House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was animal.


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11:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?

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11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members


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11:20 a.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec


Lucienne Robillard Liberalfor the Minister of Transport

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

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11:20 a.m.

Chicoutimi—Le Fjord Québec


André Harvey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to intervene today at third reading of Bill C-44. As all of my colleagues are aware, this bill is an extract of an important clause of Bill C-42 on public safety.

The central purpose of this bill is to enable Canadian air carriers to work constructively with their international partners in conducting an effective fight against terrorism.

The bill obviously is in response not to all of the countries affected by this war, but specifically to the U.S. bill entitled the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. In this bill, we are asked to work with the U.S. commissioner of customs and provide all relevant information needed to bring this fight to an end.

As the Minister of Transport has said on several occasions, it is the prerogative of a sovereign country, like our neighbour to the south, to request vital information so we can together put an end to this extremely difficult task of fighting international terrorism.

Our American counterparts have yet to spell out the details they require, but it will not be long. They will soon define the most essential criteria that will allow them, and us too, to fight terrorism effectively.

The most important consideration is that this U.S. measure comes into force on January 18. There is therefore an absolutely inescapable time constraint. The government, through the Minister of Transport, must act quickly so our carriers can deliver the goods quickly and continue to assume their responsibilities, for the very important economic recovery aided by the air carriers.

Unlike many of our international colleagues in work on economic development, Canada has a Privacy Act, which currently prevents us from collaborating more openly to meet U.S. demands.

Obviously, we had to check closely—and I wish to pay tribute to my colleagues on the committee—with the privacy commissioner that Bill C-44 was consistent with his mandate to protect privacy. The commissioner, according to a study that was considered important, had to deal with restrictions. He initially suggested amendments to the bill.

I had the opportunity to move an amendment in which the commissioner stresses that, regarding information asked on a very short term by our U.S. colleagues and by other countries, in terms of privacy, we will obviously have to invoke, national security, public security and collective defence.

The role of the commissioner has been extremely important and the amendment we have moved allows these requirements to be met.

The committee obviously had a lot to do to rapidly meet these requirements. I wish to thank and congratulate my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Transport. They worked in an extremely efficient way. I had the opportunity to appreciate the quality of the input of all my colleagues on the committee. I can assure you that it is quite impressive to see the seriousness with which all my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Transport worked.

I am convinced that Bill C-44 will meet those important requirements and allow us to satisfy our international colleagues, while respecting the rights and privacy of citizens.

This was done in co-operation with the privacy commissioner but most of all with all my colleagues on the committee. Once again, I thank them. I want to pay tribute to them for the quality of the work they did on the Standing Committee on Transport.

Of course, I am pleased to start debate on the bill at third reading. I am convinced that we will be able to pass this bill before the House rises for recess, since the Americans have decided that, by January 16, we should be able to meet their minimum requirements regarding a thorough screening of travellers entering their territory. I believe this is a highly sovereign demand on the part of the U.S. government and we should be able to respond in a constructive way.

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11:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the presentation by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport. I rise to speak in favour of Bill C-44.

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, on both sides of the 49th parallel, there has been a blur of legislative activity. In the United States, a mere 10 days after the horrendous attacks, Senator Ernest Hollings of South Carolina introduced Bill S-1447, the aviation and transportation security act.

In one bold act, congress sought to restore the confidence of the American flying public. Passengers, baggage, mail and cargo were to be screened. In flight crew were mandated new training to deal with air rage and terrorist crisis management. Air marshals appeared on U.S. flights. A complex passenger profiling system was enhanced and improved.

Despite an anthrax attack on Capitol Hill, which shut down congressional offices, consensus was quickly reached to prove that, while America led an impressive fight against terrorism abroad, the fight at home would be just as vigorous. The bill moved through both houses of congress faster than a rumour went through our parliamentary press gallery. President Bush signed the bill into law a mere eight weeks after its introduction.

In Canada the blur of activity was akin to the way tires spin in the first winter snowstorm: lots of noise, a little bit of smoke, but little action. The government was about as agile and as surefooted as a newborn calf. Unlike the calf, both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport are seasoned professional politicians with nearly 50 years of parliamentary experience between them. The lack of leadership would have been funny if it were not so dangerous.

The Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations was promptly mandated to look into aviation security. However the government quickly sent what it saw as more urgent matters in terms of legislation to the House. The Civil Aviation Tribunal needed to be extended to cover mariners and Air Canada's 15% share limit needed to be raised so that those who owned less than 10% of its shares could somehow be encouraged to buy more. Yet we do not know of a single current shareholder who owns the 10% limit who wants to buy more.

The Warsaw convention of 1929 also needed to be updated to deal with the realities of the third millennium. High priorities all, but top priorities for the air industry and Canadians they are not at all.

I must not omit the fact that the standing committee was paying some attention to the matter of aviation security. However, while witnesses from Air Canada, the pilots association and CUPE were advocating air marshals and other security measures, the government was desperately trying to be seen to be acting without in any way being sure what it wanted to achieve or how.

Then on the eve of the standing committee's scheduled November 26 and 27 trip to Washington, D.C., the rumour mill began to swirl with promises of action. On November 20, at about 5.25 in the evening, the government House leader sought unanimous consent to suspend the standing orders and introduce a government bill at 2 p.m. the next afternoon. The bill, an act to amend certain acts of Canada and to enact measures for implementing the biological and toxin weapon convention in order to enhance public safety, would be complex and a briefing would be offered.

Two months had passed since Senator Hollings introduced the aviation and transportation security act and there was now a flicker of hope that our government would finally react with some real legislation.

At 2 o`clock in the afternoon of November 21, the promised bill was nowhere in sight. Last minute problems delayed its introduction. In fact Bill C-42 was introduced the next day, on November 22, and contained some 19 parts dealing with everything from money laundering to the implementation of a 1977 treaty on biotoxins with a miniature section on aviation security thrown in for good measure and optics.

With the same deft touch that marked the bill's introduction, last Wednesday at 3.05 p.m., within a week of first reading of Bill C-42 in the House, the government House leader was again on his feet to state that unanimous consent had been obtained and required to delete section 4.83 in clause 5 from that bill and introduce a new bill, introducing that section immediately. Furthermore, the new bill would be ordered for consideration at second reading for last Friday, November 30, less than two sitting days later.

The House ran out of things to say not long after that and there were calls to adjourn early. On the one hand, the government agenda is light, but the need to add the contents of section 4.83 in clause 5 of the former Bill C-42 of the Aeronautics Act was urgent. Given the recent directionless “hurry up and wait” antics of the government, we have to wonder why one clause is worth so much haste.

There is a saying that everything makes sense. In other words, if we examine a situation long enough, hard enough and carefully enough in the fullness of time, everything will make sense. For this reason we need to look at the clauses in Bill C-42 which deal with the type of information an airline or other transport authority may provide to authorities.

Essentially there are three clauses. First, section 5, clause 4.82 would allow the Minister of Transport to require any air carrier to provide the minister with information that is in the air carrier's control concerning the persons on board or expected to be on board an aircraft for any flight where the minister believed there is a threat to that flight and therefore the public.

Second, section 5, clause 4.83 would allow a Canadian airline operating an international flight to a foreign state to provide a competent authority of that state any information that is in its control relating to persons on board or expected to be on board the aircraft and that is required by the laws of the foreign state.

Third, section 69 adds a new section 88.1 to the Immigration Act. The new section reads:

A transportation company bringing persons to Canada shall, in accordance with the regulations, provide prescribed information, including documentation and reports.

The summary, which accompanied Bill C-42, described the first two clauses as requiring air carriers or persons who operated aviation reservation systems to provide information to the minister concerning specified flights or persons. The same summary stated that the purpose of the third clause was to require transportation companies bringing persons to Canada to provide prescribed information which would enhance the department's ability to perform border checks and execute arrest warrants. In fact, clauses 4.82 and 4.83 of section 5 had a different purpose than section 69, so perhaps it is not a complete surprise that they address different types of information. It may, however, come as a surprise to some member in the House that airlines maintain two different types of files on their passengers.

The first is called the passenger name record, or PNR. This is the file that the airline creates when it reserves a flight for a passenger. It contains information such as the passenger's name, address, phone number and form of payment. It also contains the information on the reservation itself, such as boarding city, destination, connections, flight numbers, dates, stops and seat assignment. Based on this information the manifest is prepared for each flight showing who is sitting where. Routinely, at present, this is the type of information that is handed over to the authorities whenever there is an airline accident.

The second type of information is the APIS, or advanced passenger information system data. It includes only five data fields: passenger name; date of birth; citizenship, nationality, document issuing country; gender; and passport number or document number. Other than the passenger's name, this information is not normally collected by the airlines. In fact, unless passports are machine readable, much of this information has to be entered manually. For this reason, airlines only collect it when they have to provide it to immigration authorities. Currently the United States requires this type of information for U.S. bound Asian passengers transiting through Vancouver under the Canada-U.S. memorandum of understanding which allows such passengers to go to U.S. customs without first passing through Canadian customs.

It is my understanding that clauses 4.82 and 4.83 of section 5 of Bill C-42 would have required the airlines to give the PNR information to the Minister of Transport and that section 69 would have required them to give APIS information to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Let us contrast this with the U.S. legislation. There, the new aviation and transportation security act mandates the administrator of the federal aviation administration to require air carriers to expand the application of the current computer assisted passenger prescreening system, CAPPS, to all passengers, regardless of baggage. In addition, passengers selected under this system are subject to additional security measures, including checks of carry on baggage and person before boarding. In effect both the PNR and APIS information are sent electronically to the U.S. customs service super computer in Newington, Maryland. There the CAPPS system which they have developed enables the passenger profiling that keeps America's skies safe. The United States is actively fighting its war on terrorism. It is walking the talk, unlike what we see from this government.

Thus it is instructional to read section 115 of America's aviation and transportation security act. It reads:

Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, each air carrier and foreign air carrier operating a passenger flight in foreign air transportation to the United States shall provide to the commissioner of customs by electronic transmission a passenger and crew manifest containing the information specified in paragraph (2). Carriers may use the advanced passenger information system...

(2) INFORMATION-A passenger and crew manifest for a flight required under paragraph (1) shall contain the following information:

(A) The full name of each passenger and crew member.

(B) The date of birth and citizenship of each passenger and crew member.

(C) The sex of each passenger and crew member.

(D) The passport number and country of issuance of each passenger and crew member if required for travel.

(E) The United States visa number or resident alien card number of each passenger and crew member, as applicable.

(F) Such other information as the Under Secretary, in consultation with the Commissioner of Customs, determines is reasonably necessary to ensure aviation safety.

