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.


Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:15 p.m.


Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, that took some time but I think it was worth waiting to hear my speech. I appreciate the fact that you would call in a number of people who would be able to partake.

I was saying that Bill C-6 is important legislation that will apply to all federally regulated private sector areas in Canada. It will also apply to crown corporations. It will cover federal entities which are not covered under existing federal privacy legislation.

I also want to note this very important point because it gets to the very essence, the very pith and substance of what the bill tries to do. With respect to interprovincial trading of personal and private information and the international trading of information, it wants to control that and make sure there is a system in place where that kind of privacy is assured. That is very important. I think Canadians wherever they are across Canada want to see us take a lead role in this area.

I think I noted prior to the quorum call but I will emphasize and reassert the fact that in a recent poll, and I think the polling has been consistent with what Canadians have wanted, 80% of Canadians have indicated that they would like to see us have this kind of legislation. It is important in that sense that we act quickly and accordingly because it underscores the willingness and the urgency of the Government of Canada to move in this all important area in a way consistent with the values of Canadians.

When reading the legislation it seemed to me that it was consumer friendly and rightfully so. It was something that ordinary Canadians wherever they are in Canada could listen to and deal with.

In reading the bill and taking a close hard and fast look at it, I found it was not something that was burdensome and cumbersome to industry, especially small and medium industry. Small and medium businesses are the engines for Canada. We do not want to put something in place that would be cumbersome and which would detract from their ability to do what they do best, which is to be entrepreneurs and to make profit. Profit in entrepreneurship is what makes this country great. As a result of their good efforts and as a result of what entrepreneurs do in small and medium businesses, they create jobs which in turn helps the economy.

Canada's economy is going pretty much at full tilt these days as a result of the good management and sound fiscal and monetary policy of the government which has done the right things. It is appropriate that we move in that sense accordingly. It underscores the commitment of the government to work in a manner consistent with what Canadians not only want but quite frankly deserve. This makes for better lives for them and their families. That is part and parcel of what we on the government side want to provide for all Canadians wherever they live in this great country.

The member for Calgary Northeast is heckling, caterwauling and bellowing, as members of the Reform Party often do. I am sorry, I guess that party has gone through two name changes. It went from the Reform Party to the CCRAP and now it is the alliance party. Whatever those members call themselves, their party is really the same old thing recycled. We understand that for who they are and for what they represent.

Quite frankly I think Canadians reject their extremist views. They reject what they try to do repeatedly, which is they try tear at the very fabric of Canadian society, tear people apart, tear regions apart and tear populations and groups and all kinds of Canadians apart. Canada is not like that. Canada is above that.

I listened on Monday past when the member for Calgary Northeast got up on a tirade. This was from the very people who said they were going to bring a fresh start to parliament, a new way of doing business, a new approach. The member accused me, among other things, of being unchristian and not following in the footsteps of Christ. I reject that. Never mind I am a devout Christian, but I reject the kind of nonsense the member opposite would try to spew out.

He or she who is without guilt will cast the first stone. Those people opposite who live in glass houses should be very careful in terms of what they do and how they do it. I think it is written somewhere very important, and the hon. member should listen accordingly and attentively for a change, that judge not lest ye be judged.

The hon. member should think hard and long about the kind of venom he is prepared to spew. He should think hard and long about casting judgments on other people. That is so typical of that holier than thou group that sits opposite, no matter what its name is. That is so typical of who those members are and what they represent, extremists to the nth degree. People of their ilk and those who associate with them understand fully that they will go nowhere fast.

Fair-minded, compassionate, tolerant Canadians see through that party no matter what it calls itself. They see through those members for who they are and for what they represent.

I want to get back to the issue at hand, Bill C-6, and how very important it is with respect to the agenda of the Government of Canada in terms of providing safety and security regarding the privacy issue for Canadians.

The government has been very intent on ensuring that the legislation deals with issues of concern to the Quebec government. We have tried, and I think we have been very successful, to complement the Quebec legislation in this area with respect to covering international and interprovincial flows of personal data.

The Government of Canada is committed to work consistently and hard when it comes to dealing with the government of Quebec because it has made some good notations in this area. As a result of good, solid federal-provincial co-operation on this very important Bill C-6, we will be able to work constructively. After all that is what Canadians want.

We can talk a great deal in this House of Commons. We can talk at the federal level about what we should or should not do. We can talk about the great issues that confront Canada, but Canadians wherever they live in this great country of ours, in all the regions, expect governments at all levels to work together. They expect their federal government to take a lead role often.

Witness health care for example. Canadians expect the federal government to take a lead role in that, to work constructively with other provincial and territorial partners and all stakeholders. Canadians expect this not only in health care, but in e-commerce and all areas of importance. Canadians are typically people who like to see partnership and co-ordination instead of the politics of blame and finger pointing like Mr. Harris is doing right now on health care.

Imagine what Mr. Harris is doing. It is outrageous when we see the kind of finger pointing that is taking place on health care. It really should not happen. Canadians quite frankly expect more from their premiers. What they should be doing as provincial and territorial partners is coming together and meeting constructively. Instead of the politics of blame, they should be looking forward to the politics of hope.

The politics of hope underscore what Canadians want, which is for all people, Canadians of good faith wherever they are in this country, to work together. They expect their government leaders to work together constructively to ensure that the right thing is done at the end of the day. Why do they do that?

Canadians know that this is an enormous country geographically and in many other ways, with huge physical and human resources. They know too that with a small population it is incumbent upon governments wherever they are in Canada to work together to ensure that the Canadian way is respected, that Canada's great values, symbols and institutions are ultimately respected in a way which is consistent with what Canadians expect from their leaders and their governments.

I want to take a moment to talk about the code in terms of Bill C-6, and the 10 principles that are inherent in that code. The 10 principles are noted as follows.

Number one relates to accountability. Accountability is very important. Canadians expect their governments in legislation on all matters to include accountability and transparency in a manner consistent with what we believe as a government. All Canadians expect it in legislation and rightfully so.

Number two is to identify purposes and make sure it is done in a manner consistent with the kind of information collected. Again Canadians expect that that be done in the very important area of privacy. I think it is important and expected that government include it.

