House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.


The House resumed from October 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-54, an act to support and promote electronic commerce by protecting personal information that is collected, used or disclosed in certain circumstances, by providing for the use of electronic means to communicate or record information or transactions and by amending the Canada Evidence Act, the Statutory Instruments Act and the Statute Revision Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.


Wayne Easter LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to Bill C-54, the personal information protection and electronic documents act.

In addition to modernizing federal legislation for the digital age and building the environment for electronic commerce to flourish, this act also addresses one very particular need in the information society in which we now live: the right of individuals to have some control over their personal information.

The rapid development of information and communications technology such as the Internet has brought about new opportunities for individuals, businesses, communities and governments. But to realize those opportunities there are some challenges that must be resolved. One of the most significant of these is the issue of privacy and the protection of personal information. New technologies provide new capabilities to collect and manage personal data. Canadians want to be confident that any information concerning themselves is accurate, up to date and, most importantly, secure.

Bill C-54 provides that assurance and much more. It will make private sector organizations responsible for the security and accuracy of the personal information they collect. For federal statutes it will introduce a degree of equivalency between electronic and paper formats and improve the ability of the federal government to conduct its business electronically. An opting out process would allow government bodies sufficient time to prepare for the impact of updating and re-engineering their business functions for the age of the Internet. It will assist the courts in evaluating the reliability of electronic records presented as evidence and it will give official status to electronic statutes and regulations.

Specifically regarding security, the legislation proposes ways to remove legal roadblocks to using electronic technology as a secure option for doing business with the federal government. It contains provisions for the development of secure electronic signatures for people doing business with the federal government. These will provide a model for electronic commerce in general. It will make federally regulated private sector organizations responsible for the security and accuracy of the personal information they collect.

The provisions of the act for privacy protection are based on the model code for the protection of personal information which was developed by the Canadian Standards Association.

However, as exemplary as this code is, it has been voluntary. Now we are enshrining its principles in law and we are making significant improvements.

To be successful any legislation regime which safeguards personal information must provide effective oversight and enforcement, and foster awareness.

As other hon. members have noted in previous debates, Bill C-54 is the result of a great deal of broadly based consultations. In those consultations Canadians made their point over and over again that individuals must have the right to launch complaints and to challenge an organization when they think its compliance with protection requirements has been inadequate.

The legislation before us gives individuals the right to complain and to challenge compliance with any part of the law. Thus it affords Canadians a key role in monitoring the organizations which hold personal information about them.

The private sector also has an extremely important role to play. There was strong agreement in the consultations that businesses should take an active role in monitoring their own practices and should co-operate with consumers in resolving problems. The first step in a normal complaint process should involve an individual complaining to the organization.

The organization should then look into the complaint and attempt to resolve it.

Accordingly, Bill C-54 makes organizations accountable for the information they collect, use or disclose. Furthermore, it requires that organizations put in place procedures to receive and respond to complaints or inquiries about their information policies and practices.

However, an individual might not always be able to obtain satisfaction through the organization. In such cases there must be a second avenue for redress. This legislation provides that avenue. Throughout the government's consultations Canadians expressed broad support for giving the Privacy Commissioner of Canada the authority to investigate complaints, issue recommendations, mediate disputes and conduct research on issues related to the implementation of the law.

Under Bill C-54 individuals will be able to complain to the commissioner regarding any aspect of an organization's compliance with the legislation, including improper collection and use or disclosure of personal information. The commissioner may also initiate complaints if there are reasonable grounds to do so. The commissioner will have the power necessary to investigate complaints, including the ability to enter the premises of any organization, examine any records, administer oaths and interview an organization's staff.

Furthermore, as part of the complaint resolution process the commissioner may suggest mediation or other forms of dispute resolution. When an investigation has been completed the commissioner will provide a report outlining the findings of the investigation together with any recommendations the commissioner deems appropriate to both the individual and the organization. The commissioner may follow up to ensure that the organization deals with the identified issues.

In our consultations consumers indicated that it was important that the legislation provide a watchdog who can ensure that the law is being respected. When the commissioner has reasonable grounds to believe that an organization is not complying with the law the legislation gives the privacy commissioner the power to conduct audits.

Consumers and businesses have also made clear their view that legislation to protect privacy in the private sector will be most effective if it includes measures to address emerging privacy issues proactively through consumer education. The government agrees that consumer education is absolutely key to ensuring that citizens are well informed about their privacy rights and are vigilant in protecting them. Therefore, the legislation gives the privacy commissioner an explicit mandate to educate the public. It also gives the commissioner powers to research and comment on any issues that affect the privacy of Canadians.

