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.


Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Thank you for the clarifications, Mr. Speaker. I shall try to start where I left off.

These Senate amendments are a good example of the fact that what they do is often highly inefficient.

I think they could have sent the government a far clearer message about this bill. We MPs have received certain messages, and no doubt the senators have received the same ones. They originated with all the people who will have to apply this bill, or have it applied to them, at some point.

They have said nothing about them. The federalists in the other place could have dealt with flexibility, which is a catchword these days. Nearly every bill makes some reference to flexibility, this one included.

I will quote from several letters, which will show you the flexibility of the federal government.

On October 19, 1999, the minister responsible for the Quebec personal information protection act, David Cliche, and Robert Perreault—because these two ministers supervised this legislation—wrote to the Minister of Industry, warning him that legislation already existed in Quebec and not to infringe on Quebec's jurisdiction.

I will quote the second paragraph of this letter:

In fact, as ministers responsible for this matter, we have written on several occasions to express Quebec's position in this regard. Without reiterating all of our arguments, we remind you that this bill would not complement the Quebec legislation. It would duplicate it.

And the ministers sought an emergency meeting with the minister to examine the bill and make the necessary corrections or just to try to convince the minister he was off track. This was on October 19, 1999.

On November 18, 1999, the minister wrote to David Cliche and Robert Perrault to say:

I agree that we should meet, but in the short term it would be appropriate for our officials to work together to discuss the exemption that would apply to the organizations covered by the Quebec legislation and any technical issues relating to the bill.

That was his acknowledgement of receipt. On February 10, 2000, the Government of Quebec wrote Minister Manley to say “Listen, we have not met, and the bill has been passed. We have a problem. You are telling us someone is looking into this issue at the federal level and the officials should be meeting soon to discuss exemptions and the Quebec organizations to which the law will not apply”.

That is where we stand now. I heard a Liberal member mention earlier that, in Quebec, they will be exempt. Such is the flexibility of the act. Since we have our own legislation in Quebec, the federal legislation will not apply. This is false and I hope the member who said that did not say it knowingly. I dare hope he was misinformed.

As of now, the ministers concerned, both in Quebec and Ottawa, have not come to an agreement, they have not even met, because the arrogant minister across the way refused to meet the Quebec ministers to discuss the matter.

Consequently, the federal legislation will apply in Quebec. Only by order in council will some Quebec organizations be able to obtain an exemption. We will have to negotiate on a piecemeal basis for every organization. The minister, the big cheese, will have total control. He will say yes or no to individual organizations, as he pleases. This is what this government calls flexibility. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case.

At the industry department, this so-called but non-existent flexibility is not an isolated case. I see it in the department for which I am my party critic, namely the justice department.

Currently we are reviewing a bill on youth criminal justice to replace the Young Offenders Act. Here again, the minister told us repeatedly in the House “The flexibility is there for Quebec to keep on doing what it has been doing for the past 30 years. The Quebec model is not in danger; there is flexibility”. This is not true either. It is not true when we examine bills, whether in the case of the Department of Industry, the Department of Justice, or other departments. Flexibility is a word catchword, these days.

It is not true that there is flexibility or, if there is, it is always one-sided. Flexibility always works to the advantage of the federal government. I think this needs to be noted and, had they wanted to do something useful, the senators could have set this government straight and told it that the flexibility it refers to does not exist. But they let the opportunity pass. What is the point? What sort of work are they doing in the other place? The amendments they have submitted to us change absolutely nothing in the application of the bill.

I mentioned earlier that many people had spoken to us and I suppose they also spoke to the senators. Their comments were very revealing, and very carefully thought through as well. They had taken the time to examine the bill in depth. I have been here since 1993 and I have great admiration for those who testify before committees.

Some people are disturbed by the fact that we have been here since 1993, but we will be here for a few more years, that is until Quebecers say yes to sovereignty, particularly since we will have a clear mandate from them.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

An hon. member

You will need a lot of votes.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

As a member of parliament from Quebec who won with some 60% of the votes at the last federal election, I feel much more legitimate than the hon. member, who got elected by the skin of his teeth.

So, I have a great deal of admiration for the witnesses who, after thoroughly examining an issue or a bill, come to tell us about the impact of that bill. In this case they told the government “You are headed the wrong way”. They all said it one after the other, but the federal government turned a deaf ear, did as it pleased and passed the bill without taking into consideration anything these witnesses said. Indeed, I have a great deal of admiration for them because they keep coming back in the hope that, this time, the government will listen to them.

The Quebec Interprofessional Council, which includes 43 professional groups regulated by Quebec's Professional Code, came and told the government “We are opposed to this bill. Do not do that”. We also heard the Conseil du patronat. We had the Barreau du Québec, which said “You are headed the wrong way with such a bill”. We also heard the Chambre des notaires and various associations.

But the government did as it pleased anyway. I find it very deplorable that this government is not listening to the public, and particularly that, once again, is trampling on Quebec's jurisdictions and the Quebec model.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.


Stéphan Tremblay Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague from Berthier—Montcalm to tell us whether this is the first time he has seen the federal government totally thumbing its nose at a Quebec consensus, in all his experience here since 1993?

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a pretty easy question, because we encounter the same thing on a regular basis, just about daily. One has only to listen to oral question period to see clearly that the government over there is a very arrogant government, one that refuses to answer our questions.

I see the Minister for International Trade laughing. If I were him, I would not be too quick to laugh, considering everything that is going on at Human Resources Development Canada, since he is in large part responsible for it, even though he is now in hiding. In your place, Mr. Minister, I would not be laughing.

That said, yes, the government over there is indeed arrogant. It does pretty well as it pleases, despite a consensus against it, sometimes even across Canada.

I will give an example that very much involves Quebec: the Young Offenders Act. I see two Quebec MPs and I am sure they are not going to contradict me. There is a very broad consensus on that bill. I have not to date seen a single organization in Quebec calling for changes to the legislation on young offenders, yet the government over there is preparing to make some extremely significant changes in order to totally alter the nature of the Quebec approach and the Quebec model we have had for the past 30 years.

