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House of Commons Hansard #59 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Industry.

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the competition bureau has on many occasions in the past examined the activities in the energy sector and is alert to any evidence of collusion or improper conduct. That is one thing.

The other thing is controlling prices, which is something that is exclusively within the jurisdiction of the provinces. That is why I say there is a provincial jurisdiction here. Competition is federal; price control is provincial. Some provinces have already exercised that power. It is up to them to make that decision.

National DefenceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, the defence minister last week stated that changes would be made to SISIP, the flawed insurance program that covers our men and women of the armed forces. This is comforting news to those currently serving, but what about the veterans injured who will still receive no benefits for their injuries because this decision is not retroactive?

Will the defence minister advise the House today what plans are in place to compensate the veterans previously injured who received no benefit from SISIP? Those who lost both legs, both arms, their hearing and their eyes.

Will he tell us today what he plans to do?

National DefenceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am very grateful to Major Henwood who, through the media, brought to my attention when I assumed the portfolio as defence minister this issue of people who had lost their legs.

I have been working on this matter and was very pleased to announce the other day that as we move forward it will not be just colonels and generals who will receive this benefit, but members of the Canadian Armed Forces of all ranks. This is a major advance and I am still working on the retroactivity section of this proposal.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Today being Thursday, I know the opposition House leader will want to ask a particular question.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the government House leader if he could give the House an outline of the business for the rest of the day, tomorrow and next week.

Also, so we will all know, because all members would certainly want to be here to vote, could he advise us if on Monday there will be time allocation or closure used on Bill C-10A.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue with the opposition day. On Friday we will consider Bill C-25, the public service reform bill.

Next Monday we will consider the bill that would reduce the cost of gun control, namely Bill C-10A, the amendments to the criminal code, because we want to reduce gun control costs. On Tuesday we will return to Bill C-24 respecting election finances until 4 p.m. when the Minister of Finance will present his no doubt excellent budget to the House.

The remainder of the week, that is Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of next week, I intend to call the budget debates.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. As I was a former car salesman, you can understand how important my credibility is to me. The Minister of Transport, in his answer to one of my questions, suggested that my statement was not credible. I would like to table a document to prove that all cities are not treated equally under his job advertisement.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have the consent of the House to table the document?

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2003 / 3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, it certainly is a pleasure to speak on this very interesting topic and the proposal brought forward by the New Democrats today.

Let me state right from the start that the minister's proposal for a national identity card is extremely ill-thought out. On procedural grounds alone it does not merit much discussion. The initial arguments appear particularly weak in terms of travel documents. The Canadian passport and the Nexus card provide very suitable identification.

If there are questions about the integrity of Canadian passports, then he should fix the passports rather than come up with yet another identity instrument. For example, the government may wish to consider a biometric identifier in the Canadian passport. The government has already committed to having such an identifier on the maple leaf card for landed immigrants.

Also, I must add that a government that cannot register five million guns has no business trying to register 30 million citizens. If the experience of the gun registry is anything to go by, the national identity card program would cost $6 billion and still would not work.

My colleagues in their presentations have raised or will raise all these practical objections to a national identity card. During my time I want to discuss the broader security implications of the minister's proposal.

I submit that the proposal for a national identity card is in truth an admission by this government that it is too politically correct to take the necessary steps to pursue an aggressive defence against terrorism in Canada.

The events of September 11 have challenged Canadians and Americans to rethink their choices in the alleged trade-off between freedom and security; that is, to fight terrorism we should cede some privacy and legal the protection to government security agencies to strengthen their effectiveness.

I ask, and my party asks, does the balance between security and freedom have to be a zero sum game? A zero sum game is one where an increase for one side must mean a corresponding decrease on the other, and vice versa. Does greater national security necessarily mean lesser individual freedom or do choices exist to enhance both? If we do have choices, what are they?

Seeking an answer takes us to the very definition of security and freedom and the relationship between them. Security does not mean that threats do not exist.