These various powers of the privacy commissioner are designed to ensure compliance with the law and to give consumers somewhere to turn when there is a problem. The commissioner will also serve as an important source of expertise and advice for organizations that are trying to comply with the law.

Canadian citizens and consumers are rightly asking that personal information be adequately protected in the new digital economy. Experience has shown that industry self-regulation has not been up to the task. As a result, international data laws have to be developed that might restrict the flow of information to countries with inadequate privacy protection standards. With this legislation the government has done so, with privacy protection that will be simple yet effective, consumer friendly and not overly burdensome for the industry, especially for small and medium size firms.

It is made in Canada legislation that strikes the right balance for our conditions and it will help ensure that technological innovations will be able to serve our economic needs while not infringing on our fundamental rights.

It is the system that Canadians need to safeguard information privacy in the private sector. Therefore, I move:

That the question be now put.

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10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

On debate, the hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona.

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10:15 a.m.


Rahim Jaffer Reform Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House as the industry critic to address Bill C-54.

For the benefit of those who have just joined the debate, Bill C-54 is an act to support and promote electronic commerce by protecting personal information that is collected, used or disclosed in certain circumstances, by providing for the use of electronic means to communicate or record information or transactions and by amending the Canada Evidence Act, the Statutory Instruments Act and the Statute Revision Act. The bill is referred to as the personal information protection and electronic documents act.

The bill is part of Industry Canada's broad and ambitious plan to create a legal, regulatory and tax regime in which electronic commerce will flourish. It is fair to say that under the direction of the Minister of Industry, Canada has become a world leader in electronic commerce, at least as far as public policy is concerned.

This is not the case of big brother in Industry Canada going high tech. The specific purpose of Bill C-54 is to create a legal and regulatory framework for electronic commerce by introducing measures to protect personal information in the private sector by creating an electronic alternative for doing business with the federal government and by clarifying how the courts assess the reliability of electronic records used as evidence.

The Reform Party supports in principle the government's efforts to create a legal and regulatory framework to allow legitimate electronic commerce to flourish which is why we are supporting the bill.

However, it should be understood by all members of this House and by the public that Bill C-54 goes beyond the scope of electronic commerce in that it creates a legal and regulatory framework that will be applied broadly to the commercial use of sensitive and private information in all areas of business. When this bill is examined more closely in committee, it must be examined with this in mind.

Bill C-54 will also work to replace electronic documents on the same legal footing as paper documents. As part of this endeavour to bring legal legitimacy to the electronic business world, the government has empowered itself to regulate the concept of secure electronic signatures through the use of encryption. This is a necessary part of the bill but I would caution the government to work with the private sector as it deals with the issue of encryption every day when providing security of data to its clients.

We must whenever possible borrow from the work being done in the private sector and whenever possible allow these industries to regulate themselves. Private sector co-operation and self-regulation should guide us as we examine the issue of electronic commerce.

The bill was created in co-operation with the private sector which speaks to the quality of the legislation and which is why my concerns are limited. However, when this bill is discussed in committee, there are issues we must be aware of.

The Canadian Direct Marketing Association supports Bill C-54, while warning that any amendments that would change the rules governing positive consent should be examined carefully as they have the potential of creating a business environment that is unduly restrictive for direct marketers. In essence, the CDMA argues that there is often implied consent for the use of personal information.

The provision in the bill allowing for implied consent ensures that once private information is lawfully acquired it can be used repeatedly by the same company unless the consumers instruct otherwise.

If direct positive consent were required before information lawfully collected is used, it would be cumbersome and would hurt the direct marketing industry. Furthermore, the direct marketing industry would prefer that a greater reliance be placed on negative consent. That is, customers would be given an opportunity to remove sensitive personal information from lists before those lists were used or sold. However, if they chose not to take this action, the direct marketer with impunity could then use the information.

There is also some debate regarding the use of information collected by the government but then made part of the public record. If only the government can use this information in a commercial manner, namely by selling it to private sector businesses, it amounts to unfair government competition for information trading, which is a large part of what many direct marketers do.

The government has very recently created legislation that brought positive changes to the direct marketing operations, changes that were supported by the CDMA. We should be cautious to ensure that this work is not undermined by a subsequent piece of legislation that may hurt this industry if we do not act judiciously.