Comments have come from defence lawyers or crown attorneys, the Institut Pinel, legal commissions, even judges—magistrates have abandoned their usual reserve to tell the government “Hands off the Young Offenders Act”. But it carries on regardless.

This is a government which is not listening to the population, and I am really anxious for the next federal election. At some point they are going to get what is coming to them, just like their predecessors did. Before there is an election, there will certainly be some changes at the top. We know how much discussion is going on among the Liberals at present. I am dying to see the Quebec MPs doing the rounds in their ridings to tell people how they have defended Quebec in certain matters, while they have hidden out when asked to intervene. I am dying to see how they will defend their great record in Quebec.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak to this bill and to say that, in my opinion, members of the Bloc have made a great contribution to this very important debate. I congratulate them on that.

I do not think many of the fears the Bloc Quebecois have raised in terms of the sovereignty of Quebec in this particular issue are fears we have to worry about to a great degree. Where their contribution has been best is in analysing the shortcomings of this bill as a bill that purports to protect personal information.

Myself, I come to this bill at this stage with the point of view that it is an interim measure. I do not think it has even begun to address the vast problems of privacy in a world where so many thousands of households are connected through the Internet to other sites that they have little knowledge of.

Just to give you an example, Mr. Speaker, you can do this yourself on your own computer. You can be surfing the net, Mr. Speaker, going to sites in Canada, the U.S. and abroad. You can do whatever kind of net surfing you like. I have a program on my computer at home that is not a Windows program. It is a computer search program. What I am able to do with the program is, after having surfed the net, I can go into the deep files of the computer and I can get a readout, to some degree, only a limited degree, of the so-called cookies that have been left behind wherever I have visited sites, and also something called preferences.

I have a classic example of what happens. I was using a search engine. You know how you are just searching around for this, that and the other thing. I saw a site that said redheads so I called up the site. It was just a picture of pretty women with red hair. It was not a porn site, Mr. Speaker, I have to assure you.

I went back after and found that topics pertaining to redheads kept on coming up whenever I used the various search engines for some weeks following. I used the search program and went into the data bank. What I found was, it was not a cookie because cookies are something quite different, but it was still data that had been deposited in my computer that biased my computer for searching topics that had to do with redheads.

When I further analysed this particular data bank of information in my computer, I found that it had an extensive list of my tastes in terms of what I had been calling up on the Internet. In fact, I call up a lot of science subjects because I have a particular interest in certain fields of science. These were reflected in the list of these so-called preferences.

There are other things. If you go to a stock site, or to a porn site for heaven's sake, all these things are recorded on your machine. They are recorded to tell your machine to bring certain types of data forward when you use a search engine.

Mr. Speaker, if these so-called preferences are recorded on your machine, they are recorded on other machines. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to you that when you use your search engines in your home computer, what in effect you are doing is you are creating an intimate profile of yourself that is available not just in Canada but internationally.

Mr. Speaker, the problem with this legislation as I see it is it does not go deeply into this whole issue of how we put a filter on this type of information. As far as I can see, the legislation does not actually deal with this problem of distributing personal information that goes abroad and is obviously used commercially.

Ironically, Mr. Speaker, the legislation as I see it does try to put controls when you take out a newspaper subscription for example or when you buy certain products like automobiles and so on and so forth. This legislation provides for certain controls on the use of that kind of data, but it does nothing as far as I can see to address the larger problem of controlling personal information that is going out on the Internet worldwide. Mr. Speaker, I think this is a fundamental problem that I am not sure there is any solution to.

Yet we have legislation before us that I think was created with the very best of intentions. I have studied it actually at some length. I felt that basically it spins out of the existing Privacy Act which pertains to the documents held by government agencies chiefly about government civil servants and anyone who has had anything to do with the government or worked for the government.

Mr. Speaker, that is a pity because that legislation desperately needs an overhaul. It does not reflect the changing world where we have the possibility of knowing a great deal about one another. I would have been much happier if this legislation had directed itself toward putting controls on Internet service providers and those who stand at the various stages at which they can intercept personal information and sell it.

Mr. Speaker, what it does instead is it basically uses a commercial standard, I believe it is called. Organizations which are handling commercial personal information are supposed to conform to these standards. Basically the principal one is if they have collected the information, they are not to distribute the information without your consent. But, Mr. Speaker, I still do not see how this is going to be addressed when it comes to international service providers collecting information every time you go outside the country or even within the country when you are using your computer at home or your laptop in the office. It is very difficult to control these things.

On the other hand, and this is why I do not agree with the opposition, particularly the Bloc Quebecois' opposition to this bill, it does do some very positive things. It advances the desire for openness. I know that sounds odd when we are talking about privacy legislation, but it advances the cause of openness in government agencies very significantly. Mr. Speaker, it does this because for the first time it brings crown corporations under legislation that determines how they should use information.

Mr. Speaker, crown agencies currently are exempt from the Access to Information Act. You cannot find out what crown agencies are doing. Canada Post, AECL, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and many other organizations are exempt under the current Access to Information Act. You cannot find out the details of their budget. You cannot find out what the salaries are. You cannot find out whether they have a problem with nepotism, that they are bringing people in as a result of who is a friend of whom. You cannot find out that kind of thing. I think the Access to Information Act desperately needs to be reformed in that area.

The nice thing about Bill C-6 is what it does do is that for the first time it brings some of these crown corporations under privacy regulation. It includes Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the new port corporations that were created by the recent port authority bill, Maritime Atlantic and VIA Rail. The theme being is it is looking at broadcasting, financial and transportation industries that exist as parent corporations.

Mr. Speaker, this is an incredibly positive step in the right direction. We can no longer tolerate arm's length government agencies that use taxpayers' money and are not in any way accountable to the taxpayer. You cannot find out information on these various organizations if you want to examine their books because their books are not available to you.

This bill puts them under certain requirements of the Privacy Act in terms of the type of personal information they may collect. The irony there of course is because they are protected under the Access to Information Act, I am not quite sure whether we have the other side of the equation to make sure that they are actually implementing the Privacy Act, as explained in the notes we have before us.