That some people will seek to harm others is universal and a constant facet of human nature. Security does exist to provide means to defend against attack. Those means may be physical such as a backyard fence or a wall between countries. They may be informational such as a burglar alarm or intelligence gathering.

In a broader sense, security is something bought whether by nations or individuals. I may hire a security guard; a nation raises an army. I may buy a mace can; a nation builds sophisticated weaponry. Security is always relative in scope and degree and varies according to the nature of the threat.

In any given country, some people will be more at risk than others. In the case of the recent terrorist threat, if one lives in a city, one is more likely to be harmed than if one lives in a forest. The nature of the adversary also modulates the degree of danger. Canada would face greater danger from a conflict with Iran than say Iceland.

I am restating the obvious because it is being submerged by the claim that terrorism has now made insecurity an absolute condition given the random nature of the attacks.

However how random is the threat of terrorism really? In the case of the September 11 attacks, while the acts themselves were random in the sense of the unexpected, the identity of the perpetrators surprised no one. They were angry men from three repressive, unstable countries.

While many means of terrorist attacks exist, in an airplane wielding a $1.50 box cutter can lead to the same devastation as a truckload of dynamite. The actual pool of potential terrorists is relatively small and largely self-identified.

The public policy implication is as follows. Given the relative nature of insecurity, defending all people against all threats is not only impossible but also subject to very diminishing returns.

The last $10 billion of anti-terrorist spending will likely not improve security as much as the first $10 billion. The last $10 billion may not only add little security, but may divert funds from areas that contribute as much to physical safety, like roads and public health. That would suggest we need some kind of cost benefit test for the expansion of the powers of security intelligence agencies as we should have for any regulatory regime. However, the inherent difficulties in drawing up the costs and benefits of regulating the environment of terror would exceed that of regulating water pollution or even crime generally.

While such an analysis is conceptually possible, it offends the notion that the government owes an equal standard of protection for all citizens. Still, the basic idea of setting priorities on anti-terrorism spending and activities to achieve greater cost effectiveness deserves our attention. One way to do that is to focus more on the who than on the how.

I cite the remarks of an Israeli expert when asked why Israeli security was more effective than America's. He stated, “The Americans are looking for a gun, Israelis are looking for a terrorist”.

Focusing on potential terrorists rather than possible weapons raises the question of singling some people out for closer scrutiny than others. The argument is made that to do so represents discriminatory behaviour by the government and, therefore, an infringement on everyone's freedom.

The reason why that argument is false stems from the nature of the freedom and the state itself. As usual, Milton Friedman provides us with a succinct definition of freedom, “Political freedom means the absence of coercion of a man by his fellow men”. The state, whether absolutely necessary or not, has the role of correcting coercion and preventing harm.

A democratic government under the rule of law should uphold freedom by restraining those who coerce and harm others by following a public test of necessity and applying force sufficient only to that goal.

By this definition, the government cannot treat everyone equally in all respects. Exceptions must be made to deal with known and potential agents of harm. The requirement, nonetheless, is that the exceptions should be justified, transparent and effective rather than punitive.

The principled and consistent exercise of state power to deal with the exception, individuals who threaten harm does not diminish the overall quality of freedom. A government does potentially impair freedom when it expands its surveillance and authority over all citizens simply to avoid being seen to single out any single identifiable group.

Again I cite Milton Friedman, “A society that puts equality...ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom”. He was speaking about economic equality, but the idea applies as well to how a government treats those who threaten life, limb and property.

Exceptions to the equal treatment of all citizens can be justified when dealing with potential terrorists. Ultimately extraordinary measures taken in defence of the country will and should be defended in a court of law. Mistakes and inconvenience may occur. The justification lies not only in the purpose of preventing terrorism, but also in the law's ability to make necessary corrections.