I would also like to bring to the attention of the House the concerns put forward by the Canadian Medical Association. Physicians are very concerned about their ability to protect the confidential information of patients who confide in them. In response to this, the CMA has created the Health Information Privacy Code which it hopes will become a standard for the medical profession. This is an example of industry self-regulation.

It also brings forward a very serious concern regarding the patient-doctor relationship. We do not want to create legislation that will create blanket policies for electronic privacy protection when there are clearly different needs in different sectors of the economy calling for different policy solutions.

The Reform Party supports limited government and free enterprise, but recognizes the important role of government in creating an economic climate in Canada with fair and transparent rules that protect both consumers and business.

It is well within the proper function of government to create a legal and regulatory framework to allow electronic commerce to flourish in Canada. For this reason Bill C-54 should be supported. However, care must be taken at the committee stage to ensure that concerns put forward by the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Direct Marketing Association and others are addressed.

I will close by encouraging the government to continue to make electronic commerce a priority and to work to create a regulatory environment that stabilizes trade but that does not become a barrier to it.

I would also encourage the government to pursue taxation policy that encourages businesses to take their operations into the electronic business world. If this happens, I am confident Canada will become a leader in electronic commerce.

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10:20 a.m.


Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise this morning to speak on Bill C-54 as one who had close ties with the communications industry during 15 years. I was involved in broadcast media at the time.

Throughout this period, I had an opportunity to witness changes as they occurred: the arrival of fax machines, satellite dishes, computers and, finally, the Internet. All these changes have always served the public at large, the general public, well. However, a closer look at electronic commerce and this technology that is increasingly becoming a part of our daily lives raises concerns.

As the millennium approaches, in this era of communications, with communications occupying an ever-increasing place in our lives, the federal government has deemed it appropriate to legislate in this very complex area.

I would like to give a little background on Bill C-54, an act to support and promote electronic commerce. The purpose of this legislation is to support and promote electronic commerce. How? The title goes on to say: by protecting personal information that is collected, used or disclosed in certain circumstances, by providing for the use of electronic means to communicate or record information or transactions and by amending certain acts.

Once again, Quebec is at the cutting edge, since it has had legislation protecting personal information in the private sector for four years now. Bill C-54 introduced by the federal government deals only with commerce. It does not extend to any other activity and has some serious deficiencies.

In its 1997-98 annual report, the Quebec access to information commission is unequivocal on the issue of privacy on the information highway.

The commission examined the consequences of introducing Canada-wide standards and legal principles regarding privacy on the information highway.

Under the terms of a proposal submitted to the ministers responsible for setting up this highway, this protection will be based on the voluntary code of practice developed by the Canadian Standards Association, and adopted in 1990.

It is the commission's contention that, if implemented, this proposal would represent a setback for the privacy issue in Quebec. This contention is based on a comprehensive review of the CSA code. There is good reason to be pleased with the Canadian industry adopting such a code. This marks quite a breakthrough, stemming from an interesting analysis of the OECD guidelines on protection of personal information.

However, the CSA code does not meet the objectives of the personal information protection systems established under the two Quebec laws, namely to guarantee all citizens an impartial and fair solution to any problem or dispute that may arise with regard to the protection of this increasingly important aspect of one's privacy.

Therefore, the Commission suggested to the Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications that she remind her counterparts that Quebec has such a statutory system in place. According to the Commission, the Quebec system is the only response to the challenges of the information highway that respects the rights of citizens.

Discussions of e-commerce become a little complicated. First of all, for the benefit of this House I am going to use general, easy to understand terms. We are talking about making purchases or conducting transactions with banks, with suppliers, with manufacturers, or with clients electronically.

These types of transactions have been in existence for quite some time. Telecommunications have been with us for 30 years or so. They have been relatively well structured in terms of standards for 25 years. As for electronic data interchange, it has been governed by international standards for more than 10 years.

In fact, electronic data interchange is used relatively often by many businesses. For the past 10 years or so, large businesses have been using it in their dealings with suppliers. This means that a supplier does not send a written bill to his client, but rather an electronic bill that is received on the computer of the client, who will then authorize payment after verifying that the goods or services have actually been delivered.

But what is happening in this era of communications is an acceleration of this process. Electronic data interchange is no longer restricted to large corporations or governments. It is now accessible to the average person through the Internet, among other means. The Internet is becoming increasingly popular at home.