On the one hand, symbolically, it is a wonderful thing for the government to do but it does not go sufficiently far enough. I suspect as I regard this entire bill, we should take it as the government's intent to try to find a way not only to open up government documents of all kinds, but to also build a proper regime of protecting personal information. But we still have a long way to go and I think this is only a very first step.

I should talk a little about the amendments that have come back from the Senate. These amendments pertain to defining personal information. There was concern expressed in the Senate that the definition of personal information was far too broad.

The various representations before the Senate were seeking better clarification of what is meant by personal information in terms of health related information. The problem is that in the existing act the definition of personal information is very broad, Mr. Speaker. It does not specify anything more than your name and address. It is not personal information, and just about anything else you disclose is.

I see you yawning, Mr. Speaker. Do I need to pick up the pace a little? I will do my very best. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, forgive me. There must be a House rule against drawing the attention of the country to the Speaker. I am going to get myself into terrible trouble. I will get control of the debate again.

The personal information clause that comes from the Senate was originally a very important clause in this bill. I think the senators were right to challenge this particular clause and to demand that it be defined more clearly. The definition that has come to us from the Senate is a definition that expands the idea of personal information in terms of health related information. When you go to a doctor and give information, that should be personal information and should be specifically protected in this legislation.

I would suggest, and I do not want the Senate to send the bill back after we send it up there, but I think it put its finger on something very important. My problem with personal information is when you make it too broad. The reality is that there is a lot of personal information that we divulge that we do not care about. I come back to the whole idea of commercial information. When you purchase something at Radio Shack it asks us for our name and address. Obviously, it is going into a data bank that is building up a personal profile. Most people are not bothered by that.

This legislation is directed precisely toward that sort of thing and says that this should be regulated and that information should not be distributed without your prior consent. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that nobody cares about that kind of information. Nobody cares about what kind of automobile you buy because when you buy a brand new Buick or a Volvo or an Audi or a cheap Ford, if you will, you advertise your purchase every time you drive that car. It is no secret. So why that data should be subject to this legislation I do not know.

On the other hand, where the senators are correct, there is a type of personal information that we do guard. One of the types of information that we do want to guard and protect is medical information. Hence, I believe this amendment is apropos, but I would have pursued it further. I would have suggested that another type of information that we would have like to have safeguarded and we should specify in legislation like this is financial information.

The problem is that we are not very certain. There is a huge difference between people knowing how much is in your bank account or how much is on your credit card or what your indebtedness is than what purchases you make. I would have thought this bill would have been far stronger if it had specified that financial information is something that should be specifically protected.

Again, I would have thought in terms of personal information what a religion is should be specified as something that should be protected. It is no one's business knowing what religion, what denomination or whether you have a religion in terms of what is available in terms of personal information that can be bought and sold.

I will switch back to my suggestion about the Internet. I see there are some members from the Reform Party who are watching this.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.


Roy H. Bailey Reform Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Canadian Alliance.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Wentworth—Burlington, ON

There are quite a few members and I am very pleased. I know that they have a particular type of constituency, not 100% this type. I do not want to characterize them too specifically, but there are a lot of people who support the Reform Party who are associated with Christian fundamentalist organizations. They would be appalled to know that their religious association is easily identified by the way they use the Internet.

For instance, as I was saying before, Mr. Speaker, where you go on the Internet leaves a trail that is recorded not only on your machine but on parent machines elsewhere. It can be in the United States or anywhere else. I have noticed, Mr. Speaker, that the religious denomination, be it Christian, Muslim, be it whatever, by the way you actually search the Internet becomes part of your profile. Suddenly people in the United States, people anywhere in the world who are the masters of this information can profile you wherever you are because you have used your computer to go to various sites that are related to your particular religious interest.

You can see, Mr. Speaker, that I have been doing a lot of work on the Internet. Similarly you can do the same thing if you are an ethnic Canadian and you are interested in, say, India. You go to various sites that are either in India or are related to people who are from India who have been in the country for some time, organizations that may exist in Canada or wherever. You go to those sites, Mr. Speaker, and you build a profile so someone can tell who you are.

The thing about this legislation, the fact that it does not aim at this type of personal information and it does not specifically protect this type of personal information I think is an inadequacy. It does not go far enough.

I got interested in this in the second reading debate. I have to say that the minister was very receptive to this type of criticism. One of the things that happens in a debate in the House of Commons is that we do not all get our way because of course it takes time to make an amendment and you do not know the impact. Sometimes, even if the minister likes an amendment or something is proposed from the opposition, you cannot implement it immediately simply because you do not know the full ramifications.

I was able to persuade the minister to accept an amendment that I put forward. That amendment was actually to the definition of commercial activity. What it did was it expanded the definition of commercial activity to include non-profit organizations and political parties. The reason I did that was because I am aware, as so many members are and other people, that many charitable organizations and even political parties collect fundraising lists. When you donate to them they collect that information and they give that information to central suppliers, central information moguls in the United States, who then send out direct mail advertising missives usually to senior citizens and the vulnerable. A lot of people have lost a lot of money as a result of this program.

The minister accepted an amendment that brings that type of activity under this legislation. I think that is very positive, but it does not go anywhere in addressing the problem of people using the Internet and these information czars in who knows where, in some hyperland that may be hovering somewhere over southern California. They collect that information and they know, Mr. Speaker, about you, about you, about you and about me. That is a very dangerous thing. This legislation moves in the right direction, but we have a long way to go.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.


Roy H. Bailey Reform Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I caught only portions of the speech of the hon. member to whom I always enjoy listening. I just want to correct him. We have a new name. It is the Canadian Alliance. We are quite proud of it. I might even make the same mistake too because we kind of get used to one thing.

I appreciate what the member has said. I have been a consensus commissioner. Members already know what a commissioner has to do for those who have failed to file their forms, saying that it was confidential information. In some cases I agreed with them, but it was on the census form. I have done other surveys too.

