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House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Division No. 1258Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Reform

Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my Liberal colleague for his obvious dedication to this topic and his knowledge of it.

He mentioned our information commissioner, Mr. Phillips, as being one of the important thinkers on this subject, and I agree.

There was a time when we were concerned, as Mr. Phillips said, about personal knowledge being carried back and forth across the continent. There has been very little attempt that I know of to protect, as he has suggested, this right of a person to private knowledge.

The technology grows in both directions. It was not that long ago that I first heard about identity theft and had it explained to me. Now identity theft is something I hear about fairly regularly. I am wondering, in light of this, if the hon. member sees in this legislation any of the fundamental tools which are necessary to protect people from great damage to their personal lives and to their families.

I think this is fairly specific and very important and I would like to hear the hon. member's comments about how this bill might help protect people.

Division No. 1258Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member raised an important concern and I want to treat it in two ways. I suggest to him that reality does not support some of the stuff we read about the incredible power of the hackers, the widespread nature of all these fanciful problems and some of the scary images that are drawn. That is not to say it is not a real issue. The member touched on an incredibly important area. It poses all sorts of challenges to how we communicate when we communicate electronically. Like any new technology there is a star wars scariness which the media seem to like to latch on to.

Does the legislation solve all those problems? No, it does not. I have probably been as immersed in this issues as any person, certainly any person in the Chamber if not in this city, and I am still having these little connections as I walk down this road. It sets in place a framework. It has the paradigm the right way around. It says that citizens have the right to be informed. We must not forget that this is largely voluntarily collected information.

The health area is an interesting one. There has been a change by the Senate which I can support. Is that information really voluntarily given? We go to the doctor and he says that he needs to take a test. Are we going to say no? We have no choice but to give it. Largely this is in the commercial system. It is like not government information that is often collected.

It has the paradigm right. I have the right to be told why the information is wanted. I have the right to prevent them from sharing it except under conditions that I have been informed of. It puts a lot of control in the hands of the consumer.

The issue of identity theft is one that the world will have to deal with. We can do some things. I noticed a number of companies are now working with key infrastructures that allow them to know that when an item came in it actually came from the person. There are ways to build secure mail systems which allow that to happen. The post office is working on one and there are other private sector examples.

A classic problem, which the member for Huron—Bruce was concerned about, was child pornography on the web and how to prevent and control the proliferation of it. It is very difficult. How do we do it if the picture is taken in one country, sits on a server in another country, the payment is processed in a third country and goes to someone in a fourth country? There are issues which I believe have to be taken to international forums if we are ever to solve them.

Division No. 1258Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure and an honour for me to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois on Bill C-6, formerly known as Bill C-54.

Bill C-6 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.

Today we are addressing a fundamental question in a society claiming to be as civilized, as ours does. At the same time, we are addressing something that is in a way the price of modernity, the price of progress. The most sophisticated of technologies now enable us to access what are considered the private affairs of individuals, and we can do so in a very subtle, very insidious and, let us face it, a very dangerous way.

Addressing this type of issue requires a fairly lofty debate. We need to realize that we are drawing here on the Declaration of Human Rights, passed 50 years ago now by the United Nations and subscribed to by Canada, which says that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person and which states the following:

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation.

We are drawing at the same time on the Quebec charter of rights and freedoms, which provides that “Every person has a right to respect for his private life”.

To give an idea of the scope of the question and the extremely important issues here, I would like to quote a very important passage from a statement by the executive director of the Commission de la protection de la vie privée du Québec, Julien Delisle, of Quebec, summarizing the issues facing us today. These remarks were made in 1996 and are still current. He said:

Privacy protection is nothing less than the idea that we cannot live in a democracy in a free society without protecting our intimacy.

Ten years ago, it was easy to live incognito. At that time private enterprise and the government sector had access to a lot of personal information but in unrelated bits.

Telecommunications and the growing amount of information have totally upset this delicate balance by eliminating two natural mechanisms protecting privacy: the volume of paper and the impossibility of cross checking information from various files or agencies.

