Debates of Jan. 29th, 2008
House of Commons Hansard #39 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was theft.
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Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON
In reverse order, Mr. Speaker, on the idea of amendments I do not see this bill, that is, the Criminal Code as a whole, being able to deal with some of the other policy and legislative changes that are needed in other legislation, in consumer legislation and corporate commercial legislation, or in policy within government. Those issues that we have raised around this in regard to regulating and trying to provide greater security to our databases would have to be dealt with outside the Criminal Code, which is just not the mechanism for dealing with it.
In terms of other and more straightforward amendments, I have never let the attempt of intimidation by the government to say we are going to have a confidence motion over bills prevent me from bringing forth amendments. I think that is just silly on the part of the government.
As we saw even in Bill C-2, the omnibus bill around dangerous offenders, there were actually a couple of minor amendments that went through because it was obvious even to the government at that point that they were needed.
However, I think the point I was making about looking at trying to strengthen the wording around reasonable inference is one that is going to have to be closely looked at. If we can come up with better wording, I am expecting that the minister in his wisdom will ignore the PMO and allow us to have the amendments.
Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT
Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned during my speech, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine has a bill to increase the ability of the police to use modern electronic methods, which they do not have access to now, to help deal with this type of crime. I am hoping the member would be able to seriously consider that type of improvement as well.
Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON
Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the member for Yukon. I did not respond to that. It is a very good point.
This is interesting. There are technologies out there that screen out the hackers. We know we can build greater firewalls in regard to allowing people access. A number of the smaller financial institutions in particular have some difficulty in being able to afford that or in fact in even knowing what they need to do. There is work that the federal government could be doing to provide standards and perhaps technology.
In that respect, I want to just mention what happened around child pornography. Paul Gillespie, who was in Toronto at the time trying to deal with it, got so frustrated that he wrote Bill Gates a letter saying they could develop technology that could track backwards the child porn they were finding on their PCs in Toronto but it was going to cost money. He asked if Bill Gates could help.
He got an instantaneous response from Gates. They built the software package. It is one that is now being used across the globe, at least in all the developed countries. Gates put in $6 million or $8 million using his staff and his resources. This type of assistance that is now available to our police forces, which is not expensive because it just means getting the software, has been very useful in the fight against child pornography.
The same thing could be done in this area. We may need to develop more technology both to protect the databases and to trace back the hackers who break in and get the information.
Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak to this piece of legislation today, as apparently a lot of members are. It looks like in its current state this has support from around the House. If it stays that way, it looks like the bill will be going to committee. Hopefully the committee will have an opportunity to deal with it expeditiously, to get it back to the House and finally to get it passed.
This is one of these areas in criminal legislation, and I suppose in all legislation, where the legislation comes into being after the criminal mind has already found a way to criminalize, to steal and to commit fraud. This particular area of information, personal identity, gives us a new type of crime in the sense that in the expanding universe of information and the increasingly complex universe of financial transactions there is a bigger playing field for the criminal mind.
This is just such a case. The legislation that now is being proposed attempts to cover off for society by criminalizing, prohibiting and proscribing certain types of conduct that we regard as anti-social and harmful. Most people would ask why we could not have passed this law 10 or 20 years ago. The reason probably is that we in the House do not all have criminal minds that would lead us to get our heads out in front of this, nor do all the great employees of the Department of Justice have that penchant for thinking like criminals. Usually we are in this position where we legislate after the initial harm, after the crimes of opportunity have been done by the criminals.
In this particular field of personal information, theft of personal identity and the use of that type of information for fraud and other crimes, I again want to point out for the record, and I made some comments on this a few minutes ago, that it is important to distinguish between recognizing and defining the whole field of personal information and taking steps to protect it in data banks, personal records and government records, and another area, which is the application of the Criminal Code to criminalize certain things that happen in relation to personal information.
There was a private member's bill in the last session, and I think even also in the last Parliament, with attempts by members to create legislation that would protect personal information, but inevitably the clash between protecting the information and criminalizing certain types of conduct produced a kind of incompatibility. I recall one bill that would have criminalized the act by a university student of trying to get a phone number and an address of some other student just for the purpose of having a date on Saturday night. That particular type of legislation did not distinguish between the two. It went too far.
