House of Commons Hansard #26 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-17.


Question No. 11Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

With regard to the amount of government funds expended to assist communitieswith homeless problems: ( a ) what is the total amount expended since 1999; ( b ) which communities have received funds; ( c ) what year did they receive funds and what was the amount; ( d ) how many new shelters have been constructed; ( e ) where were these shelters constructed; and ( f ) how many new beds have become available to shelter homeless Canadians?

Return tabled.

Question No. 14Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.


Robert Lanctôt Bloc Châteauguay, QC

For the last fiscal year, what amounts were allocated by the various federal departments and agencies to the following service categories: ( a ) communication studies (T000); ( b ) market study and opinion poll services (T001); ( c ) communication services, including exhibitions (T002); ( d ) advertising services (T003); and ( e ) public relations services (T004)?

Return tabled.

Question No. 15Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.


Robert Lanctôt Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Will the government provide a list for the past five years, by federal department and agency, of companies approved under a pre-qualification process (such as a “standing offer”) to provide the following communications services: ( a ) communications study; ( b ) market study and public opinion services; ( c ) communication, including exhibition, service, ( d ) advertising service; and ( e ) public relations service?

Return tabled

Question No. 21Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

With regard to the transboundary watersheds shared by the State of Alaska and the Province of British Columbia: ( a ) what investigations, reviews, references, studies or plans of study have been initiated, completed, and planned for in relation to the Alsek, Chilkat, Taiya, Skagway, Taku, Whiting, Stikine, or Unuk transboundary watersheds, in relation to provisions or requirements contained in the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act; ( b ) how many authorizations or approvals under section 5(1) of the Navigable Waters Protection Act have been issued for each of the transboundary rivers listed in part (a); ( c ) what is the location of each authorization; ( d ) how many authorizations or approvals under section 5(1) of the Navigable Waters Protection Act have been denied for each of the transboundary rivers listed in part (a); ( e ) what fisheries are located in each of the transboundary rivers listed in part (a); ( f ) what efforts have been taken to ensure the protection of salmon habitat and safe passage as required and in relation to the Pacific Salmon Treaty for the transboundary watersheds listed in part (a); ( g ) what investigations, studies or plans of study have been initiated, completed, and planned for in conjunction with the State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game or related United States Departments or Agencies in relation to each of the transboundary watersheds listed in part (a); ( h ) what investigations have been initiated or completed under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act or the Fisheries Act for each of the transboundary watersheds listed in part (a); and ( i ) what investigations, reviews, references, studies or plans of study have been initiated, completed, and planned for in relation to the State of Alaska proposal for the “Bradfield Road” transportation corridor?

Return tabled.

Question No. 21Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.


Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 21Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Question No. 21Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members


The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-17, an act to amend certain acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Question No. 21Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say a few words on Bill C-17. Many of my colleagues from all the parties here on this side have expressed concern that Bill C-17 is very much like the old Bill C-55, whereby the changes that we hoped to see in the new bill really are not there. There have been some cosmetic changes made, with some changes in time differentials and whatever, but generally speaking in regard to the effect Bill C-17 will have on the privacy of Canadians, there are still a lot of the same concerns that were raised before.

The bill is about one thing and one thing only. It has nothing to do with the threats of attacks against our country. No, the bill is about power. More specifically, the bill is another attempt by the Liberal government to increase the powers of the executive and individual cabinet ministers.

As with its predecessor, the bill concentrates too much power with too few people. Many of us are very concerned when we look at the people in whose hands this power is going to be placed. We have seen demonstrations of how inadequate a number of the ministers have been over the last few years and, more specifically, certainly over the last few months.

When we look at the infighting that is going on within their own party and when we think that these very few people are going to be able to control in their own hands, individually, what goes on in relation to the security of the country, it makes one very nervous.

In so doing, it undermines the authority of this place and the electorate that put us here to represent its views and protect its fundamental rights and freedoms. The power play in relation to security and major decisions affecting our country should lie right here within these hallowed halls, in decisions made generally by the people elected to make such decisions and not concentrated in the hands of a few ministers. It also undermines the legitimate authority and constitutionally enshrined jurisdiction of other levels of government. As my colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough stated originally when he spoke to the bill, this bill undermines the very foundation of the country, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the division of powers defined by Canada's Constitution Act.

The one thing that the governing Liberals have failed to do is explain why the bill is actually needed. They failed to do so in the spring and they have still failed to demonstrate to Canadians this time around why such a bill, which threatens the freedoms and civil liberties of Canadians, is required when this country already has adequate legislation on the books in the form of the Emergencies Act.

It is easy for the government to hide behind the threat of terror and international attacks on our peace and security so that it can hoodwink Canadians into believing that such legislation is required. However, if the government were serious about protecting Canadians from such threats, it would invest more in our military instead of watching it dwindle to under 60,000 troops at a time when we need them the most, troops who do not have adequate equipment. Nor are they compensated properly for the fine work they do for their country. If the government were truly serious about security, it would reinvest in our military and make it the proud institution that it used to be.

While the government played politics and cancelled the contract to replace the Sea Kings, our personnel were losing their lives. The first of the Progressive Conservative helicopters would have been delivered already if it were not for the petty politics of the Liberal government. However, millions of dollars and nearly 10 years later, our personnel still risk their lives each time they set foot in one of those beaters. Meanwhile, the government is still looking for a good deal. This is nothing short of irresponsible.

The fact that the current Prime Minister will likely leave office without resolving the Sea King problem shows where the government puts our security on its priority list: at the bottom. What kind of legacy is that? Helicopters that will not fly, military pants that will not stay up, and submarines that will not float. That is the Liberal vision of our military and our security, and what are the Liberals going to do instead of addressing the real concerns of the country and putting money where money is really needed?

They are going to put decision making powers into the hands of ministers. Every day we are getting some hint, mainly through the press, of the security threat to the country. The government cannot answer a question in the House because it does not discuss these things publicly. It does not want anybody to know what is going on. The problem of course, that we fully understand, is that the ministers involved do not know what is going on and that is why they cannot answer the questions. If that is the way they handle such a serious situation we can imagine these same people having, within their hands, the ability to make major decisions as they relate to the security of the country and the privacy of citizens to live there.

The bill is really about something that is high on the Liberal agenda. It is not security but more power. The government has failed to put the proper resources into the military and other agencies of Canadian security. Instead it has come up with this bill that increases the power of cabinet ministers and trounces the authority of Parliament.

When we talk about putting money where money is needed, a few nights ago we had a debate on the Coast Guard or perhaps we should say the lack thereof. Resources to the Coast Guard have diminished over the years and the tremendous work that our Coast Guard has done around the coasts of this country has been diminished.

The security that exists at airports and at the borders of the country may be termed adequate. If one gets on a plane we know what type of security measures one goes through. If people drive across the border into Canada we know the people and their cars are thoroughly searched. However if people have any kind of mechanism that floats, from a raft, to a yacht, to an ocean liner, they can land in about 70% of this country and nobody even knows they are coming.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans who is responsible for the Coast Guard delighted the other night in telling us that the government has strengthened up measures because when boats are coming into our waters they now have to give us 96 hours advance notice rather than the 24 hours which was required originally.

How often have we heard of drug pushers or terrorists calling ahead to get reservations in this country? We know they do not call ahead. If we know of all the places in the country that are not covered by radar, certainly we must realize that they also know.

Given that Canada already has the Emergencies Act, why is the bill necessary? The government should not be trying to suspend our freedom and constitutional rights. It should be protecting them. The Government of Canada, which already has too much power, should not be seeking more tools to infringe on the rights of Canadians when legislation already exists.

