Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.


Peter MacKay  Conservative


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to provide, most notably, for
(a) a new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images as well as complementary amendments to authorize the removal of such images from the Internet and the recovery of expenses incurred to obtain the removal of such images, the forfeiture of property used in the commission of the offence, a recognizance order to be issued to prevent the distribution of such images and the restriction of the use of a computer or the Internet by a convicted offender;
(b) the power to make preservation demands and orders to compel the preservation of electronic evidence;
(c) new production orders to compel the production of data relating to the transmission of communications and the location of transactions, individuals or things;
(d) a warrant that will extend the current investigative power for data associated with telephones to transmission data relating to all means of telecommunications;
(e) warrants that will enable the tracking of transactions, individuals and things and that are subject to legal thresholds appropriate to the interests at stake; and
(f) a streamlined process of obtaining warrants and orders related to an authorization to intercept private communications by ensuring that those warrants and orders can be issued by a judge who issues the authorization and by specifying that all documents relating to a request for a related warrant or order are automatically subject to the same rules respecting confidentiality as the request for authorization.
The enactment amends the Canada Evidence Act to ensure that the spouse is a competent and compellable witness for the prosecution with respect to the new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
It also amends the Competition Act to make applicable, for the purpose of enforcing certain provisions of that Act, the new provisions being added to the Criminal Code respecting demands and orders for the preservation of computer data and orders for the production of documents relating to the transmission of communications or financial data. It also modernizes the provisions of the Act relating to electronic evidence and provides for more effective enforcement in a technologically advanced environment.
Lastly, it amends the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act to make some of the new investigative powers being added to the Criminal Code available to Canadian authorities executing incoming requests for assistance and to allow the Commissioner of Competition to execute search warrants under the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


Oct. 20, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Oct. 1, 2014 Passed That Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, as amended, be concurred in at report stage.
Oct. 1, 2014 Failed That Bill C-13, in Clause 20, be amended by adding after line 29 on page 14 the following: “(2) For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protections for personal information affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Spencer 2014 SCC 43.”
Oct. 1, 2014 Failed That Bill C-13 be amended by deleting the short title.
Oct. 1, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
March 26, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, not more than one further sitting day after the day on which this Order is adopted shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

November 27th, 2013 / 3:20 p.m.
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Central Nova Nova Scotia


Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the House, for time to discuss this important bill at second reading, Bill C-13, protecting Canadians from online crime.

This is very important legislation, but it is well-recognized that it will require a holistic approach when it comes to the subject of cyberbullying. It will require efforts within the education system. It will certainly require very direct and mature discussions with young people and others in the country when it comes to the awareness and understanding of the effects of bullying and cyberbullying.

I want to indicate immediately that all elements of this bill to assist police with investigations online require a warrant. I emphasize that judicial authorization is deeply entrenched in Bill C-13. The bill and the government's long-standing commitment to help keep our streets and communities safe is very much in keeping with efforts of judicial oversight and focusing on all programs and all instances of having young people come to understand the terrible phenomenon of online bullying and its far-reaching effects.

The bill is very timely and significant legislation. As all would know, it is aimed at improving the safety of Canadians, not only in their homes and neighbourhoods but also online, where so many spend an incredible amount of time. All of the sections of the bill deal with electronic communications. This is our generation's preferred mode of correspondence. We now have to bring some of the elements of investigation also into the 21st century when it comes to electronic communications.

The necessity for security with respect to online activities is becoming more apparent as our use of social media and other technologies continue to grow. Consider that, according to StatsCan, in 2010 roughly 80% of Canadian households had access to the Internet. Maclean's magazine reports that more than 19 million Canadians, more than half the population, are now users of Facebook.

In the 1990s, there were hundreds of websites. Now the numbers have swelled to billions. These numbers will only continue to increase and the technology involved will become more sophisticated, making it even more essential to develop a legal framework that will support the online safety of Canadians and will give our security forces commensurate tools to ensure safety

Bill C-13 is comprised of two related but distinct parts. The first addresses the particularly vile and invasive form of cyberbullying involving the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. The second aims to ensure that the Criminal Code and other federal legislation is keeping pace with technological changes. Both involve electronic communications and improving public safety. I am delighted that I am joined by my colleague, the Minister of Public Safety, for this debate.

The bill proposes updates to offences and to the powers of police to investigate crimes committed using electronic networks or that use electronic evidence.