Would the hon. member not agree that the government should always consider the information it seeks from an individual and apply it to the act, which will undoubtedly be passed, to make sure the information it is seeking is in total accord with the bill?

The reason I mention that is that recently people in Saskatchewan are in hard times and they have filed AIDA forms. One of their fears was the bottom of the form where it is indicated that if they file the form incorrectly they are subject to the usual fines. They went ahead and filed the forms and then by coincidence or otherwise they were at the same time or within a few months being audited by Revenue Canada.

Does the member see what I am getting at? Did that one government form fall into the hands of Revenue Canada? We will never know. How do we guarantee that information is not shared when statistics about the number of cattle a farmer has on hand is collected?

I know these forms are valuable. They are of help to Canada. They are of help to the government. However, how do we guarantee to Canadians that when such forms are filled out they will not be shared with other departments and will be kept strictly in the department of statistics or whatever? That is the key. I am worried about that because I have not fully convinced myself that there is not cross-government sharing. I would like the hon. member to comment on that.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, as far as I am aware, Statistics Canada is covered by the Statistics Act. That act provides for absolute confidentiality. It is actually quite an interesting piece of legislation because that confidentiality is supposed to go indefinitely.

The member is probably aware that there is quite a movement in Canada right now to try to open some of the very old census records. Contemporary Statistics Canada data are absolutely protected. He should certainly assure his constituents that they do not have to worry. It is protected from other departments. Otherwise, I would have to say, if it is not protected when collected by Statistics Canada there would be a serious breach. I think we have to take it at face value.

The member raises another issue that is related to that, and that is this whole question of when a farmer, say in the Saskatoon area, has to sign on to a government program, the disaster relief program or whatever other program. He has to disclose by the very act of signing on to a program that he has financial difficulty. This is the kind of financial information that I was talking about. It is very, very clear that when information is collected that reflects on the financial status of individuals it needs to be protected.

I am sure this kind of information is protected under Canada's Privacy Act as it pertains to this kind of program, but remember Bill C-6 actually goes beyond the government and goes into the general community. It is really talking about corporations and private enterprises.

That is where we have the problem, or at least I have the problem. I think that is where the member raises a very, very serious point, because you can be a small entrepreneur, a farmer or whatever else, and as a result of running on hard times you may be making purchases or not making purchases. Not making purchases is a form of information. Not buying seed grain in a particular year is an indication of what you are doing. It is that kind of financial information that may be moving around there that would enable people commercially to create a profile. Then you know what happens, Mr. Speaker. They cannot borrow. Then they are stuck.

I just think the member raised a really important issue. Again I believe this bill is an interim bill. I know the minister is listening. I think this is a point that needs to be examined, because we all know the trouble that is happening out on the prairies and I think these people need the protection of a good privacy law.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.


Howard Hilstrom Reform Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree that there is a need for the protection of privacy act laws with regard to agriculture and individual people, but the protection we need to a certain extent is protection from big government collecting ever more information on the activities of average Canadians.

Many farmers in my riding have called me saying that they have received phone calls. A strange person on the phone wanted to know how many cows and how many calves they had, whether they had grain in the bin and what they had for breakfast that morning. A lot of people do not know who is calling them and resent that type of information gathering.

When we hear resentment in the west toward the government we find that one of the biggest most recent causes is somebody phoning from some unknown source in Canada, the United States or wherever, representing who knows whom. Statistics Canada and the whole operation of the Liberal government have to be examined and seen for what they really are.

I also resent some of the activities of the member for Wentworth—Burlington. He makes a point of trying to put the new Canadian Alliance into a pigeon hole on which to further base the deception that the Liberal government will continue with over the course of time.

Does member support the government legislation with regard to same sex benefits? Does he support the Liberal government that is continuing to promote and advance abortions in the country? Is he in fact saying anything on behalf of Canadian farmers with regard to rail transportation?

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. This has nothing to do with the piece of legislation we are discussing. Where is this member coming from? I think you should bring him to order, Mr. Speaker.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

If the member for Wentworth—Burlington needed someone to be a defender, I certainly would have intervened. Knowing the hon. member for Wentworth—Burlington as I do and being assured that he can keep me awake at all times, I did not think that he needed anybody to defend him. He is quite able to look after himself so we will let the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake finish.

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4:10 p.m.


Howard Hilstrom Reform Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, my final point is that the statistics that are gathered enable the government to advance its social agenda, which to a lot of Canadians is extremist in nature, and I would like him to answer that.

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4:15 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite complains about government collecting data before it agrees to award grants to organizations. That is precisely the Canadian Alliance's complaint with respect to the HRDC file. It is because the HRDC bureaucrats failed to do their homework in some instances, failed to get enough data about who was receiving money and failed to examine the credentials of those people receiving the money, that we have some problems in HRDC right now. If the government is going to give money to anyone it has to find out who that person is and whether they are entitled to the money. So it has to ask close, probing questions.

The problem is that we have passed through a terrible age of political correctness in which too many bureaucrats have failed to ask the questions they should have asked. If people go to borrow money from a bank they darn well have to answer certain questions about how much acreage they have under cultivation and what are their basic assets.

What Bill C-6 is all about is that the existing privacy act protects this kind of information when the government collects it but when private corporations collect it there has not been adequate protection. The member is quite right. If the people in his community are answering phone calls from someone that they do not know, maybe someone from the United States, that is precisely the problem and that is precisely the problem that Bill C-6 addresses, except, in my view, it does not address it quite specifically enough. I think it has to be much harsher, much more direct and much more specific than what currently exists.

At least this party on this side of the House does want the government to ask those probing questions of any organization or any person it is going to give money to because it is taxpayer money. We are entitled to know how that money is being spent. If people want money from the government they darn well had better show some evidence as to why they deserve that money.

I would argue that, except in cases where a person's real personal financial information will adversely impact on the person's future, then of course it should be protected. I wish this legislation protected that kind of information more specifically. Nevertheless, it is going in the right direction.

