Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act

An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to facilitate the lawful interception of information transmitted by means of those facilities and respecting the provision of telecommunications subscriber information

This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.


Anne McLellan  Liberal


Not active, as of Nov. 15, 2005
(This bill did not become law.)


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment requires telecommunications service providers to put in place and maintain certain capabilities that facilitate the lawful interception of information transmitted by telecommunications and to provide basic information about their subscribers to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Commissioner of Competition and any police service constituted under the laws of a province.


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.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 28th, 2012 / 1:55 p.m.
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Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario


Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we had two Liberal bills, Bill C-416 and Bill C-74. Clause 6 and clause 24 of the Liberal bills went further than this government's bill does. Lo and behold, between those two bills, there were no changes whatsoever.

The previous member said that the Liberals like to listen and make changes and yet in the 38th and 39th Parliaments there were no changes whatsoever. In the two bills that they introduced, they went further than the bill we have introduced.

Do the Liberals not see that the reason they continue to go further and further away in this chamber is that they flip and flop and, unlike the NDP perhaps and unlike this party for sure, they do not have the best interests of Canadians at hand? They only have the best interests of the Liberal Party and how they can score some cheap political points on the backs of all Canadians who want to be safe and secure.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 28th, 2012 / 1:40 p.m.
See context

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario


Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I want to read the summary of a bill. It states:

This enactment requires telecommunications service providers to put in place and maintain certain capabilities that facilitate the lawful interception of information transmitted by telecommunications and to provide basic information about their subscribers to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Commissioner of Competition and any police service constituted under the laws of a province.

That was the summary in Bill C-74, which was introduced by the Liberal Party. I also have a copy of Bill C-416, also introduced by the Liberal Party.

Does the hon. member not understand that the problem people have with the Liberal Party is that it continues to flip and flop? It has no interest in public safety. Its only interest is scoring cheap political points on the backs of Canadians' safety. I wonder if he could comment on the differences between the two bills when they were introduced and whether the party at that time sent the bill directly to committee so that all parties in the House could have input. Is he instead doing the same Liberal thing, flipping and flopping to try to score some stupid political points on the backs of Canadians' safety?

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

October 29th, 2009 / 11:55 a.m.
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Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today to Bill C-47. Once again, I compliment the previous speaker for his excellent presentation.

Bill C-47 is an act regulating telecommunications facilities to support investigations. The short title is “The Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act”. The bill was introduced in the House of Commons on June 18 by the Minister of Public Safety. It deals with very specific aspects of the rules governing lawful access.

Lawful access is an investigative technique used by law enforcement agencies and national security agencies that involves intercepting communications and seizing information where authorized by law. Rules related to lawful access are set out in a number of federal statutes, in particular the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the National Defence Act. For greater certainty, the bill provides that law enforcement agencies retain the powers conferred by those acts.

The bill complements the current lawful access regime. It addresses the same two issues as the former Bill C-74, the technical interception capabilities of telecommunications service providers and requests for subscriber information. Other aspects of the lawful access regime are addressed in Bill C-46, investigative powers for the 21st century act, which was introduced on the same day as Bill C-47.

Bill C-47 addresses a concern expressed by law enforcement agencies, which contend that new technologies, particularly Internet communications, often present obstacles to lawful communications interception.

The proposed bill permits the following.

It will compel telecommunications service providers to have the capability to intercept communications made by their networks, regardless of the transmission technology used. We heard comments earlier from one of the government members about how we had to get the bill passed as soon as possible to get up to speed with our allies and other countries around the world that had legislation like this in place for some time.

It will also provide law enforcement agencies with access under an accelerated administrative process without a warrant or court order. That is a big issue with the NDP and it concerns us a lot. On that basis, we want to make certain that in committee we can make some changes to the bill that will further protect the privacy of citizens in this country.

It is somehow acceptable to the government that other countries do not have this provision in their legislation. Other countries' law enforcement officers can get the information without a warrant. This seems to be fully acceptable to the members of the Conservative government.

However, the NDP and I think other members in the opposition want to see the provision of warrants to continue to protect the privacy of the public. Furthermore, I think there is support for that argument from the Privacy Commissioner, who has written a six-page letter on the subject, which I will deal with at a later point in the presentation.

The proposed bill provides law enforcement agencies with access under an accelerated administrative process, as I said, without a warrant or court order to basic information about telecommunications subscribers. I have a list which I will read later. Members will draw their own conclusions that the list might be a little broad. At the same time, the bill provides for certain protection measures.

