House of Commons Hansard #53 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was spam.


Electronic Commerce Protection Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.


Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, when I sat on the access to information committee, I received a tremendous amount of letters on this issue.

The government promised 2,500 new police officers, but it never delivered on that promise. When it comes to enforcement of this legislation, what type of resources will the government provide to ensure it is implemented properly and aggressively?

Electronic Commerce Protection Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.


Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Madam Speaker, the bill puts the power for regulating the Internet not in the hands of law enforcement, but in the hands of the CRTC, the Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, enforcement agencies already in place. They have the mechanisms necessary to deal with this kind of situation. The bill would give them additional mechanisms that fit the parameters of their mandates in the first place.

We have studied the best practices of organizations around the world that have dealt with this kind of issue effectively, such as Australia. The bill would put similar mechanisms in place that would enable us to operate equally effectively in Canada. The bill would allow us to work with partners around the world.

The other part of the equation is the need to deal with spam originating outside our borders. The bill would allow us to work with agencies around the world to ensure we can put an end to that, as well as an end to the issue of spam originating in Canada and going outside our borders.

There are significant enforcement mechanisms in the bill that will actually be very effective to deal with this issue.

Electronic Commerce Protection Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.


Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very interested in the move to bring in an anti-spam bill. I think it affects every element of the competitive digital world in which we live.

Buried within the bill the government has given itself the powers to strip the provisions of the do-not-call registry, with which we have had many problems, and that concerns me.

My question is two-fold.

First, why do the Conservatives not just come out and say that they are going to strip the do-not-call registry as opposed to burying it within a bill?

Second, it appears it is being replaced on the presumption that the telemarketers would need prior consent to call in now, so that would somehow replace it. Yet when we look at the enforcement mechanisms of the do-not-call registry, they get 20,000 complaints a month, and over the entire time, the CRTC has only ever sent out 70 warning letters.

I do not know how the Conservatives expect to deal with spam and the problems with the do-not-call registry, when clearly the CRTC does not have the resources to address it. Would my hon. colleague please explain why they decided to kill the do-not-call registry, while putting it within the bill on anti-spam?

Electronic Commerce Protection Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.


Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Madam Speaker, I will start by correcting the hon. member. The bill clearly does not abolish the do-not-call registry. In dealing with the issue at hand, one of the important points to be made is we have had the real opportunity to benefit, in the drafting of the bill, from the study of best practices around the world.

In dealing with the substance of the bill, I will talk a little on a personal experience. A lot of people think spam is nothing more than a nuisance. Previous to my being elected in 2006, I worked for the Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club. At one point I was the director of ticket sales and as such, I had my email address on the website for the Oilers. At some point someone harvested that email address and sold it to spammers and I began to get completely inundated by spam. It was so bad it eventually got to the point where I had to change my email address. Members can imagine what goes in to changing an email address. It meant changing business cards. It meant the people who had my email address could no longer reach me.

This happened to several people within the organization. It meant we had to hire additional IT staff or put our IT resources to combat this through measures to block spam. Significant resources had to be allocated to that problem. It is estimated that the cost of problem is $3 billion to the Canadian economy per year.

If we multiply the effects I experienced and the efforts we had to take for the Oilers with thousands and thousands of companies across the country, including many small businesses that do not have IT professionals, the cost is significant.

I look forward to the member's support.

Electronic Commerce Protection Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.


Dan McTeague Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Madam Speaker, when I first introduced legislation back in 2003, I was the first member of Parliament to do so and the first member of Parliament from a Liberal party that took this issue very seriously.

I am glad to see my hon. colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, has joined with us after many years of effort. It was a very tough thing over the years to try and manage 15 or 16 different files. I am very pleased to say that I know the parliamentary secretary is doing due diligence on that committee, a committee on which I am very proud of having worked over the years. Many of the issues that we raised many years ago are now starting to bear fruit.

I am happy to see the government is finally taking action on spam, what all of us will know is unsolicited electronic mail. Many of us who have computers, all know how dangerous and how much of a problem this is for both Canadian consumers and businesses.