I would like to address both of these parts in turn, beginning with the key elements of the bill that address cyberbullying.

We are all aware of the issues of bullying and cyberbullying and how they have become priorities for many governments around the world. Cyberbullying is the use of the Internet to perpetrate what is commonly known as bullying, but it is of particular interest and concern of late. This interest is due in no small part to the number of teen suicides over the past few years in which cyberbullying was alleged to have played a part.

We have heard of cases involving Rehtaeh Parsons in my province of Nova Scotia, Amanda Todd on the west coast, a young man named Todd Loik in Saskatchewan recently, and countless others. It is clearly a case of the worst form of harassment, intimidation and humiliation of young people, which resulted in a feeling of hopelessness, that there was no other way out, and they took their lives.

Having met with the parents of many of these young people and spoken to many young people within my own circle of friends and family, it becomes clear that there is a clarion call for Parliament and for our criminal justice system to respond. This is truly an issue in which I would hope the House would come together around our efforts to improve things. As I said, it goes well beyond this legislation and this Hill. It will require a very fulsome discussion of the implications and the understanding of what it means to post images and to use the Internet for the purposes of harassing another individual.

There appears to be a greater need and profound understanding of the impact that this form of bullying has on young people and its pervasiveness in the schools.

Online bullying increases the speed and the scope in which statements and images can be made and shared with many others, as we know. Once something is posted online, it is very difficult to control its further use or dissemination. Most times, it is from a cowardly, anonymous, malicious individual, whose identity is very hard to track.

Cyberbullying victims also report that is it very difficult to retreat or escape from the cyberbullying activity. It is pervasive in the way in which telecommunications play such an important part in young people's lives these days.

Canadians want to know what we can do to deal with cyberbullying. Questions have been raised about whether the Criminal Code deals adequately with this type of behaviour and recent technological advances.

Currently, the Criminal Code can in fact address most of the serious forms of cyberbullying through, for example, existing offences of criminal harassment per section 264, uttering threats per section 264.1 or identity fraud, found in section 403. However, there is no offence in the Criminal Code that specifically addresses the contemptible form of cyberbullying that has emerged, involving the distribution of sexual images without the consent of the person depicted in that image.

Addressing this gap in the Criminal Code is one of the goals of Bill C-13. The bill proposes a new Criminal Code offence prohibiting the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. Essentially, this offence would prohibit the sharing of sexual or nude images without the consent of the person depicted.

It may be useful to better understand how this behaviour typically comes about. It usually begins, in some sense, with a non-criminal context of perfectly lawful, consensual recording of intimate images in a private setting. I specifically set aside any images depicting an underage youth. These images may be subsequently transmitted electronically to a partner, a practice commonly known as “sexting”. Upon the breakdown of the relationship, however, one of the known partners may distribute these images to third parties without the consent of the person depicted in the image. It is now commonly known as “revenge porn”.

It is important to note that this offence is not intended to criminalize sexting when it is done with consent. Rather it is the unauthorized, non-consensual distribution of these images that is targeted in this new offence.

I would like to take a moment to fully describe the specific aspects of the proposed offence.

The proposed new offence will prohibit all manner of distributing, sharing or making available of an intimate image without the consent of the person depicted in that image. This is intended to capture all the ways in which intimate images are shared, including posting an image on a website, sharing via social media, email or in person, but will not capture the consensual recording or the private use of these images.

The main element of the offence is that the sharing of the distribution would be done without the consent of the person depicted. The accused would not have to know that the person depicted in the image did not consent to the distribution or be reckless as to whether or not the person depicted consented to the distribution.

Bill C-13 also contains a three part definition of intimate images to help guide the courts in determining whether or not a particular image would be subject to the offence. There is clarity there in the determination and specific wording of what classifies as an intimate image. The definition is similar to those found in existing voyeurism and child pornography offences.

Second, the image must be one which, at the time it was taken, was done in circumstances that gave rise to the reasonable expectation of privacy. This would ensure that the offence did not capture the distribution of images in which the person depicted could not have easily have asserted privacy interests. For example, it may be difficult for people to assert a privacy interest if, in fact, the photo were taken while they were publicly displaying nudity. If they walked down the street without clothes and someone took a picture, there would be no expectation of privacy.