In terms of consultations, since 1995 the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police have called for legislation requiring that all telecommunication service providers have the technical means in place to enable police services to carry out lawful interceptions on their networks. Following the development of a strategic framework in 2000, representatives at Justice Canada, Industry Canada and the Solicitor General of Canada held public consultations in 2002. After having received more than 300 submissions from police services, industry, civil rights groups and individuals, Justice Canada released a summary of the results of the consultations in 2003.

Throughout the consultations, protection of privacy was one of the central issues in the debate on lawful access. Other significant elements included technical interception standards, costs related to interception capability and the need for new lawful access rules. The consultations led to the introduction in November 2005 of Bill C-74, which would have created the modernization of investigative techniques act, but the bill died on the order paper before second reading in the House when the general election was called.

Since then, provincial governments, including British Columbia and various Canadian law enforcement agencies, have made submissions urging the federal government to adopt lawful access measures. After consulting a broad range of stakeholders, including those from the telecommunications industry, civil liberty groups and victims rights groups, the federal Minister of Public Safety introduced Bill C-47, which duplicates the fundamental provisions of the former Bill C-74.

Our almost two-year election cycle has caused bills to progress through a certain path. Because they not only have go through the House, committees and the Senate, it is very difficult to get bills through this process, particularly in a minority Parliament, within a two-year range. The government, after setting a fixed election date, carving it in stone, turned around, abrogated its own law and called an election one year earlier than it should have. The election was actually supposed to be right now. Because of that, all the bills in place at that time had to be started from scratch.

Then we have the spectacle of the Liberal opposition demanding, almost on a weekly basis, that we get involved in another $300 million boondoggle election, which would produce, I submit, the very same results we have right now and we would all be back to square one again, starting this process over. In our speeches we will be talking about bills that were introduced so long ago that decades will go by at the rate we are going. I have to smile when I see we are going back three or four successive governments and basically dealing essentially with the very same bill, just with a different number.

In terms of the international context, which I spoke about before, Bill C-47 is a key step in the harmonization of legislation at the international level, particularly concerning requirements regarding the interception capabilities of telecommunications service providers. This type of requirement is already found in the legislation of a number of other countries, including the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Canada signed the Council of Europe's convention on cybercrime in November 2001, as well as an additional protocol on hate crime in July 2005.

The convention makes it an offence to commit certain crimes using computer systems and creates legal tools adapted to new technology, such as orders to produce subscriber information, which are similar to the request for subscriber information set out in Bill C-47. The injunction in the convention does not specify whether subscriber information can be obtained without a warrant. This is a big difference because it is allowed in the legislation of the other countries. However, we feel we should not go that far. There should be some judicial oversight and police forces should go before a judge or justice of the peace to present the information to obtain a warrant to get the information they want.

That is the way the system has operated now for many years. It is a fair process. It is a process that the public demands in terms of privacy issues and it is just the right thing to do. In fact, the other countries mentioned actually have gone a little too far at the expense of the privacy of their citizens. I believe there is some evidence to show that there have been examples of misuse and abuse.

I know our justice critic mentioned earlier that he did not anticipate this would be a problem, even if we did not have the warrant system, but we want to be sure about this. The one way of having certainty about this is to require a warrant to be taken. It works well. It has worked for many years. I would prefer to err on the side of caution. If we find evidence over time that it does not work, we have provisions under this bill for a five year review.

I have suggested that perhaps the government may want to look at a sunset clause on the bill. Given the way technology changes in a very rapid manner, who knows what sort of technology picture we will see in five years. Perhaps we want to sunset the bill and then after the five years we start over with a new bill with a new context and new environment at that time.

Complementary legislation in Bill C-46 includes other provisions such as those concerning preservation and production orders and the modernization of offences related to computer viruses and hate propaganda, which will enable Canada to ratify the convention on cybercrime and the additional protocol.

I also want to point out that while Bill C-47 has provisions for the five year review, Bill C-46, a very integral part of these two bills, connected in fact, does not require a review. I wonder why this happened that way and whether at committee the parties could get together and deal with this.

Our critic has indicated that we would vote against the bill at second reading, but he left the door open very wide for improvements at committee that will satisfy him in terms of judicial oversight and the whole issue of the warrants. If the government wants to make some overtures and some moves, we will not hold the process up. We can be convinced if the government is prepared to make some movement in this regard.