In 2003 it was estimated that spam cost the economy over $27 billion worldwide. Since then, the problem has only grown worse. I am sure there is more updated information which the parliamentary secretary and others may be able to illustrate. However, to say the least, we are now looking at a far more serious problem, which hopefully will be corrected by the bill, as it relates to issues such as identity theft, phishing and spyware, all of which give concern to Canadians and to the world. We have to deal with this in legislation both locally and internationally.

In the early 2000s, the Liberal Party recognized the problem that spam created. In 2003 I tabled a private member's bill to make spam illegal. Unfortunately, the bill never made it to second reading. However, on the strength of Bill C-460, introduced in mid-2003 in the 37th Parliament, the minister of industry struck a committee to examine the issue of spam and to report to the minister about how the government could most effectively stop this obvious and serious, growing problem.

That report entitled “Stopping Spam: Creating a Stronger, Safer Internet” was released in May of 2005. The report was created by a committee of 10 experts on information technology and Internet law. The task force also worked with dozens of stakeholders in the technology industry to develop sound proposals and to look at and observe best practices at the time.

The primary recommendations of the task force were that the government legislate prohibitions on the following: the sending of unsolicited email; the use of false or misleading statements that disguise the origin and the true intent of the email; the installing of unauthorized programs such as spyware; and the unauthorized collection of personal information and email addresses, particularly by using fake websites, through the selling of lists where those on the list were not told the list would be sold to another third, unknown party.

The official opposition supports the bill as it follows through on the recommendations of the committee, which was created by the Liberal government. However, much more remains ahead of us and much more needs to be done.

The committee highlighted the need for the government to play a central role in coordinating the actions of both government and the private sector. All actors agree that spam needs to be stopped. Internet service providers, web hosts and online marketing agencies need a set of best practices for email solicitation. The government must work, in coordination with industry partners, to establish a strong code of practice that prevents the proliferation of electronic emails that are unsolicited, unwanted and constitute spam.

These days spam is no longer a problem exclusive to email. In 2004 and 2005, when the committee was writing the report, spam was starting to move to other electronic platforms. Today Canadians must contend with cellphone spam, either by means of text message or by something we may not all be familiar with, robo calling.

It is important that the act recognize the facts and is technologically neutral, encompassing all forms of commercial electronic communication. I believe the legislation must meet that test to ensure there is proper, effective and adaptable application to current, existing and future modalities that may be able to circumvent not only technologies to prevent and to protect consumers in business, but also to remain faithful to the act.

This is why I hope the act can be revisited on a yearly basis as technology evolves. It is something the Liberal Party will look to see the government amend or to look at in committee.

Moreover, the issue of text message spam is being aggravated obviously by yet another announcement of a major cellular service provider over the last year to start charging for received text messages.

There has been plenty of discussion among members of Parliament. It is obvious to everyone that it is unfair, to say the least, that consumers are charged for something they had no choice whatsoever in receiving. Spam is not just a Canadian problem, as I indicated earlier. Given the borderless nature of the Internet, it means that spam can originate from anywhere and be delivered to anywhere.

I strongly point out that the legislation takes measures within Canada. There has to be, obviously, an attempt to work internationally with our other partners so that we can also go after those companies and those organizations that are doing this remotely from other countries that do not have the same level of proposed enforcement or legislation. As a result, because of the international nature of this problem, any government that is serious about combatting spam must be willing to engage other governments around the world in an international strategy to reduce this ongoing problem.

The government's ability to combat spam is not simply about legislation. I am asking, and I am hoping, and my party calls on the government to show its concern by raising this internationally at all international fora and working with other governments to produce a coordinated international anti-spam and anti-counterfeit strategy. The effectiveness of this law will be measured by the government's commitment to enforcement.

I take the comments that have already been raised in the parliamentary secretary's presentation of Bill C-27, that we have to ensure there is adequate support for enforcement of the legislation, which is being complimented and certainly being recommended here.

That is tall order. There is no point in putting forth legislation if there is a reasonable chance that the legislation will not have the intended impact of deterring, stopping, correcting and preventing what is continuously more than just a nuisance, but a very costly one at that.

