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House of Commons Hansard #101 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was internet.

Topics

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, my party is also concerned about the potential abuse of the Internet and telecommunications for criminal activities. I would like to ask the hon. member some questions about whether his bill included similar kinds of provisions, or if he has objections to some of the provisions in this bill.

As a lawyer who has been involved in enforcement, particularly environmental enforcement, I am very concerned when I see the slippage of respect for things such as a requirement for reasonable grounds or the requirement to obtain a warrant.

I wonder if the member has some concerns with clause 16, for example, which is a broad brush power to get all kinds of information about a subscriber, where there is no need whatsoever to even suggest there is reasonable cause that an offence is or may be committed. As well, the designation of the persons who may obtain this information is not time dated. It could be that there is this running list into the next century of people who are qualified, even if they are not in the position any more.

I am particularly concerned about the issue that they may request but not through a warrant. Is that necessary?

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, a number of stakeholders have raised the concern of accessing Internet service provider records without the use of a warrant. They have acknowledged that there is a significant oversight mechanism after the fact but the problem is with what we do beforehand. One of the things we will need to look at in committee is how we provide timely access to police to ensure they are able to go after the individuals who are committing serious crimes and have the ability to chase after those who have a huge technological advance on them.

At the same time, the member's very legitimate concern is something we will need to work on in committee to ensure privacy concerns are respected. As well, Canadians have clearly said that we need to ensure privacy is respected and that this power is not abused. This is a very technical bill and I think we have a lot of work to do in committee to ensure those concerns are taken care of.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Kania Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I asked a question earlier of the Conservative member for Saint Boniface and, although I appreciated her compliments directed toward me, I did not get a straight answer. I will now ask my friend the same question.

I have no problem supporting Bill C-47 going to committee but this is essentially the same bill that was introduced by the Liberal government in 2005. It taken four years to get here, why now?

We have 500,000 full time jobs lost under the Conservatives, an EI crisis, an isotopes crisis, a pension crisis and an H1N1 pandemic crisis with late vaccines in comparison to other countries. Pregnant women in Canada right now cannot get it. We had a death in Mississauga just recently. I cannot believe that we are dealing with this legislation four years after we introduced it, rather than dealing with all these other serious issues.

I would like my friend to comment on why we are dealing with this now rather than on what truly matters to Canadians right now.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is right. This should have been dealt with years ago. It should have been allowed to pass in 2005, instead of the Conservatives causing an election then. It should have been allowed to pass when the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine had introduced it in the previous session of Parliament before the Prime Minister killed it by going to the Governor General. It should have been introduced at the first opportunity in this session of Parliament.

Instead, as I mentioned, it was introduced right before the summer and then sat languishing on the order paper. However, that is not unusual. The reality is that many of the government's justice and crime bills languished on the order paper for years. We all remember Bill C-19, which dealt with investigative hearings. We were told that we were unpatriotic because we asked questions about it and that it had to be passed instantly. Suddenly, however, it sat on the order paper for two years and the Conservatives forgot all about it.

Why do they bring back these bills? I think the answer to that question rests with their recent troubles. When they get hit with a scandal and are dealing with a problem with cheque scandals and ministers embattled with various questions of impropriety, their first reaction is to drag back whatever justice bills have been languishing on the order paper as a channel changer.

That is the truth of the government's agenda on crime. It uses crime as a political weapon and as safe harbour. If other things are not going well, it retrenches to crime and talks about crime to try to change the channel.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have here a bill that complements the one we debated this week, namely Bill C-46. In fact, together, bills C-46 and C-47 seem to make up former Bill C-74, introduced by the Liberals in 2004.

This bill is in fact designed to provide police with capabilities to intercept electronic communications, using modern means of communication. As long as there is agreement on the fact that telephone interception greatly contributed to the dismantling of criminal networks and the gathering of evidence with respect to numerous conspiracies, and that it made it possible to apprehend offenders and sentence them for the right amount of time, short of making the argument that all telephone interception ought to be abolished, I do not think that anyone can seriously object to modernizing police capabilities for intercepting communications using modern technologies such as the Internet and electronic means.

People started talking about the Convention on Cybercrime in 1995. Canada met with European nations, Japan and South Africa, among others. These meetings led to an agreement in 2001, which is a significant date. The agreement was signed soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. Long before that, we had seen plenty of evidence here at home that exceptional investigative powers were critical to fighting organized crime.

Just last week, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights met with witnesses in Montreal and Halifax as part of its study of major criminal organizations. In both cities, police officers said much the same thing about how difficult it is for them to conduct electronic surveillance of organized crime groups. Among other things, they said that cell phones are so cheap, people can buy one, make a few calls, and then throw it away, sometimes on the same day it was purchased, then switch to a new one. It takes a long time for police officers to get the legal warrants they need, and in the meantime, they cannot monitor transactions between the gangs and cartels they are trying to catch.

Bloc members support effective measures to fight crime, but they completely disagree with the current government's policies on incarceration because excessive incarceration and mandatory minimum sentences have already been tried in places like the United States. These measures have produced terrible results in the United States, which has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Some 25% of all prisoners in the world are in American prisons, yet this approach has not put a dent in the crime rate. Naturally, we oppose such measures.