As far as the member's other remarks, they are a little off topic. However, I have to say that I think Bill C-23 is an excellent piece of legislation, particularly because finally it defines marriage in law as a union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I think that is a very fine thing that the government did.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to speak to Bill C-6. I would like to begin my remarks by reminding members of a terrible reality.

This bill found virtually no support in Quebec because Quebec already has legislation dealing with the protection of personal information. It came into force five years ago and it goes a lot further that the bill before us.

Earlier, I listened to the exchange between my two colleagues from the Canadian Alliance and from the Liberal Party. I could see all the difference there is between Quebec and the rest of Canada.

Quebec, having reached a consensus, passed legislation on the protection of personal information that strikes a balance between supporting trade and ensuring that individuals are protected with regard to personal information pertaining to them. That legislation is used as a model throughout the world. It is one of the first acts of this kind ever to come into force and it is the most balanced.

At the same time, here, in the House, members of the Canadian Alliance say that it is government interference. Now we understand better why the bill proposed by the federal government is so bland. It proposed a bill that deals with the issue of electronic commerce without dealing directly with the protection of personal information. That is probably why the Conseil du patronat du Québec and the Confédération des syndicats nationaux or CSN—employers and unions, and that says a lot—all expressed their opposition to this bill.

The Quebec bar and the Chambre des notaires du Québec, those who deal daily with information and contracts, whose job it is to advise employers, business people and industrialists on how to manage information are saying this is a bad bill, and we already have our own legislation in Quebec.

Why such duplication? A few years down the road, we will probably have two court cases to try to decide which one prevails, and to find out what to do in such or such a situation.

Even if the federal government decided the Quebec legislation applied in Quebec, not the federal one, nothing would prevent an employer or an individual who felt unfairly treated by the act, to claim that the federal government's decision was not valid. It would be a terrible legal mess.

Action Réseau Consommateur is another opponent to the act. It got the picture right away. The federal act will protect people involved in e-commerce, but it does not protect them the same way the Quebec act protects every citizen. Today, people who look at consumer issues know the importance of telemarketing and the way the new technologies are being used, and abused, to reach people.

Also, the Conseil interprofessionnel du Québec and the Quebec access to information commission are opposed to the bill. The members of the commission are experts who, in the past, developed an interesting approach to dealing with personal information. They analyzed the situation and testified before the committee that, in their opinion, the bill was not acceptable.

Several years after the Quebec government acted responsibly and passed legislation which has been well received across Quebec, the federal government is stepping in. Quebec can see the legal and administrative complications that will stem from such duplication.

Not surprisingly, Bill C-6, which was formerly known as Bill-54, was hardly changed at all at that stage. Today, the bill is being amended by the Senate. This is why it has come back to the House of Commons. The Senate has proposed amendments to exempt for an additional year the health sector from the provisions of the bill dealing with the protection of personal information.

In a way, this is proof that the bill was hastily thought out and has not been fine-tuned. Even after C-54 and after C-6, we are now seeing amendments being tabled by the Senate to exempt the health sector when this problem was resolved a long time ago in the Quebec legislation.

We are a bit surprised that the federal government did not use it as a model from the start. This was all covered in the Quebec act. If the federal government wanted appropriate legislation for the rest of Canada, this was the way to go.

The Quebec act applies to all sectors. It applies to the health sector. It is very clear on the matter of consent. Section 21 states that, with the permission of the Commission d'accès à l'information, organizations may disclose without consent information from which personal information has been removed.

If the minister had used the Quebec legislation as a model for his bill on the protection of personal information in the private sector, we would not be in the mess we are in right now.

The Bloc Quebecois will oppose the Senate's amendments, because they do not change the principle of the bill, which the Bloc vigorously opposed in order to protect Quebec's jurisdiction in the area.

These amendments could result in one of three things: they may change nothing because there is no consensus and the boondoggle, as described to the senatorial committee, will continue; future amendments will be consistent with Quebec's legislation and will not cause any particular problems in Quebec; in the worst case scenario, the proposed amendments contradict Quebec's legislation, and once again the federal government will establish national standards in a strictly provincial area, which will create duplication and confusion.

We realized, when reading the proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, that the most reputed experts give totally different interpretations of the legislation. This bill was drafted initially for consumers, to give them confidence in e-commerce, but reputed Canadian lawyers have diametrically opposite interpretations of the bill. How will consumers figure it out?

Also, the Senate's discussions raised a number of problem areas that had already been identified by the Bloc Quebecois: jurisdictional duplication, confusion, and contradiction.

Finally, the Bloc Quebecois notes that the minister has agreed to bring forward, at the report stage, amendments to satisfy the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and announced that he approved the amendments recommended by the Senate to deal with the concerns expressed by the health sector.

But he dismissed out of hand numerous requests from the Quebec government and the civil society, asking unanimously that Quebec be exempt from the application of the legislation in order to avoid constitutional problems and duplication of regulations. In so doing, the Minister of Industry, like his government, is taking a hard line against Quebec.

We are faced with the evidence. This bill was put through by closure. The government made a decision. For Quebecers, this is a good example of the kind of country they live in.

A decision was made by the federal government to build the kind of Canada it wanted for all of Canada, to the detriment of any other form of development. While the Quebec society gives itself its own tools and is ahead in many areas of social policy, the federal government fails to take an approach flexible enough to give Quebec the breathing room it needs to reach its goals and put in place its policies, and Bill C-6 is an example of that.

I refer to a paper prepared by the hon. member for Mercier, entitled “Bill C-6 Promoting E-Commerce at the Expense of Privacy”. That is really the spirit that we found in the bill. It is best illustrated by the fact that it emanated from the Department of Industry.

It is quite normal for that department to adopt a commercial approach, but nowhere do we see the balance found in Quebec's legislation, which has been in effect for several years and has made the protection of privacy one of the highlights of government action in Quebec. It has allowed for proper decisions that have led to adequate jurisprudence and interesting results.

Bill C-6 is another case of the federal government deciding to impose its perspective and to refuse to confirm in its legislation that Quebec's legislation will take precedence in Quebec. A clause of this bill deals with equivalent legislation, and there is probably one in Quebec which could be recognized as such.