We have here before us a very important law, which has been debated in this House and which has been referred, as procedure would have it, to the other House, commonly known as the Senate. The other House also addressed the issue with witnesses, as did the Standing Committee on Industry. The result, the other House having shifted the debate to health and thus muddied the waters even further in the view of a very great many people, is greater confusion than ever.

Numerous experts were heard, including lawyers who waded into the issue. Their views were so divided and conflicting—with all due respect for lawyers, of which there are many, maybe too many, within the ranks of the Bloc Quebecois—that the debate was more confused than ever, and opinions often ranged widely, when they did not contradict one another outright.

Having gone through all that, we are back at square one. What this means to us is that there is a major flaw in the federal government's approach, in its shameless attempt to once again trample the Constitution of Canada, which is supposed to govern the actions of this government and of the provincial governments.

This does not come from us. It comes from no less than the Conseil du patronat, one of the many bodies I will list later that supported the Government of Quebec. The Conseil du patronat does not have very much in common with the present Government of Quebec, as we know, but it supported it and Quebec received incidental, intelligent and qualified support.

Having given the matter some thought, the Conseil du patronat made the following statement when it appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry:

In so far as there is no challenge to the constitutional jurisdiction conferred on the provinces with respect to the protection of personal information and privacy under section 80.13 of the British North America Act, and in so far as Quebec's lawmakers have already passed their legislation in this regard, it is to be expected that numerous disputes over jurisdiction will ensue.

So said the Conseil du patronat, and there is every reason to think its prediction will come true.

Another a very competent person, Jacques Frémont, a well-known constitutional expert from the Université de Montréal, appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry and said:

In my opinion, Bill C-54, now Bill C-6, violates the spirit and the letter of the division of powers as it should be understood in this country. It proposes an arrogant and intrusive approach to provincial jurisdictions. Privacy protection is essentially under provincial jurisdiction. In Quebec, for example, it is property and civil rights. It is the Civil Code. It is Quebec law that applies in addition to the Canadian and Quebec charters.

This allows us to say that on the very face of it there is a technical flaw in this bill which, to some extent, could be viewed as unconstitutional since it respects neither the letter nor the spirit of the constitution, more specifically section 92.13.

Moreover, the bill takes a giant leap that is a very serious infringement on what has so far been done by the provinces in this area, as provided for under the constitution. That leap is found in clause 3 of the bill, which reads as follows:

The purpose of this Part is to establish, in an era in which technology increasingly facilitates the circulation and exchange of information, rules to govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in a manner that recognizes the right of privacy of individuals with respect to their personal information and the need of organizations—

And here is what is new:

—to collect, use or disclose personal information for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances.

The important thing in this clause is that far from recognizing the fundamental nature of the right to privacy, it now tries to balance this right with the right of companies to do business. That leap is a very serious infringement, almost a business-like move, which fits very well into the current neo-liberalism where citizens no longer count, where they are only of interest to the economic system as consumers, and where—

Division No. 1258Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I apologize for interrupting the hon. member. He has 11 minutes left. Since it is almost 2 p.m., we will now move to Statements by Members.

Building Dufferin TogetherStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the 21st century presents us with many exciting opportunities and challenges. Technological progress affects everything in our lives from the size of our population, the condition and use of our land, our health and medicine, to the speed and convenience with which we can communicate with each other over vast distances. Communities need to build strong partnerships and make strategic investments to meet these changing needs.

I am pleased that constituents, local leaders and business people in my riding will have an opportunity this weekend to share their ideas and innovative approaches to help our communities. The sustainable community symposium, “Building Dufferin Together”, provides a forum to discuss and share ideas on a wide range of topics from agriculture, the environment, economic development, recreation, education, heritage to conservation.

There are many excellent examples of community led projects and concepts in my riding and across Canada. Now more than ever it is important to pool our ideas and share our resources so that Canadian communities can look forward to continued long—

Building Dufferin TogetherStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Prince Albert.

TaxationStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Derrek Konrad Reform Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, on Monday evening I spoke with a young man from my riding on a recurring issue. This young man like so many others is caught in the jaws of the divorce industry.

He has children and until now was able to claim equivalent to spouse on his income tax while they were separated. Now his wife is suing for divorce and custody of the children and the forces are arrayed against him. He will lose the tax exemption at the same time his wife seeks additional support. Parents may divorce each other but they cannot divorce their responsibility for their children.

But consider this injustice. While this young man's children will receive only a marginal increase in support, the Minister of Finance will reach deep into his pocket and take out almost $2,000 in additional taxes.

This is not an isolated instance; it happens all too often and it is a national disgrace. The government must act now for the good of children of divorce and both of their parents.

Multimedia IndustryStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the few minutes available to me to draw attention to an excellent initiative taken by our government to provide additional support for the already promising multimedia industry in Quebec.

Last Monday, the Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada announced an additional $800,000 investment in the Fonds d'expérimentation en multimédia, thus bringing our total contribution to $2.3 million.

This fund is intended specifically to support young creators and entrepreneurs in the crucial start-up phase of innovative projects. Already more than 40 young entrepreneurs have been able, as a result, to bring their projects to the final marketing stage.

Judging by the initial results, a number of successes can be expected to ensue in this booming sector of activity.

This announcement is evidence of our government's clear commitment to the future of young people within the new global economy.

Fuel TaxesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Liberal Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance and member for LaSalle—Émard is prepared to reduce fuel taxes for Canadian consumers, provided all Canadian provinces are in agreement to do the same.

Why is the premier of Quebec, Lucien Bouchard, refusing to reduce fuel taxes, particularly since the Government of Quebec receives $1.5 billion annually from them, from Quebecers?

Messrs Bouchard and Landry, you are invited to come to Ottawa to discuss this problem on behalf of consumers. Let us work together to cut the tax on gasoline, diesel and fuel oil.

Down's Syndrome Research FoundationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Sophia Leung Liberal Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, as the member for Vancouver Kingsway I am pleased to report that the Down's Syndrome Research Foundation announced last week a $3.5 million capital campaign to build a new facility in Vancouver. This new centre will be the one and only of its kind in North America.

Allow me to congratulate all the volunteers, staff and donors who have supported this project for our community. Their work and dedication is an inspiration to all of us.

Highway 97Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Reform Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, recently in the House I asked the Minister of Transport to join me and the civic leaders of the southern interior of British Columbia to facilitate the continued growth and development of this dynamic and progressive part of Canada.

By designating Highway 97 as part of the national highway system, specifically the portion between Osoyoos on the United States border and the junction with Highway 1 at Monte Creek, the minister would be recognizing the highway as an extremely important trade corridor to British Columbia.

Number 97 is one of the great highways of North America, running from Alaska to California, joining our homes and businesses in the Okanagan Valley with other vibrant and progressive areas of Canada and the U.S.

In recognition of its importance, this portion of Highway 97 must be designated as part of Canada's national highway system. It is an important initiative which we must all pursue with vigour.

Knights Of ColumbusStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Mr. Speaker, on February 22, 2000, the Knights of Columbus celebrated the centenary of the founding of the fourth degree of their order.

One of the goals of this fraternal, family organization is to promote patriotism within the movement and within the community.

Last Thursday my colleague the hon. Don Boudria and I received members of the Knights of Columbus on Parliament Hill to mark this significant event. During this official ceremony we presented them with the Canadian flag that flew on top of the Peace Tower on the day of the 100th anniversary of the fourth degree of their order.

This flag will be proudly put on permanent display at the Knights of Columbus museum in New Haven, Connecticut.

On behalf of all members of the House, I wish to congratulate the Knights of Columbus on the centenary of the founding of the fourth degree of their order.

Knights Of ColumbusStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Just a gentle reminder, colleagues, that we should not call each other by our names but by our riding names.

CelaneseStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker:

So? So how are things, Jane? Fill me in. The way I see it, all is well Although one item I should tell. So small, so lacking in import And hardly worthy of report, The Celanese plant shut its doors, Finito, but apart from that, Just fine, just great, so worry not.

So how are things, Jane? Fill me in. Is Celanese a goner then? What can we do for all those men Laid off, to help them start again? We hardly have a cent ourselves. Tell me your version of events, I am quite shaken, truth be told. It goes like this, if you must know: Because of grants not processed right And billions gone, right out of sight, What workers feel is not delight— Betrayed, abandoned, used, more like— They want to see you take a hike, A long one, but apart from that, Just fine, just great, so worry not.

Air TransportationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Claude Drouin Liberal Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, one can imagine the surprise last Thursday, when Air France made English the mandatory language of communication between pilots and its air traffic controllers.

And yet in Quebec and Ottawa, bilingualism is not an issue. The Liberal government in Ottawa made French mandatory in the air in 1976. We are still proud of that fact today.

Let us hope that the separatist government in Quebec and the Bloc Quebecois in Ottawa will support the Government of Canada so that French may remain in use in the air.

The SenateStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Eric C. Lowther Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, Alberta Senator Ron Ghitter is resigning. He is giving the Prime Minister an opportunity to actually fulfill an election promise, this one regarding the Senate.

Some time ago the Prime Minister sent a task force out to Alberta to find out why Albertans will not vote for him. The simple answer is that Albertans do not feel the Prime Minister is listening to them.

They are frustrated for example, that in the middle of Alberta's Senate election the Prime Minister appointed a man who was not even on their ballot. Undaunted, Albertans gave Mr. Bert Brown more votes than any other federal politician in history.

Last week in Calgary the Prime Minister asked Mr. Brown if he wanted to be appointed to the Senate. Mr. Brown humbly replied “Yes, Mr. Prime Minister, I do on behalf of Albertans and Canadians”.

On behalf of those Albertans, Canadians in general and Mr. Brown, the Prime Minister should show respect for them and have the courage to listen, to change and to appoint Bert Brown to the Canadian Senate.

BombardierStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the economic good news continues. Yesterday, Bombardier unveiled a record making contract of nearly $3 billion for the sale of 94 regional jet planes. This contract will mean 1,000 new jobs in the Montreal area.

Bombardier also signed an agreement in principle worth $2 billion U.S. with two Delta Airlines affiliates.

Bombardier also intends to create 600 jobs at its Canadair plant in Montreal, and 400 others in its network of suppliers clustered around the city.

This phenomenal order shows clearly that Canada and Quebec have met the challenge of specialization in small jet planes.

Our Canadian government is delighted with such good news, which confirms the renewed confidence in the Canadian economy.

FisheriesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, two days ago I rose in the House to remind the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans that the auditor general had said that his department was managing the shellfish industry in the same way the groundfish industry was managed prior to the collapse of the cod stock, which by the way has cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

I also reminded the minister that his scientists are now telling him that the present snow crab stocks off Newfoundland could be gone in three years.

Finally, let us not forget about the lobster and the Marshall decision. The season opens very soon and all we hear from the minister are very vague statements, the same vague statements we had prior to the supreme court decision.

First it was west coast salmon, then east coast salmon, cod and now possibly snow crab. Will lobsters be next?

When the minister was asked how he would protect our precious marine resources, his response was “Liberal times are good times”. I can only hope that Canadians do not wake up with the loss of another fragile resource in our oceans and with a taxpayer hangover.

Human Resources DevelopmentStatements By Members

March 30th, 2000 / 2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, on January 17, 2000, the Minister of Human Resources Development released the findings of an internal audit that was devastating for her department. It called into question the quality of management at the department during the period when her predecessor, the current Minister for International Trade, was in charge.

For the Prime Minister, this was a minor problem involving a mere $251. Two months later, the grants given by Human Resources Canada are the object of numerous police investigations, including three in the Prime Minister's riding. We learned that a $150,000 grant intended for the riding of Rosemont ended up in Saint-Maurice, but we do not know how the money was used. The auditor general calls this situation of one of the most serious he has seen since taking up his duties.