I want to discuss into greater detail how this government is once again getting involved in issues that are under Quebec's jurisdiction. The bill introduced by the Minister of Industry to protect personal information was of course anxiously awaited. It is, as the federal privacy commissioner pointed out, the most significant step taken to protect personal information since 1983.

However, instead of introducing a real bill to protect privacy in the private sector, in a technological world that challenges this fundamental right, the government, through its Minister of Industry, is proposing this weak legislation, whose fundamental part is found in a schedule to the bill, and in which the commissioner does not have real powers. The wording lends itself to a broad interpretation.

As we know, when this government wants to get involved in areas of provincial jurisdiction, it always goes for a broad interpretation, so that it can justify its actions to the people.

In this context, there is a risk that Bill C-54 may infringe on the privacy rights of Quebeckers. This bill may not meet the expectations of Canadian and Quebec consumers.

Moreover, the Minister of Industry is introducing a bill which, on the face of it, seems to provide less protection than in the federal public sector. Whereas, at the moment, harmonization of legislation on the subject across the country seems to be an important criterion in ensuring constant protection of personal information, it might be reasonable to expect the government to draw on the experiences of Quebec in protecting personal information. It has had a law for four years. Not so.

The Bloc Quebecois regrets that the government has chosen not to give the privacy commission power to issue orders. This lack of power, which currently prevents him from fulfilling his responsibilities in the public sector, should have been remedied in proper form in the bill before us. This shortcoming will affect the bill's credibility.

The Bloc Quebecois fears that these weaknesses in the bill will make the Prime Minister's objective of promoting consumer confidence in order to develop electronic trade unattainable.

This is no surprise. The Bloc Quebecois is sure the government will not give the privacy commissioner the resources he needs to do the additional work given him in the bill. The copyright board, a body making quasi-judicial decisions, had no increase in its resources following the passage of Bill C-32, which doubled its workload. Today, the Minister of Industry is obliging it to examine the cost recovery formula.

This is another method frequently used by our friends opposite. The government hands out responsibilities, but not the resources or the money to fulfil them.

Furthermore, this means, very clearly, that the Bloc Quebecois does not support Bill C-54 as drafted. The minister should go back to the drawing board and look much more carefully at the importance of personal information.

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10:30 a.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join with my hon. colleagues from the Bloc Quebecois to strongly condemn Bill C-54, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

This bill does not accomplish what it set out to do, which is to protect citizens. Instead of a bill to really protect privacy in the private sector, in a technological environment that puts this fundamental right at risk, let us examine what the minister is proposing in this piece of legislation.

This is a flimsy and confused piece of legislation whose central feature is a schedule containing the Canadian Standards Association code without changes.

This legislation grants huge discretionary powers to the governor in council, but none whatsoever to the privacy commissioner; it focuses on e-commerce and places the fundamental notion of privacy on the back burner; it ignores the unique experience of Quebec in the area of protecting privacy in the private sector; finally, it could undermine the legislation in effect in the province of Quebec.

Before dealing directly with the shortcomings of the bill before us today, I would like to talk about the central concept of this bill, which is privacy, and to examine it in the Canadian and Quebec legislative context.

The right to privacy is a human right just like the right to equality and justice. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and to which Canada is a signatory, specifies that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” and that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation”.

In Canada, this protection is implied in sections 7 and 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Also, the Canadian government implemented in 1983 a Privacy Act that applies to more than 100 government organizations under its jurisdiction.

The federal government has since promised a framework legislation to ensure the private sector complies with the obligation of protecting privacy. Bill C-54 is the unfortunate result of that promise.

In Quebec, the right to privacy is explicitly recognized in the Quebec charter of human rights and freedoms and in the Quebec civil code. More importantly, the Quebec government is the only government in North America to have developed legislation governing personal information protection in the public sector in 1982 and in the private sector in 1994. Some experts even agree that the Quebec legislation applying to the private sector is reportedly one of the best in the world, which is remarkable.

I will point out some of the weaknesses in Bill C-54. This is a weak bill whose centrepiece is its schedule. Most provisions that will govern personal information protection are in the schedule to the bill. Moreover, this schedule is not the model code on personal information protection that was developed by the private sector and by consumers to serve as a framework for the protection of personal information on a voluntary basis.

By limiting himself to this text, the minister ignored the recommendations made by consumers and by privacy commissioners who recognized that the model code of the Canadian Standards Association was a good basis for reflection, but that it had to be reviewed before being incorporated into the legislation. The minister did not do so.