Of course, policing Internet traffic is incredibly difficult because any Internet crime crosses jurisdictions and borders, both provincial and federal. This is why the attempt to control or to stop spam in the report called on the government to create a central office that would coordinate anti-spam activities. I am looking at the parliamentary secretary, hoping that in fact he will move diligently on that if speedy passage is indeed given to this piece of legislation.

According to the minister, Industry Canada is being designated the official coordinating body. I would like to ask the government what kind of resources Industry Canada is being given to coordinate the three other agencies that the parliamentary secretary has referred to that have responsibilities under this act, those being the Privacy Commissioner, the CRTC and the Competition Bureau, as well as, of course, the RCMP.

What resources can we see coming from the government with respect to these offices so that we can in fact see spam corrected in this country?

I realize that question may come back to me, but it is certainly a question that I would think the government will have to answer time and again here to ensure that we have a correct and appropriate measure.

It is extremely important that, everywhere in Canada, we can have confidence in the legislation proposed by the government. I expect that the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology will deal quickly with the issue before us. We have been waiting for a bill for six years. I had hoped that my bill in 2003 would be adopted. It was deserving; but that was not the case.

Central to this issue, if the government passes legislation and walks away from the issue, all these initiatives that are proposed, well-intended, well-researched and up-to-date, will indeed fall. I believe that legislation, to be correctly brought forward, must also ensure that we have proper resources and effective coordination so that it is understood how this is going to take place. The more rapid response we can have to correct this problem, I think, will ensure that those who see Canada as an opportunity, as a target, will find another place. But we also want to make sure that other place is blocked. We simply want to put an end, where possible, to these practices, which have as their origins and as their sense the undermining of the credibility and integrity of communicating and the effectiveness of legitimate use of the Internet, which belongs to us all.

I was here in 1993 and 1994 when the industry minister at the time, Mr. John Manley, talked about the great opportunities of the Internet as the superhighway, as we used to call it at the time, because it was the wonderful dawning of new age.

Unfortunately, that superhighway has become badly clogged, to the point where I think it is fair to say that there have been serious traffic jams, if not serious accidents, along the way. Therefore, this legislation is timely, it is necessary, and I hope it has a reasonable opportunity to in fact pass.

The government must follow up on the legislation with real action and real enforcement resources. It must actively engage all partners everywhere and industry internationally. It must continue the consultation process and develop longer term opportunities to combat spam. So I ask the government what plans it has, moving forward, to engage industry partners in building strong codes of this practice.

We will have to ensure that it is not just based on a blue-ribbon panel that was struck some years ago but that in fact we have an ongoing ability to ensure that partners, stakeholders and consumers, those who have been tremendously affected by this, will be able to benchmark and give us feedback as to how effective this legislation will be, particularly from the point of enforcement.

What plan does the government have to work with our international partners in building a strong international effort to combat spam? Spam can be incredibly destructive. Besides consuming time and bandwidth, spam is a delivery vehicle for malware, programs that access one's computer without authorization and can do a number of nasty things. Malware includes viruses and spyware, which attack the individual user. However, some of these programs turn the user's computer into a zombie on a botnet, which then can be used to attack major websites on the Internet.

This is something that we could not have contemplated three, four or five years ago, but it is currently taking place. Many consumers and many constituents have talked to me about this and have talked to other members of the House. We need to ensure that we have a pragmatic policy, a pragmatic document that is capable of changing with changing times as Internet and electronic information becomes more sophisticated.

All these attacks have serious economic impacts when websites like eBay or Google are brought down. Even for a few hours, billions of dollars are lost. Spyware can be used for identity theft, which is a constantly growing threat in the Internet age.

I do not need to say that even our own electronic system here in the House of Commons has been subjected to several attacks over the past several months. These have caused enormous difficulty for many of us as we communicate. I notice some members of Parliament sporting a BlackBerry, and others, a computer. It is important that we get the platform, or the framework, of this legislation correct.