As we legislate here now, I think this bill has it just about right. We have identified the actual criminal intentions that we want to proscribe. We have not touched what would be an ordinary layman's use of personal information or attempts to get personal information, although the bill comes close to it and we have to keep our eye on that line.
This particular area is sometimes complex because it is a new and developing area. It is a bit of a moving target. In the world of the Internet and the globalization of information, the target of what is personal information, what is financial information and what are other types of information is always changing, and the focal point changes right around the world.
Data banks are not necessarily in one location. They are in different countries. The data is transferred through land lines, satellites and service providers, land-based and otherwise. It is an exceedingly complex area. I hope Canadians will feel that our House of Commons and our Department of Justice are keeping up with this.
The personal information that we try to protect is out there in so many places. A couple of years ago, I noted how much junk data is on a website called Wikipedia. That particular website purports to be an information site, but apparently anybody can load up information of any sort. The information is not screened. It can be false or inaccurate information.
That particular website is simply not what it appears to be. It contains false and misleading information filled with innuendo. At least if it were a tabloid, it could be sued, and it would take responsibility for what it published in terms of libel laws, but boy, on the Internet that is tough. I just mention Wikipedia. It seems to be a group of rogue dot-commers trafficking in junk information, which sometimes includes personal information.
This legislation of course does not attempt to deal with the dodos in that type of junk information, but it does try to protect the personal identities of Canadians.
About two weeks ago, a staffer at my Scarborough office in Scarborough--Rouge River was a little nervous. She came into my office saying that we had an email addressed to me personally and it looked kind of strange. She gave it to me gently and I looked at it. The email was asking me to confirm that I had made a particular purchase on my credit card. I do not know what the purchase was, but it was for a couple of hundred dollars. It so happens that I do not have the particular credit card that was named in the email.
Since this was the first time such an incident had happened, my staffer attached significance to the receipt of that email, thinking it was real, accurate, bona fide and important and there was some kind of problem with my financial transactions. Since I did not have the type of credit card referred to in the email, I knew immediately that it was part of a scam. I guess the company was inviting me to get back to it, say it was not my purchase because it was not my credit card, and then the company would ask me what credit card I did have. I would say that I had another one and the company would ask to verify that.
This happened to me two weeks in my constituency office, which the taxpayers pay for, and it was the first time this type of thing happened to me. This type of potential scam, this fishing expedition, is all over the place. I am sure that anything we can do here to try to protect innocent Canadians from this type of scamming would be appreciated. I would appreciate it. So would my staff and my constituents.
I have mentioned the clash between the protection of personal information and the criminalization of the use of it. In relation to that, I noted other bills that tried to criminalize the use or passing on of personal information without the consent of the person. There were some areas that I thought we should make sure to protect, but as it turns out we do not have to do very much because this bill has been re-targeted at particular criminal acts.
Those previous bills contained the concept of a person seeking personal information. I mentioned the university student looking for a name and a phone number for a date. There are also people promoting a charity who are looking for a name, phone number or address. They are looking to solicit a charitable donation. Someone might be doing it to promote a religion, a religious faith, or, and listen up colleagues, somebody might be doing it for political purposes. These are all normal pursuits that we generally accept. We accept that people promoting their interests, their groups, their societies or their community associations will seek out names and addresses of people they would like to approach.
We have to make sure that we do not impose a chill on our communications and social intercourse in our communities in an overreaction to the potential criminality that is out there. This bill does not come very close to that, but it is an area that I will be looking at as we scrutinize this at committee.
The Department of Justice has used the bill to fine tune some existing legislation. The bill proposes arguably three new types of offences, but in fine tuning the existing legislation we actually create and broaden some existing offences. It has been done in a good way. I think it all fits fairly well. Some existing legislation has been altered to make prosecution, conviction and investigation a little easier and a little clearer so that we do not have to rely on the conspiracy laws in the Criminal Code.