However, during debate in the Senate, it was realized that even if Quebec's legislation is substantially similar to Bill C-6 and will probably be designated as such, since it is set out in a different scheme than Bill C-6, it would be helpful to know on what basis the decision was made, although, in the absence of any criteria set out in the legislation we are, in a sense, operating in a bit of a vacuum. This is what Anita Finnberg, Counsel, Legal Services Branch, Ontario Ministry of Health, pointed out.

Senator Murray added that this was a very good point, and wanted to know on what basis the department, or perhaps the minister himself, could indicate that Quebec's legislation met the criteria of the clause dealing with “substantially similar” provincial legislation.

Even if the federal government were to say “It has been decided that the Quebec legislation was sufficiently similar and that it is to be considered the legislation that will apply within Quebec”, a lawyer might well defend the interests of his client by saying “There was even discussion in the Senate, when the bill was passed, to the effect that it was very difficult to identify whether a statute could be considered similar. It appears to me that, in the present case, the federal government has erred and the Quebec legislation ought not to have been considered similar, and consequently I choose to take this to all levels of the court system”. This would cost a considerable amount.

This is probably the situation the Conseil du patronat had in mind when it expressed opposition to the bill, saying “If there is one thing we at the Conseil do not need, it is more duplication, more ways of doing things so that we cannot operate properly and are stuck dealing with an inadequate bureaucracy”.

If the only thing involved had been facilitating e-commerce, we would, of course, all have been in favour. The other side of the coin, protection of privacy, would, however, have had to be well developed, would have had to be working properly, and we would have needed the assurance that the legislation will be well balanced and will offer sufficient protection, both to consumers and to business operators.

In conclusion, we are dealing with a bill much debated in the House of Commons, first as Bill C-54 and now as Bill C-5. Yet never have we had the impression that it was a bill that had been properly fine-tuned, one that would achieve the desired results.

The hon. member who spoke before me concluded by describing this as an interim bill—and this was a member of the Liberal majority. He called it an interim bill, and thus one that would need considerable improvement.

I think that, at this stage, we should say to people in Quebec and in Canada that we have not completed our work, that we should look at this again and find a more balanced solution, instead of passing an interim bill that will have to be reviewed in two, three, four or five years.

The legislation on electronic commerce must be flexible and, at the same time, it must send clear messages. The bill before us does the opposite. Here is an example where the federal government is intruding in an area where the provinces could easily have taken action, as Quebec did.

If it is true that, elsewhere in Canada, people want the same legislation enforced across the country, why was it not mentioned in the bill that a province can, if it so wishes, be exempted from the application of the act.

Then all the organizations opposed to this bill—the Conseil du patronat du Québec, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux, the Barreau du Québec, the Chambre des notaires, Action réseau consommateur, the Interprofessional Council, the Commission d'accès à l'information or the Government of Quebec—would have supported it.

Members can imagine how different things would have been if the federal government had just admitted in this bill that, because Quebec already had its own legislation and because this is a matter under its jurisdiction, its choice would be respected and that Quebec would be allowed to enforce its own legislation. It also could have taken from the Quebec legislation everything it found beneficial. We would have avoided debate on amendments by the other Chamber to exempt health, when Quebec has already provided in its legislation a practical way that has been in effect for several years.

Possibly in view of its disproportionate taxation capacity and bureaucracy compared to its mandate, the federal government feels obliged to draft this type of bills, when we do not really need them. In particular, it tries to ram them in the House, forgetting that the Canadian mosaic contains an important element, Quebec, which has its own personality, its own approach, its own Civil Code. Instead of taking this into account, it decided to impose federal legislation on Quebecers within an area of jurisdiction already well covered by Quebec.

For all those reasons, the Bloc Quebecois will be voting against Bill C-6.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActThe Royal Assent

4:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

March 30

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Ian Binnie, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in his capacity as Deputy Governor General, will proceed to the Senate Chamber today, the 30th day of March, 2000, at 5.00 p.m. for the purpose of giving Royal Assent to certain bills.

Yours sincerely,

The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-6, 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.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton, Justice.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.


René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I simply cannot pass this one up.

This bill conflicts with legislation that already exists in Quebec and which received unanimous support. Not too long ago, another bill received unanimous support in Quebec, which the federal government tried to undermine by imposing its own view. I am referring to the young offenders bill.

All of Quebec, all those involved with young offenders were unanimous in saying that the existing legislation in Quebec is working because it is well enforced and that it can usefully contribute to the rehabilitation of young offenders.

Yet, the federal government introduced in the House a bill designed to standardize the way young offenders are dealt with. They want to deal with them differently, based on some unproven philosophy. It would have been advisable to include in this bill a provision stating that Quebec may continue to implement its own legislation, which has proven to be effective.

Today, we have another bill that is reminiscent of how Ottawa reacted to Quebec's young offenders legislation. Bill C-6 does not suit Quebec, because we already have legislation that protects our citizens well.

We have suggested that the federal government use Quebec's legislation as a model, that it draw what was good from it and apply it to other provinces willing to use it. Quebec would be able to use this act for its own benefit, without any discrimination, without prejudice to the other provinces. But things did not turn out that way.

I would like to ask a question to the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques. Why does he think the federal government always tries to force on Quebec legislation that is different from legislation that already exists in Quebec and which works well?

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comment and his question.

It is a good question, particularly if one thinks about what is now going on at the federal government level with respect to access to information. The access to information commissioner testified before the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities that the federal government's management of information was in a state of crisis. Those were his words.

We also heard the privacy commissioner. I brought forward a motion that received unanimous approval in the House proposing that all crown corporations be subject to the Privacy Act. This motion received unanimous approval here a few years ago. Since then, the federal government has been dragging its feet and has done nothing about making crown corporations subject to the Privacy Act, despite the unanimous approval the motion received.