I call upon all members to support the bill at second reading so it can go to committee. However, I have serious concerns about the will or the interest of the government in enforcing these rules and to work co-operatively with other stakeholders and with other governments.

Madam Speaker, I will end there but I am eager to hear the comments and questions of my colleagues.

Electronic Commerce Protection Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The honourable member for Pickering—Scarborough-Est has about six and a half minutes remaining in the time allotted for his remarks on this bill.

Statements by members. The honourable member for Calgary—West.

Statements By Members

May 7th, 2009 / 1:55 p.m.


Rob Anders Calgary West, AB

Madam Speaker, no one can argue against the fact that while an offender is in jail they cannot terrorize our streets or victimize our communities.

The mandatory minimum penalties that this government brought in for serious firearms offences and now for serious drug offences are aimed at disrupting criminal enterprise. By incarcerating a member of a gang, one weakens the criminal organization and disrupts their illegal activities. Mandatory minimum sentences provide uniformity in sentencing.

Judges should not agonize over what are appropriate sentences for the crimes in question. Take the case of James Lemmon, a Calgary man who has been sentence to 13 years in prison for sexual assault. One of his victims was his 10-year-old niece. It is outrageous that this is his fourth conviction.

Constituents in my riding want to see mandatory minimum sentences for crimes that involve the harm and sexual exploitation of children.

Spinal Cord Injury Awareness
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Maria Minna Beaches—East York, ON

Madam Speaker, May is Spinal Cord Injury and Canadian Paraplegic Awareness Month. Today, members are participating in a very important event on Parliament Hill to bring about awareness of disability and poverty among the most vulnerable in our society.

The CPA was formed in 1945 by veterans with disabilities returning from World War II. The importance of the CPA is that it creates direct links with Canadians who suffer from spinal cord injuries, as well as their families and caregivers, to the many services and peer-networking programs.

As I have witnessed first-hand today, physical access determines where one can go, what one can do, and to some extent, who one can be with.

Today alone, there will be three new spinal cord injuries in Canada, and approximately 1,000 new injuries a year. The government has a role to play in assisting those who suffer from spinal cord injuries.

I wish to thank all members for raising awareness on this very important issue and the many problems people with disabilities face.

Francis Jalbert
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, yesterday evening, on the television program Tous pour un on Radio-Canada, a young man in his twenties from Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Francis Jalbert, impressed viewers with his knowledge of and his curiosity about Cirque du Soleil.

Mr. Jalbert is finishing his first year in public relations at UQAM, and his dream is to do an internship in public relations with Cirque du Soleil. His appearance on Tous pour un could help him a great deal.

Tous pour un is a smart, tough, accessible quiz show that tests the knowledge of passionate contestants who think nothing of spending hours studying the topic of the program they have signed up for.

Once again, this shows the important role that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation plays in Quebec and why the government should support it financially.

Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, volunteers are the cornerstone of every community. They drive the ill, care for the weary, talk to the lonely and cook for armies of the hungry.

Volunteer Cowichan was established in 1977 to raise volunteer awareness in my riding. Volunteer Nanaimo has been serving my constituents for almost 30 years. Both organizations have created programs that enhance quality of life by increasing the impact that individuals can have on their community. Volunteer Cowichan and Volunteer Nanaimo work with partners to respond to community needs.

Through programs like Volunteer Cowichan's Youth on Our Journey, which provides young aboriginals a chance to enjoy traditional canoe races, arts and crafts, storytelling and dance performances, or Volunteer Nanaimo's DebtFree program, which helps people minimize or eliminate debt by learning about budgeting and credit card abuse, these organizations clearly contribute to our community.

I wish to thank everyone who generously donates their time and energy to others and I wish to recognize those who are so deserving of our respect and appreciation. Thank you, volunteers.

Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity today to recognize and congratulate those Canadians who, under the guidance of Dr. Frank Plummer, completed work on decoding the genetic makeup of the H1N1 flu virus.

This is the first successful sequencing of virus samples from different countries. This achievement is not only a major step forward for Canada, but for the entire world. Canada has access to a top-notch lab in my city of Winnipeg and some of the best scientists in the world.