Number three in the code is consent. Consent of the individual is required because people in Canada genuinely deserve privacy. They want it and they need it. People expect that if there is to be a sharing of knowledge it will be done with consent. I think that underscores exactly what the government is prepared to note and put in by way of the ten codes.

Number four is the limited collection code principle. It will be limited to what is necessary for the purposes of identifying organizations or others for a lawful purpose. That too is an important principle and one which underscores the commitment of the government to do the right thing in this very important area.

Number five is the limited use, disclosure and retention principle. It is used because it is important to note and it is important that Canadians have this, by way of principles, codified. Personal information shall be retained only as long as necessary for the fulfilment of the purpose for which it was collected. Again, I think that too is important.

Number six is accuracy. Canadians expect the information given to be accurate. The mechanisms are built in whereby if there is misinformation it can be corrected. I believe that Canadians expect that kind of accuracy to be part and parcel of this very important bill.

Number seven is the principle of safeguards. The information will be protected by security safeguards appropriate to the information presented. That too underscores the commitment of the Government of Canada to ensure that safeguards are in place and that those kinds of checks and balances are part and parcel of this very important bill.

Number eight is openness, which concerns itself with the readily available information to individuals of policies and practices relating to the management of personal information. Again, this is part of transparency. This is part of accountability. This is part of openness. This too underscores the government's wish to ensure that this is in place in a meaningful way.

Number nine is individual access. Upon request, I should note because it is important, that an individual shall be informed of the existence, use and disclosure of his or her personal information and shall be given access to that information. An individual shall be able to challenge the accuracy and completeness of the information and have it amended as appropriate. That is important. Again, Canadians want to see that as part of this law. It is a principle which we are prepared to put in place.

Finally, number ten is the challenging compliance principle. Again, an individual shall be able to address a challenge concerning compliance with the above principles to the designated individual or individuals for the organization's compliance. That too is a good principle and is part of the approach of the Government of Canada.

Taken in total, these ten principles are very important and they underscore the level to which the government is prepared to act. I believe it is ultimately in the best interests of all Canadians.

I want to talk a bit about the role of the privacy commissioner and the important role that he plays in this all important Bill C-6. I think it is incumbent upon all members of parliament, from all across the country, to understand that the role of the privacy commissioner will be consistent with what Canadians expect and want and, quite frankly, the role which they have become used to. I think it is important that we proceed in this very important area in a manner consistent with the values of Canadians. I think it is important that we do so and that we do so as soon as we can because this is an important bill and we need to pass it expeditiously.

There is a five year review built into the bill. That too is important and again underscores the role of the government to do the right thing in this all important bill.

Therefore I urge all members of the House to get on with the business at hand, to support Bill C-6 and to recognize it for what it is; that is, a good piece of legislation which follows on what the Prime Minister said in October 1998 and follows in a way which I believe Canadians not only can identify with but also support.

I would ask all members of the House to move expeditiously to pass this bill as soon as possible, knowing that it is the right thing to do.

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Harvey Progressive Conservative Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to use this opportunity to question my colleague.

A lot of the Ontario members are nervous. A lot of things are happening in this country. This government has a very slim majority, after winning almost all the seats in Ontario. I would be tempted to advise my colleague to control his disdain.

In his speech and in a question he addressed to one of my colleagues in this House a few minutes ago, I heard him mention our leader, say that our party was like a sick dog. I think the hon. member should be very careful, because a number of governments have faced election upsets.

The member has not been in the House long, I understand that, but I advise him to temper his disdain for the opposition parties. He could be in for some big surprises.

In this spirit, I would ask him what he plans to do after the next elections.

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:35 p.m.


Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the sensitivity which Conservatives feel when it comes to the leadership of Mr. Joe Clark, and sensitive they should be.

I think of the importance of Bill C-20, the clarity bill, on which we voted, literally, around the clock for a number of days. In my heart of hearts I felt proud; tired yes, but proud to be a part of this great period of history, following the lead of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, who led this country in a manner consistent with what Canadians want and expect. I felt proud to a part of that great bill.

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Harvey Progressive Conservative Chicoutimi, QC

Terrible. It is the beginning of the end.

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:35 p.m.


Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

The member opposite can say what he will, but his leader was absolutely shameful in supporting and cozying up to the separatists. That is what Mr. Mulroney did. That was a shameful period of Canadian history when Mr. Mulroney cozied up to the separatists. He tried to build an alliance, and look what happened to him. He talks about where I will be after the next election. I would challenge him as to where the Conservatives will be after the next election.

We saw what happened when they played toe to toe and cheek to cheek with the separatists. They were reduced to two seats. Why? Because Canadians ultimately reject that kind of nonsense. They reject it because it is not consistent with the party of Sir John A. Macdonald. It is not consistent with the party of Cartier. It is not consistent with what Canadians want and believe.

We will govern on the government side consistent with what the people expect, and the people expect a united and strong Canada.

Where is Mr. Joe Clark and why is he not standing for Canada?

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:35 p.m.


Rahim Jaffer Reform Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a more specific question so that the member can at least address the bill and not go on the rant that we have just heard promoting his government and what he believes are strong credentials.

I would like him to specifically address this bill as it pertains to the concerns the provinces have raised, especially on the jurisdictional issue.

My colleagues in the Bloc have raised this issue, as well as a number of the provinces. This bill may in fact encroach on provincial responsibilities in areas of the management of health documents and other forms of really important information.

Recently the industry minister received a letter from the Alberta government, criticizing the government on this bill. It said that there was inadequate consultation on the bill to this day, that the federal-provincial-territorial working group of officials had not met in over a year, and that their officials have repeatedly requested that the group reconvene to discuss issues related to the bill and the regulations that would be required if it were passed.

I would like the hon. member to assure the House of what sort of commitment his government would have in dealing with the jurisdictional problems which may arise. With all of the criticisms being relayed to the government from various provincial governments, will it commit to work, throughout the passage of this bill, to overcome the problems of jurisdiction, especially when it comes to privacy?

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:40 p.m.


Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, had the member been listening to my speech he would have heard me deal with the issue of Quebec and some of the concerns that were outlined.

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

An hon. member

He did not talk about Quebec.

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:40 p.m.


Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

The Bloc member opposite said that he did not talk about Quebec. He actually raised it. He said that the Bloc indicated that it had concerns.

What I would point out, and not only as it concerns Alberta and Quebec, is that we on the government side have crossed our t s and dotted our i s in terms of whether this bill is constitutional and respects the jurisdiction of the provinces. In fact, it will not infringe on provincial jurisdiction. We have made that very clear.

Is it not typical of the member opposite to stand in the House and talk about what the Bloc might want to ask? Is that not typical of the party which not so long ago, at its convention in London, Ontario, organized as its keynote lead-off speaker Mr. Biron, who is nothing more than a separatist?

Let us think about that for a minute. We have a western populist reform party, which now calls itself CRAP, which has all of a sudden metamorphosed into something called the Alliance Party, which had a separatist as the lead-off speaker at its convention.

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:40 p.m.


Roy H. Bailey Reform Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We are debating a particular bill. The hon. member, to the huge gathering on the opposite side of the House, is seeking to exercise a predominant dose of arrogance, which is exactly what is going to kill that party. The information I get is that this arrogance, as they attack my colleagues, is exactly the thing that has killed parties in the past—

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I suspect that could have a little debate in it. We will go to the next question.

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:40 p.m.


Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to put a question to the hon. member for Waterloo—Wellington. I will put it slowly because I think he has difficulty hearing or understanding, I do not know which.

My Reform colleague talked about Alberta. Alberta is not a city in the province of Quebec. Alberta is not a city inhabited by separatists, who are born separatists and who die separatists. Alberta is a province in your beautiful great country.

My Reform colleague's question concerned Alberta. It is not separatist, it is not wicked and it will not kill the member in the night.

My second comment will be along the lines of the one made by my Reform colleague. It concerns provincial jurisdiction. I will remind—I dare to hope that I will remind him, or at least inform him—the member for Waterloo—Wellington that Quebec has had legislation entitled an act respecting personal information for the past five years. This legislation is considered effective the world over.

In Quebec, a province which I must admit does have some sovereignists, there is the Barreau du Québec. This is not a group of separatists. I simply want to explain this so that the member will understand. The Barreau du Québec is an organization that is made up of lawyers, sovereignists or otherwise, and which administers the law. It is opposed to Bill C-6.

There is also the Chambre des notaires. It might have been infiltrated by a few nasty sovereignists but it is not a separatist group. It is opposed to Bill C-6. The CSN—there are a few more of them in that organization—, the National Assembly and other organizations are also opposed to Bill C-6.

I would like to hear what the member for Waterloo—Wellington thinks about the unanimous opposition in Quebec and Alberta—which is not a city in Quebec, by the way—to Bill C-6.

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:45 p.m.


Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I really do not need a geography lesson from the member opposite, nor do I need a spelling lesson, nor do I need an elocution lesson for that matter in speaking slowly.

What I would ask the hon. member to do, however, speaking of geography, is to take some time to travel our great country and find out exactly what it means to be a Canadian and learn what it means to be a Canadian and where the values of Canada are consistent and part and parcel of our great land.

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:45 p.m.


Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I have not managed to commit Montpetit-Marleau to memory, but if I am not mistaken, citation 416 of Beauchesne's states that a member's reply must address the topic being debated in the House and not wander all over the place, as the member for Waterloo—Wellington is doing.

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:45 p.m.


Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member opposite jumps the gun. I was getting to the point where I was going to answer the question. It is really interesting how the Bloc members are so thin-skinned. They are really quite sensitive. We can only imagine that it must be because they do not know why they are here in this parliament any more.

In direct response to him, if he had been listening and paying attention to the minister he would know that the minister, in tabling Bill C-6, announced publicly that Quebec will be exempted from the application of Bill C-6 because it has similar legislation in place. This will be done by an order in council once the bill becomes law.

The member claims to be protecting the interests of his constituents. He claims to be protecting Quebecers wherever they live. Why would he not do his homework and know that this was happening? I find it shameful that he would do what he is doing.

Division No. 1258Government Orders

12:45 p.m.


Rahim Jaffer Reform Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is quite ironic that when we ask questions the hon. member opposite continues to say “If the opposition had only been listening”. It is very difficult to listen to a rant continued by the hon. member. Our eyes tend to gloss over and we tend to fall asleep over here because it is the same old rhetoric that we hear from this government and from this member. Nothing, unfortunately, is new, nothing is insightful and nothing has vision, which most of us in the official opposition always like to challenge in the House. Mr. Speaker, I know you know that and value that.

I am proud to stand today in the House to speak to Bill C-6. I actually had the opportunity, prior to my colleague from Peace River who has now taken over the industry file, to work on this bill in committee when it was formerly known as Bill C-54. I enjoyed working on the bill, particularly because it dealt with bridging the gaps, as we often have in this country, between the jurisdictional issues and trying to actually deal with a bill that has issues on a global level.

When one deals with privacy as it relates to electronic commerce and privacy as it relates to any other form of important information, there is in today's electronic commerce an endless amount of information travelling everywhere through different channels, whether it is through the media, the Internet or other forms of communication. There is often sensitive information being transferred not only within a city, within a country and across provincial boundaries but also globally. That is why this particular bill is of unique importance to Canadians. We are actually showing some leadership.

While I was working on the committee I commended the industry minister for bringing forward a bill that shows some leadership. Through my travels and talking with various people in industries that deal with electronic commerce and privacy, I found that many other countries were looking at Canada to produce something that could set an example for the rest of the world.

One of the things we continuously criticize the government for is its refusal to deal with many of the concerns of not only the provinces but also the opposition. When I was sitting at committee I put forward many amendments that would have strengthened the bill as it pertains to health care documents and the privacy of specific information on health care. Unfortunately, even though many of the members opposite would have paid lip service in supporting these amendments, they did not do so, which was quite disappointing.