Worse yet is the fact that the Prime Minister appointed Mel Cappe, the deputy minister responsible for this administrative mess, to the position of top public servant in the federal government. Enough is enough.

People are outraged, they want a major cleanup, and this is urgent.

Dr. James LangstaffStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a founding father of Richmond Hill, a gentleman and a country doctor, Dr. James Langstaff, who passed away at home last Sunday.

He graduated from medical school at the University of Toronto in 1935 and for a time set up a small hospital in his home. Caring for patients 24 hours a day was too much to handle with such a busy practice, so he campaigned for the building of a new hospital, York Central Hospital in Richmond Hill. He was the first chief of staff, a post he held for four years.

The first Dr. Langstaff opened his practice in 1838 on Yonge Street in the same house where James was born, lived in and died. In fact, the only time that Dr. Langstaff changed addresses, he did not move, the house did.

For 162 years there has been a Dr. Langstaff in Richmond Hill. My condolences to his wife, his children and his many friends. We will miss him.

ImmigrationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

David Price Progressive Conservative Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration has worked hard since November on the issue of border security and refugee protection in Canada.

The report, which was tabled in the House last Wednesday, contains two amendments that I had proposed: first, that a photograph and the fingerprints of each refugee claimant be taken upon their arrival and, second, that the government pursue its efforts to conclude treaties for the safe return of some to their country. It was requested that progress be reported to the committee and to this House.

Earlier this month, excerpts of the new Immigration Act were leaked, and that concerns me. I hope that all the work done by the committee, the amendments proposed and the testimonies of witnesses will not have been in vain.

Will the minister follow up on the report tabled by the standing committee on March 22?

ImmigrationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Reform Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, let us examine the government's record in dealing with the issue of illegal migration.

Eight months after 600 illegal migrants arrived by boat, only 5% have had their cases finalized. Does the government send a strong message to illegal migrants that people smuggling will not be tolerated? No, quite the opposite. It allows 80% of those who come to Canada illegally to stay, whether they have been accepted as refugees or not. It seems that the government will make it easier for people smugglers by allowing certain groups from certain countries to stay no matter what.

While other countries carefully respect the UN's definition of a refugee, this government will greatly expand that definition.

As unbelievable as it might sound, the government will give full charter protection even to those who may seek to enter our country.

What this hard-hearted government is doing is entrenching a system where queue jumpers and people smugglers must be rubbing their hands in delight while genuine refugees are left out in the cold.

Gun RegistryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise Progressive Conservative West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Supreme Court of Canada is now deliberating the legality of the government's controversial gun control legislation. This follows a challenge that was launched by a number of provincial and territorial governments, including my home province of Nova Scotia.

The challenge was launched on the grounds that the registration provisions of the Firearms Act are an invasion of provincial jurisdiction over property and civil rights.

The Liberal gun registry is nothing less than a colossal waste of taxpayers' money. The legislation will not reduce crime in Canada. Those intent on committing crimes are not going to register their firearms. If anything, the gun registration process punishes responsible gun owners.

The Liberal government said the new gun registry would cost $85 million. To date costs have exceeded $300 million. I ask myself how much safer would our streets be today if the government had invested the money in more policing rather than wasting it on the registry.

It is time the government acknowledged its costly mistake and repealed this useless gun registry.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton North Alberta

Reform

Deborah Grey ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we asked the HRDC minister to explain why neither she nor her predecessor did anything to address the damning indictment of her department's ethics in the 1998 audit. Her response was “That was 18 months ago”, basically, “Who cares”.

The point is that she should care because it was her government that was in power for the five years leading up to that audit. It created the problem and then it ignored it.

Why are ethics not of concern to this government?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, ethics are of concern to this government. From my point of view, the actions that we have taken on this particular audit that I have received as minister are exactly the right things to do. We got the information and we made it public. We told the Canadian public that we will improve our operation and, from my point of view, that is exactly what should be undertaken.