Question No. 21Government Orders

3:30 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on two things in the bill, the first having to do with the sharing of information, and the second having to do with interim orders. I then wish to comment on whether in fact this is creating an environment of security or one of insecurity.

I just returned from a week abroad and my transfer point was Miami. I was flying in from a foreign country through Miami to Toronto. Frankly, Miami was a horror show. All I had to do was transfer from one airplane to another. It was the same airline in the same constellation of lounges. However, in order to be able to do it I had to disembark from the one airplane, go through U.S. immigration services, customs services, go back through security again, line up in front of the desk going into the gangway of the airplane, and then line up in the gangway of the airplane itself again. It was a nice waste of about two and half hours.

Apparently that is all for security purposes. I was kind of hard pressed to fathom how I would become a security risk by virtue of transferring from one airplane to the next airplane, in the same lounge which is a transit lounge, but apparently I was.

I can see how these so-called security needs lead to great frustration and create air rage on the part of the travelling public. I am hard pressed, however, to see how all of these security measures, as I experienced them in Miami yesterday, relate to security at all. In fact, it gets a little bizarre. Just to add on to the add on, the number of pieces of baggage with the number of passengers could not be co-related, so we sat there for an hour on the tarmac trying to count the baggage all over again.

I find that this kind of environment, particularly in the United States, leads to more paranoia than it does to security. If one ever wants to thank his or her lucky stars to be Canadian, one should travel in the United States now. Everyone there is walking on eggshells and I respectfully suggest that it is a society at war with itself, that in fact it is turning in on itself and contradicts some of the values it prizes the most, namely its freedoms and openness. I feel sympathetic to many of my American colleagues, but I must ask myself whether we in fact, by doing bills such as this, feed into that paranoia.

The paranoia in my opinion is further hyped by those who have a political agenda. For those in the security business these are good times. It serves those folks and they do not seem to be overly fussed about losses to rights of privacy.

Bill C-17 would allow the transference of all of my travel information to all security services around the world, particularly in the United States. They will know with whom I travelled. They will know that I travelled with my wife in this instance. They will know where we went and how I paid for it. They will know how often I travel, where I travel, with whom I travel and how I propose paying for it. That may in itself sound relatively benign except if one is the innocent victim. Make no mistake that this information will never be used for us. It will only be used against us.

I and everyone in the House will have a travel profile which will be gathered here and transmitted electronically around the world. There are no restrictions on how it would be used and who would use it and it could be cross-referenced with other data from various agencies that have information on me.

Our privacy commissioner has likened it to a police state mentality and while I think that is a bit overboard, I want to comment on having actually travelled in a police state, namely Estonia, when I was younger.

I recall vividly going to church on a Sunday morning, sitting in a service and while the minister was preaching, four soldiers from the Soviet army marched into the church, walked to the front and just starred at everybody in an attempt to intimidate those who were still going to church in that country.

The point is not that Canada would become a police state but that it would create an environment of fear. It would be sharing information with countries, some of whom clearly are much closer to police states. It would feed a climate of fear and fear builds on itself. To put an ironic twist on, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a former president of the United States said “You have nothing to fear but fear itself”. It is indeed ironic because all these bills create this environment of fear.

We are proposing this bill even though the results are not in on Bill C-36. One of the provisions of Bill C-36 is that there must be an annual report presented to Parliament on how it was used and possibly abused. We do not know whether the changes in the Criminal Code were actually helpful or a hindrance. We passed Bill C-36 in great haste but we have yet to see a report on its effectiveness.

Files tend to have a life of their own, especially where security forces have already reached a conclusion and like to secure evidence that advances that conclusion.

Bill C-17 would reduce the time a minister would require to make an interim order where immediate action is required to deal with a significant risk to health, safety or the environment.

I suppose the first question is: What is a significant risk?

This would allow the minister to act rapidly to address an emergency situation. Should a threat be identified, the Minister of Health, for example, could impose more stringent controls on the storage and distribution of potentially dangerous biological and chemical products to prevent them from being diverted for terrorist purposes.

What is envisioned here are situations which may not justify a declaration of national emergency but still require immediate action. The scope of the powers that could be exercised under Bill C-17 are more limited than we would get under the Emergencies Act but nevertheless are quite extensive in and of themselves.

I must congratulate the minister who has listened to some of the complaints that would limit some of the timeframes and some of the review processes. I guess the best that could be said here is that it is not as bad as Bill C-55.

However, the cabinet could still extend an interim order for a year. Parliament is not bypassed since an interim order must be tabled with Parliament, which is an unusual procedure and again I congratulate the minister for taking up that concern and tabling the interim orders before Parliament so they can in fact be reviewed within 15 days. This may or may not address the concern expressed by the previous speaker about ministerial excesses but that would largely be up to the vigilance of Parliament.

The interim order would still have to be gazetted within 23 days after it is made, thus ensuring some level of transparency. It is also subject to judicial review, as are other government decisions.

We still have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms which we continue to fully apply.

One would hope that as we add up all these checks to these potentially significant intrusions into the security and privacy and freedoms of our citizens we can have some measure of sense that these checks and balances would serve as useful legal instruments to protect Canadians in an emergency situation.

I do not know whether we will end up looking like the United States in the not too distant future. It is certainly not a future I covet as a husband and as a father for my children. I certainly do not covet it as a parliamentarian. I would hope that we here in Parliament act as a significant check on those kinds of intrusions into our rights.

Are we doing the right thing by sharing this information with other security services? I frankly do not think so. Are we doing it because we have to? Largely that is true. We are doing it because we have to. If people want to travel to the United States, those will be the rules of the ball game. Will interim orders be abused? I do not know. I do not think so.

Parliament needs to be at the centre of the vigilance and protection of our rights. Let us hope that both Parliament and the committees will do their job.

Question No. 21Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Waterloo—Wellington Ontario


Lynn Myers LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-17, the public safety act.

Specifically I would like to address section 4.82 which would amend the Aeronautics Act. This is an improvement over an earlier proposal in Bill C-55 because it addresses a number of concerns, not only of parliamentarians and people in the House, but also the Privacy Commissioner.

At the same time it is a very important provision for public safety. It will give our law enforcement and security agencies an effective and timely tool to improve transportation security and safety for all Canadians. How will it do this? It will require airlines, which already collect personal information about passengers, to share it when requested with specifically designated RCMP and CSIS officers.

Let me assure the House that designated officers cannot use the information for unrestricted purposes. Their use will be strictly limited to the purposes of transportation, security and counterterrorism. This makes sense because the RCMP requires information about passengers to deliver an effective air carrier protection program.

In practical terms the RCMP needs to know if there are potentially dangerous passengers on flights so that it can assign aircraft protective officers to cover them. Likewise, CSIS needs the information to identify known suspected terrorists before they board a plane. I do not think it would be in the interests of Canadians to deny the RCMP and CSIS access to this information if it could avert a terrorist incident or protect Canadians from potential harm.

We have removed the identification of persons subject to outstanding warrants as an authorized primary purpose for obtaining passenger information as it was set out in Bill C-55. However during the course of analyzing passenger information to check for terrorists and other high risk persons, the RCMP would be able to notify the local police if they identified a fugitive wanted for a serious crime such as murder.

This change specifically responds to concerns raised by hon. members and the Privacy Commissioner that accessing air passenger lists to identify persons with outstanding warrants for serious offences goes beyond the counterterrorism intent of the bill.

In keeping with public expectations, the RCMP would still be able to take action in the interests of public safety. If the RCMP happened to identify a dangerous wanted criminal or terrorist, it would then be able to notify the local police so it could be apprehended before they could harm someone else. The public would not expect anything less from the RCMP.