We would not want Canada and Quebec to take the same route, which leads to increasingly violent crime and results in a portion of the population whose lives have been broken by excessive sentences and who are discouraged from getting an education or taking training to get a job. We do not want that in Canada. We know that that is what will happen. That is not what the government is announcing. That is not what it talked about.

We understand from the government's arguments that the only reason it is pursuing its policies is because they are popular with voters. Last week, it was appalling to hear them explain what had been the benefits of conditional sentences, which allowed judges to avoid sending an offender to crime school for a first offence, but instead to let the offender continue holding a job and therefore have stability in order to live an honest life, get an education for that purpose and, in the case of drug problems, go through addiction treatment under threat of serving time in prison if the offender did not attend treatment. Now, the government wants to eliminate this tool that judges had.

I may be getting a little off track. I have already talked quite a bit about Bill C-46. We support this bill. Why is it being introduced now? Certainly not because the opposition obstructed the government. When measures are introduced that help fight crime or will reduce the crime rate, the Bloc supports them. But we oppose measures than will have no effect on the crime rate. In this case, these are necessary measures.

However, these bills still have to be looked at carefully. Some things are needed to combat major criminal organizations. But most of the population, which is made up of honest people, is worried and would not want Canada to become a society where the government can easily look into all aspects of their personal lives. Honest people expect some parts of their private lives to remain confidential.

We need solid guidelines for accessing the information that can be obtained by intercepting all communications that involve modern information technology, such as computers and the Internet.

I believe that most citizens are honest and law abiding, as the Conservatives have said so often. However, I wonder if the Prime Minister falls into that category of law abiding citizens. I know of one law—we are all familiar with it—that he broke, the one concerning fixed election dates. He called the last election.

In my opinion, we must be very careful and realize that the majority of Canadians believe that they have the right to a private life and that the state should not have access to all their communications for frivolous reasons. I believe that the bill was designed with this in mind. However, that does not mean that it is perfect.

We are surprised, and we will certainly want to discuss this, by the complexity of this bill, which must be studied in detail. What is striking is the amount of information that can be obtained without a legal warrant and solely on the basis of suspicions or with a warrant obtained solely on the basis of suspicions. When electronic surveillance was permitted, legal warrants were required and there had to be reasonable grounds for believing that information could be obtained to prove an offence had taken place or even to prevent certain criminal activities from occurring. Furthermore, other means of investigation had to have been attempted without providing results.

We seem to have readily accepted it now that electronic surveillance has proved its worth in police investigations and given many results that have pleased citizens. I can personally say that had we not had the means to conduct electronic surveillance, we would never have broken up the Hells Angels in Quebec, as we did in 2001 after three years of hard work. I think that citizens appreciate what we accomplished.

There no longer seems to be a reluctance to use electronic surveillance. In this regard, I think that police forces that come before the committee should be prepared. I am not saying from the outset, in the four categories of measures to obtain certain warrants, that it is always necessary to prove that other means of investigation would be impossible to undertake or not very useful. However, I am saying that at least once they must shoulder the burden of proof.

It should be noted that can be obtained without a court order is more or less what I would call the telephone book of IP addresses. Furthermore, it took me a while to understand the purpose of these IP addresses, despite the fact that I consider myself rather computer savvy. I was also glad to learn what they do. My understanding is that they help safeguard access to my computer in a way. Of course, I would be very worried to hear that other people can find out these IP numbers without my authorization. Yes, it is more complicated, but really, it is nearly the same as the phone book. However, in the case of the phone book, we can ask for an unlisted number.

I also noted another important point that must definitely stay in the bill. Access to this information is limited to certain people, either police officers or national security officials, and those individuals must answer to someone in their organization. They must keep records regarding requests and the information they are seeking, and they must be able to justify them.

When an individual police officer needs to quickly access this kind of information, he or she must bring it to a superior officer. All of these records are kept in police organizations and security organizations. In addition— something that is very important for us—a copy must be sent to the Privacy Commissioner, which gives me greater confidence. At least there will be one public official whose primary desire is not to unduly increase police powers. Furthermore, based on the positions that these organizations generally take, there is no doubt that they really are dedicated to their duty to protect privacy. I find that reassuring. I also think an in-depth study is needed, which should include the views of two people in particular, Chantal Bernier and Jennifer Stoddart. The name of Ms. Stoddart's organization escapes me at the moment.

Ms. Bernier's agency handles privacy protection. I believe that we should certainly listen to them. We should also certainly listen to volunteer agencies such as the Commission des droits et libertés de la personne du Québec that have done so much to help achieve a balance between investigation methods and the protection of individual rights.

That is the role the Bloc Québécois has taken on in these circumstances. We want to modernize measures that can truly have an impact on crime. We are prepared to support them. However, we believe there needs to be a balance.

The Conservatives keep proposing minimum sentences and are always pushing their tough on crime policy, which, in their case, has become a stupid on crime policy. We agree that something has to be done, but we believe that there has to be a balance in protecting individual freedoms. Protecting individual freedoms is the foundation of the societies we are proud of and want to uphold. It is the foundation of democratic societies.