At a practical level, freedom and security can both advance if governments concentrated on the likeliest suspects using its existing powers rather than expanding its blanket powers. Canada already has many resources and the legislative authority to fight terrorism effectively. I wonder if it is using them efficiently. The degree to which the government needs more resources and legislation should be concentrated on fighting terrorism, not on expanding state scrutiny over all citizens for all reasons.

For this reason I and my party find no merit in pursuing further the government's proposal for a national identity card. I know from listening to colleagues on the other side and government ministers who do not agree with this that it probably will not go very far.

The reason I am speaking today is because our immigration critic is travelling with the immigration committee. She sent me some comments that I also want to put on the record because they are very good.

It occurred to my hon. colleague, the member for Calgary—Nose Hill, that a national identity card would do nothing to stop terrorists at our borders. It would only be another card that could be stolen and would prove to be more dangerous. It would be used as conclusive proof of identity.

Do not let the Liberals offer soothing reassurances about security of the card because we have seen how its security against GST fraud works and we saw how its security against HRDC boondoogles worked.

What greater example is there than that of the government telling us to bring in security cards, that they will be good for Canada, when it cannot even do a firearms registry correctly? Most of the people are not registered and those who are registered are registered improperly.

With a number of colleagues from both sides, I was at a dinner of the Canadian Restaurant Association last night. It was a very good dinner and a happy evening, as the association had just announced it had employed its millionth person in Canada working in the hospitality industry. It is one of the biggest industries in Canada, bigger than most others put together.

One of the executives of the association came up to me and told me his story. He said that as a law abiding citizen he registered his gun as soon as the registry came out. Then he was sent back a form telling him he had done something wrong, so he sent back another form. Then he said he received all the forms and his money. He was sent a cheque for the same amount he had sent in. He said he thinks that his gun is registered and he has enough documentation so that if they ever want to arrest him he will show them the receipt. He said he never did find out why they sent back the cheque but he cashed it and has his money back.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

An hon. member

And he never got a licence.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Whatever, it is a mess. It is just all over the place.

We can just imagine what would happen if tomorrow the government said everyone in the country was going to get a national identity card. The cost is enough to scare the heck out of everybody. Let us not listen to any soothing things the minister of immigration says about this issue.

Another thing to remember is that the Liberals hate the idea of a DNA database for criminals, yet they want a card for everybody. They hate the idea of a database for sex offenders, but they want a card for everybody. They hate the idea of identifying predators who prey on children. They hate the idea of putting biometrics on permanent residents' cards. Why then would they want a card for everybody?

Here is what the Liberals do love. They love making honest citizens carry identity cards if they own firearms. It is rather strange. Now they love the idea of making every living Canadian citizen carry a personal identity card. Strange. There is something very sinister about a party, the Liberal Party, that wants to track every single honest Canadian but makes no effort to control the criminal element.

We know there are people all across the country who oppose this. We have heard from the privacy commissioner. I will not go into detail, because I have heard it stated by other members in the House.

Our immigration critic, the member for Calgary--Nose Hill, is in the Maritimes today on an immigration tour. Hopefully she will come back with some great ideas for new legislation for immigration for the country. Heaven knows we need it. She has some comments from the information and privacy commissioner from Prince Edward Island. Her name is Karen Rose. She is opposed to the development of a national identification card, especially with biometrics.

Some of the concerns of the commissioner are as follows. A national identification card would be an unprecedented invasion of the privacy of Canadians, due to the establishment of a national database of personal information, and because it would require Canadians to identify ourselves on demand. Another concern is that there is no evidence that a national identification card would achieve the purposes it sets out to achieve, namely national security, immigration and identity theft controls. Her third point is that the very existence of such a card could open the floodgates to drastically increase police powers as well as the collection of personal information of every Canadian, and would change the nature of our free society.