I know members were speaking just yesterday about another committee of the House and were relating how happy they were that the committee was co-operating like it had never co-operated before. I am not certain which committee that was. I know, for example, the transport committee of the House has in fact operated on a very consensual basis for a number of years now, in spite of the fact that other committees of the House were basically in virtual meltdown in the last couple of years. The transport committee was the one committee with the reputation of the parties working together and getting this done.

I heard members saying yesterday that they had never seen the level of co-operation in that committee. They thought something was wrong with the committee because it did not even function properly in past years. Now, not only is it functioning properly but we are getting concessions and getting things done, which we never saw possible before.

This is a positive sign, that a minority government can work. I have worked in minority governments before and they have worked well. There is no guarantee that we have to plunge ourselves into a needless $300 million expense of an election in February or spring, or fall of the coming year, or even the next year.

If the minority government is doing what it should do, cooperating and getting things done, there is no particular reason why it cannot survive its entire term, provided it is reasonable and shows concern for people, shows consideration for the opposition parties and does a total about-face to what it did last year, and provided that it has learned something from its fundamental mistakes of the first few months of last year.

I did want to talk about the interception capabilities of the bill. When we speak about bills, sometimes we plan our speeches to last the 10 minutes, 20 minutes or time that we have. I just find, on a consistent basis over the last 23, 24 years now, that I am rarely ever able to fit all that I want to say within my timeframe. Fortunately, in this environment, I really like this environment a lot, there is a question and answer period provided, which allows us to present some of our missing points.

In terms of the interception capabilities in the current situation, at present no Canadian legislation compels all telecommunications service providers to use apparatus capable of intercepting communications. Only licensees that use radio frequencies for wireless-voice-telephony services have been required since 1996 to have equipment that permits such interceptions. There is no similar requirement for other telecommunications service providers.

This particular bill is designed to remedy the absence of standards for the interception capability of telecommunications service providers. It will require all service providers, including, for example, ISPs, which are Internet service providers, to possess apparatus enabling law enforcement agencies, once they have obtained a judicial authorization, to intercept communications sent by the service provider. Within six months of the date on which the bill comes into force, telecommunications service providers will have to submit a report to the minister, stating their capability to respond to the interception requirements set out in the bill. We deal with that in clauses 30 and 69.

In terms of the obligations of the telecommunications service providers in the capacity to intercept telecommunications, the requirement for interception capabilities relates both to the telecommunications data and the actual content of the communication. The telecommunications service providers must use apparatus that enable law enforcement agencies to intercept, for example: subscriber emails; IP addresses, and that is a very controversial point; the date and time of the communications; the types of files transmitted; and the substance of the messages.

In terms of the provision of requested information, once a law enforcement agency has obtained a judicial authorization, the telecommunications service provider must provide all communications that have been intercepted. If possible, the telecommunications service provider must provide the intercepted communications in the form specified by the law enforcement agency and the service provider must also be required to give law enforcement agencies, on request, information relating to its facilities and the telecommunications services offered.

In addition, in terms of confidentiality, all intercepted processes must be kept confidential. Telecommunications service providers are thus required to comply with the regulations and to guarantee the security of the contents of the intercepted communication, the telecommunications data, and the identity of the individuals and organizations involved.

Clearly, I will not be able to finish the full content of my speech because I have many more pages. I want to deal with the whole issue of the penalties in the bill, but I will skip ahead to the list of information that I promised to talk about, the information covered by the special rules and strictly limited.

The bill lists information associated with subscribers services and equipment that can be obtained without warrant, and here is what they want: name, address, telephone number, email address, Internet protocol address, mobile identification number, electronic serial number, local service provider identifier, international mobile equipment identification number, international mobile subscriber identity number and, last but not least, subscriber identity module and card number. We can see there are many pieces of information being required.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2009 / 4:35 p.m.
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Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise with pride to speak on behalf of the New Democrats in Parliament in the debate on Bill C-47, the technical assistance for law enforcement in the 21st century act.

A number of people in the House have commented, as I did this morning when I spoke to Bill C-46, that Bill C-46 and Bill C-47 represent a combined legislative measure that purports to deal with the modernization of our laws with respect to Internet and digital activity of crimes in those areas, as well as to deal with telecommunication companies and the challenges that those new providers present in enforcing the laws of our country. It is critically important to understand that these bills do different things.