Third, at the time of the offence, the image must be one in which respect the person depicted retains a privacy interest. In other words, if someone posted a nude picture on a website and someone else then subsequently shared the image, it would be unlikely that the person would retain an expectation of privacy.

In addition, the bill contains a number of amendments that would complement this proposed new offence. I stress again that judges must look at these facts and interpret how the law would apply in the collection of evidence and in determining whether a warrant was warranted.

As a means of prevention, the courts would be able to authorize and order a peace bond against a person who had intimate images in his or her possession, where there were reasonable grounds to fear that the person could then play into a new offence. That is, the person could post the offence or share those images.

As part of the sentence for the new offence, the court would be permitted to make a prohibition order, which would limit access by a convicted offender to the Internet or other digital networks unless the access was exercised in accordance with conditions set out by the court. There would be a very specific penalty that could attach with respect to limiting use to go back online.

The court would also be authorized to order non-consensual posted images removed from the Internet. The existing provision allows the court to order the removal of child pornography and voyeuristic recordings. That would be amended to include intimate images. I stress here that we have already made a number of Criminal Code amendments and have brought forward legislation requiring Internet service providers, for example, to report these images when they appear online.

Additionally, the court could be authorized to order any tools used in the commission of the proposed offence, such as cell phones or computers, to be forfeited to the Crown. This is in keeping with other criminal acts we have seen, where vehicles and tools used in the commission of an offence can be seized by the Crown.

At the end of the process, the court would also be authorized to order the convicted offender to pay restitution to permit the victim to recoup expenses incurred to secure the removal from the Internet of these non-consensually posted intimate images.

Finally, the Canada Evidence Act would also be amended to ensure that the spouse of a person accused of distributing intimate images could be eligible to testify for the Crown. That is, spousal immunity would be waived. We have done this, as well, in sections pertaining to protecting children.

The bill also proposes updating existing offences that are relevant to cyberbullying. For example, the offence of false messages and harassing phone calls, in section 372, refers to behaviour conducted by letter or telegram, among other methods, but does not include more modern methods, as though the Internet or smart phones do not exist.

I point out that many of the sections we are trying to update were enacted during the time of rotary dial phones and telegrams, well in advance of the arrival of the Internet. We are modernizing and bringing those sections into the 21st century. This offence is relevant and is an applicable offence in the cyberbullying context. However, as it is currently drafted, it would not apply to conduct committed via modern technology. The bill is all about updating offences to make sure that any prohibited conduct done through any form of telecommunication would be captured.

I also want to move on to the part of the bill that involves elements related to modernization of the Criminal Code and other federal legislation, some of which has caused some consternation. There has been some significant misinformation disseminated.

Specifically, the bill contains amendments to the Criminal Code, the Competition Act, and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act to ensure that our laws are suitable for the technologically advanced world in which we live. They are meant to modernize both offences and investigative powers to make the Criminal Code more responsive to current criminal behaviour, which, as we know, is becoming more and more sophisticated. Organized crime, in particular, and those who prey on children very often use the Internet as the means to carry out these nefarious acts.

There is a common thread in these amendments. They all have as their primary objective providing law enforcement agencies with the tools they need in the 21st century to continue to respect their roles as protectors of the public while at the same time respecting the civil liberties of Canadians. They all require judicial authorization to carry out their duties.

Let me begin by stressing that the purpose of the legislative and investigative power amendments is not to give extensive new authority to the state to intrude into the privacy of Canadians. On the contrary, the new powers in this bill are carefully and narrowly constructed to respond to the investigative challenges posed by the advances that have occurred in technology over the past few decades and also to maintain the privacy protections and expectations of Canadians.

Modernizing investigative tools is especially important in investigations into these proposed new offences of non-consensual distribution of intimate images, which may be implicated in serious cases of cyberbullying. These updated tools would also, as they should, assist police in the investigation of all online crimes, and any crimes that involve digital evidence, such as fraud, the distribution of child pornography, and various forms of cyberattacks.

What are these amendments? First, Bill C-13 proposes to create a new data-preservation scheme. These tools would allow police to safeguard computer data while they apply to the court for a proper court order to acquire the data. Simply put, it is a do-not-delete order until such time as the police require the warrant.

Next, Bill C-13 proposes to update the existing judicially supervised production orders. These amendments would result in a comprehensive toolkit involving a general production order, which is comparable to a search warrant, and four specific production orders for information with little or no privacy impact. They would help police commence investigations.