We must not lose sight of the fact that an arrest warrant is essentially an order that is issued in situations where the justice or the court believes it is necessary in the public interest to do so. What is more, it commands peace officers to arrest the person and to bring him or her before the justice or the court to be dealt with according to law. Without this provision we would be placing RCMP members in a very difficult position by preventing them from assisting in the execution of serious warrants they may discover in the context of analyzing passenger data for transportation security purposes.

I would like to take this moment to assure hon. members of the House that this authority would in no way give the RCMP blanket permission to arrest and detain just anyone. Before any passenger could be arrested, the RCMP and any other police force for that matter would have to take reasonable steps to positively identify the person named in the warrant.

That brings me to the second change, which is to narrow the types of offences for which warrants can be executed. Only warrants for offences which are punishable by five years or more in prison and which are identified and specified in a schedule to be listed in a regulation will be subject to disclosure.

Finally, the hallmark of Canada's approach to national security is collaboration among departments and agencies at the federal and provincial level, industry, parliamentarians, citizens rights groups and in the international community, especially the United States. The joint resolve of these stakeholders is one of the reasons why Canada remains one of the safest countries in the world in which to live.

To ensure that air carriers have the authority to collect and use information about individuals obtained from the government and to search for information about them for specific purposes, a consequential amendment to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, PIPEDA, is proposed. This amendment would ensure the effectiveness of the data sharing regime proposed by Bill C-17.

The PIPEDA was developed to ensure that privacy and enable law enforcement agencies to protect the safety of Canadians and support a competitive and innovative marketplace. This same balanced approach has led to this amendment which would maintain the overall integrity then of intelligence activities in a changed security environment.

The amendment to section 4.82 needs to take into account Canadians' privacy rights as well as their protection against terrorism. That is why this proposal makes very strict privacy safeguards and as such is well worth considering.

All passenger information would have to be destroyed within seven days unless it was reasonably required for the restrictive purposes of transportation security or the investigation of terrorist threats. When we consider there are thousands of flights a day in Canada, it makes good sense then to give the RCMP and CSIS the time they need to analyze passenger information they have accessed before planes actually depart.

To ensure accountability and transparency, written records would have to be kept then to justify intentional disclosure of any passenger information. This would enable review agencies such as the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the Inspector General for CSIS or the Privacy Commissioner to readily examine records for compliance with the law. The RCMP and CSIS would each be required to conduct an annual review of information retained by designated officers. If retention could no longer be justified, the information would have to be destroyed.

In closing, section 4.82 is what Canadians want and I believe that sincerely. It will ensure that law enforcement and national security agencies can improve transportation and national security and work effectively with our international partners. It will do this while maintaining privacy rights which as all members of the House know are also very important.

We have taken into account concerns expressed about proposals in the previous legislation. We have listened and we believe we have struck the right balance. After all, I believe Canadians want and expect from parliamentarians and those of us in the House to strike the right balance when it comes to privacy and the rights of Canadians and also security and safety for all Canadians.

Question No. 21Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Western Arctic Northwest Territories


Ethel Blondin-Andrew LiberalSecretary of State (Children and Youth)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to give a bit of context to the amendments we are speaking to today. On October 1 the proposed public safety act, 2002 was introduced into first reading in Parliament. The new bill replaces Bill C-55 which was introduced on April 29 but died on the Order Paper when Parliament was prorogued in September.

The proposed safety act, 2002 contains key provisions that would increase the Government of Canada's capacity to prevent terrorist attacks, protect Canadians and respond swiftly should a significant threat arise. Public safety and security requires a collective effort of a number of partners including industry. At the same time the government will continue its commitment to protecting the security of Canadians while upholding individual freedoms and right to privacy in a marketplace.

The introduction of this bill builds on the Government of Canada's anti-terrorism plan and the $7.7 billion commitment in budget 2001 to keep Canada safe, terrorists out and the border open.

Much has been said about what is not happening. What has not been made clear to the Canadian public is just exactly how complicated, how involved and how extensive and comprehensive the work is that needs to be done by the whole of government, every department and every aspect of government, in a regulatory sense.

If we look at this, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration is dealing with Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. DFAIT is dealing with the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention Implementation Act and the Export and Imports Permit Act. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is dealing with the Navigable Waters Protection Act. DND is dealing with the National Defence Act. Environment Canada is dealing with the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. The Department of Finance is dealing with the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and the Terrorist Financing Act which has been worked on for awhile. Health Canada is dealing with the Canada Health Act, the Food and Drugs Act, Hazardous Products Act, Pest Control Products Act, Quarantine Act and the Radiation Emitting Devices Act. The Department of Industry is dealing with Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. The Department of Justice is dealing with the Criminal Code. Natural Resources Canada is dealing with the Explosives Act and the National Energy Board Act. Transport Canada is dealing with the Aeronautics Act, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act, Canada Shipping Act, Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and Marine Transportation Act 1999.

Consequential are the Access to Information Act and the Transportation Appeal Tribunal Act as well as all of the other regulatory work that has to be undertaken. This is just to give a small sample of all of the things that need to happen. That would probably take up all of my 10 minutes if I were to go on about that. However I want to focus on the transportation issues.

Through Bill C-17, the Government of Canada is committed to protecting the safety and security of Canada's transportation system. Transport Canada has been looking at all models of transport through different acts of Parliament to ensure appropriate security measures are in place and will consider all reasonable actions to enhance the safety and security of the transportation system. The focus of the transport related amendments contained in Bill C-17 is aeronautics, although there are minor amendments to the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Canada Shipping Act.

The department has been engaged in significant work on security issues with other federal departments and agencies, international organizations and foreign governments.

To understand the context of what is in this public safety act, it is important to understand that the government has been acting on many fronts in seeking to raise even higher standards for aviation security, some of which I have mentioned already.

This government has made significant improvements to the safety of Canadians with regard to transportation in the country since September of 2001. Last October the government announced a wide range of new initiatives to enhance the security of operations at Canada's airports. Then in December the budget carried through on these initiatives providing $2.2 billion for air and marine security initiatives such as the creation of a Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, CATSA.

Preboard screening at Canadian airports has been enhanced with the addition of new funding of up to $128 million per year. This is a significant investment.

Funding of over $1 billion was identified over the next five years for the purchase, deployment and operation of advanced explosive detection systems at airports across the country, covering 99% of all air passengers.

As frequent travellers, members of Parliament know only too well how serious those individuals undertake the work they do in terms of making travel secure for all passengers, for the airlines, and for all Canadians. I am sure that it will be well known that much of the newly purchased equipment will enhance the system and make it far more efficient.

Funding of up to $35 million over two years was also provided to help airlines cover the cost of security modifications, including the reinforcement of cockpit doors, to existing passenger aircraft resulting from new standards and regulations currently in development. Funding was also provided for further significant increases to Transport Canada staffing associated with aviation security functions, including hiring new inspectors to provide increased oversight of aviation security.

On the marine side, funding of $60 million over the next six years was identified to protect ports and other critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks.

There have been further enhancements made to aviation security, such as requiring that all passengers in Canada be subject to new limits on carry-on luggage and all passengers travelling on flights bound for the U.S. be subject to random secondary searches at the departure gate prior to boarding the aircraft.

In line with our belief that aviation security must be looked at in a global sense, in February Transport Canada provided $350,000 to help fund the International Civil Aviation Organization's security oversight audit program. The purpose of the audit program is to identify needed remedial action, promote greater understanding of systemic security issues and build confidence in aviation security. In addition, the audit program will identify potential deficiencies in security oversight systems of member countries and will provide suitable recommendations for resolving any such deficiencies.