I believe that Kofi Annan was thinking along the same lines when he said that the terrorists will have won if they force democratic societies to unduly increase the powers of the state. That is what I noticed when we studied the Anti-terrorism Act in detail. I am not saying the Act was not justified, on the contrary, but there was no way to show the government, not even with concrete examples, that some of the provisions of that legislation were unjustified.

Fortunately, we managed to convince the person who was Liberal leader for a short period of time, the hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville. When he refused to renew the sunset clauses, I heard him repeating the same arguments we used to show that these measures were not necessary.

The purpose of Bill C-47 is to allow police forces to adapt their investigative techniques to contemporary technological realities such as the widespread use of cellphones or the Internet. Making police work easier without unduly infringing on fundamental rights is one of the routes the Bloc Québécois has always preferred for fighting crime.

The government can count on us not to obstruct this bill. We hope it will pass, but that it will be improved by the criticism we will make and that it will strike a better balance between the tools police need to fight modern criminal organizations and the privacy Quebeckers and Canadians are entitled to and want to enjoy for a long time to come.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would note that with respect to Bill C-46 the Privacy Commissioner did ask for effective oversight. I would like to ask the member whether he agrees with that idea and what sort of oversight he would recommend. Would a minister be in charge of it or would Parliament be in charge of it?

She also called for a five year parliamentary review of Bill C-46. I wonder whether he supports that idea with regard to Bill C-47 either by way of a sunset clause where we would start over after five years given that technology changes so rapidly anyway. What form of mechanism would he suggest that we develop for a review after a five year period?

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think it is a great idea that a clause would force us to review this provision in five years. I think it is a good thing, both from the point of view of police officers who do not want to fall behind criminal organizations and their use of technology, and from the point of view of people who defend individual rights and who want to ensure that no undue restrictions are being made on those individual rights. It is a good idea. I have not thought a lot about the form it will take, but I think that there have been previous models we could look to, like the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise with pride to speak on behalf of the New Democrats in Parliament in the debate on Bill C-47, the technical assistance for law enforcement in the 21st century act.

A number of people in the House have commented, as I did this morning when I spoke to Bill C-46, that Bill C-46 and Bill C-47 represent a combined legislative measure that purports to deal with the modernization of our laws with respect to Internet and digital activity of crimes in those areas, as well as to deal with telecommunication companies and the challenges that those new providers present in enforcing the laws of our country. It is critically important to understand that these bills do different things.

People in the House and all Canadians may know that the New Democrats spoke strongly in support of Bill C-46 this morning and in the days previous for the simple reason that New Democrats believe it is important to modernize our laws to deal with the digital age. We also think it is important to send a strong message that crimes committed over the Internet, whether they be commercial or fraud related or whether they be sexual in nature or the most heinous of all, targeted at children, are dealt with adequately by Parliament.

Having said that, there are also very important privacy interests at stake in these areas. New Democrats are scrutinizing these pieces of legislation to ensure that Canadians' privacy rights are respected.

Bill C-46 which we spoke about earlier, in the New Democrats' view, maintains that balance, by and large. We had some serious reservations about some of the tests that are being proposed by that legislation with respect to the getting of warrants, but every piece of private information that is to be turned over to police forces of whatever type in Bill C-46 is subject to judicial oversight and requires that police get a search warrant prior to that information being turned over.

Bill C-47 is different. The purpose of the bill in colloquial terms is lawful access. This bill deals with very specific aspects of the rules governing lawful access. Lawful access is an investigative technique used by law enforcement agencies and national security agencies that involves intercepting communications and seizing information where authorized by law. Rules related to lawful access are set out in a number of federal statutes, including the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the National Defence Act.

The bill complements the current lawful access regime and it addresses the same two issues as former Bill C-74, technical interception capabilities of telecommunications service providers and request for subscriber information. I will put that in terms that are easy to understand.

The bill does two things. It essentially requires telecommunications companies to install equipment that would allow it to preserve digital data in all of its forms so that the data may be obtainable by the police in a criminal investigation. It also does a second thing. It provides law enforcement agencies with access, under an administrative process without a warrant or court order, to basic information about telecommunications service subscribers. As will be seen a little later, that basic information about Canadian subscribers is quite a long list and one that is causing great concern among a lot of Canadians.

Bill C-47 is a key step in the harmonization of legislation at the international level, according to the government, particularly concerning requirements regarding interception capabilities of telecommunications service providers. This type of requirement in general form is already found in other countries, including the United States, Britain and Australia. Canada signed on to the Council of Europe's Convention on Cybercrime in November 2001 as well as additional protocols. This makes it an offence to commit certain crimes using computer systems, and it creates legal tools adapted to new technologies, such as orders to produce subscriber information to which I just referred. However, there is one key difference. There is no international consensus on whether or not that basic subscriber information has to be obtained through judicial order, in other words, a warrant. As I will describe further in my remarks later on, that is a key deficiency in this bill.