An example is the offence of theft from the mail. The proposed legislation expands the class of mail that is protected from theft. Most people think that if someone steals something from the mail, it is an offence, and it always has been. One of the areas that was never clear was after the mailman had delivered the mail to a house or business. It could be put in a mail slot and the mail would drop onto the floor. The mailman could put the mail in a mailbox on the front of the house or business, or it could be left inside the door. Nowadays Canada Post has neighbourhood mailboxes not connected to a residence. People have to walk across the street or a couple of hundred yards to pick up their mail. After the mailman delivers the mail to that box, is the mail still protected? Is that theft from the mail?
After the mailman puts it through the door slot, is that mail still in the course of mail? In previous interpretations, it was not. Once the mailman delivered the mail into the box or through the slot, the mail had been delivered and apparently the mail was not protected by the mail theft statute. It was still protected by the theft statute, but not mail theft. After that letter is in the house and is put on the kitchen table in so many homes, if taken, would that still be theft from the mail?
The solution is a rather good one. It does not clarify everything but the amendment is that everyone commits an offence who steals “any thing sent by post, after it is deposited at a post office and before it is delivered, or after it is delivered but before it is in the possession of the addressee or of a person who may reasonably be considered to be authorized by the addressee to receive mail”.
If one is really well off and has a butler, and the mailman delivers the mail to the butler at the front door, that is delivery. If it is just put in the mailbox, from the point of view of the post office, that is a completed delivery, but our Criminal Code is going to continue to still protect that letter until it is in the possession of the addressee or the addressee's representative. That is a good change. That does not have anything to do with the Internet. That just is a good common sense change to protect our mail the way most Canadians would want it protected.
The bill has a number of other technical changes referring to pieces of equipment, government identity cards, government documents and even identity documentation issued by the provinces. I am sure it is constitutional. Documents produced by a province or the federal government that are stolen, used, or just simple theft of them is an offence.
Now the use of them in fraud, impersonation and pretending to be somebody the person is not for the purpose of stealing, fraud, theft and deceit is better and more clearly criminalized. This will allow better investigation, better prosecution, more appropriate convictions, better sentencing and hopefully a bit better order in an area that has needed some legislative amendment and updating.
Having said all of that, I am certain we will be back in this House five or six years from now to update this type of legislation again, because as I said, the target is always moving. As the technical and information universe expands, we may well see other areas that need amendment and improvement.
Judy Sgro York West, ON
Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting to listen to my colleague who has a lot of experience in these areas in following the justice bills and so on.
Given the increasing concern that many of us have with identity theft and the fact that we are hearing of people's mortgages changing hands by people getting copies of pertinent information, what else needs to be done in this piece of legislation to make it closer to being bullet proof and to make it tougher and tighter?
Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON
Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question. I do not think we will be issuing a written guarantee with the bill that it will cover absolutely everything. As we deal with this bill, I am sure there is a criminal mind out there trying to figure out a way to slide something through the existing net of legislation so that he or she will not get caught and charged.
The member has raised a very good reference point. This bill will do a whole lot to better protect the class of Canadian that she has described, but it does not address the financial implications directly. If a fraud is committed, the money is lost or the money is diverted.
The hon. member mentioned mortgage fraud. I know that criminals have found a way to do mortgage fraud. This usually involves a fairly large amount of money. It is not a $100 item. A mortgage is usually for $50,000, $100,000, $200,000, $300,000 and even more. They have found a way to manipulate the provincial land registration system in a way that allows a mortgage lender to be defrauded using a personal identity. I have a case in my constituency office involving just that. A lady is working her way back after two court cases. She has done a great job. She had to hire a lawyer once.
It is just awful that Canadians are put in this position. The Canadian victim will bear the burden of making the information correct and there will be allegations that the Canadian has borrowed the money under the mortgage. In the end it is usually provable that the individual did not, that it was a scam and it is the financial institution that would normally bear that liability.
There were occasions in the province of Ontario where the first response of the government of Ontario was that it would not change its law. A buyer for value in due course, which is a legal principle, of a piece of real estate, without notice of a fraud, is able to buy the land and does not have to bear the responsibility. People have had their registered property sold out from under them by a scam and they were not aware of it. This is usually a case where the owner of the real estate does not live on the real estate. It is tentative in some way.