As I mentioned, the December budget also included the provisions to create the Air Transport Security Authority, which is now responsible for the provision of several key aviation security services in Canada, such as preboard screening of passengers and their belongings, the certification of screening officers, the acquisition, deployment and maintenance of explosive detection equipment at airports and federal contributions for airport police and related civil aviation security initiatives and contracting for police on board aircraft.

There are a couple of amendments included in Bill C-17 to clarify that CATSA is also clearly required to comply with any emergency directions as are related to the delivery of screening services in Canada. In addition, CATSA will be required to implement a security management system which will be subject to inspection by Transport Canada.

Also the definition of “screening point” in the CATSA act is being clarified to more clearly indicate that an authorized aerodrome operator may act on behalf of the authority in the delivery of screening services. An important amendment deals with the authority of CATSA to enter into agreements with airport authorities for the purpose of contributing toward the cost of policing incurred by that airport authority in carrying out its responsibilities. This authority is being extended to all airports subject to the reaching of agreements between CATSA and the airport authority.

The Minister of Transport has already spoken twice on the public safety act only to find that the bill was delayed through the actions of some members of the opposition parties which have done nothing to hasten the bill into committee. Some members complain that we have done nothing, but they should look in the mirror for who has been delaying sending this bill to committee where the individual components can be debated.

The bill contains some important improvements for the security of Canada's transportation system. The amendments to the Aeronautics Act are designed to clarify and update existing aviation security authorities.

The security of the public is the concern of all members of the House. We have to demonstrate to the Canadian public that we share in that earnestly and that we are not here to debate this ad nauseam while many issues go unresolved because we cannot agree. That is unfair to the Canadian public. I plead with my colleagues on all sides of the House to work together on this.

Question No. 21Government Orders

4 p.m.


Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to debate Bill C-17, the public safety act.

Everyone around the world is reassessing their approach to public safety, particularly after the events of September 11. People in countries such as Canada that are potential targets for terrorist operations or terrorist threats have to deal very responsibly and assertively with this very real threat.

It is always a challenge to balance off public safety against the privacy issue of our citizens. Our government has done a very good job in making sure that happens.

Bill C-17 replaces Bill C-55 which was introduced on April 29, 2002 but died on the Order Paper when Parliament was prorogued in September. The new bill repeats many of those provisions but there have been some enhancements also. Many Canadians expressed concern over certain privacy issues and the government listened.

The provisions require air carriers to provide passenger information to designated persons in Transport Canada, the RCMP or CSIS. This proposed scheme would include strict controls on access, use and disclosure of information so that it does not go to anybody who wants that information just for their own benefit or purpose. There is a very strict control on who can access that information and for what purpose.

In addition, the ministers must respond more quickly to the Parliament of Canada if they have to use various emergency measures. The period of time within which ministers would be required to table interim orders before Parliament has been reduced to 15 days, whether Parliament is in session or not. The period during which ministers must obtain cabinet approval has also been reduced to 14 days for all statutes. In Bill C-55 in many cases it was 45 days which created some concerns among some of our citizens.

This new provision will allow ministers to act rapidly to address risks in emergency situations while putting into place proper oversight mechanisms.

The bill is meant to enact a number of provisions that were in Bill C-55, but it also includes some enhancements, particularly addressing some of the privacy concerns that Canadians raised in the interim period.

The bill enhances the ability of the government to provide a secure environment for air travel. This is something most Canadians are looking for and the bill responds to that. It facilitates data sharing between air carriers and federal departments and agencies for the purposes of transportation and national security. It allows for the issuance of interim orders in emergency situations while ensuring that there is proper transparency and accountability.

The bill will deter hoaxes that endanger the public or heighten public anxiety. We have seen the signs regarding airport security which say that a person cannot joke about various weapons or materials they may or may not have in their possession. This puts that into a legislative context and makes it a very serious offence.

The bill also establishes tighter controls over explosives and hazardous substances, activities related to other dangerous substances such as pathogens, and the export and transfer of technology.

When we go to the airport we want to know that the concerns about security are being dealt with and the bill deals with that. It also deals with those who would cause some difficulty on aircraft. We have heard about air rage, individuals who cause a lot of problems on aircraft.

Our family has a good friend who is a member of the cabin crew on one of the major airlines. She told us of the incidents of air rage and the various different forms and shades. Some are much more serious than others.

We heard about an incident the other day, where someone on an El Al plane ran up to the cockpit door with a weapon. El Al has air marshals on just about every plane. They were able to wrestle the chap and he was arrested when the plane landed in Ankara.

The government has called for cockpit doors to be virtually impenetrable. Some of the cockpit crew and the pilots would like either to have weapons or to have marshals on all the flights. I know that we will have a debate on this. I am in agreement with our minister when he talks about some of the dangers of having weapons on board. There are air marshals now on flights going to the United States, but whether we need to increase their number is something we need to debate more in Canada.

The government in budget 2001 brought in measures totalling approximately $7.7 billion over a number of years which would increase and enhance Canada's security. That is the commitment that was made. These measures will counter the activities of terrorists and make our border much safer where we can ensure that terrorists and people with those sort of intentions are screened more readily.

We are not so concerned about the low risk people who go back and forth across our border. That is why the government has instituted with the U.S. government a system of preclearance and pre-authorization so that the low risk people and carriers can cross the border freely. Eighty-seven per cent of our exports go to the United States. We have to ensure that we have a border where people and goods move freely.

We also know there are many travellers and many vehicles where there is virtually no risk of terrorist activity or smuggling of any type. The new provisions allow for the safe movement of people and vehicles that are low risk or no risk but make sure that higher risk people or carriers are dealt with and queried. This is to ensure that they do not have access to the United States or Canada to commit various acts of violence, whether they be terrorism or engaging in money laundering activities, taking money back and forth across the border to finance terrorist activities.

I am glad to see that Fintrac, the agency that was set up by the federal government to address money laundering activities, is operating fully. It tracks transactions that are accepted by deposit taking institutions and other financial intermediaries. It ensures that those amounts are reported and investigated if there is any suspicion they might be related to money laundering activities and money laundering that would be devoted especially to any type of terrorist activities.

The bill also deters the proliferation of biological weapons. We all know what is happening today in Iraq. Most Canadians hope that Saddam Hussein, the leader in Iraq, will cooperate with the weapons inspectors and that if any weapons of mass destruction are located they will be destroyed and we can avert a war that would be very costly, not only in terms of money but in terms of human lives and the well-being of many people.

We should get on with this bill. I ask the members opposite to support Bill C-17. It is a good bill and we should get behind it.

Question No. 21Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia


Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to debate Bill C-17, which was formerly Bill C-55, the public safety act.

Canadians have had great concern about our security since the horrible occurrences at the World Trade Center in New York about one year ago on September 11. Of late we have had renewed interest and concern after the news came that a tape which purportedly contained the voice of Osama bin Laden was presented to the al-Jazeera network in the Middle East. If it was bin Laden on the tape, the person put forward the suggestion that other countries besides the U.S. would be targeted and included Canada on the list of targeted countries.

It is not a complete surprise to Canadians that our country might be targeted by al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups. To have our country included in the list that is mentioned has caused concern for Canadians and has brought this issue home to more people. The threat of terrorism that confronts much of the world is one that confronts us as well and one that we must deal with. At the same time Canadians are concerned and want to see us act in a forceful and firm way to do what we can to prevent, deter and respond to terrorism. They also want to ensure that we protect individual freedoms.

I said in a speech not long after September 11 of last year that the openness that makes us vulnerable is the freedom that makes us strong. That speaks to the kind of balance that we must achieve. It would have been easy a year ago to respond to the events of 9/11 by simply, out of fear, shutting down all kinds of things.