I want to state clearly what New Democrats support when we talk about combatting crimes committed over the digital media and the need to modernize our systems. The NDP supports efforts to combat cybercrime completely. We support efforts to combat child pornographers, others who use the Internet to exploit children or anybody in any manner. New Democrats support efforts to crack down on gangs and organized criminals, including white collar criminals who use technology to organize their activities. New Democrats support modernizing laws to ensure that police can keep up with criminals who use technology.

Those are the reasons we supported Bill C-46 earlier today, because that is what Bill C-46 did. However, New Democrats do not support violating the privacy rights of law-abiding Canadians.

When this bill was introduced in the House in June of this year by the Minister of Public Safety, there was a groundswell of concern raised by ordinary Canadians across the country about the idea of Internet service providers having to deliver to police basic information about them without any kind of warrant or judicial oversight.

A very great thinker who was steeped in western democracy some decades ago said that those who would sacrifice liberty in the name of security deserve neither. That is a particularly appropriate comment in the context of this bill because this bill does not strike that balance and it does sacrifice liberty in the name of security. New Democrats cannot support a bill that provides for warrantless access to Canadians' private information.

We have consulted broadly with a number of experts. I will talk about their input later. They told us that no compelling evidence has been provided by any police force in this country when directly asked on numerous occasions for a single instance where a police investigation somehow had been interfered with or truncated because they could not get information from an Internet service provider. No compelling evidence has been presented that the current provisions in the Criminal Code and other pieces of legislation are insufficient for police to do their jobs. I will pause here.

This is not a hole in the Criminal Code. There are currently provisions in the Criminal Code that allow police, the RCMP, CSIS, any policing agencies, municipal or otherwise, in this country to obtain warrants when they want to either wiretap or seize information or material that is in the custody of anyone. I will speak more about this later.

There is the concept of telewarrants. If there is an urgency to a matter, police can get a judge on the phone 24 hours a day and usually obtain a warrant within 30 minutes. We heard nothing from any police forces as to any problem in that regard. There is the concept of hot pursuit. If any police officer believes that a crime is being committed currently, in real time, they do not have to obtain a warrant from anybody. They are able to interfere and investigate that matter immediately.

Since the government introduced this bill, experts in the field of digital law, privacy advocates, media commentators and ordinary law-abiding Canadians have spoken out against the provisions contained in the bill.

Bill C-47, as I have said, would provide police with access to a substantial array of private information. This information goes well beyond an individual's name and address. Police would be given access to Canadians' phone numbers, email addresses and a vast array of unique digital serial numbers.

This legislation, if passed, would compel telecommunications companies to provide the following information to the police upon request with no judicial oversight: IP addresses, mobile identification numbers, electronic serial numbers, local service provider identifiers, international mobile equipment identity numbers, international mobile subscriber identity numbers, and subscriber identity module card numbers, commonly known as SIM card numbers which are in cellphones.

These digital identifiers are considered to be private information for good reason. When someone's Internet protocol address falls into the wrong hands, great damage can be done to his or her online identity and personal privacy. In fact, someone with the right skills and the right combination of the above information could perpetrate serious identity crimes and even take remote control of a person's computer.

The government, it is fair to say, has demonstrated what can fairly be described as a consistent disregard and disrespect for both the rule of law and for our judicial system.

We have Omar Khadr, a person who has been the subject of torture down in Cuba, whom the government does not deem fit to bring back here. It does not care about his international rights.

We have the Prime Minister's comments about left-wing judges and how they interfere, in his view, with the administration of justice.

We have CSIS misleading the courts in the Harkat case on multiple occasions, failing to disclose information after being ordered by the court to do so with no reaction from the Minister of Public Safety. And as my colleague from the Bloc said, we had the spectre of our government breaking its very own fixed election law, that the Minister of Justice crowed about when it was brought in. It violated its own law with absolute impunity and had the audacity to not even be embarrassed about it.

It is unsurprising then that the government would seek to cast aside a fundamental tenet of our justice system, which is this. Canadians have the right to privacy, except to be deprived of that through due process of law. We do not have to justify to the government why we have the right to be private, why we have the right to be safe and secure in our information, why we do not have to let the government read our mail or read our emails or seize our property or kick down our door. We do not have to justify that to anybody. Those are the rights of Canadians.

What the government has to do, what the state has to do, is justify when it seeks to abrogate those rights, not the other way around.

It is 2009 and I am absolutely aghast that I have to stand in this chamber, hundreds of years after these rights had been fought for, where people died for these rights, and actually explain, as the only person in this chamber whom I have heard speak so far, that the state has to justify and go before a judge, and at least put forward some reasonable evidence, some compelling reason, before any private information is turned over to the state. This bill does not do that and that is a shame.

The government would have us believe that judicial oversight is some sort of outdated luxury or some sort of impediment that it cannot move quickly enough. Let me tell members something. Rights do not depend upon speed. Rights do not depend upon exigencies. Rights do not depend upon convenience. Rights are rights, and as I said earlier, it has not even been demonstrated by a single person in this country that the present telewarrant system or hot pursuit concept has proved insufficient in any manner.

Let me stop and say that the New Democrats agree, as we did in Bill C-46, that there should be preservation orders of data and production orders of telecommunications companies so that the data is preserved and can be the subject of warrants and seizure. That is very important and we support the modernization of our laws to make that possible.