However, this particular bill, as we know it and understand it, is well within the proper function of government to create a civil and criminal law framework and regulatory regime to allow electronic commerce to flourish in Canada. Legislation governing the commercial use of private and sensitive information is important and necessary to create a healthy and stable business environment in Canada. It is not the proper role of government to foster business through the creation of interventionist government programs that are costly to taxpayers and largely ineffective. Engaging in electronic commerce and especially the growth that we have seen in this particular area, there is no doubt that the government has a role to play in putting together a framework to regulate sensitive information being transferred over those channels.

Even though we are supporting this bill in principle and trying to make it better during the course of debate here in the House and in committee, we in the official opposition did have some specific criticisms and ones that I would like to raise now.

We wanted to see the bill separated into two parts. As it now stands, the government has rolled the section on electronic commerce together with the one on privacy. It would have been preferable to arrive at a consensus with the provinces to do this co-operatively rather than use the trade and commerce provisions in the constitution to unilaterally introduce legislation.

When challenging the minister on this particular issue of provincial jurisdiction, he was sensitive enough to say that even though federal legislation would be put in place to govern privacy and electronic commerce on a national level, he would encourage provinces that would like to have strong privacy legislation because under the constitution privacy is a provincial responsibility and that jurisdiction is in the hands of the provinces. Quebec currently has strong privacy legislation. If other provinces wanted to follow suit and create privacy legislation that was stronger than this federal legislation, the minister's commitment was that this legislation would be complementary to that of the provincial legislation.

This gave me a sense of satisfaction, especially after talking to some of my counterparts in Alberta. I told them that there was a role for this particular bill to govern the rules surrounding privacy and electronic commerce on a national and global level. However, I encouraged my colleagues, especially those in Alberta, if they saw flaws or weaknesses in this particular bill, to see if they could come up with stronger legislation and maybe even take examples from Quebec because it does have strong privacy legislation. Alberta could then perhaps create something that would be more specific to the province.

My counterparts encouraged me at that time and said that they were planning on doing this in fall. Since then I know that there has been much work done in that particular area and in that particular jurisdiction.

There have also been a lot of concerns and criticisms from the Alberta government, especially on the process of dealing with the government when it comes to coming to a consensus. This, unfortunately, seems to be a common theme with the government. We have seen it in so many other forms of legislation in the House and in so many other ways when this particular government tries to put legislation through the House, often without proper democratic debate and without the proper consensus across the country. It just does not care about dealing with the provincial concerns. If it did, it would be so much easier to build consensus. However, in its arrogance, it is just not committed to that, as my colleague mentioned earlier.

To go back to some of those criticisms, the official opposition has supported the e-commerce part of this bill. This section is needed to facilitate business resulting from the new technologies and the increasing growth in air freight. It shortens the time for payment for suppliers because they can use electronic signatures. That is an area that will be further developed in this bill.

One of the areas in the first section of the bill that we wanted strengthened was area dealing with privacy, especially providing extra protection for health care records. As I mentioned, when I sat on the committee I remember introducing a number of amendments that were supported by a number of organizations, especially in the health care field. I remember the Canadian Dental Association, the Canadian Medical Association and a number of other groups that really wanted to see medical health records, especially the privacy surrounding those records, strengthened in this particular bill.

I was very disappointed, when I did introduce those particular amendments at the committee, that for some reason the committee did not want to make the commitment to health care. We have seen that, obviously, in the way that health care is funded, because the cutbacks have been radical regarding transfers to the provinces when it comes to the funding of health care. That is why we have the problems that we do today where provinces are trying to make up the difference in government cuts.

It would have cost the government relatively nothing to strengthen the privacy of health care records in this particular bill but it refused to do so. At least now, in debating the Senate amendments to this particular bill, I know that the Senate actually added a particular amendment to deal with personal health information. It inserted a separate and detailed definition of personal health information as opposed to lumping it with all personal information. This is at least a step in the right direction toward what we would like to see. We hope that will be supported by the House because it does help to make this bill a little better.

One of the things I also want to touch on is the criticisms by the provinces, which have been quite significant during this process. I would like to quote, as I did when I asked the hon. member opposite to respond to some of the concerns that the Alberta government raised. I want to get to that and read some of the other quotes that they had identified as potential problems with this legislation.

To address the other amendments put forward by the Senate before I get to the criticisms, one of the second amendments provides for a moratorium of one year before the legislation applies to organizations which deal with personal health information. This is similar to a postponement of one year given to provincially regulated industries. It is a step in the right direction but the Alberta government has raised some concerns about this.

The sooner this legislation is up and running, in the Senate's view, the better. The two moratoriums are somewhat regrettable as they create a temporary patchwork implementation regime for e-commerce and e-document.

Federally regulated enterprises and organizations will be subject to the legislation first, then provincially regulated and health related organizations one year later. It is unfortunate that the government did not do its homework with respect to both the provincial governments and health privacy advocates before imposing time allocation to rush the third reading debate in the House of Commons. Nevertheless, Reform is pleased to see that personal health information is better protected for a change, thanks to the Senate.

I will get to some of the criticisms, especially as raised by some of the provincial jurisdictions, namely Alberta.

I talked briefly about this point earlier. It seems to me that the government, especially when it comes to promoting democracy, consensus and using the House of Commons for a place of healthy debate, even if it means criticizing legislation to make it better, is so arrogant that it often refuses to allow debate to happen in the House.

We have seen time allocation moved on almost every bill since I have been here. If we spent a little more time on some bills that I think could become very good legislation and if we had input in a fair and democratic way from all members of the opposition, we would see this piece of legislation and others like it actually become better. The government would be better off to allow that.

Time allocation has been moved on third reading of the bill. It has also been moved in many other circumstances. We saw it moved on Bill C-20 in committee, which was disgusting. The government does not allow the democratic process to work or further the democratic process with its lack of commitment to democracy at the root level in the House of Commons.

As a young person trying to make the country better, trying to make it more democratic, and trying to get the involvement of elected parliamentarians and Canadians, I ask how it can be justified to Canadians that their democracy is working and that their members of parliament are effective when the government refuses to even engage in the democratic process at this very fundamental level of representation in our country. In any case we hope that it might learn and listen to some of the provincial concerns.