If, God forbid, there was a successful attack in Canada by terrorists there might be a greater demand for severe actions. However, we must guard against that because we must maintain our openness and freedoms. That is one of the beauties of having the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which of course will apply to this legislation.

There were a lot of concerns last year when the first draft of this bill was introduced about some of its provisions, but it is important to remind all Canadians that any of these bills that deal with public security, unless they actually say it is notwithstanding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the charter and all its provisions and protections to personal freedoms would apply to those bills. If there are provisions in any bill which go too far, it is open to the courts to say this bill or this portion of this bill would be struck out and not apply. Therefore, it is important to understand that whatever provisions are in a bill like this, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would still apply and our freedoms would be guaranteed and maintained.

It is clear that at the time of 9/11 the concern of most people was focused on the airline industry. Obviously we have watched with horror as those two enormous jet airplanes with so many passengers crashed into the World Trade Center twin towers. Naturally for a while our focus was clearly on airline security. It is important that we not forget to do that. There are provisions in this bill that I will talk about in a moment that go further, that ensure we are protecting our airline security as much as we can.

We have become, over the past year since that occurrence, more cognizant of the fact that there are many other things to be concerned about. In fact we had a list that was released last week, purportedly from the U.S. government, which Mr. Powell said was not from the government. We have had other reports that it was not an official document.

It was an interesting list of some 20 or so sites in Canada that might be targets for terrorism. It would not take a rocket scientist to figure out that some of those spots might be targets. However at the same time, without getting overly worried or too alarmed about this, it is valuable for us as Canadians to consider these different sites and consider the fact that they could conceivably be terrorist targets. We need to think about what things we can reasonably do in relation to these different sites to make them more secure and to provide a reasonable level of security.

That raises the question of whether we can ever provide ultimate, complete security over all sites. If we insist on having an open, democratic and free society, then we cannot live in a police state. We cannot live in a state where the police can check on us for anything it wants or enter our homes and search us whenever it wants for no reason at all. There has to be a rule of law. There has to be a basis for doing things. It is important that we maintain our freedoms otherwise the freedom that is our strength is out the window. We then become like a dictatorship and that is the last thing that we need here in Canada.

The government is trying to find a proper balance. It is trying to provide a good balance between the rights and freedoms of Canadians as well as the need to provide more security. That has been improved in a number of ways in the latest form of this bill.

Bill C-17 would enhance the government's ability to provide a secure environment for air travel. There is no question that we need to see that. We have seen concern over the past year in the airline industry. Airports, particularly in the early months after 9/11, have had a lot less traffic. There has been a lot of concern about issues like tourism and its effect on our whole economy. People were not comfortable flying or travelling. Obviously the economic impact was severe. It was therefore important for us to take steps early on, and it is still important to take steps to enhance the public's confidence in airline travel. I am pleased to see that kind of provision in the bill.

The bill would facilitate data sharing between air carriers and agencies like the RCMP and CSIS. In the case of the RCMP, information could be used for issues relating only to transportation safety. For example, in the original bill, if individuals had an outstanding warrant against them and were spotted, the RCMP could use that information to arrest those individual. In this case, unless there is a danger to transportation safety there is no basis for the RCMP to arrest such a person. It cannot use the information except when there is a risk to transportation safety.

CSIS is a little broader. It has different responsibilities obviously. One might argue that it is the lead agency responsible for confronting issues relating to terrorism in our country. CSIS would be able to use this information for either transportation safety or issues of national security. That is natural and sensible. However at the same time, it is important that it be limited in the way it could use that information. Those are important limits that would guarantee our freedoms.

The bill would provide for the issuance of interim orders in emergency situations while ensuring proper control over government action. I want to speak for a minute about the interim orders provided for in Bill C-17.

The important thing to note is that under the bill a minister would have the authority to issue orders. This would be in a case where there is an immediate or direct threat. It would have to be an urgent situation where it would be impossible to have a full meeting of cabinet to pass orders in council. It would involve something happening on the ground and the government having to respond immediately. That is what we are talking about here.

The bill would provide for a minister to issue an interim order under certain requirements but there would be a number of important controls on that order. This would cover matters for which regulations would normally have been made but, of course, regulations cannot be made in five minutes. It would have to be dealt with quickly and in a situation where there is an immediate threat.

These are things that would normally fall within the mandate of the Ministers of the Environment, Health, Fisheries and Oceans and Transport, like the following acts; the Aeronautics Act; the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999; the Department of Health Act; the Food and Drugs Act; the Hazardous Products Act; and many more.

The important thing is that the minister would then have to get approval from the governor in council within 14 days after the day the interim order is made. A copy of the order must be tabled in each House of Parliament within 15 days from the time it is issued. Those are important controls on that interim order. That is a reduction from 45 days to 15 days.

There are many other provisions in the bill that are of interest to members. I am sure they will be fully discussed. However, I wanted to focus on those matters.

Question No. 21Government Orders

4:20 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak about the public safety act, Bill C-17, which would replace Bill C-55 which died on the Order Paper when the government prorogued in September.

The bill would build on the government's anti-terrorism plan and the $7.7 billion commitment that we made in the budget 2001.

Question No. 21Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

What do you know about it?

Question No. 21Government Orders

4:20 p.m.


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

The member across the way asks what do I know about this. I have had firsthand experience with this.

The question that has always been asked is: Where were you on September 11? I happened to be in Saskatoon with the Prime Minister's task force on future opportunities in farming.

Camelot died that day as far as I am concerned. From that time on air travel would never be the same. As a government we must respond to that reality. The general public right now is basically nervous about air traffic. The number of air travellers has declined. We must put back that comfort level with travellers so that they know that air travel is safe.

Canada has a next door neighbour of over 300 million people. We do over a billion dollars of trade a day across our border. We must have seamless traffic that is safe and that is what part of the bill would deal with. We must ensure that the truck traffic crossing the border is not interrupted, but it must always be safe. Canada's economy is based on how the bill would deal with the safety factor of the nation.

At the present time the United States is taking a look at a number of initiatives within its own country. We must have a meshing of how these initiatives are undertaken. We must have shared technology and data. It must be transparent and seamless to make this thing work properly.

One of the items included in Bill C-17 is that the bill would look at enhancing the ability of the Government of Canada to provide a secure environment for air travel. I know that when I returned from Saskatoon on September 11 I made it a point to see what had taken place at Pearson Airport in Toronto. Quite frankly it was something I had never seen before and I have travelled out of that airport since 1993.

There was a line that was over 200 feet long approaching the ticketing agent. The people were being screened and there were all matters of identification going on because of the heightened security. There was a SWAT team at the airport. I had never seen a SWAT team in an airport before, but there was one there a few days after September 11.

Once a person went through that 200 foot line to get your ticket there was another 200 foot line and that was to pass through security before reaching the other side to board the plane. That was the best we could do at that point in time to address an unforeseen situation. We must have legislation that is flexible enough to take and address unforeseen situations. We have already been named in the latest audio release and told that there could be other terrorist attacks. We must ensure that we are ready for it. To facilitate that we need data sharing between air carriers, federal departments and agencies for the purpose of transportation and national security.

Why do I say this? It is because our whole economy is based on it. We are an exporting nation. Some 44% of what we produce we export. Some 85% of that goes to the United States. These are big dollars that we are talking about. We must have something in place that we can take and address it.

We must allow for the issuance of interim orders in emergency situations, while ensuring that there are proper controls over government actions. We must make it flexible. We do not know exactly what we could be dealing with.

We also have to deter hoaxes that endanger the public or heighten public anxiety. That for me is a no-brainer. We know now that people standing in security lines do not mention anything about terrorism or things else like that because we are looking at heightened security. I agree with that.