That is what we really have to be concerned about: the free society. I have no objection to cards with my name and identification on them. I have a passport that I carry when I travel because it could be requested and I think that is a legitimate thing to be asked for at a border when one is going to a different country. I carry a driver's licence. It has a picture on it, so I have another piece of ID. I carry a House of Commons ID card, which is another picture ID. I have loads of other things such as credit cards, but I made the choice to get all of them, even my House of Commons identity card. Nobody twisted my arm and forced me to go into the room. I do not need that. I could get the little key for my office and go back and forth. Nobody insists I do that. If I do not want to drive a car I do not have to, so I do not need a driver's licence. They are my choices.

There are people in this country who want to have those freedoms. That is why some of them live in very small towns in the north, or in the forest. They only go to town once in a while and they hunt for a living. They like their freedom and they like our country because they can be free. However, if we are going to need a card, everyone in the world will know who we are and what we are. Some people just do not want that.

Also, there could be mistakes. How many times have we seen stories in the paper about someone who is arrested because they have the same name as someone else? I remember years ago when I went to the border and got asked questions about somebody. It turned out that there was a fellow with the same name who was a lawyer. They were wanting to talk to him for a reason and I got pulled into a room. They found out I was not that person, but just that name was enough. We can imagine the problems we might have with these ID cards.

Then there are the people in the counterfeiting business. I do not know how many phony passports there are across the world, but I know there are thousands of them. Hundreds of them are missing here. People steal the blanks, and they have done that, from the Canadian government because they are a very valuable tool. These cards would be forged and photographed, and fingerprints would be done and changed. Somebody knows how to do that. It is a very dangerous thing and it certainly would affect our freedoms.

I am happy if things are made available to people and they can go get them themselves, but for the government to say everybody is going to register is wrong in a free and democratic country. Those of us who want to travel the world will get the documentation we need to do that. Those of us who do not want to should not have to do it.

We would be opposed. The minister has told members to go across the country and talk to their constituents. I have talked to my constituents. They are opposed. The minister should get the message from this debate today, from all sides of the House, that this is an issue that he should put to bed. He should forget about it and allow us to sleep better as we go to bed at night.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have to admit I am rather surprised that the NDP and the Alliance are both singing out of the same hymn book when it comes to a national identity card.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

An hon. member

It won't last.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

I know it probably will not last on all subjects, but I want to ask about a certain point. Many people, especially on the Liberal side, fear that if we do not do something of this nature the United States will do something at the border to make it more difficult for trade, commerce and services to go back and forth.

I want to play the devil's advocate for a second. Instead of the national identity card, what would the member propose in order to ensure that we have good and speedy commerce between both countries?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank that particular member of the NDP for his comments. I know that he and I would probably agree on a lot of things and he could probably be a very comfortable member of our party. He would be on the left side of the fringe of it, but he could be very comfortable in our party because he is from a very democratic party that even votes on issues in caucus. I want to thank him for his question and I respect his views.

What we have right now is quite satisfactory to the Americans. When we are travelling across as individuals they accept passports. There is no problem whatsoever. There is also the Canpass and the Nexus system set-up. We can voluntarily go to the Americans, get our fingerprints done and get our pictures done. They give us a card and we get easy access to the United States.

We have the same thing coming the other way. If people live in Vancouver and travel down to Bellingham or Blaine quite a bit, they can go in on the Canadian side, fill out the forms and pre-register themselves. Then they can go into the fast lane so they do not have to line up with all the other cars to get through the border.

Those processes are there. They are very good and I am sure that they will be improved over the years. I think that is all we need between our countries. It works very well now.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, that was an excellent speech by the House leader of the Canadian Alliance, to say the least. It covered every point. It bears a little reinforcing with the firearms registry and all the troubles that it has. Now we are talking about registering not 7 million people but 33 million people. As for the $2 billion to $3 billion that it would cost to register all Canadians, could that money not be better used to reinforce our military, our RCMP, our police forces and our intelligence services, to actually deal with the terrorists who would attack our country?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think there is a question in the mind of anybody in the House, including those of a lot of my Liberal colleagues, that if the gun control is any guide at all for the small amount there is, at $1 billion and still running, to do this for every individual Canadian would probably be in the range of $6 billion to $12 billion.