(3) PASSENGER NAME RECORDS-The carriers shall make passenger name record information available to the customs service upon request.

I would like, now, to consider the text that Bill C-44, which we are debating today, would add to the Aeronautics Act:

Despite section 5 of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, to the extent that section relates to obligations set out in Schedule 1 to that Act relating to the disclosure of information, an operator of an aircraft departing from Canada or of a Canadian aircraft departing from any place outside Canada may, in accordance with the regulations, provide to a competent authority in a foreign state any information that is in its control relating to persons on board or expected to be on board the aircraft and that is required by the laws of the foreign state.

If we boil it down to its essentials, it reads that an operator of an aircraft departing from Canada, or of a Canadian aircraft departing from any place outside of Canada, may provide to a competent authority any information that is required by the laws of that foreign state relating to persons on board.

For example, the words “operator of an aircraft departing from Canada” in Bill C-44 would allow Air Canada to give the U.S. customs service the information that section 115, which I read, of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act mandates with respect to passengers on its transborder routes.

Similarly, the words “Canadian aircraft departing from any place outside Canada” would permit Air Canada to give the same information with respect to its flights from Australia and New Zealand to Honolulu en route to Canada.

Members will remember that I said that everything in the end makes sense. Just as I was trying to figure why, after several aborted attempts by the government to improve aviation security in Canada, Bill C-44 was being rushed through with such haste, I had a look at section 115 of the U.S. aviation and transportation security act. There are two concepts that are very important.

First, it applies to both U.S. and foreign carriers flying to the United States from other countries. Therefore, it applies to Air Canada and charter flights operated by WestJet, Air Transat and Sky Service.

Second, section 115 comes into force not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of the act, which was signed by President Bush on November 19. That means that it will come into force on January 18, 2002, while the House is still not back in session from its Christmas break. Therefore, as I understand it, if Canadian carriers are to comply with U.S. legislation, the House has to add the text of clause 4.83 to the Aeronautics Act before we rise mid next week.

The reason we are discussing this clause in the legislation today is not because of any desire, as was said by the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Transport, by the government to make our skies safer or to show leadership through decisive action, but because the United States acted and Canada's airlines told the government that if they could not lead, at least they should try to follow the U.S. and do so quickly.

Canadians can thank the United States congress for the bill. To the extent that it keeps our skies safer, no credit should go to the government but to the air industry for leaning on the government to follow the United States.

In the meantime, about the broader question of airport and airline security, Canadians are still left waiting and wondering when a hint of leadership may tumble out of the government and onto some legislation. It has been 14 weeks since the terrorist attacks and no serious legislative action has yet been taken by the government.

It sure makes one wonder. We have: an airport security system that has been clearly documented to be inadequate in terms of security; new security regimes being put in place in countless other countries; public demand for new security systems; air carrier demands for new management of airport security; pilot and fright crew demands for a new security regime, not to mention terrorist attacks; a massive drop in consumer confidence in flying; and a war. If this environment is not enough to inspire action from the government on air security, one has to wonder if it will ever get up off its backside and show some real leadership.

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11:40 a.m.


Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today and speak to Bill C-44, which was split as suggested by the Bloc Quebecois. This is part of Bill C-42, which was a follow-up to Bill C-36.

I would like to help Quebecers and Canadians who are listening understand how it is that Bill C-42 ended up being introduced in the House on November 22, 2001. This bill is 98 pages in length. The bill is considered to be a measure of extreme urgency. This is the second anti-terrorist bill, the first one being Bill C-36.

Thanks to the Bloc Quebecois' actions, particularly questions to the government on the relevance of Bill C-42, it became clear that the only true measure in Bill C-42 that needs to be dealt with in a hurry is the one which became Bill C-44, a bill that is one page long. Bill C-44, which we are discussing today, is essentially a measure to align Canadian legislation with that of the U.S.

I will come back to this, because since September 11, all this government has done is harmonize our policy and procedures with the U.S., because it has no initiative, nor has it ever had any.

All this government does, is go along with what is done elsewhere. Obviously, one can understand that when events as tragic as those that occurred in the United States happen, it is our duty, as neighbours, to adopt security measures.

We would hope and wish that all of these security measures would respect the rights and freedoms of Quebecers and Canadians, rights that are so important to our democratic society which, we hope, preserves our personal rights and freedoms at all times.

If ever we were to violate these rights, we would quite simply be conceding to terrorists. Once again, they would win if we were to make any significant changes that would result in a violation of our rights and freedoms. That is what the Liberal government has been doing since this crisis.

In the end, the week of November 22 was a difficult week for the Liberal government. First, there was Bill C-36. For two weeks now, since November 22 when the bill was introduced in the House and debate was stifled, the Liberal government has gagged debate on this bill, the first antiterrorist bill for which more than 80 witnesses were heard.

In the end, the government passed the bill, in spite of the recommendations and in spite of the 66 very relevant amendments moved by the Bloc Quebecois. In particular, we were asking a sunset clause to be included in this anti-terrorist bill, which was obviously aimed at limiting the rights of Quebecers and Canadians.

We all felt, like the majority of the witnesses who appeared before the committee, that this bill had to cease to be in force after three years. We see what is happening elsewhere, in other societies and in other countries. We should already plan an end to this bill, which would compel us to review it in its entirety. In the meantime, again, the Bloc Quebecois moved an amendment requiring an annual review of the bill to ensure that rights and freedoms are respected.

Of course, the Liberal government rejected all these amendments. It would much rather keep on violating rights and freedoms as much as possible and appropriating all the power it can.

We always wonder why a government that should be working in the best interests of its population acts in such a way. I keep telling our listeners that we have to be careful because a government always want to control things.

In Bill C-36, the government made sure it had control over pretty well everything, including the rights and freedoms of the people in this country, especially Quebec, which concerns me. It is difficult when the ministers, who have made statements in the House on Bills C-36, C-42 and C-44, tell us we will be able to exercise our rights in committee, we will be able to make amendments there and they will listen to us there. But this is not the case. This is the harsh reality for our viewers.

The government does not listen to us. It listens to itself. It does not even listen to the recommendations of its own members. There are members of the Liberal Party who were opposed. Some did not vote for Bill C-36.

Today in the papers, a Liberal member was very critical of Bill C-42. So, obviously, we are not the only ones defending the rights and freedoms of people in Quebec and Canada.

Few people in the Liberal Party, only one member in fact, since the advent of the important Bills C-36 and C-42, have opposed the direction taken by the Liberal government. It is all to his credit, but it reflects very badly on all the others who blithely follow the recommendations of officials and, more importantly, the directives of ministers. That is what is hard to accept.

This is what the citizens of Quebec and Canada must understand. They are lucky, in the end, there are still opposition parties in the House that can ask the right questions and, more importantly, hold the real debates, which do not take place in the House. The real debates are in the media, through the media, which have stepped in because that is the way it works here in the House.

We are not heard. Our amendment proposals are not heard. Once again, the media hear the recommendations and especially the real substantive debates contributed by the opposition parties.

A very important substantive debate, initiated by the Bloc, among others, in fact by my colleague from Berthier—Montcalm, was the one on Bill C-36. The debate is not over yet. Daily resolutions arrive in our offices in protest over Bill C-36. The people of Quebec and Canada call on us daily to oppose Bill C-36, but it was passed in the House.

Even if we wanted to help them, we can no longer do so. There was a gag order. The Liberal government, unilaterally, put an end to discussions on Bill C-36, the Anti-terrorism Act. Yet, the day after, there was no debate in the House for two hours because there was nothing to debate. This is the harsh reality. We have to live with that every day.

Earlier we had a substantive discussion the hon. member for Champlain initiated on the sad situation of some 278,000 seniors who are deprived of the guaranteed income supplement simply because they are not unaware that they are entitled to it. A House committee, which includes Liberal members, has unanimously put this terrible situation before the House.

Today the hon. member for Champlain wanted to debate the issue. Of course, the government has once again forced, by a vote, an end to the debate. Therefore, we were unable to learn the positions of the members of the Liberal Party, the Canadian Alliance or other opposition parties on this terrible issue where 230,000 seniors, men and women, have been for many years deprived of money they are entitled to. That is the harsh reality members of parliament have to deal with.

We try to initiate debates in the House. Today the government forced us to vote on having the House proceed to the orders of the day. Of course, once again, the harsh reality is that debates will be delayed. Meanwhile, just before the holiday season, there are seniors, men and women, who will not get such big sums, which would ensure them to enjoy a nice holiday season. The Liberal government chose not to hold a debate on this substantive report, which pointed to the existence of this tragic situation.

Again, I thank the Bloc Quebecois member for Champlain, who raised that issue. He held a press conference to highlight this sad situation, where 230,000 Canadians, men and women, including 64,000 Quebecers, who are entitled to income supplement, are not getting that money.

This is over $3.2 billion that the government kept unjustifiably and that belongs to them. The government cannot tell us today that it is unable to reach them. When it wants them to go voting, when it is doing the census, it goes knocking on their doors and gets them.

However, when the time comes to help them and give them what is owed to them—this is not money that they owe the government; it is money that the government owes them—what the Liberal government does is hide the money, through all kinds of forms that are so complicated that, eventually, people are unable to submit them or, in the case of some seniors, they cannot even read them.

These past two weeks have been very difficult for the Liberal government, which is not listening at all to the people, which is not listening at all to the thoughtful and smart recommendations that may come from opposition parties, and even from its own ranks.

I will continue with Bill C-42 that is leading us to Bill C-44.

Bill C-42 was introduced in the House on November 22. We had a difficult debate on this bill. Right from the start, the Bloc Quebecois was able to clearly read the intentions of the government, especially concerning major powers that it is now giving to ministers, and them alone. These are powers delegated to ministers, including the Minister of Environment, the Minister of Agriculture and other ministers in this House, powers to take interim orders without being subject to parliamentary procedure.

In this regard, when regulations are prepared, there is a very important procedure requiring that regulations be submitted to the Privy Council so that it can ensure that they are in accordance with the charter of rights and freedoms. Ministers have been given the power to take interim orders. This obviously goes against the whole parliamentary procedure.

Quebecers and Canadians who are listening should be aware that, were it not for the Bloc Quebecois and other opposition parties, Bill C-42 would have been passed before the holiday season. The government was determined to ram Bill C-42 through the House. Finally, when direct questions were put to the leader of the government by the Bloc Quebecois and others as to what could not have been done on September 11 that could now be done under the bill, no answer was forthcoming.

The only answer we got about Bill C-44 was “The Americans have their requirements. They want to check the information on passengers. If we want Canadian airlines to do business in the United States, they will have to provide the information required by the American government”.