People in the House and all Canadians may know that the New Democrats spoke strongly in support of Bill C-46 this morning and in the days previous for the simple reason that New Democrats believe it is important to modernize our laws to deal with the digital age. We also think it is important to send a strong message that crimes committed over the Internet, whether they be commercial or fraud related or whether they be sexual in nature or the most heinous of all, targeted at children, are dealt with adequately by Parliament.

Having said that, there are also very important privacy interests at stake in these areas. New Democrats are scrutinizing these pieces of legislation to ensure that Canadians' privacy rights are respected.

Bill C-46 which we spoke about earlier, in the New Democrats' view, maintains that balance, by and large. We had some serious reservations about some of the tests that are being proposed by that legislation with respect to the getting of warrants, but every piece of private information that is to be turned over to police forces of whatever type in Bill C-46 is subject to judicial oversight and requires that police get a search warrant prior to that information being turned over.

Bill C-47 is different. The purpose of the bill in colloquial terms is lawful access. This bill deals with very specific aspects of the rules governing lawful access. Lawful access is an investigative technique used by law enforcement agencies and national security agencies that involves intercepting communications and seizing information where authorized by law. Rules related to lawful access are set out in a number of federal statutes, including the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the National Defence Act.

The bill complements the current lawful access regime and it addresses the same two issues as former Bill C-74, technical interception capabilities of telecommunications service providers and request for subscriber information. I will put that in terms that are easy to understand.

The bill does two things. It essentially requires telecommunications companies to install equipment that would allow it to preserve digital data in all of its forms so that the data may be obtainable by the police in a criminal investigation. It also does a second thing. It provides law enforcement agencies with access, under an administrative process without a warrant or court order, to basic information about telecommunications service subscribers. As will be seen a little later, that basic information about Canadian subscribers is quite a long list and one that is causing great concern among a lot of Canadians.

Bill C-47 is a key step in the harmonization of legislation at the international level, according to the government, particularly concerning requirements regarding interception capabilities of telecommunications service providers. This type of requirement in general form is already found in other countries, including the United States, Britain and Australia. Canada signed on to the Council of Europe's Convention on Cybercrime in November 2001 as well as additional protocols. This makes it an offence to commit certain crimes using computer systems, and it creates legal tools adapted to new technologies, such as orders to produce subscriber information to which I just referred. However, there is one key difference. There is no international consensus on whether or not that basic subscriber information has to be obtained through judicial order, in other words, a warrant. As I will describe further in my remarks later on, that is a key deficiency in this bill.

I want to state clearly what New Democrats support when we talk about combatting crimes committed over the digital media and the need to modernize our systems. The NDP supports efforts to combat cybercrime completely. We support efforts to combat child pornographers, others who use the Internet to exploit children or anybody in any manner. New Democrats support efforts to crack down on gangs and organized criminals, including white collar criminals who use technology to organize their activities. New Democrats support modernizing laws to ensure that police can keep up with criminals who use technology.

Those are the reasons we supported Bill C-46 earlier today, because that is what Bill C-46 did. However, New Democrats do not support violating the privacy rights of law-abiding Canadians.

When this bill was introduced in the House in June of this year by the Minister of Public Safety, there was a groundswell of concern raised by ordinary Canadians across the country about the idea of Internet service providers having to deliver to police basic information about them without any kind of warrant or judicial oversight.

A very great thinker who was steeped in western democracy some decades ago said that those who would sacrifice liberty in the name of security deserve neither. That is a particularly appropriate comment in the context of this bill because this bill does not strike that balance and it does sacrifice liberty in the name of security. New Democrats cannot support a bill that provides for warrantless access to Canadians' private information.

We have consulted broadly with a number of experts. I will talk about their input later. They told us that no compelling evidence has been provided by any police force in this country when directly asked on numerous occasions for a single instance where a police investigation somehow had been interfered with or truncated because they could not get information from an Internet service provider. No compelling evidence has been presented that the current provisions in the Criminal Code and other pieces of legislation are insufficient for police to do their jobs. I will pause here.

This is not a hole in the Criminal Code. There are currently provisions in the Criminal Code that allow police, the RCMP, CSIS, any policing agencies, municipal or otherwise, in this country to obtain warrants when they want to either wiretap or seize information or material that is in the custody of anyone. I will speak more about this later.