I am sure that if we did a poll every Canadian would say that the number one issue is health care and then that the military needs more money. Everybody in the House knows the military needs more money except the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister and the defence minister. The defence committee of the House made a recommendation to give the defence department more money. The former solicitor general is sitting here, and I am sure he would agree with me that the RCMP could use more money, as could, certainly, the police forces across Canada. Then there is the $1 billion we have wasted on this gun registry.

The government always talks about gun control. Guns, handguns, were controlled in this country for years, at a very minimal cost. It was not a problem. Duck hunters and deer hunters are not the problem in this country and we are spending $1 billion. That money could be put into the police working on the streets and visiting schools. I know that in my own riding some of the police visits are not taking place anymore. That is a problem, because respect can be built for the police departments when they visit schools and do things like that. When money is cut from those agencies and put into a phony gun registry, that is not what the taxpayers of Canada want.

I would agree with my colleague that this would be a total waste of money and that it is not the way that taxpayers would like us to spend their money.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Yolande Thibeault Liberal Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you immediately that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Louis-Hébert.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak, because the matter we are debating today strikes me as a vital one.

As the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has pointed out this morning, the most serious threat to privacy is the theft and misuse of a person's identity by another. Identity thefts cost Canadian society $2.5 billion annually, which is why I believe it is important to ask some questions about this.

In November 2002, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration made a proposal. Without introducing any bill in the House of Commons, the minister wanted to open up a debate on the possibility of creating a national identity card.

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, identity has taken on vital importance.

As far as citizenship and immigration are concerned, the Government of Canada has a commitment to ensure the safety and well-being of Canadians. In addition to legislation on immigration and the protection of refugees, which came into effect in the summer of 2002, we are now making progress toward enhanced border security.

What the minister is proposing is to consult Canadians in connection with a national identity card. The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is going to seek out Canadians' opinions on this and report the results back to the House.

For the moment, the government wishes to hear what Canadians have to say about a national identity card. In short, it is a matter of establishing a proper dialogue between the government and Canadians. In my opinion, such a debate is a very good thing. It is a demonstration of the healthy state of democracy in Canada.

If we enter into this debate with an open mind, privacy must remain a primary concern. Canada continues to play a lead role internationally in promoting human rights, in such forums as the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the Organization of American States. Domestically, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees everyone equal protection and equal benefits.

The Liberals have always been greatly concerned about protecting privacy as well as rights and freedoms. Let us not forget that we owe our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the Liberals.

Many countries around the world already have a national identity card. This is not something the minister invented. France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain all have them. Belgium recently announced that it would be using smart card technology for its national identity card, to protect the integrity of the document and to better protect personal information.

The lessons that we can learn from what countries like Belgium are doing is that new technologies, like biometrics, are able to better protect Canadians' privacy. In today's world, institutions and ideas are undergoing fundamental change.

We must ensure that Canadians do not lag behind. The technologies that will be used, if Canadians so desire, will provide for unique biometric identifiers like fingerprints, facial recognition and iris scans to control people's identity. The precision and effectiveness of these new techniques are very promising.

The security measures used when such cards are issued will allow a considerable degree of certainty. Why not use the latest technology, such as biometrics, to guarantee the integrity of these documents, while improving the protection of privacy at the same time?

It is important to make a list of the benefits and the drawbacks of a national identity card and it is important to find out what Canadians think about this. I would encourage all my colleagues in the House and all Canadians to reflect on this issue.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am following the debate on a national identity card with great interest, all the more so because I had the opportunity to listen to some entrepreneurs from my riding talk about new technologies that could be used to make the biometric portion of such a card.

I am also very happy to learn that the Standing Committee on Immigration and Citizenship is now touring Canada to consult Canadians about this matter.