This undoubtedly shows that the minister has put economic values before social values, when this fundamental right is so fragile in the development of electronic commerce.

It is said also that this legislation gives tremendous discretion to the governor in council. Paragraph 27(2)( b ) gives the federal government the right to amend the act by order in council, without having to come back to parliament. Therefore, the act could easily be amended in accordance with the wishes of lobbyists representing large companies that contribute to the election funds of Canada's traditional political parties.

Another criticism we have is that this bill does not give any powers to the privacy commissioner. Despite the fact that the other Canadian provinces have followed Quebec's model by giving the commissioner the power to issue orders, the federal bill does the exact opposite.

The commissioner will not have the power to issue orders, which means that this act will not be easily accessible to consumers and will have no effect on businesses.

We say that this bill ignores Quebec's unique experience; therefore we cannot support it. It also ignores Quebec's unique experience with regard to the protection of personal information in the private sector.

I would like to give you a few examples: the objectives are better set out in the Quebec act, since it deals with the protection of privacy, irrespective of any commercial considerations. The Quebec act clearly covers all profit and non profit organizations, whereas the federal bill provides for the protection of personal information only in the context of commercial transactions.

The Quebec act provides that a group of persons may designate a representative in a common cause, but there is no equivalent provision in the federal bill.

On top of all these shortcomings, there is an even greater concern. The only guarantee Quebec has that it will exempted from this legislation is a timid statement by the Minister of Industry.

This mistrust is largely motivated by certain formal commitments to Quebec that the federal government has too often ignored or reneged on. For example, may I remind the government of the promises the Prime Minister made a few days before the 1995 referendum at the Verdun auditorium.

The issues are clear. For the Minister of Industry, the important thing is that Canada participate fully in the lightning fast progress of electronic commerce. Concerns expressed by Canadians with regard to their right to privacy are a minor consideration.

The Minister of Industry does not hesitate to take a centralizing position that, in many respects, goes against something that was very well done in Quebec and in the other provinces, something that he could have used as a model, particularly the Quebec model.

For all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois is calling for the immediate withdrawal of Bill C-54.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to enter into the debate on electronic commerce. As most people know, the rapid change in communications in just a little over a decade has been dramatic. There is no doubt that we will see further growth of gigantic proportions in this area.

I have a number of concerns with Bill C-54. I am not sure that I will be nearly as kind on the government as my colleague who spoke earlier. My concerns have to do with identification and security of information.

I could, if I so chose, create a web site and identify myself as a deputy speaker of the House of Commons, as some other member of the House, or even as a senator if I wanted. I could put on the site anything I want and people accessing that web site would have no way of knowing it is not a legitimate site unless there is good publicity. I think there would be if I did that. I have no intentions of doing that, but it is an electronic possibility.

It used to be that people recognized voices on the phone. Certainly in talking with people face to face there is the recognition factor with respect to the physical appearance of the person. For many decades a hand signature on documents of either the individual or the person authorized to sign on behalf of a company or organization was an identifiable marker.

We do not yet have an adequate means of defining the source of electronic information. Part of the legislation includes development of electronic signatures. One could argue that an electronic signature is more than just a duplication of a hand signature. However it is one thing that could be done.

In a computer data file a scan of the actual signature could be stored, but anyone else who would pick up the document could then paste it into any other document. It would be a perfect forgery, bit for bit as we say in the computer world. A physical signature is inadequate to identify a document.

Another way of doing it is as is done now in electronic commerce with banks. We are all familiar with automatic teller machines, ATMs, where people put in a card to identify themselves and to prove it is not a stolen card they enter in a four digit ID number or PIN number. How can we do that if we are sending something to an organization? The only way it would work is if the other organization knows what our PIN is so that when they receive it they know it is a legitimate individual sending the information.

With the banks this works perfectly fine. Most of us have PINs on our bank card or on our MasterCard. When I put my card into the machine and enter my PIN, that number goes down the electronic pipeline to the financial institution handling that transaction and it matches it at the other end with a PIN it has on file electronically. If it does not match, it says “wrong pin number, try again”. If someone enters the wrong PIN two or three times, it says “you're the wrong guy, we are keeping your card”.

How do we do that electronically? If I am going to put something to another organization, I would have to by some means send it what my electronic signature is so that it can identify me. If I send it in the same document, it is useless because if someone else gets it, they immediately can use it. So I need some method of saving with the recipient of that information my personal signature, my PIN, my electronic signature.