The Government of Alberta is a strong proponent of privacy principles in electronic commerce. It remains concerned about the flaws in the process pertaining to Bill C-6 and the extent of the consultation that occurred with regard to business readiness, issues of jurisdiction, the scope of coverage of the proposed legislation and the provisions relating to substantially similar provincial legislation.

I hope the minister was true to his word when he talked about the commitment to make this legislation complementary to the provincial legislation. This was obviously one of the concerns raised by the provincial Government of Alberta in its letter to the minister.

I remember the hon. member opposite in his response to a previous question said that everything in the bill was within the constitutional realm of the federal government and did not conflict with any form of constitutional rules pertaining to the provinces. However, it is obvious that the Alberta government, my colleagues in the Bloc and the Quebec government have felt quite differently about that.

I will quote from a letter sent from the Alberta government. It was actually sent by two ministers, the minister of international and intergovernmental relations and the minister of municipal affairs. It stated that there was a disturbing trend in this federal legislation toward the use of provisions similar to the substantially similar clause to extend federal legislation into areas of provincial jurisdiction. It went so far as to say that if the bill were passed the Government of Alberta would be forced to consider a constitutional challenge to preserve its authority under the constitution. It is obvious that the provinces have major concerns with the jurisdictional issue.

We have made a great effort when dealing with the bill to put forward our concerns and to have the government deal with them. The member opposite stands in his place and claims that there are no problems of jurisdiction in the bill, that the government has done its homework and that it is committed to dealing with the provinces. This is absolutely false, especially when a number of provinces are saying that they would challenge the legislation unless improvements were made. It is time the hon. member who always claims the opposition may not have done its homework to do his own. The government refuses to do that and continues to throw out the rhetoric we continuously see in its place.

Another criticisms raised by the provincial government in the letter to the Minister of Industry was the fact that there was inadequacy of consultation on the bill which continues to this day. The federal-provincial-territorial working group of officials has not met in over a year. Alberta government officials have repeatedly requested that the group reconvene to discuss issues related to the bill. The related regulations that would be required if it were passed have come to no avail. They indicated that there has been no willingness on the part of the ministry or the minister to enter into meaningful discussions with provincial counterparts on the very real issues that the bill raises but does not address. There is still no clarity whatsoever about how the ministry would propose to effectively address outstanding issues such as those related to personal health information.

This information was contained in a letter dated March 16, 2000, It is barely two to three weeks old and the Alberta government still has concerns in this regard.

On the issue of health care documents, we saw Senate amendments coming in to strengthen that. At least on that level the Alberta government might be happy. My colleague from Peace River and I will be discussing with our counterparts in Alberta their final thoughts on the bill. At least it moves in the right direction.

We need some form of commitment from the government. Quite frankly none of us in the opposition really believe the government when it talks about working with the provinces. As I have said before, we have seen lip service on many issues such as the Kyoto deal, other forms of legislation and now Bill C-6. It says it has a commitment to working with the provinces in dealing with provincial jurisdiction and taking it seriously. However, even from what the Alberta government is saying, in over a year the working group has not even bothered to meet with the province of Alberta to discuss some of the concerns.

We could only imagine that, if in fact the group would have met with the province, the bill would have been able to take care of some of the problems the Alberta government has raised and perhaps we could have had a better piece of legislation. What a shame it would be if not only from Quebec but from the province of Alberta we have a basic constitutional challenge to preserve the authority of the province under this legislation. That would be a shame, especially when the bill could have done so much to deal with setting the stage internationally for a piece of legislation that could have led the world in electronic commerce and particularly in privacy.

It is very important to raise these issues today. We often forget how important it is in dealing with specific legislation that especially touches on areas of provincial jurisdiction but may well have a mandate federally. In fact the government should become more focused when trying to build consensus in the country. It is obvious for my colleagues from Quebec, many of whom have criticized the bill because of the jurisdiction, and it is obvious for my colleagues from Alberta who have the same criticisms, that the government has failed in its mandate to be able to successfully deal with the provinces in trying to build consensus on one of the most important pieces of legislation heading into the 21st century.

I encourage all members in the House to take the time to look over these particular amendments by the Senate. As I have outlined, they are moving in the right direction. Obviously the bill is a good one, but let us see in this final stage if we can actually make it better. Let us hope that the government opens its eyes to try to work with the country and try to unite the country rather than divide it as it continuously does all the time.

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1:05 p.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate and compliment my colleague on his discussion of the Senate amendments to the bill.

He mentioned that the federal government in dealing with this issue had not been very co-operative in discussing it with the provinces that have the broad jurisdiction, in particular with issues of privacy. However there are privacy issues that come under the federal government. I am thinking of federal institutions such as banks and interprovincial communications, protection of personal property and lists that are transferred through lease, loan or sales agreements.

Could my colleague comment on the federal government's dealing with privacy issues relating to federal institutions?

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1:10 p.m.


Rahim Jaffer Reform Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his very pertinent question. This is one of the reasons the official opposition in the House has actually supported the principles behind the bill.

As my hon. colleague pointed out, there are areas of jurisdiction concerning privacy that are within the federal realm, especially as they pertain to federal institutions and the exchange of information among those institutions.

It is interesting that when it comes to the particular area of privacy among federal institutions, not even mentioning the provincial areas that I made some criticism about, there has also been great criticism in the way the government tries to deal with building consensus. It is the same thing over and over again, the arrogance and the lack of wanting to try to look beyond their own scope to improve conditions in the House and in the country.

I know of some of the greatest criticisms concerning the bill or at least the fears. Many banks and other companies dealing with Internet service, at least when it comes to dealing with private information and as we continue to deal with federal regulations that apply to those institutions, have been critical in that they feel the government refuses to try to hear them out, especially to see what they have done to ensure that privacy is respected.

Surprisingly enough I remember when I sat on the committee that many of these organizations came before the committee to talk about how they had customers for whom they were responsible. Many of them have people to whom they provide services. They deal within confidential information every day. In order to have the confidence of those consumers and those people, they need to ensure that privacy is respected.