The production orders could only be used to obtain historical information before the specific production orders contemplated by Bill C-13 would allow police to do the following: determine where individuals were or what they were doing at a specific moment in time, meaning tracking information; obtain transmission data, such as an email address the communication was sent to; trace the path of the telecommunication to determine the identity of a suspect; and, finally, collect basic financial information. It should be noted that police already have the ability to apply to the court for the same type of information in other areas.

This bill also proposes to modernize two existing judicial warrant powers: the tracking warrant and the number-recording warrant. These warrants are unique in that they allow police to collect this type of information in real time.

Finally, the bill also proposes some efficiencies with regard to wiretap applications. These amendments basically are a codification of the practices of many of our courts, but the amendments would ensure that Canadian courts, as in all jurisdictions, would use the same process. The proposed amendments would create a single application for all judicial warrants and orders related to the execution of the wiretap authorization. This new process would make it clear that the judge who issued the wiretap authorization could also issue all the other supporting warrants or orders without requiring a separate application. It is a streamlining process whereby the court would have a full picture of all the interventions.

I apologize for some of the minute detail, but it is important that we are again emphasizing here that judicial authorization would be required in all instances in aspects of this bill. Data preservation and the sophistication and proliferation of information are what we are trying to get at while, at the same time, balancing this with Canadians' reasonable expectations of privacy.

What is envisioned in this bill are not massive scoops of information, or mega-data, as it is sometimes called, as is the case in other jurisdictions in European countries. This bill would not ask Internet service providers to collect anyone's information and keep it indefinitely. Like other warrants, these would be for a set, specified period of time. As I mentioned, this could be done as of a do-not-delete order for a period of up to 21 days, or in cases of foreign preservation information, up to 90 days. However, again, judicial authorization would be required.

The power, I suggest, would facilitate the investigation of offences where much of the evidence is in an electronic form and would be used, as I said, to go after the non-consensual distribution of intimate images in an era when crucial evidence can be deleted, sometimes even inadvertently, in the blink of an eye.

As I mentioned earlier, in addition to proposing new investigative powers, the bill would modernize existing powers, bringing into the 21st century what the police are trying to do and protecting our communities.

I would note that this is a bill that has tremendous support from the provinces. We have had the Privacy Commissioner consulted on aspects of this bill. We look forward to further debate throughout this process as we move forward on what I believe is an important step to protect Canadians and protect information and at the same time respect the fact that this is the new way of communicating among Canadians and around the world.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

November 27th, 2013 / 3:40 p.m.
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Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for his speech. I took careful note of his fervent hope that the House will unite to support his bill. I took careful note, but I have some concerns.

Three-quarters of his speech focused on the very serious problem of cyberbullying, particularly the distribution of intimate images, which led to Bill C-13. My colleague introduced this bill in the House previously as Bill C-540.

I am concerned because most of his speech focused on exactly seven provisions or only five pages of the bill, whereas pages 6 to 53, which include clauses 8 to 47, focus more on the tools given to police officers.

The minister must know that, since his bill was introduced, experts and knowledgeable people in the field, including the Privacy Commissioner, have expressed concerns about these aspects of the bill.

Why did he make things so complicated when he could have quickly obtained unanimous consent on the more specific part of the bill that he spoke so much about in his speech, the part about cyberbullying and the distribution of intimate images?

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

November 27th, 2013 / 3:40 p.m.
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Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to sincerely thank my dear colleague for that question and for her participation in this very important debate in the House of Commons.

The legislation is consistent in that it deals with electronic communications broadly. Yes, there is a component that is very much in response to the pressing need to address cyberbullying, cyber-intimidation, which has really put young people's lives at risk. At the same time, there must be empowering elements of investigation, which are contained in the same legislation, that would pertain to not only the enforcement of the cyberbullying component, which is the new Criminal Code section we have brought forward on the non-consensual distribution of images. We also cannot simply empower police to go after that single component of the Criminal Code. We must also allow police to use those same powers to enforce other elements of the Criminal Code.

There is a common theme throughout for investigative powers. These were recommendations consistent with the federal-provincial-territorial document that was produced. I know that she aware of it.

I note, as well, that while the Privacy Commissioner may have concerns, this is the time and the place. I am sure the Privacy Commissioner herself may want to appear before the parliamentary committee to have her views known. However, I suggest to the her that when one examines the electronic communication sections the bill affects, we are empowering investigators to enforce the law and use the proper channels. Most importantly, judicial authorization is required, which sets it apart from previous bills.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

November 27th, 2013 / 3:40 p.m.
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Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, the minister said a couple of times that in all instances, judicial authorization is required. I beg to differ.