Eventually, I am informed, the government of Ontario decided to change its law, change its policy, and the innocent victims of these scams are now apparently to be believed and they can get their land back, or they do not lose it.
The law two or three years ago was such that individual Canadians who were scammed had to bear the brunt of it. Now as I understand it, it would be the financial institution which has been defrauded that would bear the brunt of it and not the individual Canadian whose identity was used to perpetrate the fraud.
These things are still working their way through the courts and there are many different scenarios. The short answer to my friend's question is that the bill goes a long way to regularize and patch up the law, but there are still some open areas involving not criminal law, but civil law and the law governing financial transactions and mortgages that still may need some repair.
Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT
Mr. Speaker, I have three questions, so I will be rising twice more if no one else has questions, provided there is time.
My first question is on the same topic of mortgages. A person can get a mortgage from the bank for, as the member said, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and walk away, but that person was not the real owner of the house and the person who owns the house would then have a huge debt.
A constituent suggested that an easy way to solve this problem is to make it mandatory that a photo be taken of everyone who gets a mortgage. I wonder what the member thinks of that solution from one of my constituents.
Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON
Mr. Speaker, that is a great suggestion. The laws governing obtaining a mortgage and a loan are provincial in this country. The federal government has a couple of laws that affect that area but in general the law of mortgages and hypothèques in Quebec are governed by the laws of the province.
The provinces are very unlikely to pass a law that says if there is a financial transaction there has to be a photo. As I understand it their laws are heavily weighted and biased in imposing the burdens on the financial institutions to know their clients and with whom they are dealing.
I know that financial institutions, because of these recent incidents, are taking steps to make sure that they visually know the borrower, visually check the land, visually check the tenant, and have people do this to ensure that they know exactly what is going on and that it is not a scam.
Whether or not a photo should be a part of the file, I do not know. What if it is a corporate borrower? How are they going to take a picture of a corporation? However, the member has the right idea. I think the financial institutions are taking appropriate steps.
Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT
Mr. Speaker, I quoted recently a member from the government side, the member for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, in a newspaper article who suggested the government would accept very few amendments to the bill. Since that was a gratuitous and unnecessary comment, I would not normally bring it up if this was the only incident.
However, the member is a very effective, knowledgeable and wise member of the justice committee. I am sure he would have viewed times when this sort of lack of democratic input has prohibited the justice committee from doing its work.
Why would we hear witnesses and try to improve bills and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of parliamentary time if we could not make amendments? I wonder if the member, with his decades of experience in the House of Commons, has any comments as to whether this is correct or an unusual situation.
Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON
Mr. Speaker, committees of course, as the member well knows, are creatures of the House. They take their orders from the House and not from any particular member.
On the issue of amending bills, there were two or three instances in this Parliament in the previous session when in the justice committee there were material amendments made by the committee to the bill. Some of the government members found that difficult.
I think in speaking about amending bills the member is probably thinking about material changes to a bill. This could happen again at the committee with other bills, but I think with this bill there seems to be around the circle support for the bill. The only types of amendments that I would envision at this time are really just technical common sense amendments that would be consensual with all the parties. I do not anticipate that kind of a problem with this bill.
In some other criminal legislation areas, we never know. The committee will do what it feels it must.
Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill C-27, dealing with identity theft.
In May 2007, the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics undertook a study on identity theft. At the time, we began to hear witnesses and look at this issue, because it is a serious problem. This issue directly affects individuals, but it also has an impact on our cities, our nation, our country, and even at the international level.
In fact, Canada is the only G-8 member that has not yet legislated against spams, which are often used for identity theft purposes. Some countries point to Canada as a haven for spammers. So, it was time to take action in this area.
It goes without saying that the Bloc supports the principle of the bill. As I just mentioned, identity theft is a very serious issue. We have to modernize the Criminal Code to reflect the reality of identity theft.
When she appeared before our committee, on May 8, Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said that, in her opinion, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, which was implemented six years ago “is not a tool that, alone, enables us to combat this phenomenon, even if this legislation imposes restrictions on the collection of data. The safeguard principle permits the secure and confidential holding of personal information. It also makes it possible to limit the time during which information may be kept, as well as the number of persons who have access to it.”