Naturally, we asked questions to the government House leader. Among other things, we asked him why the urgent provisions would not be included in a separate bill, since we have to meet the requirements of the American legislation by January 18. That is why we have Bill C-44 before us today, and I obviously have comments to make on this bill.

But I have more to say about Bill C-42. When this legislation was introduced in the House, we were opposed to these interim orders which, without any input from the House, give discretionary powers to ministers and even allow the Minister of National Defence to create military security zones without the authorization, which has normally always been required, of the provincial governors in council. Thus, it is an exceptional power that is given only to the Minister of National Defence.

For the benefit of our listeners, let me quote from an article published in today's La Presse , that sums up well the position of one Liberal member. Manon Cornellier, from the La Presse bureau in Ottawa, wrote:

If Bill C-42 on public security is not amended, the Liberal member for Mount Royal told Le Devoir that he will have to vote against it. He thus becomes the first government member to show publicly his disagreement with this legislation.

The problem with this legislation is that it upsets the balance between the executive, parliamentary and judiciary arms. More powers are given to the executive.

Of course, the article refers to the Liberal member for Mount Royal, an internationally known lawyer and law teacher at McGill University. The article goes on to say:

A first study of Bill C-42 prompted the member to worry about the provisions that will allow the creation of military security zones and those that will give some ministers the power to issue interim orders without first obtaining the agreement of the cabinet or parliament.

The Liberal member for Mount Royal is adopting the position that was defended from the very first moment here in this House by the Bloc Quebecois. If the Bloc had not been here in the House to defend the interests of Quebecers, today we would be having to live with Bill C-42, a danger for the rights and freedoms of Quebecers. It is dangerous to give ministers the possibility of making interim orders that do not comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or to give the Minister of National Defence the power of imposing his army anywhere in Quebec without being invited to by the Government of Quebec. This is the harsh reality of a government which has made such a decision in the name of a noble cause.

The battle against terrorism throughout the world is a noble cause, and not one single person in Quebec or in Canada is unaffected by it. All of us have been touched by the tragic events that struck our American neighbours on September 11. There is, however, not one single person who is prepared to have all his or her rights taken away because of those events, particularly when the leader of the government, the Prime Minister, is asked “What could you not do on September 11 that you could do now once a bill like Bill C-42 is enacted?” No answer is forthcoming, purely and simply because the government could take action under existing legislation.

The Prime Minister and ministers such as the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Transport tell us: “The powers contained in Bill C-42 are all ones we have already”. That is false. These are not existing powers, they are new powers the government wants to acquire. Proof of this lies in the statement made by the Liberal member for Mount Royal, quoted in today's La Presse and available for all Quebecers to read.

In this House, it must be understood that the people of Quebec and of Canada are nobody's fools, and they may well be better informed than the ministers and members of the Liberal government.

Opposition members, including Bloc Quebecois members, were very quick in finding out the problems with Bill C-42 and explaining them to the public. The debates did not take place in this House, but outside, in the media. We had to use the media. This is the harsh reality.

Why? Because the government used closure with Bill C-36. The government gagged the opposition to prevent it from getting to the bottom of things and helping Quebecers and Canadians fully understand the scope of Bill C-36. We were gagged. This is why the debates took place outside the House, so much so that every day we still talk to Quebecers and Canadians who ask us to do something to prevent Bill C-36 from coming into effect. But it is too late. The debate was not concluded here in the House. This is why it is still raging in the media. Every day, we read the comments of people who are opposed to Bill C-36. But it is too late. The bill was passed by the government, rushed through by the Liberal majority in the House. This is the reality and this is what Quebecers must understand.

Luckily for Quebecers, we will not have to live with Bill C-42 before the Christmas holiday.

There is no doubt that the government will use closure again if it runs out of time, as was the case this week. We discussed Bill C-42. I am the Bloc Quebecois critic for transport issues. I was contacted. We were told that there was not enough on the legislative agenda and that Bill C-42 would be brought back. It was not even on the agenda that day.

The government brought back this very important bill, which is challenged even by Liberal members, and said “There is not enough on the legislative agenda; therefore, we are bringing back Bill C-42”. We discussed the issue and the debates are underway. I had the opportunity to make a speech on Bill C-42 which is not yet completed. I have 29 minutes left. But what will happen if the government again runs out of things to do before the Christmas holiday? It will again bring back a bill that is extremely controversial and regarding which the Liberal majority still has a lot of work to do. Ministers must try to understand the bill and explain it to their colleagues. The harsh reality is that we will again debate Bill C-42.

I just hope for Quebecers that this is not the Christmas gift the federal government is planning for them. If Bill C-42 were passed before the holidays, that would be quite a lump of coal for them to get in their Christmas stocking. That is what the government is trying to do; it wants to pull a fast one on us by ramming Bill C-42 through the House.

This brings me to Bill C-44 now before us. Again, Bill C-44 was put together in a rush by drawing from Bill C-42 because the Americans want information on passengers on flights to the U.S. or passing through U.S. airspace. It is very understandable that we should discuss the American requirements.

How can the Canadian government distort these requirements? Everything seemed perfectly clear, but I read section 115 of the American legislation passed last November 19. It says:

  1. Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act,each air carrier and foreign air carrier operating a passenger flight in foreign air transportation to the United States shall provide to the Commissioner of Customs by electronic transmission a passenger and crew manifest containing the information specified in paragraph (2).

(a ) The full name of each passenger and crew member

(b) The date of birth and citizenship of each passenger and crew member

(c) The sex of each passenger and crew member.

(d) The passport number and country of issuance of each passenger and crew member if required for travel.

(e) The United States visa number or resident alien card number of each passenger and crew member, as applicable.

(f ) Such other information as the Under Secretary,in consultation with the Commissioner of Customs, determines is reasonably necessary to ensure aviation safety.

These are the requirements of the American legislation.

Reading Bill C-44, we see that it contains what the Canadian government is asking for. Section 115 of the American legislation gives an explanation of the requirements, that is what information the Americans require.

There is no mention in Bill C-44 of the list of requirements. It states as follows:

4.83 (1) Despite section 5 of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act—

We have legislation to protect the personal information we are obliged to provide and, obviously, we have to deviate from that act:

—to the extent that that section relates to obligations set out in Schedule 1 to that operator of an aircraft departing from Canada or of a Canadian aircraft departing from any place outside Canada may...provide to a competent authority...any information—

The information is not specified. It is stated that the governor in council may make regulations respecting the type or classes of information that may be provided.

Thus, instead of having a clear and simple bill indicating what information is to be required, it is stated that this will be given in subsequent regulations.

The Bloc Quebecois' first question for the government House leader in connection with Bill C-44 is: Could you provide us with the bill's companion regulations, so that we can have a better idea of Bill C-44? Why is the required information not listed? You plan to put it in regulations? Well then, give us the regulations.

We were promised the regulations for last Friday. The House leader had mentioned an outline and came to tell me that they thought regulations would be better. Then he changed his mind and came back to tell me that we were back to an outline only. We did not receive the regulations on Friday. We received them on Monday, toward the end of the afternoon, so late that we were not able to examine them until the next morning in committee. It was the same for the government members.

We had documents that were given us prior to the committee meeting, but we had not had the time to go through them all individually. There was a pile of material. Even the members of the Liberal majority on the committee had questions. I sincerely believed that we had not received the regulations and they did not even know that they had.

Finally, at some point, an official came to tell the parliamentary secretary that the regulations were included as an attachment to the material.

We then examined the list of regulations and the list of information required. Once again, there was a list, which had been mentioned by the government. But that was not what the parliamentary secretary wanted to talk to us about in committee.

He did not want to talk to us about the regulations. He had an amendment to put forward. Obviously, this is what goes on in committee; we put forward amendments. The amendment was put forward by the government and all the parliamentary secretary had to tell us was “We will get started while we are waiting. There is an amendment on the way and I should have it”.

Finally, we received it during our proceedings, because it was not yet ready. According to an intelligent explanation given by the parliamentary secretary, this amendment came from the privacy commissioner, who had been consulted about Bill C-44 and who had suggested this amendment, which I will read in a minute. Finally, we received the amendment and the privacy commissioner appeared before the committee.

The privacy commissioner had not had the list of information contained in the regulations or in the draft regulations. The commissioner had discussed Bill C-44 without the list of information to be supplied. This bill will allow airline companies to release information about Quebecers and Canadians, and Canada's privacy commissioner had not seen the list of information that would be supplied.

When I asked him if it was important that he have the list, he answered that he had received it 30 minutes before appearing before the committee. I then asked him whether he had it when the bill was being discussed, and he said no. It was not important. It did not matter, when introducing an amendment, to know what information had to be provided to the Americans.

Things have been going badly for the Liberal government for two weeks now, and it kept on going badly for the Standing Committee on Transport. The privacy commissioner was appearing before the committee and, 30 minutes prior to the start of the meeting, the minister did not know what information the Americans were requiring, and what information on Quebec and Canadian citizens we were to provide. This was not important to him. He had even proposed an amendment without knowing what information would be contained in future regulations that the governor in council might pass in the future. Talk about confusing.

When we questioned the privacy commissioner, we asked him “Are you not concerned about the list of information, which you only saw 30 minutes prior to testifying?” He replied, “No, it does not concern us”.

One of the information items, item no. 23 reads as follows:

Airlines could provide passengers' telephone numbers to the Americans.

I have great difficulty in understanding how the privacy commissioner is not concerned that we would be providing the Americans with the telephone numbers of citizens of Quebec and Canada. He himself admitted that such measures could be discussed.

It is important to understand that no regulations have been adopted yet, but once all regulations are, they will come into force immediately. They will not come back to the committee for review until several days later—even up to one year later—at which time the committee will be able to examine the regulations and propose amendments.

I have here the amendment proposed by the privacy commissioner. It is a relevant amendment, and it reads as follows:

No information provided to a competent authority of a foreign state may be collected from that foreign state by the government of Canada or an institution thereof, as defined in section 3 of the Privacy Act, unless the information is collected for the purposes of protecting national security, public safety or defence.

His concern about the information provided to the Americans was that Canada could not request it, except for certain purposes. He had quite a problem with that. The commissioner feared that the Government of Canada might try to obtain the information through the back door.

There was clearly a problem, but not knowing what information was to be provided was not a problem. It was not important. As for the 29 types of information requested by the Americans, besides the phone number, and the fact that so much information could be provided to the Americans about our lives, about what we do and so on, about how the ticket was paid for, whether in cash or on a credit card—the credit card number could even be requested—that was not important for the commissioner. What mattered, however, was that the information provided to American authorities not come back to Canada through the back door.