There is the concept of telewarrants. If there is an urgency to a matter, police can get a judge on the phone 24 hours a day and usually obtain a warrant within 30 minutes. We heard nothing from any police forces as to any problem in that regard. There is the concept of hot pursuit. If any police officer believes that a crime is being committed currently, in real time, they do not have to obtain a warrant from anybody. They are able to interfere and investigate that matter immediately.

Since the government introduced this bill, experts in the field of digital law, privacy advocates, media commentators and ordinary law-abiding Canadians have spoken out against the provisions contained in the bill.

Bill C-47, as I have said, would provide police with access to a substantial array of private information. This information goes well beyond an individual's name and address. Police would be given access to Canadians' phone numbers, email addresses and a vast array of unique digital serial numbers.

This legislation, if passed, would compel telecommunications companies to provide the following information to the police upon request with no judicial oversight: IP addresses, mobile identification numbers, electronic serial numbers, local service provider identifiers, international mobile equipment identity numbers, international mobile subscriber identity numbers, and subscriber identity module card numbers, commonly known as SIM card numbers which are in cellphones.

These digital identifiers are considered to be private information for good reason. When someone's Internet protocol address falls into the wrong hands, great damage can be done to his or her online identity and personal privacy. In fact, someone with the right skills and the right combination of the above information could perpetrate serious identity crimes and even take remote control of a person's computer.

The government, it is fair to say, has demonstrated what can fairly be described as a consistent disregard and disrespect for both the rule of law and for our judicial system.

We have Omar Khadr, a person who has been the subject of torture down in Cuba, whom the government does not deem fit to bring back here. It does not care about his international rights.

We have the Prime Minister's comments about left-wing judges and how they interfere, in his view, with the administration of justice.

We have CSIS misleading the courts in the Harkat case on multiple occasions, failing to disclose information after being ordered by the court to do so with no reaction from the Minister of Public Safety. And as my colleague from the Bloc said, we had the spectre of our government breaking its very own fixed election law, that the Minister of Justice crowed about when it was brought in. It violated its own law with absolute impunity and had the audacity to not even be embarrassed about it.

It is unsurprising then that the government would seek to cast aside a fundamental tenet of our justice system, which is this. Canadians have the right to privacy, except to be deprived of that through due process of law. We do not have to justify to the government why we have the right to be private, why we have the right to be safe and secure in our information, why we do not have to let the government read our mail or read our emails or seize our property or kick down our door. We do not have to justify that to anybody. Those are the rights of Canadians.

What the government has to do, what the state has to do, is justify when it seeks to abrogate those rights, not the other way around.

It is 2009 and I am absolutely aghast that I have to stand in this chamber, hundreds of years after these rights had been fought for, where people died for these rights, and actually explain, as the only person in this chamber whom I have heard speak so far, that the state has to justify and go before a judge, and at least put forward some reasonable evidence, some compelling reason, before any private information is turned over to the state. This bill does not do that and that is a shame.

The government would have us believe that judicial oversight is some sort of outdated luxury or some sort of impediment that it cannot move quickly enough. Let me tell members something. Rights do not depend upon speed. Rights do not depend upon exigencies. Rights do not depend upon convenience. Rights are rights, and as I said earlier, it has not even been demonstrated by a single person in this country that the present telewarrant system or hot pursuit concept has proved insufficient in any manner.

Let me stop and say that the New Democrats agree, as we did in Bill C-46, that there should be preservation orders of data and production orders of telecommunications companies so that the data is preserved and can be the subject of warrants and seizure. That is very important and we support the modernization of our laws to make that possible.

What we do not and will not agree with, however, is that that is a decision only of a police officer. That is a decision that must always be subject to judicial oversight.

Last week I was in this chamber when I saw the spectre of the Liberals and the Conservatives joining together to gut climate change action. Now I see the Liberals and the Conservatives joining together this week to gut privacy rights and civil liberties, and that is not a pretty thing to see.

The government, in this legislation, would have us believe that requiring police officers to get warrants before accessing deeply private digital data is hindering their ability to investigate crimes. The fact is that our current system provides a number of tools to give police officers swift access to help them combat crime.

It is extremely important that the police forces of this country demonstrate the requirement to get a warrant before accessing this data. That judicial oversight of police actions is an important, critical aspect of our cherished western democratic legal system, and only in that regard will Canadians be willing to surrender their valued rights to privacy.

