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.