In our country, identification documentation is a shared responsibility. The federal government, through Citizenship and Immigration Canada, is responsible for issuing immigration and citizenship documents. The provincial governments are responsible for issuing birth and death certificates.

These documents are called primary documentation. They are used to obtain all kinds of other documents, such as passports, driver's licences, and health cards.

However, in reality, we know full well that none of these are specifically meant to be used as identification. Most of them, however, are commonly accepted and used as such. Just recently, my daughter told me that, to attend a basketball tournament in the United States, she only had to show her health card with a photo or her driver's licence.

We also know that these documents have security features that vary considerably and some can be easily reproduced. Consequently, numerous attempts have been made to use fraudulent cards.

Theft or fraudulent use of such documents can present a security threat to Canadians, the integrity of government programs or economic prosperity.

In terms of government programs, for example, some documents have proven very easy to counterfeit, allowing certain people access to employment insurance, for example, or even welfare. This easy access has cost the various levels of government billions of dollars.

In Canada as elsewhere, there has been a shocking rise in fraud and identity theft. Despite cutting-edge technology, identify theft is rising in the industrialized world. It is clear that the easier the technology is to access, the easier the documents are to reproduce and obtain.

According to the Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus, identity theft and fraudulent use of identity documents cost billions of dollars each year. Obviously these crimes affect consumers and companies and clearly have a negative impact on our economy.

In the current context, with the technology available to us, Canadians can be better protected against such theft and fraud. The Department of Citizenship and Immigration has accordingly been asked to coordinate the Government of Canada's efforts to strengthen document integrity.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada issues documents to citizens, permanent residents, foreign students, refugee claimants, temporary workers, and visitors to Canada. Consequently, it is vital that these documents incorporate cutting-edge technology.

The new Permanent Resident Card is an extremely safe document that can include biometric identifiers. The Permanent Resident Card was introduced last year. Citizenship and Immigration Canada has already issued more than 170,000.

The card has been well received by clients and security experts.The International Card Manufacturers Association gave Canada's Permanent Resident Card two awards, and it has been referred to by U.S. experts as the most secure ID card in the world.

In fact, the Permanent Resident Card can be improved so as to include biometric technology. This is new technology that uses unique biometric identifiers, such as fingerprints, facial recognition or iris scans and can be used to verify an individual's identity with unprecedented precision.

In the United Kingdom, public consultation is currently underway on the introduction of a voluntary national identity card.

The government is fully aware of the concern about privacy, and this issue clearly remains a focus of discussion.

Privacy is a primary consideration. In Canada, we already have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian privacy legislation, which ensure that the privacy of Canadian citizens is protected. Needless to say, any proposed national ID card will have to comply with government guidelines on the protection of personal information as well as with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This is an important debate that touches on key issues, and we must consider those issues relating to security, privacy and citizenship, as almost everyone in this House has indicated in debate. There is also a need, in this debate, to remain objective, given how serious the issues under consideration are. We must steer clear of any sensationalism and examine the pros and cons of a national identity card in a calm and reasoned fashion.

This is how Canadians would want us to address the matter.

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3:35 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned the issue of privacy. Need I remind the House that, not too long ago, the government won its case and the right to transfer to the EI program information gathered at the border, so that EI benefits to people travelling to the U.S. for a week could be cut.

What about the privacy of Canadians? Information can be exchanged within the public service. The member made a mistake in her speech when she said that she thought the privacy of Canadians would be protected, as if the government would stop transferring information from one department to another. In fact, by going to court and winning its case, the government made a mockery of the privacy of Canadians.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this debate is to give members on both sides of the House the opportunity to express their views about the security aspect of this issue, a crucial element in the implementation of a national identity card.

Anyone taking part in this debate can voice his or her concerns, suggest improvements or talk about any irritant at all. This debate will ensure that what my colleague has mentioned will never occur again. All suggestions are welcome.

I want to thank the opposition for raising this issue today. It gives us the opportunity to go over some very important issues.