In trying to craft the legislation they hoped the federal government would consult them to see what they have accomplished in building public confidence in privacy. It was to no avail. A lot of their suggestions and improvements for the bill fell on deaf ears on the other side. That is why we are so skeptical about the government in dealing with many of the stakeholders in the bill.

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1:10 p.m.


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for a very good speech. He is the first speaker I have heard today who actually spoke about Bill C-6, which was a nice change. I have one concern about Bill C-6 and I would like to get the member's opinion on whether he feels that Bill C-6 satisfies my very legitimate concern.

In this era of downsizing of public sector agencies and the wholesale privatization of many aspects of government, we have seen in many provinces that the data services aspect of government, the agencies that take care of health records, employment data or any of those things, are now being privatized through the private sector.

In the case of Manitoba it went to an agency which then further subcontracted to a company in Dallas, Texas, so that now all my personal medical records are being held by a company I do not even know the name of in Dallas, Texas, two or three steps removed from the original agency.

It is a very grave concern because obviously there are people who would like to know who holds the personal private health records of Canadians. Whether it is drug companies doing research or even if people are applying for a job, the employer might want to know if they have any serious medical problems that would make them a less likely employee.

Is there anything in Bill C-6 that would safeguard Canadians from the trend toward taking public records and putting them into the private sector? Is there anything to make sure that they do not go any further, to be misused or abused? Is the member satisfied, if he is in favour of Bill C-6, that very real concern has been addressed by Bill C-6?

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1:10 p.m.


Rahim Jaffer Reform Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think that was an excellent question posed by my hon. colleague from the NDP. I remember when we were dealing with the particular issue in committee that same question was raised by a number of people especially concerned about, as the hon. member mentioned, the transfer of public sensitive documents to the private sector.

He and I may disagree at least on some of the philosophy behind that sort of trend happening, but what I will try to address is his particular question on whether or not the bill extends to protect privacy, if this is continuing to happen, to whoever is managing the particular information.

To my knowledge, when we dealt with this in committee that was the case. The goal was to strengthen privacy particularly in areas where there was sensitive documentation, whether managed publicly or privately, and that the same rules would apply, especially in the transfer of that information. Currently we have strong regulations in place in many cases for privacy in dealing with the sale of that information to other organizations, especially if it is treated as confidential. On that level, I was satisfied with the direction of the bill. I think it does deal with the hon. member's concern.

One thing I will reiterate, and I mentioned this to my hon. colleague before, is that we should not necessarily be afraid of some of these private companies that are dealing with sensitive information because they are bound by confidentiality. They are providing a service and in order for them to continue to do business and to have the public confidence, they have to make sure that they are very strict about those regulations.

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1:15 p.m.


Roy H. Bailey Reform Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Edmonton for his proposal, his outlook and the honest and frank way in which he not only presented his position but also answered the questions.

I am pleased to note that he understands, contrary to the former speaker, that there are many ways in which we could improve the bill and that maybe we still need to improve it. I do not take the attitude of the member for Waterloo—Wellington that the government dotted every i and crossed every t . I believe that in a bill such as this one, if the federal government wants to build support across Canada, there is nothing wrong with sending the bill out and asking people for their reasons for not approving it and how it could be improved. To leave the people who are going to be most involved with it out of that very simple process is a lack of basic understanding in a country as wide as Canada.

Would my colleague agree in dealing with information like this, that the government should be in total contact with its counterparts across Canada? Should it let them look at the bill and give them a period of time to come back with their solutions and propositions so that we could study it further in the House? Constitutionally or by any other means would there be anything wrong with that?

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1:15 p.m.


Rahim Jaffer Reform Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, there would be absolutely nothing wrong with that. My hon. colleague has asked a perfectly legitimate question.

As I mentioned during the course of my speech, it seems that the government refuses to want to deal with its provincial counterparts in a sincere manner. It gives lip service and continually talks about respecting provincial jurisdiction.

I raised the example that was pointed out by the Alberta government. A working group was set up to deal with the provincial jurisdictional issues and bridge the gap with the provinces on privacy legislation. The government did not call that group which was mandated by the government for a whole year to try to build consensus and deal with the problems that the provinces were raising. That gives me no confidence that the government is sincerely trying to build consensus and trying to deal with the provincial jurisdictional issues.

I still hope that the government has the wisdom, but unfortunately I do not think it has, to open its eyes and try to make the legislation better by getting the input from the people who will help make it better.

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1:15 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba


Reg Alcock LiberalParliamentary Secretary to President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in the debate with a great deal of interest and excitement. Excitement may be too strong a word given the nature of the debate that has taken place this morning.

I want to comment on a statement which was made in the questions and comments. The issue of how one deals with this information and the importance of this information in the growth and functioning of our economy over the next decade or so is vitally important.

I support some of the statements that were behind some of the questions and the response I just heard. I applaud the members for actually discussing the bill. When I sat in the House this morning I was quite disturbed that we were not talking about the bill. We were using it to play the kinds of games that are played in the House.

This is a critically important issue. I have spent an enormous amount of time working on and thinking about this issue. I want to walk through some of that. I want to suggest to members including the member for Souris—Moose Mountain who in his intent in his questions is absolutely right, that this is an issue which, in all of its forms and this privacy bill slices through one small aspect of it, will come before the House many times over the next decade. It is an issue that will, it is my belief, cause some fundamental restructuring in how democracy functions in this country.

I have argued as recently as a couple of weeks ago in a speech I gave here in Ottawa that unless government begins to get its policy mind around what is happening with its use of information technologies, we will simply continue to fail in the introduction of information technology to government. I want to preface those remarks by saying one thing. This is not to say that this government and this government alone will fail. This issue affects democracies all around the world.

I have spent 20 years working in this area, 13 years as part of a research group that studies these issues on an ongoing basis. One of the things we discovered back in the late 1980s was that despite the fact that government was introducing information technologies, was investing in computers and connectivity and the high speed networks and all of those things, government was not demonstrating any of the structural changes that we were witnessing in the private sector.