However, as Ms. Stoddart pointed out, this is not enough, and this is why an act on identity theft is a welcome initiative.
According to Ms. Stoddart, concerted action by the different levels of government is required. The Bloc Québécois is not alone to say so. Let me quote her again. She suggested that “the federal government has to work closely with the provinces, because a lot of what happens in terms of ID theft falls within provincial jurisdiction”.
Provincial jurisdiction does not mean only certain fields of responsibility. We are really talking about the jurisdiction of the provinces or that of the Quebec nation, because Quebeckers have jurisdiction over the management of their fields of responsibility. Ms. Stoddart gives the example of those people who have had their houses sold out from underneath them. That is something that falls entirely within the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces.
Generally speaking, this Conservative government appears to be incapable of working in cooperation with Quebec and the provinces. Examples of this would be the aid package for the manufacturing and forestry sectors and the implementation of the Kyoto protocol.
The Bloc Québécois recognizes that amending the Criminal Code will not be enough to eliminate identity theft. More measures will have to be put in place by governments, including: public information to reduce victimization; regulations to provide a better framework for the management, storage and disposal of information by companies; and measures to ensure greater standardization and security in the process for issuing and verifying identity documents. The federal government has a crummy track record in terms of the management of personal information. It will have to set an example, but I will come back to that later.
The purpose of this bill is to curb identity theft, that is the unauthorized use of personal information generally obtained for criminal purposes. Information such as someone's name, date of birth, address, credit card number, social insurance number or any other personal identification number can be used to open a bank account, apply for a credit card, get mail redirected, sign up for cellular phone services, rent a vehicle, equipment or premises, or even get a job.
Bill C-27 creates three new basic offences, and all of them carry a maximum penalty of five years.
The first one involves obtaining and possessing identity information with the intent to use it in a misleading, dishonest or fraudulent fashion to commit a crime.
The second offence, which involves trafficking in identity information, targets those who give or sell information to a third party, while being well aware that this information could be used for criminal purposes, or while not caring about it.
Finally, the third offence involves the unlawful possession or trafficking in government-issued identity documents that have the information pertaining to another person.
Some witnesses confirmed to the committee that, under the Criminal Code, a person who copies—in a convenience store, a grocery store or some other business—a credit card or an automated teller card, does not commit an offence. Right now, it is very difficult to charge such a person for using personal information.
Bill C-27 will correct this situation. From now on, individuals in a business who copy a credit card or an automated teller card when someone gives it to them for a few moments will be liable to prosecution under the provisions of Bill C-27.
Bill C-27 also includes other changes to the Criminal Code. It creates a new offence for directly or indirectly redirecting someone's mail, for possessing a copy of a Canada Post key, and also additional forgery related offences, such as the trafficking in and possession of forged documents with the intent of using them. The bill also redefines the offence of personation with the notion of “identity fraud”; by specifying the meaning of the expression “fraudulently personates any person”; by adding the offence of possessing instruments for copying credit card data, in addition to the existing offence of possessing instruments for forging credit cards.
As I was saying earlier in reference to those individuals working in businesses who might copy a credit card or an automated teller card, this will now be an offence.
In addition, the bill introduces a new power that would enable the tribunal to order the offender, as part of the sentence, to make restitution to a victim of identity theft or identity fraud for the expenses associated with rehabilitating their identity, such as the cost of replacement documents and cards and costs related to correcting their credit history. This is extremely important because many people come to our constituency offices and complain that they have been victims of identity theft and are having a hard time recovering their identity. Sometimes they complain that it costs them a lot of money to recover their identity.
Obviously, because the exception proves the rule, there are exceptions. The bill before us provides for two exemptions that would protect people who create false documents for secret government operations, as well as public servants—law enforcement officers—who create and use secret identities in carrying out their duties, from court action for identity fraud.
Identity theft is a very worrisome problem. According to Public Safety Canada, identity theft is now one of the fastest-growing crimes in Canada and the United States. In 2004, identity theft cost over $50 billion U.S. Identity theft costs consumers, banks and retailers a lot of money. In 2002, the Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus estimated that consumers, banks, credit card companies, stores and other businesses lost $2.5 billion to identity theft.