The nature of the information that we give is not important, as long as it does not come back to Canada. I have a big problem with that. I asked the privacy commissioner “Why did you not present an amendment containing all that is included in the American legislation?” It is the list that I read a few moments ago, the list of information the Americans included in their legislation. They put everything they wanted: the full name of each passenger, the full name of each crew member, their date of birth, and so forth. His answer was “That would not have gone through. If I had proposed that amendment, it would not have been passed”. They would not have included anything contained in the American legislation. He was probably right. That is the reality. They did not want to include what was already in the American legislation. Why?

We asked the House what information was to be provided. The government would not tell us and then agreed to table draft regulations that would include the list. We got the draft regulations two days later than we were supposed to. Its aim was to get them to us so late we would not have time to analyze them. It tabled an amendment in committee so our legal service could not analyze it. That is the reality. That is the way things work in this House.

The privacy commissioner, whose job it is to protect our interests, said “I have not tabled an amendment that would include the list, because I knew it would not be passed, that the government would reject it”.

When I asked him further questions to find out what he was afraid of, he said he was afraid he would no longer be listened to. I had to ask him “Are you afraid of losing your job?” He said he was not. He was not, because he had a seven year mandate. This means there will be someone else after that. I think he is afraid he will not be reappointed. That is the truth of it. That is the way it works. Quebecers and Canadians have to understand that.

The government controls the House of Commons, the Senate, the supreme court and the privacy commissioner. Such is life. This is the way it works. Then the government tables bills and asks us for amendments in committee. The government asks us to table amendments. “You will see”, it says, “we will look at them”. The Bloc Quebecois tabled 66 amendments to the anti-terrorism legislation. As many again were tabled by the other opposition parties. The government did nothing with them. The one accepted, in the case of the Bloc Quebecois, was the one that added the word “cemetery” to the list of heinous crimes. They agreed to add the word “cemetery”. I am very grateful. This is the reality.

Quebecers must understand that this government controls everything, from start to finish. I realize the Prime Minister says “I have no problem. If you have a problem with this bill, challenge it in court”. I will not say what I think, I could be accused of all sorts of things. I have a good idea what will happen. I have no doubt that, when the Prime Minister says there is no problem, he knows that in advance. He controls everything in this country. It is no problem, that is the way it works.

We must examine Bill C-44. We are only at report stage and we will have some tough questions for the government on this bill and on Bill C-42.

I have a message for those who are listening to us: keep sending us e-mails and letters telling us that you do not want Bill C-36 to be implemented by the government, even though it has already passed it. Bill C-36 is now in effect. You can be sure that the government will not amend it. The government will wait until a colossal blunder occurs before acting on the recommendations made by the 80 witnesses who appeared before the committee, and by opposition parties. These recommendations were perfectly acceptable and included a sunset clause, a clause providing for an annual review like the one included in similar legislation throughout the world.

The harsh reality is that the current Liberal government has decided to control everything, including the House of Commons, the other place, the supreme court, the office of the privacy commissioner and all the institutions in this country that should protect our interests.

I cannot get over the fact that, as regards Bill C-44, the privacy commissioner, who proposed an amendment that was accepted by the government, did not want to propose another one whereby the information to be provided to the Americans would have been listed. He did not make that suggestion because, as he said, the government would not have accepted it.

The Americans are smart enough to include such a provision in their legislation, but not us. We must trust the government in making regulations that will be adopted, as provided under the bill, by the governor in council. And these regulations will specify the types or classes of information.

We are given the list of the 29 types of information to be included in the regulations, but we do not have any say in the process. That information will be included in the regulations, which will then be submitted to the committee in a few months.

Meanwhile, the rights and freedoms of Canadians will have been infringed on by a government that does not have any backbone and that wants increasingly more power to control everyone.

The government surely figured that with $30 million, given the number of federal public servants, it could divide them and control them all. This is what the Liberal government is doing.

On that note, I hope that all members will have a nice Christmas holiday and that Liberal Party members will take this opportunity to do some soul searching and make good resolutions for the year 2002, because they are ending 2001 on a very bad note.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-44, an act to amend the Aeronautics Act. As has been mentioned earlier by my colleagues from other parties, the bill was the result of significant co-operation by opposition parties in the House.

It would enable the government to remove a section of Bill C-42 and bring it forth as an urgent piece of legislation to address the concerns of the United States regarding access to information with respect to passenger lists on flights within Canada.

As I indicated, there was great co-operation on behalf of the opposition parties in allowing this to take place. We all recognize in the House that there is urgency in a number of areas to address the problems that have come forth as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11. There has been great co-operation in trying to address those concerns.

Bill C-44 would give airlines the right to release information to the government of the United States in regard to passenger lists. I will read a descriptive note we got in committee regarding section 4.83 which would be included in the Aeronautics Act:

It relieves air carriers from certain requirements of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and allows them to provide passenger information to foreign authorities, where foreign law requires such information.

Subsection 4.83(2) authorizes the making of regulations generally for the purposes of carrying out section 4.83, including regulations respecting the type of information that may be provided to the foreign authority, as well as the foreign authorities to which the information may be provided.

At committee we are given a rationale. For Canadians and others listening to this, here is the rationale:

This section is necessary to allow air carriers to pass on passenger information to foreign authorities, but only in circumstances where foreign law requires such information as a pre-condition to landing in that country.

At first blush this does not seem to be a big issue. Canadians have recognized as have people throughout the world that times have changed. We are willing to accept that there may be some infringements on our privacy rights and civil liberties. Canadians recognize this and we in the House have recognized it. We have been open to it.

The concern is that the government is not as forthright about the type of information it would include. My colleague from the Bloc stressed this point and it is important to stress it. The legislation does not specify what the information would be.

As we met in committee and wanted to know what type of information would be requested we were given only the intent of the regulations. We were told the intent of the information the government would include. The reason we could only get the intent of the regulations was that the government does not know what will be requested. That is a scary point.

The Government of Canada is putting in place legislation but will not include in it the specific information that is required because it does not yet know. It has said that. The Americans have not told the government exactly what they need.

As a citizen of Canada, a sovereign nation, I have a real problem with agreeing to put in whatever information on the basis of the request of another country.

I recognize the need to address the problem of terrorism and to identify terrorists. However I have a real problem with a government that would leave a blanket opening in a bill to put in whatever regulations it likes and decide whatever information can be released without allowing it to be debated in the House of Commons so that members who represent all Canadians can have a say.

There was concern at committee. Concerns were raised and not only by opposition members. There was concern from a few Liberal members on the committee. There was concern about the type of information the government would then release.

The reason that concern is there is that there is not a lot of faith in the government. There is not a lot of faith on the part of opposition members or Canadians that the government will act respectfully on behalf of Canadian citizens first and not buckle down to what the Americans say. Quite frankly, I am not against Americans and the U.S. The bottom line is that my priority and what we are here for is to represent Canadians first. That is not happening. It is not happening in a number of areas, but specifically the government is not putting the respect and the privacy of Canadians first. As my colleague from the Bloc has mentioned as well, the U.S. legislation specifies exactly what information will be required. This does not happen here.

At committee we did attempt to at least have this intensive schedule of the type of information that would be requested. We tried to have it put within the legislation but were unable to have it passed at committee.

My party thinks the way the government is intending to deal with this, although we do not really know for sure yet, is to have schedules. Schedule I would be the type of information that the foreign states will receive on absolutely all passengers. They would receive some information on everyone. Should they then request information on specific passengers there would be schedule II, which would be the type of information that will be asked for on those passengers. The bottom line is that they could request the schedule II information on every single passenger. There is nothing to restrict that from happening. Schedule III, in section 1, lists the countries that the government has agreed to give this information to. Again, it is only in schedule, in regulation, and is not part of the legislation, so the government at its whim can change it. The government can add on one, two, three or fifty countries and release the information within their schedules, and we do not know what they will be yet. The government could release that information to those countries.

I have a concern about this. I will give members an idea of what the schedule I information is. Quite frankly, the privacy commissioner did not have a big issue with schedule I. The privacy commissioner thought, under specific reasons, schedule II was not a problem either. However even the privacy commissioner felt it would be much better if these schedules were incorporated into the legislation.

There is one thing that we are very clear about after listening to the privacy commissioner. He is in place to respect Canadians and to act on their behalf. It says a lot when we must have a separate commissioner to act on behalf of the privacy of Canadians because we cannot trust the government to do it. This is a crucial point.

Schedule I is the information that would be given to a foreign state on all passengers:

  1. The surname, first name and initial or initials, if any, of each passenger or crew member.

  2. The date of birth of each passenger or crew member.

  3. The citizenship or nationality, or failing either of these, the country that issued travel documents for the flight, of each passenger or crew member.

  4. The gender of each passenger or crew member.

  5. The passport number or, if the person does not have a passport, the number on the travel document that identifies the person, of each passenger or crew member.

At first blush, it is basic information. I think a lot of us who travel tend to think that information pretty much is available to a lot of people anyway because we book through our travel agent, through other charter companies, through the airlines and we know we are all tied to reservation systems. I think there are a lot of us out there who do not really believe that any information on the computer is private anyway because we know a lot of people seem to be able to access that information. At first blush it is not a big issue.

Where it gets a little touchy is in schedule II. Schedule II mentions things such as:

  1. A notation that the passenger's ticket for a flight is a one-way ticket.

  2. A notation that a passenger's ticket for the flight is a ticket that is valid for one year and that is issued in travel between specified points with no dates or flight numbers--

It goes on. There are actually 29 notations as to the type of information, but again, this could change. There could be numerous other bits of information that the government at its whim could add to the regulations at any given point.

Schedule II continues:

  1. The phone numbers of the passenger and, if applicable, the phone number of the travel agency that made the travel arrangements.

  2. The passenger name record number.

  3. The address of the passenger and, if applicable, of the travel agency that made the travel arrangements.

  4. A notation that the ticket was paid for by a person other than the passenger.

Also there is one that was of considerable concern to a number of members:

  1. The manner in which the ticket was paid for.

Again there was a concern. It would be fine here if it just requested to know whether it is by cheque, cash or credit card, but there was a concern that the credit card numbers might be included in the information. One of the concerns the airlines have raised is the amount of the costs that would be incurred if they had to input a whole lot more information or if the information requested had to be disseminated from the information they already have. In other words, areas would have to be blanked out so there would be increased costs to the airlines.

A number of us recognized that at this time there is a need for increased security and without question the safety and security of passengers in the air and on the ground has to be the priority, but we do not want to put the airlines in any greater financial difficulty than they are already. There was concern that the credit card information the airlines have would end up flowing if they just hand over whatever information they have.