It is interesting that if we look at what has occurred in the private sector over the last couple of decades, we can certainly see the precursors of this in very large organizations. Back in the 1960s they began to adopt mainframes and started to automate some aspects of their operations. The real explosion began in the 1980s with the introduction of personal computers. Their low cost gave companies the ability to adopt the technology and spread it widely among their employees.

One of the things that is observed after some period of time with the technology is that the organization begins to change. It does not just change in terms of its cost structure or the way it delivers services; it begins to fundamentally reorganize physically. It was an interesting phenomena.

People who are interested in this have heard about how organizations become flatter, they de-layer, they push some decisions out to the point of contact with customers. They take other information back to the centre. Senior management is involved in decisions that otherwise would have been delegated to middle managers and fewer managers are intermediating. We see that.

We turn to government and we have seen in the same period that government spent hundreds of millions of dollars on information technology. However we have not witnessed any of these changes that are so common in private sector organizations.

That is not to say government has not made use of technology. We can send out 10 million cheques with ease. We can do very large transaction based operations. The departments shuffle around a bit, but essentially the structure of departments is pretty much what it has been for the last 20 or 30 years. The way this place operates is not that radically different from the way it has operated historically. But the outside world has changed enormously.

Bill Gates in his latest book posits in the opening chapter that the 1980s was the decade of quality and the 1990s was the decade of restructuring and the decade we are currently in will be the decade of velocity. What he is really saying is that change is taking place so rapidly in the private sector that the challenge for any organization functioning in the economy is to deal with the issue of constant evolution and change. We need to be able to manage that as part of our ongoing environment in order to be successful.

I like his framework for that. We heard a lot about quality in the 1980s. Dr. Denning was all around the world and there was lots of work on quality movements in government.

The fundamental issue with quality movement was the ability to have low cost networks that were powerful enough to collect information and feed it back to the point of decision in real time. If in a supply chain or a production chain defects were seen in the output, the process could be modified while operating in order to improve the quality. We saw the rise of ISO-9000, 9001 and 9002 as organizations became better at heading toward defect free operations.

It also brought a lot of information back to the decision point. Information in and of itself has some unique characteristics worth thinking about. This takes us into the decade of restructuring. The big difference was that in the mid to late 1980s as they began to develop networks, they were not just bringing back the information from one production chain but from a whole lot. All of a sudden the information could be accumulated if they had the strength, the power and the tools and they could see their organization differently. For the first time they could actually visualize their organization. That allowed them to make changes and receive feedback and see what happened. In the same way we would change the production system in some ways we would be able to actually look at and change the structure of the organization.

A very good study was done on this in a book published by MIT in 1990. It talked about the issue of networking and the building of tools that allowed us to see the organization in a way which allowed one to affect it.

What happened in government? What is the nature of the quality movement in government? What is the system that looks at interaction with a client, be it a tax filer, an EI recipient or someone who has a complaint? What is the feedback on how that is processed? What is done to improve the quality of that interaction so that the client gets better service? Some attempts have been made to do that but they have not been terribly successful to date and there is a body of thought on that.

I have already mentioned the lack of any appearance of physical restructuring. Re-engineering in government tended to become privatization. A number of members in the House were active on the transport committee which I chaired when we dealt with the privatization of the ports. There were arguments that I supported at the time although I now have come to think about them.

The argument was that we had to separate the port from the government because it needed to innovate more rapidly. It needed to make changes in real time. It needed to be more responsive to local conditions in order to deal with the issue of increasing demand for change. It was the velocity issue coming at us.

We ended up taking the ports away from government. We said we would privatize the airlines, the ports, anything that could be justifiably privatized. If we turn that argument around, we really said that government was too slow and incapable of functioning in today's world. We lose something by not challenging ourselves to look at how these information tools can assist us.

As we accumulate information, we have an ability to view the organization in more holistic ways. I want to lay out one other argument before I try to pull them together.

There is a Canadian economist by the name of Harold Innis who wrote extensively during the thirties and forties. He started by doing standard economic studies, but as he got into one area, the study of the forest industry, that led him into the study of one of the great consumers of forest products, newsprint, which led him to look at communications. I think he is one of the most brilliant thinkers that Canada has ever produced. The work which he produced actually underpinned the work which Marshall McLuhan did later. Marshall became much more famous for it, but I think it was Mr. Innis who really pointed the way.

What he noted was that throughout history the dominant groups and cultures have been able to monopolize the knowledge and the information. They maintained their control by monopolizing that information until another group came along with a new technology which knocked them off the pedestal. Historically those were fought through wars, conquests and all of those other things.

He also noted that with the arrival of systems that started to break down those monopolies, the classic one being the printing press, all of a sudden, at a low cost, people could get information. More people could have it, which would educate people. It was no longer simply the priests handwriting books in a few back rooms. All of a sudden books could be distributed to a lot of people. A lot of people could become educated.

It is interesting. There are those, and I count myself among them, who draw a line between the availability of the information and the ability to educate ourselves and the rise of modern democracies as we see them.

For those who go back as far as I do, they will recall that during the late sixties and early seventies there was a lot of talk about the problems with dictatorships in South America. One fellow wrote a book, which I still have and quite like. He said that if we want to solve the problem of dictators and oppressive regimes, we should not send the population guns, we should send them books. If we educate them they will sort out all of the other problems. When a lot of people have access to the information, and when a lot of people have a common base of understanding, they will take charge of their own lives.

Think about that for a second. There is a modern example of that. There is a man by the name of Peter O'Toole from the University of California who wrote an article about how the Berlin wall fell as a result of the existence of fax machines. The East German government could no longer control the flow of information, hence the people could organize and communicate in ways they never could before. After a while a population which does that cannot be controlled. They cannot be oppressed in the same way.

The same thing is happening in China. I have spent a lot of time in China in the last few years and I am always a bit bemused, which is a polite word, at how every now and again they shut down the Internet. There is a huge struggle going on in China between those who would modernize and those who would keep the old system. Just recently there was an article about how they want to build a fire wall on the Internet to prevent the Chinese people from getting access to disturbing information.

