Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in this House to speak to this very important bill. I want to thank my colleagues who, both in committee and in the House of Commons, have defended our New Democrat position in opposition to the bill, and have spoken of what we expected from our proposal to ensure that the bill is about putting a stop to cyberbullying, as it says it is.
Unfortunately, what we have, once again, is the Conservative government using language—and in this case, I would also argue, using people who are in vulnerable situations—to put forward a regressive agenda that has everything to do with attacking people's privacy. It leaves tremendous loopholes in terms of powerful actors gaining access to private information, and that would do very little to put a stop to cyberbullying, which is a very serious and sometimes tragic problem in our society.
We have heard from my colleagues as to why we do not support the bill. We put forward, I believe, 37 amendments at committee to improve the bill. We indicated that whether it is the private member's bill put forward by my colleague, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, for an anti-bullying strategy, or the bill put forward by my colleague, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, to deal with sexual images and exploitation online, there are ways we can try to put a stop to cyberbullying and to the way in which too many people are exploiting privacy, private images, and taking advantage of people, in many cases young women, online.
What I find most disturbing about the debate and discussion around Bill C-13 is the way in which the tragic stories of young women who took their own lives as a result of cyberbullying are being used by the current government to push its agenda.
I do not know how many more ways we can say that this is wrong, that this is beyond disrespectful. It is disturbing, frankly.
I have had the opportunity to meet with the mother of Amanda Todd, and I have met with other youth, including those involved in Jer's Vision, who have done a great deal to try to fight bullying and cyberbullying in our communities. These are people with ideas. Sometimes these are ideas that come from places of immense pain, of having lost a loved one or having themselves experienced suicidal thoughts to get away from bullying. Despite that, they are proposing ideas. They are finding ways in their communities, and they are calling upon leaders at all levels of government, particularly at the national level, to take steps that would have an impact on ending bullying.
I am particularly encouraged by those who are applying a gender lens to this kind of bullying because we know it has a gender lens. There were the high-profile cases of young people who took their own lives as a result of cyberbullying, and they were women. In many of the cases, unfortunately, particularly in the mainstream media, women's experiences when it comes to the use of bullying was missed. Sexual objectification is very different and can lead to some very devastating situations.
I also want to acknowledge the way in which LGBT youth, lesbian, gay, and trans youth, are often the targets of cyberbullying, which has a gendered lens as well. Yet nowhere in Bill C-13 is there any plan to act on, not just bullying, but the cyber-misogyny that we see running rampant online and in our society.
I would like to turn the attention of the House and of those who are listening to the phenomenal work being done across the country to draw attention to cyber-misogyny and the way in which we can take legal action, but more importantly, employ policies and invest socially in order to put an end to cyber-misogyny.
I want to draw attention to the recent report by West Coast Leaf called “#CyberMisogyny” that is entirely about what all of us at the federal, provincial and municipal levels, in our schools and even in our homes can do to begin putting an end to cyber-misogyny. It is not a quick fix and it certainly is not Bill C-13. What it requires is real leadership and tackling the very serious issues of inequality, violence against women, sexual harassment, and the marginalization of girls and women in our society.
It also means taking bold action when it comes to putting an end to the discrimination of trans people and the particular discrimination that trans women face, and recognizing that we have a role to play. Sadly, all I hear in the House is the way in which the Conservative government is using the stories of young women who experience cyber-misogyny to put forward its own agenda, which has nothing to do with that. The hypocrisy, and frankly, the disregard for these women's memories is, like I said, disturbing.
In taking the next steps, I would encourage the government to not only see the value of dropping this badly thought out bill, which stands to benefit some of the government's agenda with regard to pulling people's private information and having access to people's private lives in a way that it sees as helpful, I guess. However, there are other steps it ought to be taking.
For one, it could support the motion that I put forward, a national action plan to end violence against women. It could work with this side of the House to try to find a way to build a comprehensive anti-bullying strategy, including working with community organizations and young leaders who are on the front lines and understand what it means to be a victim of cyberbullying.
It could also look at specific measures, as I have indicated, including Bill C-540 that was introduced in the House last June, which would make it an offence to produce or distribute intimate images of an individual without his or her consent. The list goes on, and many of my colleagues have been pointing to the actual steps that the government could be taking to put an end to cyberbullying.
I would like to end with a demand that so many people have, that the memories of those young women such as Amanda Todd and others not be used as a front for what is, once more, a piece in the regressive agenda put forward by the federal government. It can do better.