In 2006, the Ontario Provincial Police's PhoneBusters program—an anti-fraud call centre created in January 1993 by the OPP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Competition Bureau—received 7,800 calls from victims of identity theft who declared personal and business losses amounting to over $16 million. However, PhoneBusters recognizes that these statistics do not provide a complete picture of the situation. The organization believes that the number of calls received represents but a small fraction—perhaps 5%—of the actual total. According to PhoneBusters, payment card fraud, which is a major element of identity theft, accounted for 42% of identity theft incidents reported in 2003. According to the RCMP, total losses due to credit card fraud amounted to $200 million in 2003.
In addition to these financial losses, victims of identity theft suffer damaged credit ratings and compromised personal and financial records.
In a 2003 study, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission reported that victims of identity theft spent an average of $500 million U.S. to recover their identity and restore their credit rating.
According to a 2006 Ipsos Reid poll, one Canadian adult in four—24%, in fact, or about 5.7 million Canadians—said he or she had been a victim of identity theft—4%—or knew someone who had been a victim—20%.
This Civil Code must be dusted off. The offences currently in the Criminal Code were defined for the most part at a time when the traditional concept of “property” applied. The problem with identity theft is that personal information is not considered property. In applying the provisions of the Criminal Code, if it is impossible to establish a direct causal link with an economic loss or another serious injury, it becomes very difficult to prove that someone committed a crime such as identity theft.
Roughly 40 provisions of the current Criminal Code could apply to identity theft. For example, subsection 342(3) of the Criminal Code makes it a criminal offence to possess and traffic in credit or debit cards and related data for the purpose of using them or obtaining services provided by the card issuer.
The provisions on forgery apply to people who knowingly make false documents in order to use them or pass them off as genuine documents.
A person who uses a false document, knowing that it is forged, in order to defraud another person, can be charged with fraud and uttering forged documents.
Offenders who assume a false identity for economic or other gain—for example, to avoid being linked to criminal offences—can be charged with identity theft.
Simple possession and collection of personal information are not crimes under the Criminal Code.
In a letter dated November 21, 2007 to the member for Hochelaga, the Minister of Justice stated that he intended to introduce a bill to amend the Criminal Code in order to solve the problem of identity theft. I stress the word “solve”.
The minister is a bit too enthusiastic. The bill is a step in the right direction. However, the Criminal Code is an unwieldy instrument for fighting identity theft: the rules of evidence are strict. Other measures will have to be put in place to effectively fight identity theft.
The Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, has on several occasions called for amendments to the Criminal Code in order to more effectively fight identity theft, and she also recognizes that this tool is not very effective. She stated,
I don't think it's just an issue of the Criminal Code. As you know, our law administrators hesitate to use the Criminal Code: the standards of proof are higher, and the charter may apply, and so very often you have to have a fairly clear-cut case to use the Criminal Code.
There is one requirement for Bill C-27: the federal government must work closely with Quebec and the provinces. Once again, the Privacy Commissioner maintains that the real solution to the problem of identity theft lies in civil procedures:
Civil sanctions that are very easy to prove and easy for citizens, for example, to take to small claims courts, which may provide a more easily accessible deterrent to the growing industry of ID theft. This means, of course, that I think the federal government has to work closely with the provinces, because a lot of what happens in terms of ID theft falls within provincial jurisdiction.
The Bloc Québécois recognizes that amending the Criminal Code will not be enough to solve the problem of identity theft. Other measures will have to be put in place by governments: education campaigns—I spoke of these earlier—to reduce victimization in particular; regulations to provide more stringent oversight of how businesses manage, store and dispose of information; and measures to promote greater uniformity and security in the process of issuing and verifying identification documents.
But this government is incapable of collaborating with the provinces. Some of the solutions for combating identity theft rest with the provinces under the constitutional powers in relation to property and civil rights.
This government seems to be extremely reluctant to collaborate. Examples of this abound. The present Conservative government refused to collaborate with Quebec and the provinces on bringing forward a real plan to assist the forestry and manufacturing industries. The Conservative government rejected a series of unanimous requests by the National Assembly out of hand, requests that included honouring the Kyoto protocol, abandoning its plan for a single securities commission, a plan rejected by all of the provinces except Ontario, abandoning its reform of Parliament and reversing its decision to scrap the court challenges program.