In a funny way, as I was reading that article, I had one of those enlightening moments. In many ways we are not different. I want to be very careful and say that by “we” I mean modern democracies; Europe, the U.S. and Canada. We tend to hold too much information about the operation of the government and the exercise of power in the country in one central little group.

I argue strongly, and I believe strongly, that one of the reasons we have not been able to introduce information tools to government successfully is because we have not confronted one of the underlying issues, which is the democratizing effects they have.

I would be prepared at another time to debate direct democracy because I think there is a huge argument there. I am one who believes that it is inevitable in some form. But even now I think that some of the resistance is no different.

If we think about it historically, when the nobles took hold of King John and said he had to pay attention to them, they had a comfortable system for a few centuries until the landed began to get a little more knowledge, more education and better organized. They said they wanted in too, and the Commons came into existence.

As people in the middle class developed and became wealthy, women became educated. All of a sudden they said “Wait a second. What is this nonsense?” and the Suffragette movement arose. The same thing happened with aboriginals, and it happened just recently with apartheid. It is this issue of education and access which I think is a very, very powerful force.

I do not want to suggest that what is happening in Canada or in the U.S. is akin to something as severe and grotesque as apartheid, but there are elements of the sense of trying to control everything and own everything.

I argue that is why we cannot introduce information technology to government, because it is too disturbing. It will always be disturbing until we turn the paradigm around.

I will tell the House where the issue of privacy arose. When we looked at the issue of how we could introduce this, we kept hearing that privacy was the reason we could not do it. Privacy was the thing that would stop it. I always thought that was simply security. I have no fear of the hackers. We can keep the information secure, in large part. That to me is a false issue.

We organized a bunch of individuals from departments that were thoughtful about this and had big client service loads. We brought in some of the experts, the privacy commissioner, Mr. Phillips, whom I think is an extremely important thinker on this subject, along with others from this Chamber and the other Chamber, and we workshopped this.

What emerged from the privacy issue that I thought was so important was that it was not a concern about security. People accept that we can do that. It was a concern about rights. It was a human rights argument. It was: “What are my rights relative to the government? Until we satisfy that question I will not be a co-operator in this”. Once more it has that democratizing effect. “I will give you information, but I want information back”. That is what poses the challenge to us, and I believe it is a challenge which the House will have to confront and which the government will have to confront.

I was recently invited by members of the Dutch government to speak to them on the subject, because they are having exactly the same problem in the European community.

What is interesting about the bill is that it is not a public sector bill but the same issue arises. When the Department of Industry started going down this road, I argued with the minister. I said that we needed privacy legislation. He said “We want the regulation to be light. We want to do like the U.S. We want to have a voluntary system”.

There is all this pro-government, anti-government, government is a bad thing nonsense that goes on in some of the ideological debates that take place here, so the department was headed down the road of having no regulation, following the voluntary model, until the people who were at the front edge of the e-commerce world said that if we did not have a decent privacy regime people would not play. It is a powerful force when it comes to government, but it is the same force in business. “I will not go to your business unless I have some guarantees about how I will be treated”. It was the community which came back and told us to forget about not having regulations. We need regulations because it is a customer driven business and the customers want protection.

This is an important piece of legislation. It does not go all the way, but I think it is fundamentally important to getting Canada further down the road in terms of not just e-commerce, but understanding and using these very powerful information tools and understanding the relationship between individuals and large powerful organizations, because I think all of us in the House want the control to remain with the citizens.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is as far as I will go. There might be a question or two and I am prepared to go down any of the roads I have opened.

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1:35 p.m.


Roy H. Bailey Reform Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the hon. member for Winnipeg South on a great job. It is too bad that more people could not listen to his speech.

It has been a pleasant relief today to hear a speech from an intellectual, someone who has dealt with this issue without throwing some of the things that have been thrown in the House this morning, and for that I want to thank him very much.

The hon. member has studied this a great deal. It seems to me—and correct me if I am wrong—that we are going to have some problems as this evolves. The hon. member used the term “educate”. Will we not have to educate people about what we can do in this field to protect the personalities of people, their bank accounts and everything else? We have to build some trust into the system and somehow apply the new technology so that it includes a touch of a personality at the same time.

It seems like every time we move into these fields the rank and file people who are not sure complain that it is impersonal when they make a phone call to be told to press button one, button two and so on, or they get a message on the fax.

Would the hon. member not agree that it is the responsibility of the government first to educate and second to put a a human touch to what we are doing as it relates to the people?

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1:40 p.m.


Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, the first thought to go through my mind was that it used to be when we phoned someone and we got their answering machine we said “I don't want to talk to a machine. I am tired of this”. Now when we phone someone, if they do not have voice mail, we say “Damn it, I can't leave a message”. Again, our understanding is shifting.

The hon. member raises a really good question. When the member was speaking about the buttons and the voice mail, I am not certain whether he was speaking about the specific aspect of service to citizens by government. In that I agree completely.

I always want to say this. I have worked with a lot of technicians and the information policy folks in the Canadian government and I think they are trying as hard as they can to change the understanding of this. The argument I make is that this is a much more fundamentally important issue than anyone realizes.

That is why it is bedevilling to government. If it were easy to do we would have done it or someone else would have done it already. Having said that, I have a lot of sympathy for public servants because they are beset upon all the time by the vagaries of this place and the hot debate that takes place in any democracy. Therefore, they tend to build systems that are rules based, in part to protect themselves.

The hon. member and I would do the same thing if we were subject to the same pressures. It is not a criticism. When we put them into a very rigid system, a computer, we have a sort of doubling of the effect. We have a rigid set of rules to begin with and a very rigid system. All of a sudden we create service systems that do the exact opposite of what we want.

I bet the hon. member's files are full of examples. I know mine are. I actually started writing columns on stupid government. I hope that over the next few years we will see, as the understanding improves, a change.

The hon. member's point about education was absolutely right. This is new turf for all of us. We are all just feeling our way around on this. We think it is simple because we see the boxes and we understand it, but the boxes are just the collectors. The real power lies in the fundamental information and how it gets used. It will tell us things about our government and our country that will surprise us.