This situation has to be looked at in the broader context. There is also the way in which the federal government handled the social insurance number issue. Things had reached the point where there were more people over the age of one hundred in Canada than in China or in the United States, because of the very poor monitoring of social insurance numbers.

The bottom line is that it is not a very good idea for the federal government to be legislating in this sector where its own track record is not very good.

The member for Joliette was asking me what this situation tells us.

I think that it tells us that we are dealing with a central government that wants to control how things are seen in Canada. There is only one way to see things and it is the one imposed by the concerns and wishes of the top federal bureaucrats, who have their own vision of Canada and of the way things should be done, and who definitely do not want to stop, because other people have already developed approaches as efficient as theirs.

We have a perfect example of that attitude in this case. The Government of Quebec has a good legislation on personal information protection. It has been adapted, revised and it works. It is one of Quebec's finest piece of legislation. It is cited as an example world-wide.

In spite of representations made by all stakeholders in Quebec, organizations such as the Canadian Bar, the Conseil du patronat du Québec, labour unions, consumer advocacy organizations, the Quebec government and the Commission d'accès à l'information, which are familiar with the information protection sector, the federal government could not make a decision.

All those people came to tell us “We do not mind you passing a law for the rest of Canada, which will meet your expectations. If what you want is to provide greater protection for e-commerce than for consumers, that is your business, but leave our legislation be”.

The federal government would not, that is why the Bloc Quebecois will vote against the bill.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.


Stéphan Tremblay Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques talked about duplication.

For the benefit of those watching us, I would like to ask him this: Could such duplication place extra costs on taxpayers in Quebec, where there is already an act on personal information protection, now that the federal government has decided to interfere in its jurisdiction?

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, two situations can occur: either it will be recognized as similar by the federal government or it will not.

In both cases, it could happen that an individual or an entrepreneur, someone involved in electronic commerce for example, would go to court and say “The fact that the federal government has make its legislation similar to the Quebec legislation seems unacceptable to me. The criteria are not clear and well defined. Therefore, I do not accept this recognition by the federal government and want the federal legislation to apply in my case because the Quebec legislation is more restrictive for me”. We could see this kind of situation, and it would create duplication.

There is also the other situation where this bill will probably be passed. The Liberal majority seems intent on imposing it on us. Well, there will be a period where it will apply and where the Quebec legislation will not necessarily have been recognized as similar. During that period where both acts apply, we could have very serious legal complications.

In today's society, most people do business through the Internet. We do not know what kind of situation will occur. Which legislation will apply to an electronic commerce transaction between a client from a Quebec-based business dealing with an Alberta-based business, or between a resident of New Brunswick and a Quebec-based business?

It is not very clear, unless there is explicit recognition by the federal government, which should have been included in the bill. It would have been clear and would not have been open to interpretation. We are now left with a bill that is too vague and that will be open to interpretation and will lead to considerable legal costs and perhaps, ultimately, to people being hurt by an interpretation that does not guarantee adequate protection of personal information, like the legislation passed by the Quebec National Assembly, contrary to the one this parliament is about to pass.

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.


Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak again today to this important legislation, Bill C-6. Once again, this bill shows that the federal government is not minding its own business.

Since 1993, when the Liberal government took power in this House, we have seen that they stepped up their invasion of provincial areas of jurisdiction. But before going any further, I would like to say how abused I feel once again today, in this parliament, how I figure there is less and less democracy, as yet another gag was imposed this morning.

Time allocation motions limit debate for all members of the House. We feel more and more that this government has a centralization agenda designed to invade practically all the powers of the provinces, since the Canadian Constitution is not enforced anymore.

When one looks at all series of bills that have been passed since 1993, one realizes that the situation is becoming dangerous. One wonders how far this government will go to attain its goal.

This project dates back to the time when Pierre Elliott Trudeau was elected, in 1968. The present Prime Minister was one of his loyal henchmen. They started a process to make this country a centralized one, a country taking over provincial powers. I will not recall the dark moments that marked democracy in Quebec. But the same thing is happening with Bill C-6. When the history of that party is being written, it will be said that it has constantly applied itself to invading areas of provincial responsibility.

What is more, if only Bloc Quebecois members were denouncing this situation in today's debate on Bill C-6, it could be said that this is because of our specific character, our specific nature as a party. But no, I have here a list of all those who are opposed to this bill.

There is an increasing realization that there is a consensus in Quebec from all communities. They are joining forces in opposition to this bill. I will give a few examples.

There is the Conseil du patronat, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux, better known as the CSN, the Barreau du Québec, the Chambre des notaires du Québec, the Conseil interprovincial du Québec, the Commission de l'accès à l'information du Québec, and finally the Government of Quebec. It can be seen that employers, labour unions, professional associations and the Government of Quebec all oppose this bill, now known as Bill C-6.

Once again, why create a precedent, when Quebec already has the necessary tools to do this? Why create one more tool, when Quebec has what is necessary, and what is more it is more efficient than what is being proposed in this bill today?

We realize the government never takes the time to consult its associates or its potential partners. That too has been a trademark of this government since 1993.

One only has to look at how the current Minister of Health is about to try to impose his national vision. There again, the provincial health ministers and premiers will have to get together and create a consensus to try to prevent this intrusion into the health sector.

The same goes in the case of Bill C-6. Some might say that every time Bloc Quebecois members rise they raise such issues. I often think I should make copies of the Canadian constitution and distribute them to all the Liberal members opposite. They would learn that this constitution, their constitution, gives exclusive rights to the provinces. But these rights have been ignored and the federal government is increasingly trying to dismiss the constitution. This leads to friction and disputes with Quebec and with the other provinces.

I would like to discuss some of the amendments made to Bill C-6, formerly Bill C-54, which died on the order paper when the first session of this Parliament was prorogued. Members will remember that my colleague, the hon. member for Mercier, had worked very hard to prevent passage of that bill. Now, Bill C-6 is back with the amendments proposed by the Senate.

