theGovernor in Council, may enter into agreementswith any province or group of provincesor with any foreign government orinternational organization, for the purpose offacilitating the formulation, coordination andimplementation—including the collection,use and disclosure of information—of policiesand programs for which the Minister isresponsible.

Similar provisions in part 5 allow the minister to enter into arrangements. But what change does this amendment make, besides the ability to make arrangements? It adds the words “including the collection, use and disclosure of information”.

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act would be amended to specifically allow the minister to collect information, to use it without indicating for what purpose it is used, and to disclose it without indicating what information can be released and to whom it can be disclosed.

In fact, Bill C-17 would give the minister the right to disclose the information to the whole world. Not only that, but it would allow the minister to disclose and release the information but does not provide a detailed framework for such activities. That is what I call increasing ministerial authority without proper monitoring.

As we have said before, maintaining a balance is crucial to a healthy society and the risks of a faux pas are too high.

Let us use a concrete example. The current Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is about to conclude an agreement with the United States on safe third countries. Even though this agreement worries us on several fronts, because NGO's oppose it strongly and the UNHCR is questioning the content of the agreement, the government seems determined to go ahead with it. The fact that this agreement will be implemented despite the concerns and protests from civil society is not very surprising. We can just imagine what the situation would be like if Bill C-17 were in force.

We already know that U.S. legislation on immigration and refugee protection is more restrictive than in Canada, to wit the recent revelations on how our neighbours to the south treat people born in certain countries.

With the new powers that the bill would give the minister, he could be authorized to disclose to U.S. authorities information on applications for refugee status made in Canada. Do we have the right to authorize the release of personal information like this? What will happen with the information collected by the minister? One thing is clear, as soon as information is shared with another party, we lose control of it.

In addition to not knowing how the minister might use the information, it is impossible to find out what might happen to it once it was disclosed to a third party. Imagine the results. There is no way of finding out how the information might be used, any more than it is possible to find out the facts. How, then, can we control the dissemination of this information? It is naive, idealistic and even rash to believe that we could control a situation when we have not established sufficient limits.

That is not the extent of it, either. People may think that is enough already. Well no, not quite. Part 11 of Bill C-17 contains a few surprises. It contains, once again, changes to immigration. Indeed, it involves an amendment that would allow for the information collected from airlines to be used to implement any accord or agreement between the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and another party. What exactly is going on in the government? Does it feel so generous that is has to share personal information with everyone? Is it planning to set up a one-stop shop to disclose all of the information on new immigrants? Just take a number.

This is not right. We must be consistent with our principles. If we say that we have decided to live under the rule of law, we cannot allow insidious attacks on democracy to weaken what is meant by privacy protection.

Here is one last element, as if that were not enough. A new clause has been added to specify that the provisions for the collection, retention, disposal and disclosure of information, as well as any disclosure of information for the purposes of national security, the defence of Canada or the conduct of international affairs will be provided for through regulations. That is just wonderful. By specifying that regulations concerning these various elements will have to be tabled before each house of Parliament, perhaps the government thought that we would be easily fooled. To pull this off, the government will need to do much better than that.

Let me remind this government that, under the Immigration Act, once proposed regulations are tabled before Parliament, they may be passed without subsequent changes being tabled once again in the House.

To give a good illustration of what this means, it is as though you and I reached a contract that would bind us indefinitely—how horrible—but only I would have the power to change it as I saw fit, without your approval. Would you sign such a contract? Certainly not, and nor would we.

The government cannot always defend the indefensible. The same goes for the protection of privacy. But I am reminded of something that the philosopher Khalil Gibran wrote in Sand and Foam , and I dedicate it particularly to my colleagues in the government. He said, and I quote:

Strange that we all defend our wrongs with more vigor than we do our rights.

I hope that this will be instructive for our colleagues. It is true that the times are changing. Let us only hope that the party in office will finally understand that it must adapt to change by offering us appropriate solutions instead of constantly offering us the same options, month after month, session after session.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

November 5th, 2002 / 5:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for his speech and also the member for Mercier for her excellent question.

However, I want to speak on behalf of ordinary citizens. As my hon. colleague from Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier just pointed out, we started with Bill C-55, which was introduced after September 11--and we know that everything changes when the House prorogues--then we got Bill C-42 and now we have Bill C-17 before the House.

When I read that the RCMP commissioner, among others, will be able to keep the information for seven days before having to destroy it, I realize, based on past experience, that the commissioner and other civil servants are being given discretionary powers. They can keep the information if they see fit to do so.

Based on what happened in the past, I have some serious concerns both as an ordinary citizen and as a Quebecker. My question will deal more with what Bill C-17 means for ordinary citizens.

For instance, in the area of law enforcement, what does it mean, for instance, to be on file? What does it mean to have some of our personal information entered in a new file? In the last few years, governments have used computerized systems to create a number of files. How safe are these systems? One has to wonder.

My question is quite simple. What does it mean for me, as an ordinary citizen, to have yet another piece of information about my private life entered in a computerized system like the one kept by the federal government?