What we do not and will not agree with, however, is that that is a decision only of a police officer. That is a decision that must always be subject to judicial oversight.

Last week I was in this chamber when I saw the spectre of the Liberals and the Conservatives joining together to gut climate change action. Now I see the Liberals and the Conservatives joining together this week to gut privacy rights and civil liberties, and that is not a pretty thing to see.

The government, in this legislation, would have us believe that requiring police officers to get warrants before accessing deeply private digital data is hindering their ability to investigate crimes. The fact is that our current system provides a number of tools to give police officers swift access to help them combat crime.

It is extremely important that the police forces of this country demonstrate the requirement to get a warrant before accessing this data. That judicial oversight of police actions is an important, critical aspect of our cherished western democratic legal system, and only in that regard will Canadians be willing to surrender their valued rights to privacy.

I want to mention, as well, that just today we received a letter from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart. I just want to quote a bit from this letter. She states:

--we recognize the concerns of law enforcement and national security authorities with the speed of developments in information technology and the anonymity they afford. Bills C-46 and C-47 seek to address the consequent public safety challenges and that objective is valid. [New Democrats agree] That said, whenever new surveillance powers or programs are proposed, it is my view that there must be demonstrated necessity, proportionality and effectiveness...It is a matter of protecting human rights and assuring public trust.

Ms. Stoddart goes on, over a five-page letter, to say that, in her view, these bills are seriously flawed; at least Bill C-47 is.

Now, the minister was asked a little while ago about examples in the real world as to why this bill is necessary.

I have spoken with a number of experts in the field of digital law and privacy, for instance, Professor Michael Geist, professor of law at University of Ottawa and Vince Gogolek, from the British Columbia Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. I spoke this morning with David Fewer and other academics. They documented a very disturbing fact with regard to the government's attempt to convince Canadians that police need these powers; that is, the government comes up with examples that are not actually true.

The Minister of Public Safety, on numerous occasions, in the media and elsewhere, has used the example of a high-profile Vancouver kidnapping case as an instance where police were hindered by the existing laws. In a number of interviews, the minister has claimed that he witnessed this emergency situation and that Vancouver police officers had to wait 36 hours to get the information they needed in order to obtain a warrant for a customer name and address information.

What is troubling about this is that it is not true. Professor Geist filed access to information requests with the Department of Public Safety, the RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department. A legal adviser to the Vancouver Police Department disclosed to Professor Geist that no Internet service provider records were ever sought, at all, during the investigation of this terrible crime.

If the only example that our own minister can put forward to this House as to why he thinks it is necessary to trample Canadians' privacy rights in the name of security is one which due diligence shows never even occurred, that is somewhat troubling.

Now, one other thing. The previous minister of public safety, the current Minister of International Trade, has made comments in this area before. This idea of floating a warrantless search has come up before. I think the Liberals keep boasting that they brought forward this legislation before. I wonder if they also thought that it was necessary for Canadians to give up their rights to digital privacy without a warrant. If that is the case, then I think they have been wrong for years.

The response from the digital community, from privacy experts and from ordinary law-abiding Canadians, was overwhelming. The government, the previous minister, was forced to back off when it tried to introduced this legislation. What the previous minister said was that the government would never bring in any kind of disclosure requirements without a warrant. He made that comment publicly.

I do not know what has changed in the government. We heard some interesting comments from my colleagues in the Bloc, and even in the Liberal Party, about the way the government uses crime as a weapon to prey on people's fears and to dodge weighty important political issues that are going on when it throws out hastily conceived, poorly thought out and rights-violating legislation, and then it pretends that anybody who is not in favour of it is not against crime.

What a simplistic argument. What an argument that offends any Canadian's sense of right thinkingness and sense of justice and respect for civil rights; particularly when we are on the eve of November 11, when all Canadians are going to be taking a moment of silence to think of all those veterans who fought in wars. For what? For democracy and for civil rights, for the right to not have the state seize our information without judicial oversight. And here, these people in this chamber, the ones who care about public safety and security, they are going go attend those celebrations and they are going to pretend that they value the sacrifices of our veterans.

If they do, and I will give them the benefit of the doubt, they can show that by going back to their minister and saying, “Minister, we will not support this legislation if it requires Canadians to deliver public information without a warrant”.

New Democrats will work with this bill, but we cannot and we will not sacrifice Canadians' rights to privacy in the name of security. Canadians deserve both. We can have both. We can have security. We can have civil rights. That is what Canada is about.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Employment Insurance; the hon. member for Mount Royal, Foreign Affairs.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Edmonton--St. Albert.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I certainly enjoyed my learned friend's passionate plea and speech in favour of the protection of individual liberties. It was a lock-in in its spirit.

I took notes when my colleague was speaking and he said that he would never support any measure that compromised the privacy of individuals in the name of security nor one that would interfere with the private dealings of law-abiding citizens.

I am wondering if he agrees with his party's justice critic, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, when he advocates in favour of random breathalyzer tests where the police would be able to demand a breathalyzer test without reasonable grounds. It appears to me that those positions are inconsistent.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for giving me an opportunity to once again comment on the wonderful work that our member for Windsor—Tecumseh, our justice critic, has done not only in this chamber but in the community of Windsor and in fact our entire country, and for the intelligence, compassion and incisiveness that he brings to the debate.