We have to establish tighter controls over explosives and hazardous substances, activities related to other dangerous substances such as pathogens and the export and transfer of technology. As an exporting nation these things have to be in place to ensure that goods can freely flow back and forth with our biggest trading partner.

We have to help identify and prevent harmful unauthorized use or interference with computer systems operated by counterterrorism agencies, and to deter the proliferation of biological weapons.

All of us now have our own electronic identity and we have to ensure that we have a computer system in place that cannot be hacked into by different forces. One thing we have found is that terrorist organizations obviously run on money. If they do not have the money, then they are unable to carry on their operations.

We want to see the Government of Canada proceed on the guiding principle that our approach to national security can always be improved. For any unforeseen situations, we have to look at how we handle them today and how we can improve the situation to handle them better tomorrow.

Work is ongoing among various organizations in the public safety community to ensure that legislation, policies and operations remain current with and relevant to the rapidly evolving public security environment. As a result, the proposed legislation still includes some of the key amendments that were made to Bill C-55, just to address that.

The provisions in the public safety act of 2002 would require air carriers to provide passenger information on specific persons to designated persons in Transport Canada or on persons onboard any flight to designated persons in the RCMP or CSIS and the proposed scheme would include strict controls on access, use and disclosure. I am totally in agreement with that.

About three and a half months after September 11, I was flying from Vancouver to Toronto. While I was reading my newspaper, all of a sudden I looked down at the back of the seat in front of me and pulled out the flight information about the aircraft. It was a 767. It was the same plane that went into the towers. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. However I want to show the travelling public that we have the proper process, laws and legislation in place. It was unwarranted for the hairs to stand up on the back of my neck. I really had nothing to worry about because everything was taken care of.

Amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act are also proposed to support data sharing for limited public interest purposes and to expressly provide for it in law. That is only common sense. We already have a screening process in the Immigration Act and in laws of the country to find out the backgrounds of people who try to immigrate to Canada. Were they involved in terrorism in the past or do they have a criminal record? All these things are definitely points of interest. We have to have information on people coming into Canada.

Bill C-17 is a very good first step forward in ensuring that our boundaries are secure and that when we travel on any public transit system it is safe too because it has been covered.

Question No. 21Government Orders

November 18th, 2002 / 4:30 p.m.


Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise in this debate to pick up on some points that were raised by the member for St. John's West; that is the whole area of interim orders and how these they may interfere with our liberty as Canadian citizens.

More than one speaker in the House, including the member for St. John's West, has asked why do we need interim orders. Do we not already have enough rules, laws, regulations and authorities? Also the argument was made that these interim orders would of course interfere with the liberty of Canadian citizens.

Given the importance of this topic I want to enter the debate and provide my thoughts on the whole area.

When we consider, and the previous speaker spoke so eloquently on this issue, the operation of an aircraft, the transportation of a substance such a chlorine, the use of explosives, the central concern for safety in Canada is what I would call the law of physics and the competency of the people who operate these devices.

We in the House of Commons and in the various provincial legislatures have numerous pages of regulations, laws and standards guiding the construction and the operation of an airport, the construction of railway tank cars for the movement of noxious substances and for the manufacture, distribution and transportation of explosives. There is one thing in common with these items. That is the bulk of our existing laws and regulations, whether they be infectious substances, or aircraft operations, or ship operations or pest control products, have been established to ensure our safety as Canadian citizens.

I observe that an accident which arises, even though everyone intended to do the right thing, is a failure to maintain safety.

In contrast, when we deal with terrorism activities, I observe that the event which arises, arises because at least one person, and in most instances we are talking about more than one person, has intended to do the wrong thing and that also equally is a failure to maintain security.

We have extensive requirements, as we should, to protect public safety, developed over the years through experience, theory and research and we have extensive requirements with respect to the human element, the training that is required.

Therefore we achieve success with safety because we are able as a civil society to protect how materials will behave during use and what training is appropriate for the human component.

In short, the laws of physics are sufficiently well known to allow us as legislators to develop very solid safety requirements.

However in contrast, the motivation of terrorists and the ways in which they can misuse explosives, chemicals and even means of transport, such as an aircraft, is very much open ended. One only need watch recent films to see ways in which ordinary items can become a threat to public safety when deliberately misused.

In a peaceful community we might suggest that food, clothing, shelter should not from a safety point of view cause us undue concern. However I point out the incident involving Timothy McVeigh. He mixed a fertilizer used to produce that food with fuel oil used to ensure our shelter was comfortably heated and bombed, as everyone here knows, a government building out of existence in Oklahoma City.

The point I am making is this. The most striking contrast between threats to safety and threats to security is that while the former can be predicted to an extent, according to statistical and physical principles and what has gone on in the past, a security attack is not clearly predictable in terms of who, the location or elements of the attack.

When each of us got out of bed on September 11 last year, no one predicted the extent of the attack which was to occur that mid-morning. I am sure each of us could develop a very extensive list of where we as a society would be personally vulnerable should one or more than one person desire or wish to seriously upset our lives, including becoming the target of a sniper.

My point is similar to ones made in this assembly by other speakers. It is the totality of the “what if” scenarios that presents an overwhelming burden that will try to protect ourselves from all the possibilities that are out there. Just where would we start? More important, where would we end up?

First, we could have a curfew with everyone in their residence by 9:00 or 10:00 at night. This might keep all the criminals off the street. Would it be desirable? Absolutely not. Do we establish regulations today for all future eventualities? No. Even if we could be twisted enough in our thinking to conceive of all possible forms of attack, would we consider suicide bombers entering schools or the release of highly contagious agents in shopping centres? There is no doubt that this government as well as future ones will continue to introduce new legislation and the Special Committee of Council will continue to review new regulations.

My point is that we have not attained, even for normal activities, a state of perfect knowledge and perfect regulatory instruments. Nor will that ever be attained in a dynamic and viable culture.

Equally, even if we could list all the areas in which we may be vulnerable, we could not possibly list all the ways in which attempts could be made to exploit one or more of these vulnerabilities. Even if we could, how would we ever possibly enact the number of draconian laws that would be necessary to protect us as a society?

Again, I come back to the events of September 11, 2001 and the very significant lesson that was learned by society at that time. The impact in Canada of such an attack in the United States had not been previously studied by Transport Canada. Nevertheless, as it unfolded, immediate decision points arose and had to be accommodated immediately.

As we will recall, the first immediate decision was to close Canadian air space in an orderly fashion. Fortunately the text of the Aeronautics Act provided for the Minister of Transport the ability to do this. I would like to point out that a delay of an hour in light of the unfolding events that were occurring that day would not have been acceptable. For each minute that passed, one or two aircraft crossing the Atlantic became Canada's responsibility as they crossed the no-return line. The important lesson that was learned, and the point I am trying to make today, was that an immediate decision was required. Fortunately in that case, the authority was present and the decision could be made.

I want to summarize two key points. In the context of terrorist attacks, we cannot predict all events which might arise and which would require an immediate decision. Second, even if we could predict all potential events, would we want to put into effect all possible preventive measures?

These interim orders are required to deal with emergencies. We cannot predict the emergencies and we cannot predict the way they will be carried out. Therefore, I support the legislation and I urge all my colleagues on both sides of the House to support the legislation.

Question No. 21Government Orders

4:40 p.m.


Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address two proposals in Bill C-17 that are intended to improve the data sharing regime that was originally set out in Bill C-55. These proposals are designed to respond to some of the concerns raised by members of Parliament and the privacy commissioner about the scheme and to ensure its effectiveness.