Clause 20 of the bill, specifically proposed section 487.0195, addresses voluntary disclosure of information by, for example, telecommunications companies and Internet service providers. In a circumstance in which electronic information is voluntarily disclosed, they are given absolute immunity. Therefore, in a case where there is a co-operating party, there is indeed no judicial oversight and no sanction. In fact, there is immunity given. It is really not far from a warrantless search when we have a willing party holding the data. That, in our view, is the poison pill in this legislation.

We all support modernizing the Criminal Code to deal with the scourge of cyberbullying. I compliment the minister for bringing legislation forward that does that. The problem is that the poison pill built within it would have dramatic impacts on civil liberty and privacy, the very things that caused them to back away from the e-snooping bill.

Would the minister please split the bill so we can all stand together, as he suggested, and have the House come together against cyberbullying? Will he please split the bill to take the poison pill out?

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

November 27th, 2013 / 3:45 p.m.
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Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I hope this might help the pill go down a little easier.

The proposed section to which the member refers in the Criminal Code does not displace existing court authorization requirement. In fact it is a very specific area, and I am glad he raised it.

The provision would clarify that the police officer can lawfully ask—and he points out—that individuals and groups voluntarily preserve data or provide documentation, but only when no prohibition exists against doing so. That is to suggest that organizations would still be bound by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, something known as PIPEDA, which makes it clear that an organization is entitled to voluntarily disclose personal information to the police, without the consent of the person to have the information relayed.

However police have to have lawful authority to do so. They still have to obtain a warrant. They can ask that the information be preserved and temporarily put on hold so that it cannot be deleted, but in order for police to access that information that is frozen, they must still obtain a warrant.

There is no warrantless access. If I could quote the hon. member for Beauséjour, he said:

The old tools, the old laws and regulations, and common law around search warrants, lawful access, etc., haven't kept up with the technology that organized crime is using.

I agree with that. That is why we have to empower the police, modern investigators, to have modern tools to go after organized crime.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

November 27th, 2013 / 3:45 p.m.
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Mississauga—Erindale Ontario


Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Minister of Justice for bringing this important and timely bill before the House of Commons.

As members of Parliament, we have all heard from our constituents, from parents, about the concerns about cyberbullying. I am really pleased to see that the government is moving forward on its promise to do something about this.

I wonder if the minister can tell us, in the days since the legislation was tabled in the House, if he has heard anything from the families of the those who have fallen victim to this type of offence, if he has heard about their views on the legislation being debated here today.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

November 27th, 2013 / 3:45 p.m.
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Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, clearly this is a very emotional issue, as one would expect, for families who have had loved ones take their own lives as a result of cyberbullying and cyberintimidation, which has had a very real emotional and tragic impact on their lives.

In fact I have consulted with them, in the efforts to draft this legislation in the most effective way. We have chosen to bring this matter forward as a priority in this House. As the justice minister, I worked very hard on this bill to try to get this balance right.

For family members who have lost loves ones, I believe there is a very real recognition that this is in direct response to the tragedy that befell their lives. This is very much a response and a tabling of a bill that could easily have been named the Rehtaeh Parsons bill, the Amanda Todd bill or the Todd Loik bill.

This bill is something that would very much prevent and protect those same tragic acts from happening again in the future. That is our hope. We look forward to having this debated further in this House and in committee. I invite all members to support this legislation.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

November 27th, 2013 / 3:50 p.m.
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Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I certainly support legislation to stop cyberbullying, and I think many of the provisions on cyberbullying in this bill are good and necessary.

However, like the member for Charlottetown, I am worried about whether the government is using this issue as a Trojan horse to increase our risk of being a surveillance state. I and many others feel that the government is trying to bring back Bill C-30.

My question is this. Yesterday, the United Nations human rights committee unanimously passed a resolution to protect individuals from unlawful surveillance. It happened to be a resolution on which the government worked with the U.S. to water down.

Does the member not think that, just as victims of cyberbullying deserve protection, people's privacy rights also deserve protection?

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

November 27th, 2013 / 3:50 p.m.
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Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, of course, as Minister of Justice, I very much respect privacy rights. That is why we have a Privacy Commissioner. That is why we consulted with her on this particular bill.