As well, there was concern that when the information is handed over to those receiving the information, whatever government departments it might be, they might then pass on information, whether to different bits of industry or possibly back to the country from which it came. I was pleased that the amendment the privacy commissioner suggested to the committee and to the government was agreed to unanimously by the committee. It was put forth at report stage and accepted.

The amendment put forth by the privacy commissioner states:

That Bill C-44, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing line 19 on page 1 with the following:

Restriction--government institutions

(2) No information provided under subsection (1) to a competent authority in a foreign state may be collected from that foreign state by a government institution, within the meaning of section 3 of the Privacy Act, unless it is collected for the purpose of protecting national security or public safety or for the purpose of defence, and any such information collected by the government institution may be used or disclosed by it only for one or more of those purposes.

It is crucial to note that up until that amendment came in there was no safeguard as to what would happen with the information. It is definitely an improvement to the bill.

I also note that there is no reciprocal agreement between the United States and Canada or, for that matter, between any other foreign state and Canada so that foreign states would have to give that information to our security services within Canada.

The reason we had to make these changes within our legislation and allow the airlines to give that information is that we do have a Privacy Act that represents the rights of Canadians. There is no such act in the U.S. That information can already be given if the airlines decide to do it, but the bottom line is that they do not have to. Our government has not ensured that there will be a reciprocal agreement because it was not there saying it would stand up for the rights of Canadians. It was in there jumping when the U.S. said “Give this to us right now or you're not flying into our country”. That is what it was about.

Quite frankly, the privacy commissioner commented on that as well. He commented on how it was unjust. I will not use his exact words, because there were some who were not happy with his words. I did not have a problem with them. He thought it was somewhat unjust that the U.S. would demand the information right now and not give Canadians and the Parliament of Canada a reasonable period of time in which to have input and debate. Normally we would get a bill, take it to committee and witnesses would be able to come to committee. Citizens of Canada who had objections would be able to possibly appear before committee, but because the U.S. wanted the information immediately or it would disallow or restrict flights into the U.S., no opportunity was given to have the legislation to go through the normal process within the Parliament of Canada.

That is not just unjust but is really a show of disrespect and disregard, I believe, for the relationship that Canada has with the U.S. We have not been a confrontational northern neighbour. We have been a willing, caring, approachable neighbour. Canada has worked well with countries throughout the world, not just with the U.S. It is not acceptable that at the whim of the Americans, at the snap of their fingers, the government jumps to the tune of the U.S. government. We are here to represent Canadians. We are not here to jump.

The minister responsible for the issues relating to softwood lumber is in the House. Frankly, the softwood lumber issue has been quite an annoyance for me simply because I am greatly concerned that this government is going to buckle under and sell out our forestry workers in B.C. and throughout Canada. I am concerned that the government will sell out workers in general who have fought to maintain raw logs within Canada for value added jobs within the country. I am concerned that U.S. officials are going to snap their fingers and demand that raw logs head down to the U.S. so its sawmills and plants can operate and to heck with Canadian workers.

Quite frankly, I see this government buckling under and I think that is what we are going to see over the holidays. Merry Christmas, forestry workers in Canada, and from the Government of Canada, no jobs, as we send the present of raw logs down to the U.S. Merry Christmas. It has been disappointing to see this from our government.

I also want to comment on Bill C-42, the public safety act, from which this legislation was taken so it could be rushed through to address the concerns of the Americans. We expected a lot more decisive action on the part of the government with respect to that bill. Bill C-42 gives a lot of power to a lot of ministers but there is not a whole lot of oversight to ensure they act responsibly. Again, the government does not have the respect of Canadians for its actions. It is becoming very clear that Canadians do not expect the government to act on their behalf.

That became quite clear last week when Bill C-36 was before us. I wish to say again that I believe opposition parties in the House have been very willing to co-operate with the government to try to move legislation forward to address the issues that came up as a result of September 11. What we saw last week was a show of absolute disregard for the voices of Canadians, with closure implemented on Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism legislation, which is one of the most crucial pieces of legislation to come before the House and one of the most crucial pieces of legislation infringing on the civil liberties of Canadians. The government invoked closure. Was there any need for it? Was there a big rush for it? Was somebody running off to a Christmas party so that legislation concerning the civil liberties of Canadians had to be rushed through? Was there some other absolutely urgent piece of legislation that we had to get before the House? Did we have to make sure all of this was done before the Christmas break? Was that more important than listening to the comments parliamentarians were hearing from citizens in their ridings?

We are still hearing comments about this. I would wager that the greatest number of comments coming through on everybody's e-mail were telling us to get rid of Bill C-36 because it does not have to be like this. We do not have to go to the great length of infringing on the civil liberties of Canadians in order to address terrorist concerns and we can fight terrorism without all the infringements within Bill C-36.

What is crucially important is to recognize that this government invoked closure and then had no business to deal with. Talk about a slap in the face for the rights of Canadians. The government did not want to hear any more debate on Bill C-36 because it wanted this legislation and would not listen to anybody else. That is what it appears to be and it is not acceptable.

At some point I expect that Canadians will let the government know what they think about it, whether it be before the next election or at the time of the next election. I do not think we will see the arrogant kind of approach to the views of Canadians and parliamentarians that we have been seeing over the last while.

I hope the government recognizes that Canadians are not happy with that, will take it to heart and will not continue with this type of approach in the House.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I, unlike some of my colleagues, will refrain from wandering from the bill at hand, which is Bill C-44.

As has been mentioned, members are curious as to why the bill, which was introduced last week, is now before the House at third reading. The reason for rushing the bill through the House, as was mentioned, is to comply with American legislation, the aviation and transportation security act.

Unlike some of my colleagues, I do not accuse the American government of overreacting or forcing Canadians to deal with it. I understand why the Americans put through very detailed legislation on how they would protect themselves. It is very understandable and I will probably refer to it later in my comments.

The bill responds to the American legislation. The American legislation requires that any air carrier flying to the United States must transmit its passenger manifest to the United States customs service in advance of the aircraft landing.The reason that the Americans are asking for this is obvious. It should not take much imagination, remembering the visuals of the aircraft flying into the two towers in New York City, for anybody to understand why the Americans felt it necessary to ask for this co-operation.

I assume that Canadians will also understand why Canada has responded in kind. Yes, the government tried to bring this particular response to the American legislation in through Bill C-42. We can get into a long debate, as others have done, on what is wrong with Bill C-42. However, I think the Canadian government was right in removing this. The Americans, unlike their Canadian counterparts, do not hesitate to be firm in legislation and to put timeframes on it. I think the U.S. government was responsible in putting a timeframe on when it expected this response from foreign carriers to submit passenger manifests.

It gives our Canadian carriers, which are the ones that have asked for the government to allow this, the legal right to provide the manifest. That is what the legislation would do. It would not mandate how it is to be done or what is to be done. It would give the Canadian carriers the legal right to release this information and not be in violation of our privacy legislation.

This is enabling legislation from our Canadian government to allow the airlines to comply with the American government regulations and legislation.

For Canadians travelling to the United States, it should not be a surprise that this is happening. They should not be upset with the information that the Americans are requesting. I would suggest that 94% of all Canadians flying to U.S. destinations already give this information through preclearance at customs in the seven major Canadian airports. When they give this information to U.S. customs prior to boarding the aircraft, they are giving the same information that is being asked for in schedule 1 that the regulations will provide for.

The U.S. customs already will have that information and they will have it in a more timely fashion than the airline transmitting the passenger manifest to them. That is already happening. It will not have much effect on Canadian travellers.

What has happened, as is happening here, is that it is the perception of a government providing greater security which seems to be important. Americans and Canadians need to feel that their governments are reacting in a manner that will provide greater protection and greater security for them. Although this was already happening in Canada, with 94% of our passengers already providing this information, it is important to remind passengers that the governments are looking out for their interests.

I think the American legislation asks for all foreign air carriers. Canada has already been meeting these requirements because of our close relationship with the United States. We have a different relationship with our friends south of the border than other countries do. This legislation really applies to all other foreign carriers. As I mentioned, it will not make much difference for Canadians.

Two types of information are included in the legislation that is responding to the American legislation. The first is a group of basic information that most countries seek from individuals who come to their country: full name, date of birth, gender; citizenship and passport number of the individual. Canada requires that of anyone entering our country. The air carriers will now be able to manifest that information, as required, of all passengers and crew members for each flight that travels to the United States.

The second type of information that concerns some individuals a little more, which my colleagues from the NDP and the Bloc raised, is the information that gives more detail about the actual flight that a passenger is taking. It is called the passenger name record. This is a file on the information that is gathered by the airline on the individual passenger: how the flight was booked, the name of the travel agency used, whether the ticket was paid for in cash or by credit card, the type of payment, all that kind of information, even those things that we voluntarily give an airline, such as our meal preference, our seat preference and those sorts of thing. There is some concern that more information is being given than is necessary and certainly a more personal type of information.

What has to be understood and understood very clearly is that this information about an individual passenger will only be given by the airlines when it is specifically requested by the competent authorities in the foreign country, and at this time it is only the United States. This information will not be for the whole crew or the whole list of passengers but about individual passengers. One might wonder why or how that comes about. It may come about if someone is concerned or has reason to be concerned about an individual passenger who has appeared on a list. The information would then be requested to clear up some uncertainties or to provide more information.

One thing we did hear when the committee studied airline security was that one of the greatest problems we have, not only in our country but in the United States as well, is the sharing of information and intelligence, and that had this sharing of information and intelligence occurred we may not have had the incidents of September 11. The most important factor is that intelligence is shared not only from agency to agency but between the countries that might be involved. This is a sharing of information and intelligence that may prevent a reoccurrence of the tragic events of September 11.

People have pointed out the privacy concern. Some individuals, especially the privacy commissioner, find that the American legislation would be, in his words, repugnant. His concern is that the information being provided to the American authorities will not be protected under the American privacy legislation. I am not sure the information of foreigners or aliens in Canada is protected by the Canadian privacy legislation.

Yes, there may be a concern there, but one has to understand that if a Canadian is flying into the United States that government has the right, just as Canada has the right, to ask whatever questions it may want to ask to confirm that an individual has the legal right to come into the country and that the individual does not pose any threat to national security. Canada has that right and so does the United States. If a person is not willing to comply with the request, then the choice is not to travel to the United States.