Before describing the two proposals, I would like to point out that the government has listened to the concerns raised and has challenged itself on the basic framework for the data sharing regime. As was contained in Bill C-55, air carriers would be required to provide RCMP and CSIS designated officers, as well as Transport Canada, with passenger information, upon request, for transportation and national security purposes. Canadians need the bill to increase the government's capacity to prevent terrorist attacks and deliver an effective air carrier protective program to ensure the safety of passengers and respond swiftly should a significant threat arise. I believe that we have achieved a balance between privacy and public safety.

The destruction, retention and disclosure provisions originally proposed in Bill C-55 all remain the same in Bill C-17. RCMP and CSIS designated officers would have to destroy passenger information within seven days unless it was reasonably required for the purpose of transportation security or the investigation of threats to the security of Canada such as, for example, if there needs to be an analysis of patterns of high risk passengers travelling on a particular route. Passenger information could also be disclosed to a third party for very restricted purposes. These include transportation security, imminent public safety threats, outstanding warrants for serious offences and removal orders, compliance with a subpoena or court order, and counterterrorism investigations by CSIS.

While this initiative serves to ensure the safety and security of Canadians in a changed security environment, the government will continue to be committed to protecting privacy rights. As such, Bill C-17 contains important privacy safeguards, including having only designated officers access the passenger information, approval by senior designated officers for counterterrorism disclosures, records of retention and disclosure, and an annual review of retained information.

In improving the data sharing scheme, the government was particularly sensitive to the concerns of the privacy commissioner about the RCMP's ability to scan passenger information to search for persons wanted on warrants. Consequently, the identification of persons for whom a warrant has been issued was removed as a primary purpose for collecting passenger information. With this change, the RCMP would only be able to access passenger information for the purpose of transportation security. CSIS would be able to access the information for transportation and national security purposes.

However, if the RCMP discovered an outstanding warrant for a serious offence while screening passenger lists for transportation security, the force would still be able to disclose that information to a peace officer for the execution of the warrant. This aspect of the regime is necessary for public safety, because Canadians would expect the RCMP to take appropriate action if it happens to find a passenger wanted on an outstanding warrant for a serious offence such as murder or kidnapping. Ignoring the fact that a person is wanted for a serious offence and doing nothing about it because of the technicalities would be irresponsible.

Another key proposal in Bill C-17 is a consequential amendment to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, or PIPEDA, to ensure the effectiveness of the data sharing regime. Organizations subject to PIPEDA are already authorized to disclose personal information to a government institution without the person's consent for reasons of law enforcement, national security, defence of Canada, conduct of international affairs and where otherwise required by law.

To ensure that airlines and any other organizations subject to PIPEDA can provide the information to a government institution under this regime, there is a need to clarify the use and collection authorities to mirror the current disclosure authority in PIPEDA. For example, if CSIS receives intelligence from a foreign agency that a suspected terrorist is expected to arrive on a flight from Europe within the next three weeks, CSIS is authorized to share core biographical information about the terrorist with the airlines and to request them to notify CSIS the moment the person buys a ticket. Under PIPEDA, the airlines are currently authorized to disclose personal information without consent in this context.

But for this regime to work effectively, it is clear that the airlines need to be able to respond to the query from CSIS and receive or collect the information in the first place. This would ensure a consistency with the overall intent of PIPEDA, which is to protect the personal information of Canadians while allowing law enforcement and national security to continue their investigative and intelligence activities.

I believe that these amendments not only will clarify how the data sharing regime will work but will also strengthen it to ensure that it will be effective in preventing terrorism. Canadians have a right to live in a safe society and I am confident that the data sharing regime in the bill would support that right while ensuring strict privacy safeguards that reflect Privacy Act protections. The bill strikes a balance between protecting privacy and keeping Canadians safe.

Question No. 21Government Orders

4:45 p.m.


Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and add my voice to the debate. This is one of those debates that every now and again comes along and gives us an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between government, or how we are governed, and our individual lives.

I think the bill has been in and out of the House in a number of forms because people are not sure about where those boundaries lie, about how we establish our right to live independently and freely as citizens versus the need for the government to undertake actions that may intrude upon that right in order to provide another right, and that is the right to lead our lives free from the threats of death, destruction or kinds of activities that we have seen too often recently in other places.

I want to start by reflecting on how this began. Obviously there were the events of September 11, but I am reminded of the first bill we put through the House by a statement that the Prime Minister made in the House when he said that law made in haste is not necessarily good law. At that time, we were moving very quickly because of the horrific events of 9/11 to put in place a body of law enabling police forces to take additional action in order to provide protection. If we were to ask most of the people in this Chamber and certainly people across Canada if they want or expect government to provide some protection for them and to act to intercede with people who might undertake those acts, I think the answer would be an overwhelming yes.

At the same time, law is a complex issue and one needs to look very carefully at what is being proposed to try to pick apart that which is necessary in order to meet the goal of providing protection and safety for citizens and that which is sort of a natural tendency of bodies to assume as much responsibility and as much authority as they possibly can to get their job done. Always in that space there is a tension that exists between law enforcement and citizens.

I am a son of an RCMP officer. I worked in a position of social control, shall we say, when I was a director of child welfare for a period of time. There always is that area between the rights and needs of the state to function to protect people and the right of individuals to lead their lives unfettered, as long as they are conducting themselves in a lawful manner, so that they can function without fear of intrusion or problems arising from, shall we say, the over-ambitious or over-energetic activities of law enforcement.

There is another aspect to this. There is an old joke that I first heard told about university professors, although I suspect the same joke could be told about most Canadians and most of their roles. In this case the question in the joke is: How many professors does it take to change a light bulb? The answer is: Change?

We are all worried about things that change the world we have become comfortable with. In many ways, these changes are changes that have become more necessary over time as law breakers, those who act to deprive us of our rights, take advantage of new technologies, new strategies, and new ways of exchanging information, travelling around the world and financing their operations. It has strained police forces around the world to respond to them. It has left them unable to respond in many cases, simply because police do not have some of the technological capability in order to keep up.

We saw that in some of the discussion about wiretapping. A wiretapping law that attached the ability to tap to a specific phone in a specific location was fine when all phones were attached to wires and routed inside buildings, but not very effective in a regime where we are into cellular phones. That is before we get into short messaging, fax and the other forms of exchange of information if one wants to track down communication or interfere with communications between people who would do us harm.

We need to look at this very carefully. We need to pick apart those parts of the bill that are specifically involved in modernizing the tools that law enforcement has available to it in order to protect us and provide us with some measure of assurance against the real or imagined acts of others. It is that second part, the imagined acts of others, that is also important because it poses a difficult problem for us.

I just returned from speaking to a group of students who asked me how far we were prepared to go in order to protect ourselves against terrorism and how much were we prepared to spend. The problem is that we do not know.

As a result of the weather last night I had occasion to travel in from the airport with a person who works at Canada Post. He talked about the problems Canada Post was having in trying to keep track of mail going through and checking it for anthrax. It has had a number of these anthrax scares but fortunately the ones in Canada have all been false. Nonetheless, the system must respond. To build a system that would allow Canada Post to inspect every piece of mail for bacteriological agents is just beyond its financial capability and its technological capability right now. However if we wanted to be absolutely sure we would undertake that.

Similarly, in other forms of law enforcement, the capacity to spend on new technologies and new ways of intervening is enormous. The task faced by law enforcement and by us is the task of risk assessment. How much is enough in order to provide us with some level of assurance that we will not suffer the consequences of an attack?

When we speak to the experts who are involved in anti-terrorism, it seems that one of the most effective ways to do that is through intelligence gathering, to try to understand what is going on long before it becomes an event in the local community. That leads us into these activities that do necessarily begin to trammel sort of traditional rights to freedom and individual privacy.

