Good morning, Mr. Chair and honourable members.
I'm pleased to be here as president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. I'm also the chief constable of the Vancouver Police Department.
As mentioned, we're the bundle known as the CACP. We represent over 90% of the Canadian police community, including federal, first nations, provincial, regional, and municipal police agencies. We're really pleased to be able to present information first-hand.
First of all let me say this. The CACP fully supports Bill C-13. Let me get right to the concerns we're seeing on the front lines of Canadian communities every day. The proliferation of crime has moved to the online environment.
Traditional crimes, like criminal harassment, threatening, kidnapping, fraud, a decade ago would have been conveyed with a letter or something through the mail, or perhaps a voicemail. Now, as we know, the vast majority of those crimes are perpetrated online, through text messages, e-mails, through Facebook postings, through revenge websites, through message boards like ask.fm, Kik, or many more websites that exist in cyberspace.
I should also note that a lot of these websites that are used by young and old are based overseas in countries like Latvia or other places in Eastern Europe.
Let me focus right in on young people today. I have this information from our school liaison officers who work in the high schools and elementary schools in Vancouver. Their experiences are similar to what's experienced across Canada.
The amount of online bullying, threatening, sextortion, harassment, and stalking online is more prevalent than ever. Why is that? I look around the room and think that some of us in our youth had to meet the bully face to face in the playground or in the hallways. Schools could deal with that by either moving you or moving the bully, and that would end it, whereas now in the online world it doesn't end. It's 24/7. You go home at night or you go out on the weekend, the bully gets kicked out of school, and it can still continue.
Moreover, many more people can be a bullies. Before, you had to be doing it face to face, whereas now those bullies are emboldened by the anonymity of the Internet, so there are more people doing it. In fact, there are more people being predators out there as well.
Probably all of you, because I know you're in political life, have seen the venomous, abusive comments that are one of the dark sides of social media. As adults, and as people in public life, we're used to coping with it. But think of young people. When they experience something like that it's extremely traumatic. It's frightening, and it progresses to the point where the victims causes harm to themselves because they're so upset and traumatized by what's happened to them.
These are the young people who don't have any safe haven.
Also, if something is posted online can mean that it's out there forever. At least with a written note you can destroy it, put it in the garbage. A written note is passed among just a few people. Those are all who see it. Now, online means the world can see it.
To combat this problem, the police need modernized tools. We need to intervene quickly to stop it from becoming worse.
For a lot of young people, when we're intervening it's not going to result in charges. Give us the tools to help more of these victims, and when we do have a victim, help us to stop the bullying and the harassment early, and stop it from becoming worse, because the worse it gets, the more serious it becomes. Then, of course, it is very traumatic for the victim.
It could lead to criminal charges. In the majority of cases we handle right now, we just resolve at the school level and it doesn't result in criminal charges.
But remember that some of those young people who perpetrate cyberbullying are making bad decisions, whether it's from bad influences in their life.... Again, we want to stop them so that they don't progress to doing something stupid that causes harm to someone else, and they will have to live with that for the rest of their life. Or, if they're taken through the criminal justice system, again, those will be consequences they will have to live with for the rest of their life.
Help us to intervene early.
Of course, we are also engaged in education and we partner with our schools. In Vancouver, especially, we have multilingual brochures because the schools have a struggle to keep up with the technology. Many parents have an even harder time, especially if they are new to Canada, to be able to monitor what their kids are doing, and to put in place protective measures so their kids are acting responsibly.
Let me say this. Canadians believe in privacy rights, and so do the police. We have seen that Bill C-13 does not create any ability for the police to compel the release of information that does not go before a judicial authority. That's a very important point. But it helps us get certain information quickly, for example, the routing of Internet traffic so that we can determine who sent a threatening message.
Sometimes that's going to be a dead end. So give us the tools that help rule out those dead ends. For example, we may go through a telco and get information that tells us something originated in a Wi-Fi café. Hopefully we can resolve that and determine that in a matter of hours, not several days, which can be the case right now.
Let me conclude by talking about the concerns of the public and the misinformation that's been spread. I don't know if it's inadvertent or deliberate, but I'll give you three examples of incidents that I've seen recently in the social the news media.
This is a picture of a police officer listening to the phone call of a young girl. There's also another variation of this picture. This same police officer, the actor, is standing over somebody as they surf the Internet. Today, to monitor phone calls in real time we need a wiretap warrant. Those are very hard to get under part VI of the Criminal Code. Those wiretap warrants take 500 to 1,000 pages. They can take weeks to write. My point is that Bill C-13 doesn't change that. We cannot do that. As for monitoring the surfing habits of Canadians, I asked our officers in the Vancouver police department and they said they'd never had part VI approval for an IP address. It rarely happens.
Let me point out another news story that kind of gave me cause for reflection. It's titled, “How federal bill C-13 could give CSIS agents—or even Rob Ford”, referring to the mayor of Toronto—“access to your personal online data”. In the Criminal Code, there is some ancient wording that says a mayor is a peace officer, and I suppose a mayor could exercise their powers and make arrests on the streets of their communities, although I've never heard of one doing that. But I would be flabbergasted if a mayor wanted to write a production order, show up at a telco and say, “Give me private data”. It's not going to happen. So putting Rob Ford's name in this headline I think unnecessarily alarms Canadians and is unfair to legislation that's coming forward.
This last opinion article starts with this, and it's from a Halifax newspaper.
Picture this: You arrive home tonight to discover that your friendly neighbourhood police officer is going through your papers and your computer files, making notes on your private information — without a warrant.
If you picture that, it's concerning. Can that happen? First of all, there's no provision for us to do that today without a warrant to search a home, to search a private computer. Warrants have to be obtained from judges with reasonable grounds to believe it's a very high standard. But the writer equates that to Bill C-13, saying that now it's warrantless access to all the Canadians' private information.
In closing, I know Canadians are concerned about their private information. This bill does not allow the police, nor do we want, to go through the private information of Canadians without the proper judicial authorizations. Please give us the tools to help stop people from being victimized. And for those people who have been already victimized, give us the tools to help them not be retraumatized, because the investigation takes days and weeks as a result of our cumbersome processes to get the necessary information to identify the perpetrators.
I will now turn it over to my colleague—