I repeat, the Americans will only ask for more detailed information if the name, the alias or the passport number has been red-flagged. It is not that they will be asking for detailed information on every individual who flies to the United States. Millions and millions of people fly into the United States every year. The Americans do not have the resources, time or interest to check every single person to that extent, but what they will want is to have access to the information when they have concerns about an individual. It is their right, as it is Canada's right, to do so, which will be addressed in Bill C-42.

We also have to look at the amendment that the privacy commissioner requested be put in, that any information collected by the U.S. authorities through this process cannot be then given to the Canadian government through the back door. We really have to wonder if Canadians will sleep any better tonight knowing that the Canadian government cannot get this information from the American government unless it pertains to national security, public safety or defence.

If the Canadian government wanted to get the name, address, telephone number and passport number of a Canadian citizen, I think it would be far easier to pick up the phone and call the passport division of foreign affairs then to try and get hold of someone in the American administration to get the information. Let us be real here. If the Canadian government wants my name and passport number, it knows where to find them.

As far as Canadian authorities getting more personal information about any of us, about any person they might be concerned about, they already have that authority. If they are conducting a legal investigation, the investigative body has the legal authority to get whatever information it wants about us. It does not need to go through any back door to get that information.

The amendment would only ensure that Canadian agencies, which could not get the information before under Canadian law, would still not be able to get the information. The Canadian agencies that had the right under Canadian law to get that information would still be able to get that information. In other words, the amendment really does not do anything. It may sound good but it really would not make a difference. The legislation itself will not really make a whole lot of difference to a Canadian who is travelling to the United States.

As I said earlier, 94% of Canadians travelling to the United States now give this information when they are pre-cleared at the seven major airports flying into the United States.

What we need to be concerned about is that the government has not shown any real initiatives. Yes, it can be accused of reacting to the perceived demands of the Americans. It can be accused of seemingly only reacting when pressures are put on it by outside sources.

Over the past eight years the government has shown very little initiative or creative thinking on how we can better our country and better the security for our country.

If the Americans and Canadians truly want an improved system of communication to prevent terrorist activity, they should review the binational border management agency which the coalition proposed on November 1.

Until the Liberal government develops some real foresight, some innovation and an ability to think a little further than the next election, we are going to have to deal with piecemeal legislation that is reactive and not proactive.

For ordinary Canadians, the bill would have very little impact. It is not going to make a whole lot of difference in their lives when they travel to the United States. While the coalition might criticize and wonder about the effectiveness of the legislation, we do not see anything in the legislation that is negative or that would have an adverse effect on Canadians, so we will be supporting it.

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12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, toward the end of my colleague's comments she mentioned a whole issue that goes well beyond the bill we are debating. It is very relevant to the discussion that needs to happen between the United States of America and Canada, and even Mexico if we were to expand that discussion, about perimeter security and the exchange of information, with which the bill deals specifically. It goes beyond the exchange of information.

We need to make sure that the continent, as it were, is as secure as possible. Hopefully at some point the three countries, but perhaps as an initial step bilaterally the two countries, Canada and the United States, must clearly understand what the policies of each other are and that they are in sync.

My colleague who just spoke and I, as well as a number of opposition members from many of the parties, dating all the way back to when the House reconvened following the terrible tragedy of September 11, basically pleaded with the government to open doors and the lines of communication with the Americans to ensure that we did not end up with a situation where Canada was effectively outside of what was potentially being called fortress America.

Instead, we worked very closely with the Americans and reassured them that our policies on immigration, refugees, security and all those types of issues, are comforting enough to them that they could allow the access and free flow of goods and services back and forth across the largest undefended border in the world.

My colleague mentioned her thoughts. She has worked hard. She has had a number of meetings with different agencies and individuals. Could she enlighten the House and the viewing public as to what she has done and what reception this plan of hers to create this binational agency is receiving, particularly from the Americans? Also, is it being looked upon favourably by the government?

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12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a proposal on the table by the coalition. There are three parts to it.

The part of the proposal my colleague has referred to is the binational agency. In essence it would hold a database of all the names of individuals who are travelling, coming into our country as well as leaving it. It would include Canada and the United States and potentially Mexico.

The database would hold names of individuals who are of a concern to the various agencies that would participate, for example, the intelligence communities, the police, customs and immigration. It would also contain the names of people who have voluntarily gone through a preclearance program. Individuals who had been precleared would be expedited when they came to the border. Individuals who are a concern to any of the nations' agencies would be red flagged and put into a secondary inspection process.

The interesting thing about the proposal is that it also includes freight, the movement of goods. It would expedite not only the movement of persons but the movement of goods, which is beneficial to the enormous trade that occurs between Canada and the United States.

We are very enthusiastic about it. There has been a lot of support indicated for the concept both in Canada and in the United States. We look forward to the government realizing what a good idea it is and bringing it into its system. We hope the government shows some foresight and some willingness to recognize good ideas and innovative approaches. We hope it will show some leadership rather than always following what other countries do.

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1 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, since this morning, I have been listening carefully to the debate about this very important bill. When I heard what the Bloc Quebecois member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel had to say, I decided to speak to the bill myself, given its importance.

The House will understand that this is an issue which the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel has followed closely and on which he has done a considerable amount of work. He advises and informs the Bloc Quebecois members on this topic. I listened to him earlier and several things that he said about Bill C-44 caught my attention. I am thinking of such things as all the legislative measures that the government has put in place to fight terrorism, and the atmosphere that has been created as a result.

I simply had to speak because this is an issue that is terribly important to me, since it touches on key concepts, on the criminal code and related legislation. It is important for the legal system of Canada and of Quebec. I therefore decided to rise and speak.

As my colleague said, this is a very important bill, which will influence our justice system for years to come. To give a bit of context, it must be recalled that the government began by introducing Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism bill. This bill gave various powers to ministers, including the solicitor general and the Minister of National Defence, with respect to arrests without warrant, very broad electronic eavesdropping, and so forth. It is a very complex piece of legislation, whose principle we agreed with, and we thought we should support it. That is what we did.

But we had such major reservations that, in the end, we voted against the bill at third reading. At the time, we thought that this was the government's anti-terrorism measure. Surprise, surprise. We see that Bill C-35 contains all sorts of clauses giving increased powers to the RCMP, special powers to peace officers during visits by foreign heads of state. So there is another anti-terrorism measure.

Then came another such measure—this is basically how Bill C-44 came about—it was Bill C-42. Bill C-42 is highly complex. As we said earlier, it is about a hundred pages long. Once again, more powers are given to ministers, the solicitor general and the Minister of Defence. Interim orders may be taken and military zones may be created. This is another legislative measure to combat terrorism.

That is when we said “This is too much, this is going too far”. We cannot even support Bill C-42 in principle, because it disregards the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and gives far too broad powers to one single man or woman. We need to examine this more closely. We need to take time to study the whole issue.

Once again, the government is rushing us. The government is gagging us. It introduced motions to study all of these bills quickly under the pretext that we had to meet international requirements.

According to the government, Bill C-42 responds to important international requirements. Is this not strange? When the government realized that it was not able to rush the bill through before the holidays, is it not strange that it managed to limit to one page what had to be passed by then? It is as though all of the rest of Bill C-42 confirmed what we on this side of the House have been saying all along: the events of September 11 were a pretext for this government to turn upside down a number of statutory approaches.

The events of September 11 have provided the government with the opportunity to grab the powers it has always dreamed of, but lacked the political guts to.

This is so much the case that they have taken what was important on the international scene and put it into a bill to be called Bill C-44, the provisions of which fit on an 8½ x 11 sheet of paper.

These important provisions concern air travel, and I will be returning to that later.

What is of concern to me is the improvisational approach the government, which claims to be a responsible government, is taking at present. It is improvising legislation of great importance, seemingly not knowing where it is headed.

This is so much the case that, at one point, the government imposed a gag order for Bill C-36, and the next day we were forced to adjourn at 4 p.m., or maybe it was 5 or 5.30 p.m., I do not remember, because there was nothing left on the order paper. There was nothing more to look at. That shows lack of vision, not knowing where they are headed.

This improvisation goes back to the very start. For weeks on end, the response from the other side when opposition members, particularly the official opposition, were asking the government whether there ought not to be anti-terrorism legislation in Canada, was that it was not needed, that we already had all the legislation required.

Then overnight, two weeks later, a complex bill was introduced; a week later, another; a week later, yet another. Today, the government came up with a bill that we absolutely must pass before Christmas, one that is going to be divided in two. When it comes down to it, it all boils down to one clause.

I feel the government does not know where it is going. This is dangerous when something as important as rights and freedoms are concerned.

The objective we have always tried to attain, with bills C-36, C-35, C-42 and now C-44, is to strike a balance between national security and individual and group rights. This is hardly complicated.

We have an international reputation, and deservedly so, of being a country where rights are preserved. At least, that reputation used to be deserved. We have case law, lawyers to apply it, judges who bring down good decisions. There are some very important elements on which to focus, to invest. It is a good thing for the country, in a way,to live in a place where that balance can be sought.

In all these bills, including Bill C-44 currently before us, we have always been able to draw on the expertise of lawyers, people who for years have worked with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and with individual and group rights. There are even experts among the Liberal government members, including the member for Mount Royal, who claims to be—and I think it is true—a great defender of individual and group rights.

They all, including the member for Mount Royal, criticized bills C-36, C-42, and C-44 now before us.

I read in the papers that the member for Mount Royal criticized Bill C-42, which is in a way the starting point for Bill C-44. He said it was problematic because it upset the balance between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches. The executive is being given more powers. He says he will oppose it.

I should be rejoicing, but I will not be. Why? Because the member for Mount Royal said the same thing about Bill C-36.

Once the steam roller passed on the other side, he did what the majority of Liberals did, he voted in favour of Bill C-36. But those who appeared before the committee, the civil liberties union of Canada, the great and true defenders of individual and group rights continues to condemn this bill, which will come into effect one day, because it has been passed by the House.

I have no illusions about Bill C-42 and Bill C-44. However, I must say that the government opposite has a knack. It has a way of getting many people to swallow affronts. It has a magic potion that makes people accept things they would otherwise reject. It worked with us at first and second reading of Bill C-36. But it did not work afterward, because we saw them coming from miles away.

However, this way of doing things may work with the public as long as it does not see the real impact of the legislation. This is the case with Bill C-44.

The government tells us “We moved an amendment in committee, with the result that the privacy commissioner agrees with the whole thing. Things are fine. There is no problem”. Still, when I look at Bill C-44 and at the amendment, I am very concerned.

What is Bill C-44? It is an act which, once in force, will allow the government to provide information on air travellers. This information will not only include names, addresses and passport numbers: it will be much more detailed. The government says that, thanks to this amendment, the privacy commissioner agrees with the legislation and there is no problem, since everything will be secure. I will read the amendment.