I want to talk a bit about privacy because it will become more of a consideration as the House moves down this track. I think we need to re-frame in part how we think about privacy. There was a time when the term “privacy” meant the right of individuals to have a life private or separate from the state. As citizens we had certain obligations to fulfill but we had the right to do things that were separate from the state.

Increasingly, we began to confuse the other things with the right to secrecy. Privacy and secrecy are not necessarily the same thing. I have a simple example of that. There was a time when it could be dangerous to be a gay person in the country. Individuals had the right to be gay but it did not mean they could act out that right in any particular way, and so people tended to keep those activities secret. As public awareness and public tolerance has grown, we have seen a reduction in that need to hold things private.

The same thing was true for a Jewish person a few decades ago. A person may not have wanted to be open about that. Certainly if people were Jewish a couple of hundred years ago they would want to maintain the secrecy even though at that time they would not have had the right to a private life. Even though today people have a right to a private life and the right to live their lives free from government, they may necessarily have to keep that secret in order to enjoy that right.

I think the problem that creates for us in government is that we have allowed an awful lot of confusion between privacy and secrecy to the point where we have a culture of secrecy in government that is really quite overwhelming. It creates other problems because there are other things that flow from this, such as the right to hold one's government to account and the right to understand what one's government is doing so a person can intervene with the government when impeded upon by this need to hold things secret.

The bill, while it is in an area that is particularly emotionally charged, is one that we will need to look at very carefully and to weigh those two competing rights: the need to keep us safe and the right to live our lives in quiet enjoyment.

Question No. 21Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I find it incredible to hear Liberal members today talking so much about individual freedom when it is the same Liberal government that puts farmers into jail for the vicious crime of marketing their own grain, the grain they raised themselves, at their own expense and at their own risk. The Liberals have a law in place that says that they may not sell it to anyone other than the government dominated Wheat Board monopoly.

It is just incredible that we are talking here about the invasion of that privacy.

Question No. 21Government Orders

5 p.m.

Mississauga West Ontario


Steve Mahoney LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to address some of the issues of concern that I think a number of people have rightly expressed about the actions of the government. I say rightly expressed because there is nothing wrong with people pointing out concerns when we are dealing with something as precious as the freedom of Canadians and the freedom of movement. There is nothing wrong with asking tough questions even on the government side about certain issues that affect the rights and privacy of Canadian citizens.

However at the same time we have some obligations in this place that go far beyond the original anti-terrorism act, an act coupled with the budgetary infusion in the last budget of some $7.7 billion, to try to respond to the new atmosphere in which we found ourselves. That atmosphere followed the attacks on the World Trade Center and other parts of the United States on that fateful September 11.

We live in a time that is somewhat frightening. People have said that we should not allow the terrorists to win and that if we stay home and keep our heads down and do not continue to live the normal aggressive lives that Canadians are known to live throughout the world, the terrorists will win at the end of the day.

There is some legitimacy to say that the actions of terrorists and the fears of people have had an impact. I would not say they have won but I would clearly say that they have had an impact on the economies of the free world, particularly the United States. Our economy, some would say surprisingly, seems to have survived at least the recession that the Americans have suffered through. It probably is due to the strength and underpinnings of the economy in terms of the debt to GDP ratio and the surpluses that we have been running for the last 10 years in this government.

If we recognize that there has been this kind of impact, fiscally and in the behaviour patterns of North Americans, then there has to be an acknowledgment that more needs to be done. We recently saw the announcement where there were targets identified in Canada. That should not come as a great surprise. Any of us who are aware of the different service provision levels, whether it be in the area of nuclear power or communications, or someplace like the CN Tower or other areas like Niagara Falls, would recognize that these might be attractive areas for a terrorist to target. Therefore we should not be shocked if that happens. However what we must do is ensure that we are reacting in every possible way to provide the safety for average Canadians so that not only can they travel within our country but they can feel somewhat safe travelling abroad.

The expanse of this bill is quite interesting. I would just like to share the necessity of the acts that need to be amended. We have the Aeronautics Act. It would be obvious that there might be some requirement to make changes in the area of aeronautics. We have the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. If we think of the eco-terrorism that could take place, it could have an impact on our economy, on our wildlife and on the atmosphere. Obviously we would have to look at that.

It is the job of the Department of Health to regulate foreign substances, perhaps contamination of food or anything of that nature. Therefore we would have to look at that. We have food, drugs and hazardous products. We all know from just watching the nightly news the potential for some type of terrorist action to be taken in the area of biological weapons.

We have the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Interestingly enough I spent three days, two in Colorado Springs at Norad and the third day in Winnipeg at the Canadian headquarters where we examined what amounts to Fortress North America.

This is something that was started in the late 1940s, culminating in the construction of Cheyenne Mountain. It consists of three large buildings inside a mountain with the capability to identify the launch of any missile anywhere in the world. It is a bilateral operation with Canada and the United States working together to ensure that we have as safe as possible airspace throughout North America.

One of the interesting aspects of Norad, and I mention this because we are talking about the waters and the ports which are not covered by Norad, Norad is basically air defence. It is not even a defence; it is more of an early warning mechanism. If for example a missile was launched out of Baghdad and was headed toward Israel, the folks in Norad at Cheyenne Mountain would know instantly and could warn Israel in case Israel was not aware, although I am sure in that particular case it would be well on guard and well aware of what was happening. It is an interesting capability.

What we do not have in that is the ability to deal with our ports and oceans. That is another area where we need to address some safety concerns and we would be doing that in this bill.

The bill refers to the Pest Control Products Act, again the concept of using some form of germ warfare, the Quarantine Act, the Radiation Emitting Devices Act, the Canada Shipping Act and the latest revision to the Canada Shipping Act in 2001.

In addition to those specific acts that need amending, we also look at various departments. Obviously the Department of Foreign Affairs would be a major player in this issue, particularly given the status of high alert, I would say, with the inspectors going into Iraq to find out what kind of armaments Saddam Hussein has been building up. It would have a major interest, as would our Department of National Defence.

Much has been said about the lack of readiness of our Department of National Defence. I find that puzzling. When we get the opportunity to visit with our armed forces we realize that we have some of the finest trained personnel in the world. It is not just Canadians who say that; Americans are saying that.

To go back to my visit to Norad, there are three large doors which are set up to close on hydraulics in case of an attack at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs. The only time since that facility has been built that those doors were actually closed was on September 11. Interestingly enough, the lieutenant general in charge on that day in Cheyenne Mountain was General Pennie of the Canadian military.

Our people are so well regarded and well respected throughout the United States it is astounding when I hear the Armageddon attitude by some members in this place and by some people in the media. Yes, we need to invest more in our military, but as Canadians, we should be proud of the job that they do.

In addition to those departments, we would also have great impact on the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency because of its work at the border and last but not least, on the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

One of the tragedies that has come out of September 11, in my view, has been the burden that legitimate refugees and new immigrants to this country have had to share, with the accusations and the aspersions that have been cast in their direction.

This is not a bill about immigration. This is not a bill against refugees. It is rather a bill that would provide safety and security for new Canadians and longstanding Canadians so that they can feel safe in their community and recognize that their government has addressed the issues that could be of concern given a future attack by terrorists. The government is committed to safety first and to respect privacy and mobility rights of Canadians, but without a doubt it is our primary responsibility to provide safety for all Canadians.

Question No. 21Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Simcoe North Ontario


Paul Devillers LiberalSecretary of State (Amateur Sport) and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-17.

Canadians have clearly indicated that they do not want individuals, including those who do not hesitate to terrorize innocent victims by their hoaxes, to be allowed to abuse Canadian freedoms.

Question No. 21Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I regret to interrupt but I am unfortunately unilingual and right now there is no translation in my earpiece.

Question No. 21Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

It is working now and we will continue.