However, I find it very unfortunate and troubling that this misleading, inaccurate description is applied, that references are made to a Trojan Horse and that this is a bill with a poison pill. It is not. There is prior judicial authorization required in every single clause of the bill. There is no ability for police to act without warrants. There is no ability to seize Canadians' information.

What we have done is put assurances here that would balance those concerns, that would put in place proper protections around the unauthorized distribution of information. Let us be clear on what we are trying to do here. We are trying to put police investigative powers in place on the Internet, where so much information, and therefore, danger can exist. Unfortunately, technology moved at a much faster pace than the legislation that would enable police to do their job properly.

We have seen many recent cases; for example, in Toronto, where there was information seized online that shut down a child pornography ring. We want to be able to give the police the power to do that, to protect children, protect information, protect finances and protect against terrorism. All of this is about giving police those tools in the modern era.

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November 27th, 2013 / 3:50 p.m.
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Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, further to the exchanges that took place after the speech given by the Minister of Justice, if people are worried about poison pills, perhaps it is because that is what the Conservatives so often have to offer. Thus, it is not surprising that people are worried about this long-awaited bill.

I think it is worth reiterating the fact that my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour had introduced Bill C-540, which addressed the issue of cyberbullying and, more specifically, the distribution of intimate images, following the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons. We even offered to fast-track this process.

All members of this House agreed on these provisions. The government replied that it was working on the issue, and I do acknowledge that some federal-provincial-territorial meetings took place. I was very pleased to hear the Minister of Justice say that he believed in a more comprehensive approach than simply claiming that Bill C-13 would solve the problem of cyberbullying, as the bill's fancy title would suggest. Let us hope so, because the bill's title certainly promises more than it can deliver. In fact, I am sure the Conservatives have hired someone just to come up with fancy titles, such as the “protecting Canadians from online crime act”.

Still, I acknowledge that the provinces and territories were involved. There were meetings and discussions because they were the ones who raised the problems. We know we need a more holistic and comprehensive approach. The motion moved by my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, Motion No. 485, offers a comprehensive approach to bullying, but the Conservatives voted against it. There is no reason to believe that Bill C-13 will put an end to situations that have been around for a long time.

The Conservatives introduced a bill whose first seven clauses are exactly what everyone expected the Minister of Justice to introduce with respect to cyberbullying and the distribution of images. However, clauses eight and up must have come as a surprise to many. Forty-seven is a lot of clauses.

Experts on privacy and the Internet, as well as journalists, jumped at the chance to ask questions during the minister's press conference. No doubt the minister was expecting something other than those questions, all of them on the same subject, and for good reason. After what happened with the former public safety minister, people got worried about what was around the corner. I will be kind, but it was not funny when he introduced Bill C-30.

It was to be expected that people would think Bill C-30 had risen from the ashes when they saw clauses eight and up of Bill C-13. The former justice minister, the one immediately preceding our colleague opposite, promised that those clauses would not be seen again.

Journalists, who know a thing or two about the situation, did not wait one second to ask the questions that demanded to be asked of the minister, questions about cyberbullying. When he announced the introduction of his bill just last week, the minister said that everything related to cyberbullying and that there were no surprises in that regard.

Whether this is seen as a poison pill or not, the questions make it clear that this bill touches on some complicated concepts, especially from clause 8 on.

The Minister of Justice is right to say that the most serious irritants in Bill C-30 are not in the current bill. Yes, this will require warrants. However, we must still ask ourselves some serious questions about what kind of warrant will be needed and what evidence will be necessary to obtain it. Some are even saying that this lowers the threshold. Instead of talking about reasonable and probable grounds to believe something, the bill talks about suspicion. They are introducing different terms.

I think that the minister wants as many members as possible to support his bill. I therefore hope that he will be open to allowing us to study this aspect carefully. We will have some serious arguments to make in committee about these aspects of the bill. I hope that we will not be criticized or accused of supporting cyberbullies or anything like that, simply because we are doing our jobs. There are some serious questions and we do not have any definite answers to some of them today. For example, did the minister make sure that this bill is in line with the charter, since this is one of his duties?

I hope he will be referring to studies when he speaks about the bill before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. I hope he will tell us that, indeed, he and the people in his department tested the constitutionality and compliance of his bill under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically in terms of privacy and the interception of personal information.