This is a digression. This has nothing to do with the bill but I think we are permitted to do that in the House from time to time. Many members here know that I spent a fair amount of time in my previous life teaching and working with mathematics and computers. One of the fun things I do, while other people who are real boring go out and play golf, is solve mathematical problems as a mental exercise and as a recreation.

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10:45 a.m.

An hon. member


Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Exactly. It is a very interesting process.

I developed an encryption algorithm which unfortunately got sidelined because I got into this wonderful world politics. I never got around to marketing it. But I really thought the method I developed was very good because of the encryption method which I used being very unique, and no two successive encryptions of the same document ever came out the same. One of the inputs I used was the computer's clock in changing the way it encrypted. Besides that there is an upfront ID number which a person can use. But it is very important in this case that the person receiving the message at the other end knows what that encryption password is. The way I did it, it was nowhere included in the document but in fact formed part of the formula for the decryption of the message. Without even transmitting it, it was an integral part of actually encrypting the message

This is one of the things that has to be dealt with very severely, identification. I am thinking of someone making a bid on a government contract by electronic means. It would be real dastardly but it could happen that an impostor could submit a bid, pretending their so and so company was applying for this bid with the government when in fact it is one of the competitors which is simply throwing in a phony bid to try to throw people off track. We need to be very careful that identification of individuals is securely handled and this is one of the things I would really urge the committee to look at when examining this bill.

There are other considerations which I think are also very important. Not the least of these is we need to gear up to having a very good climate for this type of commerce to occur in Canada. We hear over and over again that in this country we are taxed to death. We hear it from businesses. We hear it from individuals. We have a brain drain problem where people can move to among other places the United States.

They earn more money. They pay less tax. Their take home pay is much superior to what it is in Canada. That includes all the necessities of life, including health care. When we factor it all together it is still a disadvantage to stay in Canada. That has to change.

I am distressed with this government. It talks about reducing unemployment, improving the economy and changing spending and borrowing patterns. It has had some success. It has resisted the temptation to spend what nominal surpluses there are. But it will not move off its position of keeping the money that has been taken from only one sector of our economy, employers and employees. If we took that away we would not have a balanced budget. The government has done that on the backs of those people.

With respect to electronic commerce, the government needs to make sure that the taxation will not drive Canadians out of the country. Otherwise we will have them out of the economic loop. With computers and virtual store fronts now, a person can live in this country but virtually move out of the country without physically moving out. There is no way of identifying the source of files once they are on the Internet. They can be sent anywhere around the world.

We need to make sure the tax system is such that people in this country can engage in electronic commerce without a tax penalty.

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10:50 a.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, after the failure of the Meech Lake accord in 1990, the federalist premier of Quebec said, and I quote from memory: “No matter what, Quebec is and always will be a distinct society”.

Bill C-54 gives the opportunity to reaffirm this loud and clear. When it comes to protecting personal information, Quebec's laws is unique in North America.

Quebec has had a law protecting privacy in the public sector since 1982. The federal government and every province enacted similar legislation. In 1994, the Quebec law extended the protection of personal information to the private sector.

And to conclude my preliminary remarks, Quebec is the only government in North America to have a law protecting personal information in the private sector. It has had it for over four years.

It is quite acceptable for the federal government to once again copy things we get right and do well in Quebec. We have no objection to that. What we do object to is the wording of this bill.

Our party's position is very clear, namely this half-baked piece of legislation is basically poorly drafted. I will get back to our position in my conclusion.

We know the goal of Bill C-54 is to promote electronic commerce; the right to privacy in the private sector is a minor consideration.

Had the minister wanted to show leadership, as he claims, he should have adopted these principles, not because they are our principles or because Quebec is involved, but because this is the sort of protection the people of Quebec and of Canada are entitled to expect.

Instead, Quebeckers' rights are being diminshed.

We think this bill does not provide adequate protection for Canadians. A number of its provisions fall short, but one involves the reduction of Quebec's rights and that is the one concerning all the provincial provisions.

Under Quebec law at the moment an individual working in Quebec can access his record, wherever it is, or a person having a medical examination can see his records, wherever they are. From now on, it will no longer be the case, since all the provisions that go beyond provincial jurisdiction will be subject to federal legislation.

One might wonder whether federal legislation will provide the same protection. The answer is no. When it comes to information that is not of a commercial nature, the act is vague, to say the very least. It is worse than that. The core of Bill C-54 is a standard, a CSA national standard that bears a number and that was approved in a totally different legislative context by the standards association in consultation with the telemarketing board and another body, as well as with consumer representatives.