The member asked a good question, but I think they are very different issues. The concept of random alcohol testing, particularly in the context of driving, has gone to the Supreme Court of Canada and it was ruled constitutionally valid. I do not think it has ever been ruled constitutionally valid that anybody be forced to give over private information to a police officer in the absence of a search warrant or some compelling condition being demonstrated like the concept of hot pursuit or to prevent imminent harm to someone. I do not see any contradiction there at all.

What I do see is a real commitment by the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh to ensure that our roads are safe and that people are not killed by impaired drivers, which is something New Democrats will work to support.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to thank our member for making an excellent presentation today.

The member knows that the Privacy Commissioner did request a five year parliamentary review for Bill C-46, so I wonder whether he would agree with that as far as having a parliamentary review for Bill C-47. What form would he suggest the parliamentary review take?

Perhaps he would examine also the possibility of a sunset clause so that after five years the bill would simply expire and would have to be reintroduced given that technology does change radically even over a one year period. Perhaps in five years things will look totally different to us at that point in time.

I would ask him whether he would consider either one of those options?

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5 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the short answer with respect to this bill is, no. Why? Because this bill is fundamentally flawed.

On the face of this bill it asks parliamentarians to vote in favour of a serious and direct incursion into people's privacy rights. There is no room to go forward with a bill like this, to see how many thousands of Canadians' rights are violated in five years and then come back. We know the bill is flawed now. That is different than Bill C-46 where that is a very intelligent suggestion.

My colleague mentioned the Privacy Commissioner. She asked some really trenchant questions for all parliamentarians to ask as we consider this bill. What law enforcement or national security duty justifies access without a warrant by authorities to personal information? Why are some of these powers unrestricted when the spirit of Canadian law clearly reflects the view that access or seizure without court authorization should be exceptional? Are the mechanisms for accountability commensurate to the unprecedented powers envisioned?

To ask those questions is to answer them. This bill fails in those three questions at this point. That is why no review is necessary. Parliamentarians should send this bill back for further study by the minister right now.

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5 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am a little puzzled and confused by my friend's answer to my question. I am glad he thinks that protecting Canadians on roads is important, but why does he think that is more important than protecting children from being lured over the Internet?

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5:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that my colleague would act that way. I respect his work in the public safety committee and have seen him act with courage and independence on many occasions, as I did today. I am surprised that such a facile and unfair question would be put.

How does he get out of anything I have said that by any preponderance of imagination we would be soft on luring children on the Internet? That has nothing to do with this bill.

Bill C-46, which we supported earlier today, makes it a crime in the Criminal Code for anyone to lure people over the digital media. We do not have to talk about that in terms of this bill because this bill does not have anything to do with luring children. This bill has to do with making telecommunications companies have equipment to preserve data, which we support . It has to do with getting basic subscriber information to the police. The only question is whether or not we should do that with judicial oversight.

I am surprised that my hon. colleague, who I know is a lawyer, would not understand and support that very important concept of privacy and civil rights in this country.

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5:05 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member for Vancouver Kingsway read a quote a couple of minutes ago that resonated with me. It really struck me.

My problem with the bill is that it is being painted as though there were some sort of gap, some sort of void. In reality, any time police and investigators want to get information they can apply to the courts, and the courts will decide whether or not it is appropriate in the circumstances by weighing the checks and balances, by weighing it against a person's privacy rights and civil liberties.

I think there needs to be court oversight. The quote that he read perfectly summed it up. Where in the world do we let this happen? Where in the world is it appropriate to let law enforcement have access to this information?

What does the member think about the quote that he read?

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the usual intelligent and astute question. The member for Halifax does a wonderful job, and brings a nuance and wisdom to the debate in the House which is all too uncommon.

The best way to answer is to raise the very first question that is raised by our national Privacy Commissioner, a civil servant whose job is to aid Parliament in making sure that we take into account Canadians' privacy interests in every piece of legislation we consider. Her first question is this: How is the current regime of judicial authorization not meeting the needs of law enforcement and national security authorities in relation to the Internet? She urges Parliament to ask and answer that question and have a full understanding of that question before we take a leap and pass legislation that would seek to violate Canadians' right to Internet privacy.

On the Internet now, email is like mail that people received at their door 40 or 50 years ago. Canadians would not tolerate the police grabbing that mail, taking it to the police station, ripping it open and reading it without any kind of judicial oversight. Why does the government think it is any more acceptable to do that simply when that mail is in an electronic form? It just does not make sense.

Canadians are rightly concerned about this. We want to get good control and have police investigative mechanisms to control Internet crime. There is no doubt about that. All members of the House agree with that, but we do not have to sacrifice civil liberties to do that. I urge all parliamentarians to work together in a spirit of co-operation so that we can meet Canadians' expectations. No one wants to live in a country where our rights are violated as a condition of having safety. As I said before, we deserve neither if that is the case.

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5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to add my voice of support for this worthy legislation, which gives law enforcement officials the tools they need to stop modern day criminals and terrorists in their tracks.

