Mr. Speaker, during committee review of the bill some hon. members sought changes to incorporate the protection of unspecified provincial interest in the bill. One of these amendments serves as a point of additional clarification. I speak of the addition of clause 4(3)(c) which adds that “the interests of the provinces are protected”, when the responsible minister must weigh whether to grant an exemption from the act or any person, remote sensing space systems or data. Even without the phrase we may rest assured that provincial interests would have been given full consideration, but if a more explicit expression is needed to provide reassurance then so be it.
As an hon. colleague elaborated on September 30, the responsible minister is granted the power of exemption under the act for several reasons, one being to deal with competing jurisdictions laying claim to the same remote sensing space system. A private remote sensing space system controlled by Canadian persons or operated from within Canada would either need a licence granted under section 8 or an exemption order issued. Given that Canadians could operate from a foreign jurisdiction, which may want to licence the system under its own laws, Canada needs this power to release Canadians from obligations under the proposed act where appropriate.
It was successfully argued during the review of Bill C-25 by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade that the responsible minister would naturally factor into a licensing decision the issue of whether a clarification of section 8(4)(c) had to be specified within the licence to ensure that the provinces had access to data sensed by a Canadian licensed satellite.
The government accepted an amendment for section 4 in this regard. The amendment clarifies that the minister would ensure that the provinces had secure access to data gathered over their territory, pursuant to Canada being a sensed state as understood in the UN Principles concerning the Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space. This would apply both to a satellite operated and licensed from Canada and to satellites controlled from other countries by Canadian operators.
In the latter case, a foreign jurisdiction seeking to license a satellite controlled by Canadians in that jurisdiction would have to honour the relevant UN Principles before the minister responsible would agree to release the Canadian operators of their obligations under the act. In this way the provinces of Canada can be fully assured of access for data sensed over their own territory.
On the issue of data archiving, I want to flag an amendment to section 20 defining the regulation-making authority on this issue. Section 20(1)(g.1) now provides for regulations “respecting the archiving of raw data, including the public access to the archived data”. This amendment was accepted as a point of clarification further to existing section 8(4)(c), codifying Canada's ability to fulfill its commitments under United Nations Principles concerning the Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space, mentioned earlier in my remarks.
Similarly, the system disposal plan required under section 9 would delineate how the data would collected by the licensed system will eventually be disposed after a set shelf life. These two provisions of the act result in an implicit data archiving requirement on the licensee. The government further envisions regulations placing notification requirements on the licensee to notify the minister prior to disposing of any raw data. It also envisions requirements specifying an opportunity for the minister to acquire such data for archive and public access within a government operated data archive. The amendment accepted by the government helps to reinforce this sound practice.
I turn now to the issue of privacy protection and the rationale for the lack of additional elements on the issue in the bill. First, it must be understood that the bill does not stand alone in isolation from other laws in Canada enacted to protect the privacy interests of Canadians. Bill C-25 exists fully within and is governed by the existing strong framework of privacy laws in Canada. Foremost among these is Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Specifically section 8 of charter guarantees that “Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure”. In addition to the charter, existing legislation such as the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act provide excellent privacy protections from all sorts of technologies, including those involved in remote sensing satellites.
It must also be understood that major technical and cost impediments will limit just how sensitive remove sensing satellites licensed under Bill C-25 will be. No one will be reading newspapers over our shoulder from space. Indeed individuals do not even show up in images taken by the sort of remote sensing satellites expected to be licensed under this bill.
Should future satellite technology evolve sufficiently that performance capabilities generate privacy concerns regarding law enforcement or other uses, new practices and procedures would be developed as an outgrowth of existing legal jurisprudence. In fact, jurisprudence already is being formed in Canada with regard to the use of airborne remote sensing systems by law enforcement agencies, including requirements for prior judicial authorizations for uses in which a reasonable expectation of privacy would exist.
As a consequence, there is no need for additional privacy protections to be considered specifically for remote sensing satellites beyond those already put into practice under Canada's existing laws to limit the more intrusive airborne or terrestrial sensing systems.
Some hon. members also questioned the protection afforded under Bill C-25 against foreign acquisition of Canadian licensed remote sensing satellites. The approach adopted in Bill C-25 in this regard draws no distinction between domestic and foreign investment in Canadian remote sensing space systems. All potential licensees, from whatever country, must meet security standards established to protect Canada's national security against injury, whether from a Canadian or a non-Canadian investor.
Under the proposed bill, the licensing power of clause 8 and the proposed disposal plan required under clause 9 enable the minister to specify conditions under which the licensee would have to notify the minister when it experienced a change in operational control. This notification would enable the minister to ensure that the security aspects of the system and the disposal plan or other operational plans could be implemented to protect Canada's national security with regard to the proposed investment.
The bill also includes clause 16 which would prohibit a licensee or former licensee from transferring the control of a remote sensing space system without the approval of the minister. This adds to the protection afforded under clause 8(9) in which a licence is not transferrable without the minister's consent.
I now wish to raise the issue of ensuring that conditions in an operating licence under the act will permit protection for the export of sensitive items, comparable to those found in Canada's Export and Import Permits Act. In other speeches by my colleagues, it was explained why the bill was better than amending that act. I will not repeat what has already been said. Instead I will simply emphasize that Bill C-25 does for the control of data what the Export and Import Permits Act does for the export of military and dual use goods and technology.
Under present policy guidelines set out by cabinet in 1986, Canada closely controls the export of military goods and technology to: first, countries which pose a threat to Canada and its allies; second, countries involved in or under imminent threat of hostilities; third, countries under United Nations Security Council sanctions; and, fourth, countries whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens, unless it can be demonstrated there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population.
These fundamental policy statements are implemented as guidelines but are not found as explicit language in any legislation. Existing powers afforded under EIPA are adequate to enable them to be implemented. The powers afforded under Bill C-25 can and will be used to do the same for remote sensing satellite capabilities. Let me again show members how.
In Bill C-25, clauses 8(6) and 8(7) would allow the minister to specify mandatory distribution rules for all types of remote sensing imagery, both data and products. High resolution or rapidly accessible products are the ones most likely to arouse security concerns. Products involving coarser resolution and slower delivery times are likely to be viewed as benign. In between these limits will fall dual use products.
The powers afforded under this act would allow the responsible minister to specify customer access profiles that would define what quality of data or product could be released to what class of customer and how quickly. These profiles would reflect the same sort of underlying policy goals elaborated by the government for the export of military of dual use goods under the Export and Import Permits Act. Indeed, the ability of the minister responsible to change these rules on his own motion foresaw the policy needs I elaborated before, since the internal or external security situation of a given country can change rapidly and rapid response to such changes is equally necessary.
Finally, I wish to speak to a final amendment that was accepted during the review of the bill by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
The last amendment added the requirement for the minister to conduct an independent review of Bill C-25 five years from entering into force and every five years thereafter. The review would keep the bill forward looking in terms of Canada's conduct of international relations and in terms of the evolution of remote sensing technology. Such reviews could also provide Parliament an account of the administration of the act and could document, mindful of national security limitations, the circumstances surrounding the use of any of the extraordinary powers granted under the act.
On that basis, I continue to urge hon. members to pass the bill at third reading so the useful work that it mandates can begin.