The Conservative government succeeded in upsetting all the provinces with its reform of how the seats in the House of Commons are allocated. Senate reform has upset a majority of provinces. Equalization payment reform has been a bitter pill for Quebec and Ontario and the provinces with offshore oil resources.
So the Conservative government, which should be working with the provinces to combat identity theft, has instead retreated to its corner and made a few changes that are necessary but that have a limited effect on the problem in question.
The government seems to be in more of a hurry to give the impression that it is doing something than in developing a coherent strategy for effectively combating this plague.
And then, before handing the provinces new responsibilities for enforcing the Criminal Code, did it so much as make sure that they had the resources to enforce the new identity theft provisions?
This is the federal government, which is supposed to set an example. Even though it has a sorry record when it comes to managing personal information, it will have to set an example. The federal government is proposing to penalize people who use identification documents such as social insurance cards fraudulently. This is the same government that is not doing enough to protect and strengthen the integrity of social insurance numbers. In June 2006, the Auditor General estimated that there were 2.9 million more social insurance numbers in circulation than the estimated number of Canadians aged 30 and over.
Bill C-27 makes it an offence to falsely represent one’s self to be a peace officer or public officer. In December 2004, the media revealed that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority had lost control of its uniforms. From January to September 2004, CATSA issued about 75,000 uniform items to its 4,000 or so screeners. Of those items, a total of 1,127 were reported lost or stolen.
Examples of mismanagement of personal information by the federal government abound. The federal government wants the public to believe that it is taking the question of identity theft seriously, but in its own actions it ignores the problem.
The Bloc Québécois supports the amendments to the Criminal Code, but also calls on the federal government to adopt exemplary practices in this area.
St. Marys Minor Hockey Association
Statements by Members
Gary Schellenberger Perth—Wellington, ON
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the St. Marys Minor Hockey Association on its 50th anniversary. Recently, the community got together to celebrate this very important milestone.
St. Marys minor hockey has always had strong support from the community, the municipality, the sponsors, and the town employees who maintain the facilities.
Minor hockey in St. Marys is so important to the parents, coaches and, especially, the kids. The players come away with the lessons of hard work and sportsmanship, as well as memories and friendships that last a lifetime.
There is something about an early morning at the rink watching kids play hockey that is uniquely Canadian, no matter where we are in Canada.
Finally, I would like to recognize all those volunteers in St. Marys and across my riding of Perth—Wellington for their tireless efforts in support of all minor sports. They make me proud.
Statements by Members
January 29th, 2008 / 2 p.m.
Paul Steckle Huron—Bruce, ON
Mr. Speaker, the Great Lakes provide residents and industry with a source of fresh water. They support a massive commercial fishery, a tourist trade and industry of nearly every form.
Despite their importance, we have neglected the Great Lakes and treated them as a dumping ground, and as a result the health of the lakes is in serious question.
Water levels are down and bacteria levels are up. Beaches are closed during the summer and invasive species are ravaging the ecosystem.
Science tells us that the Great Lakes are facing challenges that, if ignored, will catastrophically impact upon those living in the region.
I am calling upon the government to take action, real action, to halt and reverse this environmental legacy. We need a national policy which seeks to engage governments, cottagers, farmers, businesses and private citizens. We must work to ferret out real solutions to the real problems facing the lakes and the surrounding basin.
Groups like the Point Clark Beach Association and the federations of agriculture each stand ready to assist. They and many others are waiting for this government to act.
Statements by Members
Yvon Lévesque Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC
Mr. Speaker, Joé Juneau, a former Montreal Canadiens player who has always led by example, took an active role in helping to create a program to motivate Inuit youth academically by introducing them to hockey in a sport study program.
Building on his popularity, his position as a role model for these young people, and their love of hockey, he quickly turned this program into a success and a source of motivation for the students, whose academic efforts determine whether or not they will be allowed on the ice.
My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I would like to congratulate Joé Juneau on receiving the well-deserved title of personality of the year from La Presse and Radio-Canada.