As members know, the Senate proposes the following amendments:

Because the health sector is unanimously opposed to Bill C-6 in its present form, sometimes for totally contradictory reasons; because it feels that, in its present form, the bill does not adequately protect medical information, which it deems more sensitive than other types of information, and because the notion of commercial activities in the context in which the bill applies is almost impossible to define in the health sector.

This means that the senators in the Upper House were made aware of the fact that the bill does not at all respect the Canadian and Quebec reality.

In a motion that he brought forward in the House on February 7, the Minister of Industry indicated that he would accept certain amendments from the Senate. We then thought that the minister would follow up on the concerns expressed by the various stakeholders who will have to live with the consequences of Bill C-6.

Bill C-6 is a fundamental piece of legislation. With the changes happening in the multimedia area, the issue of personal information is one that must be looked at. We do not have the necessary tools to protect privacy because information is being transmitted at such a high speed.

Around 20 years ago, the fax machine was introduced. Today we have digital radio. We can receive radio and TV programs anywhere in the world thanks to satellite dishes. Then there is the whole issue of Internet.

Sure, people are increasingly concerned when they have to deal with these new media and these new ways of communicating such as Internet. They wonder whether all the information they have will be protected.

Recently, more and more people have been shunning traditional ways of doing business. They use the Internet. When they see a bill taking away things that are guaranteed by the current legislation in Quebec, there are worried.

Its very difficult to understand the attitude of the Liberal government who, month after month, has been multiplying its efforts to centralize and just about take away the powers of the provinces.

What is this government looking for? There is not one piece of legislation currently before the House that reflects the reality in Quebec or in Canada. Where do they get their ideas, all these ministers, their officials, their researchers, all those who gravitate around government circles, all those who gravitate around the Liberal government? Why do they not consult the provinces and the people concerned more often?

We are always having to fight in this House to correct the injustices that are increasingly flagrant in this government. Recently, it again imposed a bill on us, Bill C-20. The government also tried, in its effort to meddle in health matters with Bill C-13 and today with Bill C-6, to redo what Quebec has done.

Another law dear to my heart is the one on young offenders, the one that once again everyone in Quebec unanimously opposes. Basically, all the government is trying to do is substantially amend the Young Offenders Act.

Quebec truly gives effect to this law, and the Liberal government will try with these amendments to meddle and change the rules. Basically Quebec and English Canada are very different, and this becomes clear with this legislation on young offenders.

The situation is the same with Bill C-6. Why penalize Quebec, which is out in the lead? Why penalize the Government of Quebec, which always puts forward more realistic and appropriate laws that truly meet the needs of the people of the 21st century? Why does the federal government insist on taking away the rights of the people of Quebec and the National Assembly?

For the past two years in this House, whether with Bill C-54 or with the current Bill C-6, the members who have opposed it since it was introduced have not budged. They have continued to oppose Bill C-6 openly, while across the way, they continue their bulldozing and their desire to have the bill passed quickly.

We realize that this government never takes time to consult. If there is a consultation, and I am again thinking of the famous consultations in which I participated, which were least two cross-Canada prebudget consultations—one realizes, when one listens to the Minister of Finance reading the budget, that the Minister of Finance himself has strongly advised those at the head of the Standing Committee on Finance to have a strong hand in writing the report, which then has nothing to do with what members heard or what the public, groups, citizens and organizations want.

In addition to becoming increasingly anti-democratic, this government is no longer listening to the public. The gulf between Quebec and English Canada continues to widen, and passing a bill such as Bill C-6 is not going to close the gap between the needs of Quebec and those of the rest of English Canada.

Once again, I urge the Minister of Industry, his cabinet colleagues and all federal Liberal members from Quebec, those who should normally understand what is going on in Quebec, but who do not, to think about what they are doing.

Normally, they should be on their feet in the House speaking out against the federal government's frequent intrusions in Quebec's jurisdictions. But they are silent; there is not a peep out of them. The only members rising in the House to defend the interests of Quebec are Bloc Quebecois members.

In the coming months, I think that Quebecers will realize that Bloc Quebecois members are the only ones capable of defending Quebec's interests. Since my election to this House, in June 1997, I can recall no event, no legislation nor any action which demonstrated that this government is listening to Quebec.

When one runs a country like Canada and is no longer responsive to the true needs of the population, this is a dangerous situation. It is dangerous for democracy. Besides being no longer responsive, this government has been resorting to closure increasingly to all kinds of procedural means in the House of Commons. It is trying to prevent people from expressing their views.

Again, the Quebec National Assembly is increasingly aware that there is not much to be expected from the House of Commons. This Liberal government continuously takes powers and jurisdictions away from Quebec.

I would like to come back to Bill C-6, which is not different from other legislation introduced in this House. This bill will directly encroach on legislation which is normally enforced by Quebec.

As far as information and privacy are concerned, given the constant evolution in computer technology, protection measures become necessary to prevent dramatic situations. The system could create information problems and leaks. Anyone and any organization using computer systems must be protected against all those nets, which are invading society more and more.

In conclusion, since there are only a few hours left before the bill is passed, I ask the Liberal government to be, for once, responsive in its undertakings. I ask it to be responsive to Quebec but also to admit that it was wrong in introducing a legislation like Bill C-6. It would show courage if it withdrew this bill today.

Despite our constant appeals to our colleagues across the way, we get no answers. The people of Quebec are increasingly aware that when they talk to the federal government, they get no answers.

Not only do the 26 federal Liberal members from Quebec give no answer, they remain mute.

A message was delivered by the Usher of the Black Rod as follows:

Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Deputy to the Governor General desires the immediate attendance of this honourable House in the chamber of the honourable the Senate.

Accordingly the Speaker with the House went up to the Senate chamber.

And being returned:

Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents ActThe Royal Assent

5:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber the Deputy Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

Bill C-7, an act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to amend another act in consequence—Chapter 1.

Bill C-202, an act to amend the Criminal Code (flight)—Chapter 2.

Bill C-29, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2000—Chapter 3.

Bill C-30, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2001—Chapter 4.

Bill S-14, an act to amend the act of incorporation of the Board of Elders of the Canadian District of the Moravian Church in America.