While this self-regulating project is commendable, particularly since it originated with the private sector, it is also full of conditionals. This is what I was saying earlier when I spoke of the wording of the bill. A could or a should essentially means perhaps instead of shall.

My lawyer colleagues in this House will recall that, in law, there is a significant difference between may and shall, and I consider this essential.

In the bill—

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but as it is nearly 11 a.m., we must now proceed to Statements by Members.

He will have another five minutes following Oral Question Period to finish his remarks.

Ryan HureljackStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Joe Jordan Liberal Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is very humbling for me to rise today and pay tribute a constituent of mine, Mr. Ryan Hureljack.

Last January Ryan became aware of how desperate many third world countries were for clean drinking water. Ryan used money from working odd jobs to pool an initial $70 for the cause. After meeting with officials from WaterCan, as well as the ambassador from Uganda, Ryan redoubled his fundraising efforts and at present has raised over $5,000 that when matched with CIDA funds now represents over $15,000 for water projects in Uganda.

Since the beginning of Ryan's quest he has received a real education on the needs of third world countries, specifically Uganda, saving money and the importance of determination and hard work. Ryan's school has now taken on the fundraising challenge in support of what they call Ryan's Well.

On November 20, national child day, Ryan will visit Parliament Hill to receive a You Made a Difference award for 1998 from the Our Kids Foundation.

I should mention that when Ryan began this project less than a year ago he was six years old. I think our country is in good hands because people like Ryan will be helping to shape our future.

Today I salute Ryan for his kind and caring contributions to his family, his school, his community, our country and for countries that are less fortunate than ours.

Agra IncorporatedStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the counterfeiting of money is a worldwide problem that leads to billions of dollars of losses each year.

A company in my riding of Oakville is working with the banking industry, including the Bank of Canada, to create a more durable and more secure currency.

AGRA Incorporated, headquartered in Oakville, is the international engineering and technology company responsible for this technological advance.

It is the genius behind the reflective security patches for the $20, $50, $100 and $1000 bills. It is now working on a more durable plastic based bank note, one that would offer enormous cost saving potential to government and would act as a strong barrier to counterfeiting.

AGRA's success is a shining example of how Canadian companies are successfully competing in today's global economy.

Franco-Ontarian CommunityStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the support recently provided by the federal government to the development of the franco-Ontarian community.

The federal government is giving the following: $12.9 million for artistic and cultural development;

$1.5 million to the Théâtre du Nouvel Ontario, in Sudbury;

$100,000 to the Festival franco-ontarien;

$2.5 million annually to TV Ontario and TFO;

$1.5 million to open school and community centres in Kingston, London and Mississauga.

The government is also providing support to help create community radio stations in Hearst, Kapuskasing, Penetanguishene, Nipissing and Prescott-Russell.

These concrete measures confirm the federal government's commitment to the franco-Ontarian community.

Canadian VeteransStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Peter Goldring Reform Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, members of Canada's armed forces have paid with their lives and health in service to our great country. How well we attend to our veterans' concerns is a measure of our national conscience and the expression of the will of our nation.

Some of Canada's veterans' concerns still sit as they have for over 50 years. They are gathering dust as we approach Remembrance Day. Hong Kong veterans' enslavement compensation by Japan has not been resolved despite all-party support. Merchant navy requests for full equality and recompense has not been given in spite of recognition by other allied countries. Perley-Rideau veterans' care level funding is plunging with the minister's tacit approval.

Some issues have existed for over 50 years. Most veterans have little time left to enjoy restitution. The veterans of Canada want our government to listen now, not later. Our veterans' concerns should not be a new millennium project.

The Reform PartyStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Paul Devillers Liberal Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party in its typical, politically expedient fashion is now attempting to portray itself as a champion of human rights in the course of the APEC debate, when in the not so distant past it was a party with very little thought for human rights. That is not likely to change in the very near future.

Time and time again Reform Party members' statements have revealed their utter disregard for human rights. For example, with reference to the charter, the member for Wild Rose said in the Calgary Herald that if amendments cannot be made “we should scrap the whole thing”.

In this very place the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca went so far as to suggest that “the charter is actually discriminatory” and that “unfortunately in 1982 the Liberal government of the day decided to bring in the charter of rights and freedoms”.

I am certain that this political expediency will not curry favour with Canadians, regardless of their political allegiances.

AgricultureStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Maurice Vellacott Reform Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, there is a serious income crisis on farms throughout western Canada and this Liberal government is insulting prairie farmers by denying that such a crisis exists. Farmers are being abandoned by this Liberal government.

Why is the minister hiding behind the fiction that NISA will save the day? Farmers and their families know that NISA is far from adequate. NISA is supposed to stand for Net Income Stabilization Account. Instead it has come to portray this Liberal government's callous attitude. The letters in NISA now mean “not interested in supporting agriculture”.

The European-United States subsidy war is wreaking havoc on Canadian farmers, so we need to support prairie farmers through modified safety net programs and we need to review ways to reduce farm input costs. We cannot deny it.

In Canada we have a farm income crisis on our hands. Just how bad does the on-farm situation have to get before serious attention is given to this impending disaster?

Globe And MailStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Murray Calder Liberal Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Globe and Mail has always prided itself on providing context and insight in its reporting, but lately this attempt at balance has been sadly lacking in its coverage of the financial management of the First Nation reserves.

In a letter to the editor printed in today's edition, Chief Stanley Arcand, chairman of the chiefs' summit steering committee on financial accountability, blasted the Globe and Mail for its failure to provide balanced coverage of the complex issues surrounding the financial management of the reserves. He noted that the Globe and Mail argument was “devoid of any meaningful examination of the real issues and causes behind the problems facing first nations—it was an extreme example of using the exception to prove the rule”.

The Globe and Mail would be well advised to take into account first nations that have—

Globe And MailStatements By Members

11 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.

UnicefStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the staff and volunteers of UNICEF.

On Halloween night this coming Saturday, over two million children volunteers will be carrying the UNICEF box while trick-or-treating. Instead of asking for candy they will be collecting coins.

Empowered to help other children around the world, our kids are taking action. The money they collect will help ensure that children in poor countries are immunized, registered at birth, will eat nutritious food and will learn to read.

Since 1980 the increase in basic immunization coverage has saved the lives of more than 20 million children.

Programs supported by UNICEF and other partners have helped more than 900 million people gain access to safe drinking water.

I am appealing to the traditional Canadian generosity. It does not matter how small the amount. Every bit helps. On Halloween night this coming Saturday, when people see a volunteer child of UNICEF, drop a coin. It will help to save the life of a needy child. We can make a difference.

AgricultureStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the farm income crisis is taking its toll. Record numbers of Saskatchewan farmers are calling the farm stress line this year.

In September the stress line received 147 calls. The program co-ordinator for the line says “There has been twice as many calls in September compared to other months. The hope is going. If you don't have hope you don't have much to look forward to. You can only struggle for so long”.

The statement of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food that existing farm safety net programs are enough to deal with the farm income crisis is simply not giving these farmers hope.

The Minister knows that NISA is totally inadequate to help western producers fight unfair foreign subsidies by the United States, unfair trade practices by the European Union and the economic flu in Asia, all of which have resulted in loss of markets for Canadian grain and brutally low commodity prices.

When are farmers going to see some action out of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food instead of just more talk?

Quebec Election CampaignStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the next election in Quebec is of paramount importance.

Quebeckers will have an opportunity to vote in favour of a constantly improving federalism. Quebec can finally put an end to the political uncertainty that has prevailed over the past four years. The constant pussyfooting around the referendum issue hurts all of Quebec.

Those who support a united Canada are well aware of the progress made in recent years. Several federal-provincial issues were settled, including manpower and linguistic school boards, and the outcome was positive for Quebec.

In short, a Liberal vote is a vote for improving the quality of life in Quebec. It is also a vote for a federalism that evolves and in which Quebec has its rightful place. Let us not forget that the leader of the Bloc Quebecois was very clear yesterday when he said that a vote for the PQ is a vote for a referendum—

Quebec Election CampaignStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Laval Centre.

Medical Research In CanadaStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week, as part of health research awareness week, 65 medical centres across Canada and Quebec have launched an information and mobilization campaign on this important issue.

In Canada, public funding in this respect is very clearly insufficient. Since 1985, investments have dropped by 10% in Canada, while they increased by 80% south of the border.

The level of funding currently available to the Medical Research Council of Canada represents only 0.3% of Health Canada's total budget. What researchers are requesting, and rightfully so, from the federal government is 1% of the health budget.

With its indecent budgetary surpluses, it is time the federal government took its responsibilities and handed out more than crumbs to health research—

Medical Research In CanadaStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Rivière Churchill.