Canada's current intercept laws are decades out of date, often meaning that criminals can go about their business undetected and unprosecuted and pose a threat to the safety of Canadians. As the Minister of Public Safety made clear, this government is determined to put an end to this.

Bill C-47 will swing the advantage in favour of law enforcement. Criminals and others who pose a threat to Canadians' safety and security will no longer be able to exploit the communications technologies to remain undetected. Armed with new authorities to intercept unlawful activity, police and national security officials will be able to shut down so-called safe havens and bring criminals to account for their acts.

This legislation is not driven by ideology, but by an undeniable need to equip those who protect our society with 21st century crime-fighting tools. As a former police services board member, I can say that criminals get away with everything up to and including murder all too frequently because our lawful access legislation was developed in a much less technologically sophisticated age.

Over the past decade in particular, we have seen countless new technologies roll out, from text messaging on smart phones to 3G data communications, which no one could have imagined when our current intercept laws were written.

I know from experience the challenges law enforcement faces in intercepting cellphone calls or doing Internet-based investigations. These advanced technologies let the bad guys do their business under the radar and we have been almost powerless to stop them because we have not been able to intercept information as it travels through the Internet or a wireless communication infrastructure.

There has been no legal requirement for industry to ensure that, when these technologies are brought online, police with a warrant can intercept these illegal transactions, nor has there been any obligation to provide subscriber information to track them down. As a result, far too many investigations have been delayed or have reached a dead end. This situation has provided safe havens where gang members, child predators, identity thieves and terrorists can cooperate without fear of apprehension.

Members do not have to take my word for it; local, provincial and national police associations have all called for updated legislation and strongly endorse this bill because the challenges that I have just described are their daily reality.

Take the example of a case recently described on national radio by Murray Stooke, Calgary's deputy chief of police. He talked about a murder investigation in the city in 2008. The police force obtained a judge's authorization, which was valid for 60 days, to intercept private communications during the course of that investigation. However, 45 of the days that the authorization existed were lost due to the technical inability to intercept crucial information. That left just 15 days to try to close a homicide case, which sadly still remains unresolved.

As Deputy Chief Stooke said, “We understand in policing that there needs to be a balance and that the privacy rights of Canadians have to be respected, but at the same time, we have to be able to effectively solve crime and protect the community, and that is what this is all about”.

The point he raises about Canadians' privacy rights is an important one and one that is fully considered and covered in this legislation under a rigorous regime. Basic subscriber information will now have to be made available on request by designated members of the law enforcement community and CSIS. However, there are no new interception powers and the warrant process remains unchanged.

The technical assistance for law enforcement in the 21st century act requires police officers or national security agents to justify to a judge why a warrant to intercept communication is needed. They also have to advise a service provider about the kind of investigation they are conducting, the reason the information is required, as well as the name of the investigating agency and investigating officer. A limited list of officials would be able to access this information.

Records of all these transactions will be preserved so that they can be audited regularly. Canada's Privacy Commissioner will have access to these records as part of the comprehensive oversight regime to protect Canadians' privacy and human rights.

Equally important, Bill C-47 looks out for the interests of business. The flexible and gradual approach proposed under the bill will avoid an undue burden on industry. I remind the House that there will be an 18-month transition period for service providers to get up to speed with new intercept requirements.

There is a three-year exemption for small service providers from certain requirements of the legislation to give them time to adjust. Exemptions of up to two years will be available for all affected firms to respond to the new technologies in order to protect innovation and private sector competitiveness.

Service providers will also be free to select the most cost-effective solutions and while they will pay to make new equipment and software intercept capable, the Government of Canada will cover the cost of necessary retrofits.

Not only are police services calling for this necessary legislation, but victims of crime are equally supportive of this bill. Paul Gillespie, president and CEO of the Kids' Internet Safety Alliance, for one, is a strong advocate of Bill C-47. Mr. Gillespie points out there are several hundred thousand people in Canada trading and sharing images of child sexual exploitation. He has worked on countless cases where a John Doe at a hotmail Internet address is sharing child pornography or actually transmitting abusive images. However, it sometimes takes weeks to get search warrants to pursue these criminals and too often, by the time police track down the IP address, the service provider no longer has the individual's records. In the meantime, innocent and vulnerable children continue to be abused.

That is why this legislation is so vital. We need to make sure that the law enforcement community and CSIS have this essential tool to investigate and prosecute serious crime and combat terrorism. It is their only hope of staying a step ahead of criminals and terrorists in the face of rapidly changing technology. Bill C-47 will enable them to track, trace and ultimately stop these crimes.

Canadians expect government to protect our children and keep our country safe. That is what the bill before us today will do, while also safeguarding individual privacy rights. It is balanced, it is fair and it is vital for law enforcement to combat high tech criminals. That is why I urge all hon. members to stand up for all Canadians and support the legislation before us today.

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5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House today to offer my thoughts on Bill C-47.

This morning I had the opportunity to speak to Bill C-46, which specifically compels the release of electronic data and documents from telecommunications and Internet service providers when there are reasonable grounds to suspect that this data relates to a crime.