I heard my colleague from Charlottetown ask a question about an issue that is worrying some experts, and that is the warrant for voluntary disclosure of information. In his reply, the minister stressed that this was on condition that no legal prohibition existed against preserving or communicating this information. This type of provision is greatly disturbing. This is not as simple as making a request and getting a positive answer on the spot. There are some rules, but they may not be sufficient in terms of protecting privacy.

Ultimately, we are all trying to create a safe environment for our children and youth. However, in doing so, we must be careful not to create legislative monsters that allow some to slip through our fingers while ensnaring others who should have nothing to fear in a free and democratic society. On this side of the House, we have always been concerned about that.

Obviously, my heart bleeds for the parents who have gone through such terrible situations. Is there anything worse than having a child commit suicide? I cannot imagine the hell that families must go through in those circumstances.

I will tell a story that I told my colleagues this morning, as I was discussing my recommendation on Bill C-13. On the day Bill C-13 was introduced, I ran into one of my colleagues opposite in the elevator in Parliament. He was with some people who had came to see this historic tabling. This was important to them because it had to do with something they had gone through. When I was introduced as the justice critic for the NDP, Mrs. Todd looked at me and said she hoped we would support the bill.

I am always happy to support good legislation. However, sometimes my heart bleeds when I have to tell my colleagues that I cannot, in good conscience, support a bill. I often give it a chance, because I always have hope.

This is the message I have for the Minister of Justice. We must be allowed to conduct a thorough study.

I presume that the minister truly believes in what he is doing today and that he wants to help victims, parents, children, young people and adults, because adults can also be caught up in this situation.

I hope that he truly believes in what he is doing today and that the other provisions are well-founded. I hope that he has had the opportunity to study them extensively. However, the other members of the House have not had the opportunity to do so, because we were told by his predecessor that he would not bring back these kinds of provisions. Consequently, I hope he will not be surprised if we have some minor questions about this. We definitely will have some.

A number of legal organizations are asking questions. In fact, we have to compare the provisions. We have to understand what they mean. The wording used with respect to obtaining a warrant has changed. The bill says “suspect” instead of “reasonable and probable grounds to believe”. The legislator does not talk for nothing and, therefore, this must mean something.

It is not unusual to want to carefully analyze these types of provisions. The bill is very important for Canadians of all ages and races who are interested in the serious problem of cyberbullying. It is definitely a priority for all parliamentarians in the House. We will definitely not reject it out of hand at the outset.

However, I would like to say something to the families, both the Todd family and Rehtaeh Parsons' family.

I read Mrs. Todd's blog, and I was extremely moved. She asked the following question:

“Could the Cyberbullying Bill Have Saved Amanda?” She says yes.

The fact that a parent said that and is investing so much hope in a bill should strike a chord with all members.

That being said, we cannot abdicate our duty as legislators to exercise due diligence.

Today, I am urging the Minister of Justice to tell his colleagues who belong to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to take as much time as they need to study this bill, which is about a very important, very human issue that affects too many people. We have to stop thinking that this is a race against time, because it is not.

Obviously, we need solid, unassailable provisions that will eliminate this scourge, and we need them soon. However, they have to come with other provisions that are equally solid from a legal standpoint, and they have to be in line with existing laws so that, in a year or two, they will not be swept aside.

Families believe in the work we are doing. They have so much hope. We have to take the time we need to do a good job. We have to hear from experts on cybercrime and cyberbullying, on the Internet and on privacy law. We have to hear from all of those people so that we can evaluate this bill.

There are much easier ways though. I took note of what my colleague from Charlottetown said earlier when he asked the Minister of Justice a question. He asked him whether there might be a way to study the bill from two perspectives. First of all, it would have to be evaluated more quickly. I think that members of the House already support the cyberbullying and distribution of intimate images provisions in the bill.

That is why there might be a way, if everyone in the House agrees, to split the bill in two without changing or amending any of the clauses. I am not even suggesting any amendments, simply because that work will be done in committee.

Of course we want to do this work in committee. However, we want to work both on cyberbullying and the distribution of intimate images, and on the other aspect, which is the powers to be granted to police officers.

I was reading the submission of an association of criminal experts, which indicates that some provisions are cause for concern. One has to wonder what the government means by “some provisions”.