I want to mention, as well, that just today we received a letter from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart. I just want to quote a bit from this letter. She states:

--we recognize the concerns of law enforcement and national security authorities with the speed of developments in information technology and the anonymity they afford. Bills C-46 and C-47 seek to address the consequent public safety challenges and that objective is valid. [New Democrats agree] That said, whenever new surveillance powers or programs are proposed, it is my view that there must be demonstrated necessity, proportionality and effectiveness...It is a matter of protecting human rights and assuring public trust.

Ms. Stoddart goes on, over a five-page letter, to say that, in her view, these bills are seriously flawed; at least Bill C-47 is.

Now, the minister was asked a little while ago about examples in the real world as to why this bill is necessary.

I have spoken with a number of experts in the field of digital law and privacy, for instance, Professor Michael Geist, professor of law at University of Ottawa and Vince Gogolek, from the British Columbia Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. I spoke this morning with David Fewer and other academics. They documented a very disturbing fact with regard to the government's attempt to convince Canadians that police need these powers; that is, the government comes up with examples that are not actually true.

The Minister of Public Safety, on numerous occasions, in the media and elsewhere, has used the example of a high-profile Vancouver kidnapping case as an instance where police were hindered by the existing laws. In a number of interviews, the minister has claimed that he witnessed this emergency situation and that Vancouver police officers had to wait 36 hours to get the information they needed in order to obtain a warrant for a customer name and address information.

What is troubling about this is that it is not true. Professor Geist filed access to information requests with the Department of Public Safety, the RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department. A legal adviser to the Vancouver Police Department disclosed to Professor Geist that no Internet service provider records were ever sought, at all, during the investigation of this terrible crime.

If the only example that our own minister can put forward to this House as to why he thinks it is necessary to trample Canadians' privacy rights in the name of security is one which due diligence shows never even occurred, that is somewhat troubling.

Now, one other thing. The previous minister of public safety, the current Minister of International Trade, has made comments in this area before. This idea of floating a warrantless search has come up before. I think the Liberals keep boasting that they brought forward this legislation before. I wonder if they also thought that it was necessary for Canadians to give up their rights to digital privacy without a warrant. If that is the case, then I think they have been wrong for years.

The response from the digital community, from privacy experts and from ordinary law-abiding Canadians, was overwhelming. The government, the previous minister, was forced to back off when it tried to introduced this legislation. What the previous minister said was that the government would never bring in any kind of disclosure requirements without a warrant. He made that comment publicly.

I do not know what has changed in the government. We heard some interesting comments from my colleagues in the Bloc, and even in the Liberal Party, about the way the government uses crime as a weapon to prey on people's fears and to dodge weighty important political issues that are going on when it throws out hastily conceived, poorly thought out and rights-violating legislation, and then it pretends that anybody who is not in favour of it is not against crime.

What a simplistic argument. What an argument that offends any Canadian's sense of right thinkingness and sense of justice and respect for civil rights; particularly when we are on the eve of November 11, when all Canadians are going to be taking a moment of silence to think of all those veterans who fought in wars. For what? For democracy and for civil rights, for the right to not have the state seize our information without judicial oversight. And here, these people in this chamber, the ones who care about public safety and security, they are going go attend those celebrations and they are going to pretend that they value the sacrifices of our veterans.

If they do, and I will give them the benefit of the doubt, they can show that by going back to their minister and saying, “Minister, we will not support this legislation if it requires Canadians to deliver public information without a warrant”.

New Democrats will work with this bill, but we cannot and we will not sacrifice Canadians' rights to privacy in the name of security. Canadians deserve both. We can have both. We can have security. We can have civil rights. That is what Canada is about.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2009 / 4:15 p.m.
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Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have here a bill that complements the one we debated this week, namely Bill C-46. In fact, together, bills C-46 and C-47 seem to make up former Bill C-74, introduced by the Liberals in 2004.

This bill is in fact designed to provide police with capabilities to intercept electronic communications, using modern means of communication. As long as there is agreement on the fact that telephone interception greatly contributed to the dismantling of criminal networks and the gathering of evidence with respect to numerous conspiracies, and that it made it possible to apprehend offenders and sentence them for the right amount of time, short of making the argument that all telephone interception ought to be abolished, I do not think that anyone can seriously object to modernizing police capabilities for intercepting communications using modern technologies such as the Internet and electronic means.