Thanks to investments by this Conservative government, Canada is a world leader on pandemic preparedness. Our public health experts remain vigilant to ensure the health and safety of Canadians. The Minister of Health has been clear that we have a plan in place and that we are acting on it.

All Canadians can be proud of the work being done at the National Microbiology Lab. It is a great example of Canada's scientific strength and ingenuity.

Persons with Disabilities
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, May is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. A number of parliamentarians are spending the day, except for question period, in wheelchairs due to the leadership of the Canadian Paraplegic Association.

Today alone there will be three new spinal cord injuries in Canada. There are 1,100 per year. The highest incidence is in young men between the ages of 18 and 24 years, but recently there has been an increase in injuries to seniors. This is not an issue of politics but of people.

We need to do more to assume inclusion of employment, of access and of opportunity. People with disabilities have much higher rates of poverty, much higher than should be the case in a country as wealthy as Canada.

It is time for Canada to invest more in improving the lives of Canadians with disabilities. We can do it through investment, we can do it through legislation, but we must do it for individuals to achieve their potential and for Canada to achieve its potential.

I salute the CPA and its work to help Canadians achieve independence and full community participation. Next year is the 65th anniversary of the Canadian Paraplegic Association. Let us have 65 parliamentarians in wheelchairs next year.

Congratulations to the CPA.

Luc Plamondon
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Quebec will present lyricist Luc Plamondon with the medal of honour in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the rock opera Starmania. Mr. Plamondon will be joined by artists who have helped make this work famous in Europe and Quebec.

Mr. Plamondon has written a number of well-known works, including Notre Dame de Paris, but Starmania remains a standard against which other rock operas are measured. In addition to making a name for artists such as Bruno Pelletier, Isabelle Boulay and Jean Leloup, the songs in this opera are some of Mr. Plamondon's best-known compositions. Just think of I Would Love to Change the World—The Businessman's Blues, The World is Stone and Les uns contre les autres—You Have to Learn to Live Alone.

Mr. Plamondon, the brother of the dean of this House, is a prolific artist who has certainly played a major role in musical history, not only in Quebec, but throughout the French-speaking world.

That is why my Bloc Québécois colleagues and I also want to pay tribute to Luc Plamondon.

Long live Starmania!

Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, former U.S. first lady Rosalynn Carter once said that there are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.

Today the Canadian Caregiver Coalition, a diverse group of dedicated individuals and organizations, hosted a parliamentary luncheon to recognize and respect the enormous and indispensable contribution of some four million caregivers across this country, joined by the Canadian Cancer Society, which counts many caregivers among its membership.

Providing care and assistance to family members of all ages, caregivers are both the invisible yet indispensable backbone of the health care and long-term care system, contributing an estimated $25 billion worth of unpaid care each year.

With an increasingly aging population whose baby boomers have now turned 60, the role of family caregivers in this country has become increasingly vital. Today, on behalf of all parliamentarians, I say to caregivers that they are the true heroes of our society. They are the soul of our health care system. We celebrate them. We salute them and we thank them.

Foreign Affairs
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, recently the Russian government expelled two Canadian diplomats. What is unfortunate about this is the Liberal Party's foreign affairs critic showed no outrage or concern that the Russians had arbitrarily expelled two Canadian diplomats. Rather, he said that Canada was being too aggressive with Russia.

The Conservative government is standing up for Canadian sovereignty and the national interest. While the Liberals did nothing to protect our sovereignty in the north, this government is taking real action. Do the Liberals really believe they should be siding with the Russians and against Canada on these important issues?

While the Liberal leader muses about international public parks for the Arctic, we are investing in icebreakers, Arctic patrol ships, research stations and Arctic training centres for the Canadian Forces. We are not afraid to stand up and defend Canadian interests, be it against Russia or any other country. We hope the Liberal Party will do the same, rather than adopting a blame Canada attitude.

Instead of siding with the Russians, why does the Liberal leader not side with Canadians and drop his plan to raise taxes?