In light of this, I would like to remind the Conservatives that they have to take these concerns into account. It is important to remember what happened with Bill C-30. After an absolutely unbelievable campaign of a sort rarely seen in the House, the Conservative government backtracked, which is not something that happens very often. The Conservatives have a tendency to always push forward, even if they are hitting a brick wall. They do not often make a strategic retreat to show that they heard what the public had to say. However, that is what happened in the case of Bill C-30.

The Conservatives backtracked because Canadians felt that Bill C-30 violated their privacy and gave some people unrestricted tools. Those people may have good intentions, but once again, the devil is in the details. This made the minister backtrack, which is a good thing.

We do not want to go through all that again with Bill C-13. I will not say that Bill C-30 caused mass hysteria, because that is not true. However, people were extremely concerned, and it made us wonder exactly what the government was trying to achieve. We are asking ourselves the same thing in this case, where people expect a bill on cyberbullying and the distribution of images.

Yes, the ministers of justice and public safety from across the country examined these issues and talked about how this sort of evidence could be collected; however, they did not come up with a plan as detailed as the one set out in Bill C-13.

On one hand, there are the parents of victims who want something positive to come out of all this, and rightly so. On the other hand, there are also privacy guardians.

I do not think there is anyone in the House, including the Conservatives, who does not think this is important. They obviously talk about it less on their side, but I think that they also believe this is very important. I have never heard anyone on the Conservative side say that they do not believe in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in the right to a personal life, to a private life, to their own image, to do what they want in their own home.

There is an extremely simple way to address all of these serious concerns about Bill C-13. We would simply have to divide Bill C-13, and I would like to move that we do so.

I would like to seek the unanimous consent of the House to move the following motion: That notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, clauses 2 to 7 and 27 related to cyberbullying, be removed from Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, and do compose Bill C-15; that Bill C-15 be entitled "An Act to amend the Criminal Code (non-consensual making or distributing of intimate images)"; that Bill C-15 be deemed read a first time and printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights; that Bill C-13 retain the status on the Order Paper that it had prior to the adoption of this Order; that Bill C-13 be reprinted as amended; and that the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel be authorized to make any technical changes or corrections as may be necessary to give effect to this motion.

This would make it possible to pass Bill C-15 quickly. Then, we could more carefully study Bill C-13 as amended.

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November 27th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
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The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Does the hon. member for Gatineau have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

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November 27th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
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Some hon. members



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November 27th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
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The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

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November 27th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
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Central Nova Nova Scotia


Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Gatineau for her very compelling speech, where she raised some very good points about the necessity to examine the bill in detail. I could not agree more. That will be the process, as she is very familiar.

We will have the opportunity to proceed not only through the debate in the House, but to go to committee. I think all Canadians are increasingly aware that this is the place where the real work gets done. Out of the glare of the cameras, the show and the partisanship, that is where the real work gets done.

There is a bit of a contradiction in her argument in suggesting that in the last Parliament, before prorogation, we should have rushed to pass the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour's bill through all stages of the House and have it unanimously adopted. That would have been an empty vessel. It really undermines the argument she has just made, that, in fairness to the families and to all Canadians who are looking for a substantive response to a serious social issue, it requires the expert oversight and advice that we should receive in the committee.

Yes, I should be held to scrutiny by all members of the House. The member for Charlottetown asked an important question. I will be going before committee, again, to answer questions.

I say to the hon. member, let us work together. I am prepared to reach across the aisle to her and all members. This should be one of Parliament's finest moments, where we are able to respond to the needs of Canadians on a serious social issue. It is an issue that goes to the very heart of protecting young people, protecting information in the information age and ensuring that we are giving police the proper powers, but balanced with privacy issues, to do the work that we ask of them every day.

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November 27th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
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Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the Minister of Justice is reaching out. I see that one of his parliamentary secretaries is in the House. I am sure he heard the same words I did.

It is imperative that we take the time to really look at each and every one of these clauses.

There was no contradiction there. We said that the difference between 7 clauses and 47 was that it would take far less time to study the first seven clauses. That way, we could address the parents' need to see this issue debated.

Now the process will take longer. The government decided to incorporate elements that—while not necessarily the same as those that were in Bill C-30—are quite worrisome to groups other than victims of cyberbullying or parents of those who have committed suicide after being bullied online.

If there is unlimited time for hearing from various experts, then it is possible to split this into two. I hope that this will not be forgotten. I will take his words to committee with me, that is for sure.