People started talking about the Convention on Cybercrime in 1995. Canada met with European nations, Japan and South Africa, among others. These meetings led to an agreement in 2001, which is a significant date. The agreement was signed soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. Long before that, we had seen plenty of evidence here at home that exceptional investigative powers were critical to fighting organized crime.

Just last week, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights met with witnesses in Montreal and Halifax as part of its study of major criminal organizations. In both cities, police officers said much the same thing about how difficult it is for them to conduct electronic surveillance of organized crime groups. Among other things, they said that cell phones are so cheap, people can buy one, make a few calls, and then throw it away, sometimes on the same day it was purchased, then switch to a new one. It takes a long time for police officers to get the legal warrants they need, and in the meantime, they cannot monitor transactions between the gangs and cartels they are trying to catch.

Bloc members support effective measures to fight crime, but they completely disagree with the current government's policies on incarceration because excessive incarceration and mandatory minimum sentences have already been tried in places like the United States. These measures have produced terrible results in the United States, which has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Some 25% of all prisoners in the world are in American prisons, yet this approach has not put a dent in the crime rate. Naturally, we oppose such measures.

We would not want Canada and Quebec to take the same route, which leads to increasingly violent crime and results in a portion of the population whose lives have been broken by excessive sentences and who are discouraged from getting an education or taking training to get a job. We do not want that in Canada. We know that that is what will happen. That is not what the government is announcing. That is not what it talked about.

We understand from the government's arguments that the only reason it is pursuing its policies is because they are popular with voters. Last week, it was appalling to hear them explain what had been the benefits of conditional sentences, which allowed judges to avoid sending an offender to crime school for a first offence, but instead to let the offender continue holding a job and therefore have stability in order to live an honest life, get an education for that purpose and, in the case of drug problems, go through addiction treatment under threat of serving time in prison if the offender did not attend treatment. Now, the government wants to eliminate this tool that judges had.

I may be getting a little off track. I have already talked quite a bit about Bill C-46. We support this bill. Why is it being introduced now? Certainly not because the opposition obstructed the government. When measures are introduced that help fight crime or will reduce the crime rate, the Bloc supports them. But we oppose measures than will have no effect on the crime rate. In this case, these are necessary measures.

However, these bills still have to be looked at carefully. Some things are needed to combat major criminal organizations. But most of the population, which is made up of honest people, is worried and would not want Canada to become a society where the government can easily look into all aspects of their personal lives. Honest people expect some parts of their private lives to remain confidential.

We need solid guidelines for accessing the information that can be obtained by intercepting all communications that involve modern information technology, such as computers and the Internet.

I believe that most citizens are honest and law abiding, as the Conservatives have said so often. However, I wonder if the Prime Minister falls into that category of law abiding citizens. I know of one law—we are all familiar with it—that he broke, the one concerning fixed election dates. He called the last election.

In my opinion, we must be very careful and realize that the majority of Canadians believe that they have the right to a private life and that the state should not have access to all their communications for frivolous reasons. I believe that the bill was designed with this in mind. However, that does not mean that it is perfect.

We are surprised, and we will certainly want to discuss this, by the complexity of this bill, which must be studied in detail. What is striking is the amount of information that can be obtained without a legal warrant and solely on the basis of suspicions or with a warrant obtained solely on the basis of suspicions. When electronic surveillance was permitted, legal warrants were required and there had to be reasonable grounds for believing that information could be obtained to prove an offence had taken place or even to prevent certain criminal activities from occurring. Furthermore, other means of investigation had to have been attempted without providing results.

We seem to have readily accepted it now that electronic surveillance has proved its worth in police investigations and given many results that have pleased citizens. I can personally say that had we not had the means to conduct electronic surveillance, we would never have broken up the Hells Angels in Quebec, as we did in 2001 after three years of hard work. I think that citizens appreciate what we accomplished.

There no longer seems to be a reluctance to use electronic surveillance. In this regard, I think that police forces that come before the committee should be prepared. I am not saying from the outset, in the four categories of measures to obtain certain warrants, that it is always necessary to prove that other means of investigation would be impossible to undertake or not very useful. However, I am saying that at least once they must shoulder the burden of proof.

It should be noted that can be obtained without a court order is more or less what I would call the telephone book of IP addresses. Furthermore, it took me a while to understand the purpose of these IP addresses, despite the fact that I consider myself rather computer savvy. I was also glad to learn what they do. My understanding is that they help safeguard access to my computer in a way. Of course, I would be very worried to hear that other people can find out these IP numbers without my authorization. Yes, it is more complicated, but really, it is nearly the same as the phone book. However, in the case of the phone book, we can ask for an unlisted number.