Before I begin to tackle the specific issues that Bill C-47 deals with, it is important to note that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has been calling for this kind of legislation since 1995. Namely, the police have wanted telecommunications service providers to have the technical capability to allow police services to carry out lawful interceptions on their networks.

While I understand that due diligence, consultation and the drafting of any legislation requires proper care and consideration, this should be a wake-up call to all members of the House. In other words, the broader lesson to be learned is that we as parliamentarians have a responsibility to work together in the best interests of the country to ensure that laws are designed to respond to modern realities in a timely fashion.

Bill C-47 is simple in its intent. It has been constructed to prevent criminals from using telecommunication service providers to commit their crimes anonymously. Shockingly, there is nothing that currently compels these companies to make communication details available to law enforcement, including email and IP addresses, dates, times and content related data. What I find even more surprising is that many of these companies do not even have the appropriate tools to allow these kinds of interceptions. This is an indication of how unregulated and open for abuse the Internet still remains in this country.

If Bill C-47 passes, telecommunication service providers will have six months to update their technology to allow for compliance with law enforcement investigations. These kinds of upgrades are at the heart of this legislation and, quite frankly, with the speed and international scope of Canadian criminals, they are absolutely essential to being able to work with other countries like the U.S., the U.K. and Australia where similar pieces of legislation have been in place for several years now. Furthermore, Canada has agreed to join several international protocols dealing with cyber and hate crimes that make this legislation an obligation as a signatory.

I have listened carefully to several of my colleagues speak today about privacy concerns relating to Bill C-47. They are very important to consider and I would like to share my thoughts. It is true that under this bill the police will no longer need to go before a judge and demonstrate reasonable grounds to suspect wrongdoing. They will merely have to ask companies for basic subscriber data.

This must be considered with the provision that the police are not given total freedom to infiltrate and tap the Internet and wireless networks, as accessing the content of emails, cell phone calls and all other digital data would continue to require court approval. I am being honest when I say that I do not have a problem with providing police with the ability to access this kind of subscriber data quickly.

A number of high profile crimes in my own community of Newton--North Delta were aided or covered up directly as a result of wireless technologies and electronic communications. The speed by which these criminals operate is lightning quick and law enforcement needs to match this speed with investigative practices that are not weighed down by process and bureaucracy. The name, address or telephone number accessed through an IP address could make the difference between capturing a dangerous offender in the context of the act or allowing that individual to slip through the cracks and avoid justice.

However, complaints have filtered in that these kinds of powers have no oversight, no real accountability and have the possibility to avoid logical determinations because of an errant hunch. Furthermore, people have complained that there are no filters nor criteria that would classify these powers as overstepping reasonable investigative techniques.

Those are all valid concerns. There most definitely could be situations where the reasonable expectations for the personal privacy of subscribers are compromised. At the end of the day, however, I firmly believe that this comes down to appropriate governance of such intrusions so that the principles of our free and democratic society are preserved.

This is where I believe that the committee stage will be a vital source of input in how to strengthen Bill C-47. I know that we cannot allow abuse to occur and I and my colleagues on the justice committee will be vocal and strong in our proposed amendments to ensure that does not happen.

However, with such important legislation in the fight against a criminal element that is technically sophisticated and global in its expertise and resources, I do not believe we should throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Once again, I want to point out that we must target the tools of modern crime, and that arsenal has dramatically been expanded beyond weapons or vehicles. We should make no mistake about it, but a gangster's BlackBerry, cellphone and Internet access have all become vital to facilitating crimes to be committed.

Those are the realities of what our brave law enforcement professionals are encountering and we must update our entire approach to ensure the safety of all our communities.

I offer my support for Bill C-47 with the exception that the contributions made at the committee stage will allow the legislation to address many of the fears that have been raised today and over the past few months.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canada's Privacy Commissioner sent a letter dated today to the chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in which she suggests that we should require annual public reporting. She suggests that yearly statistics on the use, the results and effectiveness of new powers, subscriber data requests, preservation demands, tracking warrants, et cetera, should be required by statute. Besides bolstering accountability, these reports would be useful to support Parliament's five year review of the powers.

Would the member support that idea of the Privacy Commissioner and would he agree that this should be part of the final bill?

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5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my other colleagues this morning and have listened to many other people in the last two months who have legitimate concerns, which is why, at the committee stage, all members of Parliament on all sides will come up with reasonable solutions and amendments to this bill to ensure we have a balance.

On one hand, we want to catch those criminals who put our society at risk but on the other hand, we need to preserve our Canadian values that we carry when it comes to privacy and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear the member opposite supports Bill C-47, or at least in principle.

I sit on the justice committee and on the public safety committee and I, too, look forward to a thorough examination of this bill in committee.

The member indicated some deficiencies that he wants the committee to examine in detail. I would like to know specifically what he is concerned about so that I can take some notes and ensure the committee does examine those alleged deficiencies carefully.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, a basic concern is that when we give these tools to our law enforcement and front-line officers, we need to ensure they are given only enough power to deal with the law and justice and that they do not use those powers inappropriately to sacrifice the rights of Canadians.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from September 16 consideration of the motion.