No information provided under subsection (1) to a competent authority in a foreign state may be collected from that foreign state by a government institution, within the meaning of section 3 of the Privacy Act, unless it is collected for the purpose of protecting national security—

I have no problem with that.

—or public safety.

This is where I have a problem. Public safety is a very broad concept. What is public safety? For example, could a department such as Human Resources Development Canada get from the United States information relating to a monetary issue, for reasons of public safety?

It will be up to the courts to interpret this provision. But in the meantime, how will this provision be applied? Will there be abuse? We must never forget that, to fully understand the meaning of this bill, it must be examined along with all the other acts that will come into effect at the same time. We need all the pieces of the puzzle to fully understand the scope of the government's anti-terrorism legislation.

This is worrisome. I cannot see how this amendment can reassure the privacy commissioner, particularly since the governor in council will define through regulations the information that travellers will have to disclose to the government. The government had promised us that we would have the regulations.

As the member for Argenteuil--Papineau--Mirabel has said on numerous occasions, we asked for copies of these regulations. We asked for the information. The government always stalled.

At some point, we felt that we could not wait any longer, that we wanted something in our hands. It sent us a summary of what might be in the regulations. As everyone knows, a summary is always the minimum. When we see the actual regulations, it is clear that the government added little things that it never told us about. It is clear even from the summary that a lot of information is required, even a passenger's social insurance number, telephone number, itinerary, everywhere he has travelled. This is far-reaching.

Using public safety as an excuse, a minister can ask the United States for this information. In other words, it will be possible for someone to invoke public safety and do indirectly something that is outright illegal in Canada. This is using the events of September 11 for highly political ends.

The more we look at the legislative measures, such as Bill C-36, Bill C-35, Bill C-44 and Bill C-42, the closer we get to a police state. That is what is disturbing. I am not saying that this will happen tomorrow morning, but all the ingredients are there to set the stage for a rather ugly situation, a way of doing things which is foreign to Canada and to Quebec. I do not want to live in such a country.

Everyone knows our party's platform. This shows once again that it is high time that Quebecers cast off this central authority, which shows unbelievable arrogance in passing legislation as important as this.

The principle of the bill is understandable, as is the fact that we must have legislation to comply with certain international obligations and with American legislation. The Americans have the right to pass the laws they wish when it comes to their country's security. If they want to allow our carriers to land in their country, I understand that we do not have a big say.

This is why we will support Bill C-44. However, this is another example of the way the government really thinks. It uses an obligation to give itself even greater powers and to do indirectly what it cannot do directly. This flagrant lack of political courage needs to be stressed. But we should stress even more the ad hoc attitude this government has shown throughout the whole process by introducing piecemeal legislation to deal with terrorism.

The opposition would probably have had cooperated fully with the government if it had proceeded through a single bill. However, to do so you must know what you want to do. This may be where the problem lies: the government does not know where it is going, which explains why it deals with such an important issue in a piecemeal way. This is very concerning, because this approach will taint the legislation as a whole and the Canadian way of doing things.

I conclude by saying that we will support Bill C-44 reluctantly, considering that its object is to meet certain obligations. But the government should get its act together and deal with such an important issue much more seriously.

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1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the remarks of the hon. member from the Bloc with great interest. I note that during his remarks he talked about the government's piecemeal approach and the fact that the bill was originally an omnibus bill.

The government then hived off the one clause dealing with aircraft passenger lists, making them available to the Americans to reassure them that we were interested in their security as much as they were.

Looking at the bill from the government's perspective, there might be an appearance of a contradiction in the sense that most of us have been critical of government when it brings forward omnibus bills. Yet my colleague from the Bloc sounded as though he was a bit critical that the government brought forward one specific part when it carved off one clause of the bill.

I believe I understood what the member was saying. When we talk about the government's piecemeal approach to dealing with the security issues that have become so evident in the aftermath of the horrendous attacks of September 11, my position and that of the coalition is that we are talking about an overall vision and communicating that vision to Canadians.

The government should be bringing forward a comprehensive plan on how it will address all issues that are inherent in the security of our people, our country and the North American continent.

Far be it from me to answer my own question, but if I understood the member correctly he was critical of the piecemeal approach. I believe he was supportive of the government's focus when it brought forward clear legislation so that we could understand the single issue before us. We could vote on the good or the bad in the legislation rather than be confronted, as we have often been in the past, with an omnibus bill where some parts are good and some parts are bad. We would support some and oppose other parts. Then we would have to come to a very difficult choice of whether to support the bill or to vote against it.

Would the hon. member care to elaborate further on what he meant when he talked about the government's piecemeal approach to addressing the important issue of continental and national security?

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December 6th, 2001 / 1:20 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will try to be a little bit clearer. The Bloc Quebecois and, I believe, Quebecers and Canadians as a whole, would have liked to hear the government say: “This is what we intend to do to fight terrorism. A bill will deal with an issue, and another one with another issue. Bill C-42 will be about this and that”. We would have liked the government to explain the approach on which is based the anti-terrorism legislation we are going to pass.

This does not mean that everything should be put in a single bill. I agree with the member who said that an omnibus bill always contains elements that are frightening or that we would like to oppose, and others elements that are interesting and we would like to support.

Right now, we are in between: we do not know what to do and we feel the government tried to slip us a pill we did not want along with something we did. I have always been against such an approach. I have always said that the government should not proceed in such a way and I still hold that view.

We would have liked the government to show the political courage it seems to lack and spell out everything it wanted in terms of the legislation to fight terrorism.

I can immediately say that if we had been shown Bills C-35, C-36, C-42 and C-44, and if I had examined them with my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, we would not have supported Bill C-36 at second reading, because it went too far, because it was not consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and because it lacks the proper balance between national security and individual and group rights.

The government decided to introduce Bill C-36 first, and then Bill C-35. Still later, it came up with Bill C-42, which was supposed to be extremely important and which had to be passed in a hurry before the holiday season. Suddenly, we found out that the only very important part in this 100 page bill could hold on a single 8½ X 11 sheet of paper.

What are we to believe in everything this government is saying? This is called a piecemeal approach.

I congratulate the government on this initiative to have the minister remove a clause from the bill and introduce new legislation, Bill C-44. I agree with the splitting of this part, which will allow us to support it, although not wholeheartedly as I was saying earlier on Bill C-44, but in general. My colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel made a very eloquent speech in this regard.

We will indeed support this bill, even if we might add that the government has gone too far and that it is not abiding by the promises it made regarding the regulations. We will support it because life has to go on, particularly since many people deal with the United States in Quebec and in Canada. A lot of people travel, et cetera. On January 18 or 19, there would be a problem if we did not have legislation. Therefore we are going ahead with this.

But the government might be going too far. For the rest of Bill C-42, when the debate will be held, when all of that will be examined in committee, we will realize once more that it is really going too far and that we have to analyze all the pieces of the puzzle to understand the government's approach to the fight against terrorism.

I sincerely hope that there will be opposition members, who have done an excellent job on these rights, as well as some government members, such as the hon. member for Mount Royal, who told reporters before the bill was passed that it made no sense and he would be voting against it, but yet when the time came to vote, he stood up and voted the same as the rest of the government.

I trust they will be logical in their thinking, and will not yield to the government's pressure, the pressure it puts on every time it introduces bills of this kind.

I think I have been sufficiently clear this time on how I see things, and I believe I am not alone in my views. I think this is what the public wants, and it deserves to have the government act according to its wishes.

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1:25 p.m.


Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, has my colleague from the Bloc or his party taken a position on whether there should be reciprocity with respect to the provisions the Americans are demanding from us, namely giving up all this information?

Should there be a similar provision in the bill that the Americans must provide us with information about their passengers?

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1:30 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think the experience of other countries needs to be looked at. If it is important for the U.S. to have this information before allowing planes to land there, if it is important for them to have names, addresses, phone numbers, SIN numbers and goodness knows what else, perhaps thought would have to be given to requiring the same of them.

The hon. member will understand that I have not, personally, examined that approach. The member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel is our critic and expert in this field. This would certainly be a highly pertinent question, particularly for an overall view. This is a bill that is even more complex, because it is Bill C-42 in its entirety. This is a question my colleague is going to be able to answer readily.

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1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I will utilize all my time, but listening to the debate today I thought it would be a good opportunity to participate in the larger issue of the way the government is conducting the business of the House in its so-called fight against terrorism.

As I said to my colleague from the Bloc during questions and comments, I found myself agreeing with his overarching statement that one of the problems we in the House, let alone Canadians out in the real world, have with the government's approach to the war on terrorism is the way it is bringing in legislation.

We all recognize that while the legislation is hurried it must be done properly. There is not only a great need for the government to bring forward thoughtful legislation that will stand the test of time. It must allow the legislation to be open to amendments from all parties in the House. It must listen attentively to representations by people and organizations out in the real world who would ultimately be affected by the legislation we pass in this place.

Unfortunately what we have seen in the last two months or so, as my colleague was saying, is Bill C-36, the so-called anti-terrorism legislation; Bill C-35; and Bill C-42. Bill C-44 which we are debating today was hived off Bill C-42 because of the sense of urgency that the clause needed to be passed before the House rose for mid-winter break.

It is this approach that is causing consternation and concern among all opposition parties and to a certain degree the Canadian public. The government has not communicated an overall vision of what it intends to do to address the issue. It is encouraging the Canadian public to get back to business as usual.

We want to minimize the economic impact of the war on terrorism and the aftermath of the horrendous attacks. We all understand that. However the world has changed forever. People outside the Ottawa bubble recognize that at least as much as we do and possibly more. The world is not the same place. Canadians are looking to the government for leadership.

The government is bringing bills before the House one at a time. We in the opposition are expected to assist the government in making sure the best possible legislation is ultimately put into law, or at least sent to the other place for the Senate to consider. While we struggle with this it is extremely difficult if we do not understand the government's overall vision and exactly what it intends to bring forward.

As a number of individuals said prior to my remarks, we might react quite differently to legislation if we could see it within the overall context of what is coming down the road. We might be more supportive or more opposed.

We have no idea what bills the government may introduce between now and when the House rises next week. We do not know what it will bring forward in late January or early February to address different facets of the huge issue of terrorism and try to make our country, society and people safer and more secure.

As the previous speakers have said, we are supportive of the fact that the legislation before us today, Bill C-44, is very simple in nature. We are concerned about the lack of vision and foresight that the government continually exhibits and what that elicits in the minds of the public. It is not very comforting for the people of a country, who are looking for leadership, to see this piecemeal approach wherein legislation is very hurriedly brought in and then amended by the government amends.