I also noted another important point that must definitely stay in the bill. Access to this information is limited to certain people, either police officers or national security officials, and those individuals must answer to someone in their organization. They must keep records regarding requests and the information they are seeking, and they must be able to justify them.

When an individual police officer needs to quickly access this kind of information, he or she must bring it to a superior officer. All of these records are kept in police organizations and security organizations. In addition— something that is very important for us—a copy must be sent to the Privacy Commissioner, which gives me greater confidence. At least there will be one public official whose primary desire is not to unduly increase police powers. Furthermore, based on the positions that these organizations generally take, there is no doubt that they really are dedicated to their duty to protect privacy. I find that reassuring. I also think an in-depth study is needed, which should include the views of two people in particular, Chantal Bernier and Jennifer Stoddart. The name of Ms. Stoddart's organization escapes me at the moment.

Ms. Bernier's agency handles privacy protection. I believe that we should certainly listen to them. We should also certainly listen to volunteer agencies such as the Commission des droits et libertés de la personne du Québec that have done so much to help achieve a balance between investigation methods and the protection of individual rights.

That is the role the Bloc Québécois has taken on in these circumstances. We want to modernize measures that can truly have an impact on crime. We are prepared to support them. However, we believe there needs to be a balance.

The Conservatives keep proposing minimum sentences and are always pushing their tough on crime policy, which, in their case, has become a stupid on crime policy. We agree that something has to be done, but we believe that there has to be a balance in protecting individual freedoms. Protecting individual freedoms is the foundation of the societies we are proud of and want to uphold. It is the foundation of democratic societies.

I believe that Kofi Annan was thinking along the same lines when he said that the terrorists will have won if they force democratic societies to unduly increase the powers of the state. That is what I noticed when we studied the Anti-terrorism Act in detail. I am not saying the Act was not justified, on the contrary, but there was no way to show the government, not even with concrete examples, that some of the provisions of that legislation were unjustified.

Fortunately, we managed to convince the person who was Liberal leader for a short period of time, the hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville. When he refused to renew the sunset clauses, I heard him repeating the same arguments we used to show that these measures were not necessary.

The purpose of Bill C-47 is to allow police forces to adapt their investigative techniques to contemporary technological realities such as the widespread use of cellphones or the Internet. Making police work easier without unduly infringing on fundamental rights is one of the routes the Bloc Québécois has always preferred for fighting crime.

The government can count on us not to obstruct this bill. We hope it will pass, but that it will be improved by the criticism we will make and that it will strike a better balance between the tools police need to fight modern criminal organizations and the privacy Quebeckers and Canadians are entitled to and want to enjoy for a long time to come.

October 22nd, 2009 / 3:25 p.m.
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Legal Counsel, Sûreté du Québec

Francis Brabant

Thank you for the question, Ms. Jennings.

Of course, the Sûreté du Québec and, of course, its senior officers are members of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. This association, for several years now, 10 years, if I am not mistaken, has stressed the importance of modernizing communications interception techniques so that telecommunications providers are willing and able to assist the police in intercepting communication, when they have legal authorization to do so.

To answer your question, I would say that, right now, some types of communication technologies that we have at our disposal must be modernized because communications are very difficult to intercept. Bill C-47, that you mentioned, and its predecessor, Bill C-74, would resolve a longstanding problem which was mentioned in the Council of Europe's Convention on Cybercrime, negotiated in Budapest. We unequivocally support that bill.

February 13th, 2007 / 10:30 a.m.
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Jim Peterson Liberal Willowdale, ON

Do you know if Bill C-74 limits it to child abuse, or is it all sorts of crime?

February 13th, 2007 / 10:30 a.m.
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President, Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime

Steve Sullivan

Our focus here today is crimes against children. Having said that, I think it's appropriate that we look at other issues that are identified. Again, Bill C-74 speaks to the broader issue. Our issue to raise here today is the sexual exploitation of children. That's not to say there shouldn't be other issues, but that's the issue that concerns us the most at this time.

Modernization of Investigative Techniques ActRoutine Proceedings

November 15th, 2005 / 10 a.m.
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Edmonton Centre Alberta


Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-74, An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to facilitate the lawful interception of information transmitted by means of those facilities and respecting the provision of telecommunications subscriber information.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)