In the case of Bill C-36, there were somewhere in the order of 100 amendments, the vast majority of which were brought forward by the government. Those types of procedures send a very clear message to Canadians that the government is not in control and that it does not have a clear plan. If it did, it would not have brought the bill forward and before it was barely in the House start looking at possible amendments, tearing it apart and rejigging it.

With Bill C-42, the government brought the bill forward, then rushed around and talked to all the opposition parties to see if there was some way the bill could be shuttled off to committee right away so the committee could hive off the clause that was needed right away. The government had some concerns about that because it wanted to adequately debate Bill C-42 on the floor of the House.

When the government ran into resistance with that, it then thought it could perhaps get unanimous consent to carve off one piece of the bill, submit it as new legislation in the form of Bill C-44 and then rush it through the House. That type of activity by the government is far from comforting or reassuring to Canadians, let alone to Americans.

I can well remember rising in my place to speak shortly after the House reconvened in late September. I believe it was the September 18, if memory serves me correctly. In my remarks at that time I suggested that it was incumbent upon the government to communicate to the Canadian people and Americans a vision of what it intended to do to make our country, and indeed our continent, more secure. Sadly, over two months have passed since the House reconvened and we have not seen that type of vision or comprehensive plan put forward by the government. We have not seen it communicate its plan is to Canadians and Americans or North Americans as a whole.

Instead, as my colleague from the Bloc just said, the government has brought forward one piece of legislation at a time thinking it could perhaps plug the problem with airline security, or airport security, or passenger lists or some potential problem at a seaport. I believe it is this piecemeal approach that is of great concern to the Canadian people. It does not send the proper message to Canadians or Americans that the government knows what it is doing on this all important issue.

My colleague from South Surrey--White Rock--Langley who spoke earlier on this legislation has done an incredible amount of work, not just in the last couple of months but in the last few years on the issue of border management. The issue of trade corridors is obviously of huge importance to her because her riding is very close to the U.S. border.

Cross-border trade is a big issue, not only to all Canadians but to the Americans as well. Eighty per cent of our trade is with the Americans and one-quarter of theirs is with us. However it also is a huge issue for her and to people of her riding. She has done an incredible amount of work on this very complex issue of border management, even prior to the horrendous terrorist attacks of September 11 and the fallout those attacks.

Unfortunately what we are witnessing now is a tightening of security at the U.S. border. The coalition has argued that that tightening of our entry points should be on a continental perimeter rather than restricted only to the American-Canadian border. I know this is of grave concern to local politicians. The mayors and councils of the cities closest to the U.S.-Canada border have become quite involved because they have recognized the fallout. Whether it is Quebec and the New England states, or the Windsor border area of Ontario or at different points across western Canada, this problem has affected the vast majority of Canadians, and we want to see it solved.

That is why my colleague, on behalf of the coalition, put forward more of a comprehensive plan, or a vision, on greater border management and security. One of the facets of the plan is a binational or bilateral agency to exchange freely information between the United States and Canada by setting up a databank computer system. By doing that our systems would be fully integrated and both countries would know exactly what was going back and forth across the border. We would then have the reassurance that both countries would know what is going on.

I am reminded of the example I used when I spoke to the issue back home in my riding of Prince George--Peace River during the November break week. I was talking to some Rotary clubs and chambers of commerce in the riding. I made the comment about the banks designing a bank card which could be used almost everywhere in the world. People could go to an international bank, put in a bank card and get money out in local currency. That truly is amazing when one thinks about it. If the banks could design something like that, then surely to goodness two countries with so much at stake, as Canada and the United States have on the issues of security and safety for our citizens, could design an integrated computer system and establish an agency to monitor that system. By doing that, both countries could feel comfortable in knowing who and what goods were travelling back and forth across our common border.

I commend my colleague for the work she has done on this issue and I commend our proposal put forward by the coalition on November 1. I know that she has had discussions with some Americans and American agencies on this issue and that the vision of a new way of managing the border between the U.S. and Canada has been relatively well received. It could bear some great fruit on how we approach this.

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1:45 p.m.


Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the member, given his experience and how he has seen the Liberal government manage debate in the House since the last election, should Quebecers and Canadians feel reassured when the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Transport and the Minister of National Defence all tell us, about different bills that we have seen, Bills C-36, C-42, C-35 and C-44, “All you have to do is propose amendments in committee and you will then have the to opportunity to amend these bills”?

Should people feel reassured when those ministers and the Prime Minister himself make such statements?

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1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from the Bloc Quebecois for his comments and his question. Obviously what we have seen transpire is of great concern to the very basis of democracy in this place. We have seen the government utilize time allocation and closure more than any previous government. That in and of itself is of great concern.

We saw the way the government handled Bill C-36 even though concerns were expressed, not only in this place, but in committee, by organizations from coast to coast, by every province and territory and by the average Canadians, about the potential for abuse in the area of civil rights and liberties. The government rammed the legislation through the House in the most undemocratic way possible with the use of time allocation. It shut down debate and, as my hon colleague alluded to, it shut off debate on amendments. There were some potentially excellent amendments brought forward by opposition parties which were never debated on the floor of the House. Some of the amendments were never debated in committee, despite the assurances of the Minister of Justice that we would have adequate debate and that there would be lots of time taken to ensure that we did it right. That was a very sad day for democracy, for Canada and for parliament.

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1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

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1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members


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1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members


Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta


Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved the second reading of, and concurrence in, amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-24, an act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and law enforcement) and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.


Stephen Owen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as members will recall, Bill C-24 was introduced on April 5 and received approval at third reading on June 13. The bill has now been passed at third reading with amendments by the other place.

The amendments made in the other place do not change the essential nature of Bill C-24. As members will recall, Bill C-24 is intended to strengthen Canada's ability to deal with organized crime and to make a number of related changes to improve our law enforcement capability.

As passed by the House in June, the bill included four main elements, all of which are attained in the bill as amended by the other place. Very briefly, the four elements are: first, a new enhanced definition of “criminal organization” and the creation of a number of new offences targeting involvement with criminal organizations; second, measures to improve the protection from intimidation of people who play a role in the justice system; third, the creation of an accountable process to protect law enforcement officers from criminal liability for certain otherwise illegal acts committed in the course of an investigation; fourth, the broadening of powers to forfeit and seize proceeds of crime and property that has been used in a crime.

As I have indicated, these elements in all of their essential nature remain in the bill as amended. Rather than change the essential nature of the bill, the amendments made by the other place make enhancements to the bill. In particular, the amendments provide enhancements to control and accountability under the law enforcement justification for certain otherwise illegal acts committed in the course of an investigation. These amendments were made by way of two motions which were carried in the other chamber.

Members of the House will recall that an essential condition of the law enforcement justification is that it can only apply to designated public officers. Both motions to amend Bill C-24 that were made and carried in the other place relate to this designation requirement.

The designation requirement is a key aspect of control and accountability under the scheme. Under the requirement the responsible minister has a “competent authority” and must turn his or her mind to the need for and qualifications of the particular officers who are proposed to have this special jurisdiction and justification under the criminal code. The minister will be accountable for these decisions with respect to designation.

As originally passed by the House, Bill C-24 allowed the responsible minister to designate individual public officers or groups of public officers. In the other place it was pointed out that allowing for group designation instead of just for the designation of individual officers may undermine to some degree the key ministerial control and accountability function. It was suggested that greater control and accountability would be achieved if ministers were required to exercise this function with respect to each officer. This would directly require the minister to turn his or her mind to the essential characteristics of each officer in respect of the appropriateness of and eligibility for designation.

Members in the other chamber evidently agreed that allowing only for individual designations would be preferable. A motion was carried that eliminated authority for group designations in the number of places where it appeared.

Upon full consideration of this change, I believe the House should fully support it. The change enhances the control and accountability mechanisms under the scheme. Although these mechanisms already were strong, it is appropriate that they be made stronger by requiring individual consideration of each officer for whom designation is proposed.

Further, the change will not undermine the effectiveness of the scheme. While there may be some additional administrative burden in requiring that designation be done on an individual basis, this is a small and acceptable price to pay for enhanced control and accountability.

The additional motion to amend which was carried in the other place relates to the function of civilian oversight for police officers. It has been pointed out previously that the control and accountability mechanisms directly incorporated in the law enforcement justification scheme are in addition to, not a replacement for, existing control and accountability over law enforcement officers in Canada. Among the ways that this currently takes place in Canada is through the work of the bodies established for the civilian oversight of police. Such bodies are widely employed in this country.

The exact manner in which they are constituted and function can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Nevertheless effective methods of civilian review of police conduct, most notably through jurisdiction to receive and consider public complaints, is well established in Canada.

Nothing in Bill C-24 removes or undermines the role of civilian oversight. It is fully expected that civilian oversight bodies established in the various Canadian jurisdictions can and will play a role in reviewing the conduct of police officers under the law enforcement justification in the same manner as they currently play a role in reviewing law enforcement conduct.

Some have argued however, that because of the nature of the law enforcement justification and the absolute need to guard against abuse, we should make it a condition that civilian oversight bodies must be in place with respect to any enforcement officers sought to be designated under the scheme. As it has been suggested that civilian oversight bodies have an important role to play in relation to the law enforcement justification scheme, it has in turn been argued that we must ensure prior to designation that this role can be carried out. In situations where this civilian oversight capacity does not exist or where it may conceivably not exist in the future, although it is certainly not a trend to eliminate civilian oversight in Canada, perhaps the special authority granted by the law enforcement justification should also not exist.

Members of the other place evidently accepted these arguments. A motion to amend Bill C-24 was carried. It adds two subsections to proposed section 25.1 of the criminal code.

The first new subsection, subsection 3.1, provides that a competent authority may not designate a member of a police force unless there exists a public authority composed of persons who are not peace officers who have the power to review the conduct of the officers proposed to be designated. This achieves the condition on the scheme that I have discussed, that a civilian oversight authority must be in place to allow designation.

The second new subsection, subsection 3.2, allows the governor in council or a lieutenant governor in council as the case may be, to designate a person or body as a public authority for the purpose of the other added subsection and provides that this designation is conclusive evidence that this person or body is such a public authority. This will avoid any uncertainty of the existence of civilian oversight and avoids collateral attacks on the competence of the oversight bodies.

These are changes that the House can and should support. It is vital that the law enforcement justification scheme be subject to review and we can rightfully anticipate civilian oversight bodies will play an important part in this review. In order to assure the House and the Canadian public that this civilian oversight review capacity is in place in relation to the law enforcement justification, it is appropriate to make it a condition of the scheme.