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House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was security.

Topics

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Western Arctic for outlining some of the valid concerns around this particular piece of legislation.

I want to touch upon one of the six principles that the European Commission working party on data collection and transmission outlined in 1998, which he ably outlined in his speech. Specifically, I want to ask him a question about the right to access, rectification and opposition principle. This principle states that the subject of the information:

should have a right to obtain a copy of all data relating to him/her that are processed, and a right to rectification of those data where they are shown to be inaccurate. In certain situations he/she should also be able to object to the processing of the data relating to him/her.

The reason I want to focus on that particular information, of course, is that recently in Canada, where we do have control of the information, we saw some egregious violations of personal privacy through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

When it comes to information that could be passed on erroneously to foreign governments, my understanding is that the person who is the subject of that information has very little ability to correct that information with that foreign government and very little ability to get his or her name removed from lists that may prohibit him or her from travelling to other countries.

I wonder if the member for Western Arctic could specifically touch upon that aspect of this piece of legislation.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that fundamental to protecting someone's privacy is the right to understand exactly what information is being taken and kept by authorities.

In this situation, we are not dealing with criminal offences. We are taking information from every Canadian who flies in a plane. For 99.99% of people, that information will be of value to no law enforcement agency. It simply is on the record.

However, if it is transmitted wrong, or transcribed wrong, it can be an enormous burden on that Canadian.

The other night, I talked to someone who had applied for Canadian citizenship. When that person applied, he was accused of a number of things that were clearly mistaken. Later, he found out that information from the next applicant had been erroneously put on his account. When he asked to have that information removed, the government refused. It would put in a disclaimer, but it would not take the information off his record.

We must understand that when we give information to our government, it is tough to get it off the record. If we give it to the government of the United States, it will be impossible. That is not going to happen. It is going to remain there.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the irony is that we have already gone through the no-fly list issue. Now the question becomes whether there is a problem when Canadian business people and tourists want to go to a certain country, or have to fly over a certain area, and that foreign state requires that this information be provided.

This is the problem. I think this is what the parliamentary secretary spoke about earlier today when we began debate on the bill.

I ask the member if he has some thoughts on how to deal with a foreign jurisdiction that says it requires certain information if we want to travel in its airspace or land in that country. The information is security related and we need to know whether there are processes in place to safeguard the information, so that it is not used for any other purpose.

This is a very simple bill, but I want to understand clearly the member's concern about facilitating the transport of Canadians to foreign countries.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, there is continual air traffic between our two countries. The United States has many more flights over Canada than we have over the United States. Most of ours are on their way to Mexico, the Caribbean, or Latin America.

I think there was room to negotiate on this. There is linkage and there was room to negotiate.

What I question is the government's motives. The government has already started on agreements with other countries that do not apply the sort of pressure we may feel from the United States. Does that mean that the government agrees with the basic principle that it should be giving this information to the United States?

I think this goes beyond U.S. pressure to the attitude of the government toward privacy and information about Canadians being handed to other countries. That is where the problem lies.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague talked about the long form census: how important it was that it be kept and how the government was saying that it does not want this information to go out. However, this information is needed by our communities in order to prosper and in order to know what programs and services they need to put in place.

At the end of the day, we are looking at a bill that would violate the right to privacy.

We talked about soliciting and the fact that we now have a no-call list. However, what about these other countries? What laws do they have with regard to the sharing of information? Once they have that information, what else will they do with it? Those are the concerns some of my colleagues have raised here in the House with regard to this bill. I wonder if we would be putting Canadians at risk in those countries.

Let us look at some of the countries on the list. Some of them have corruption problems, and we do not know what they are going to do with that information. I do not think a person's medical files, or how many Aeroplan points they have is anybody's business. Maybe putting that information out will result in false accusations of criminality, or maybe it could be passed on for identity theft.

I want to leave my colleague with some comments in that regard.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the question of how the information moves from one country to another, the European Commission has said it does not have control over this information in the agreement that was signed between the EU and the United States. That agreement is not public. The process by which they determined this is very interesting, and I am sure it could do with some more investigation. However, the commission said that there were no strings attached as to where the information could go after being shared with the United States.

We have a situation where information is going to move out, whether it is credit card information or information of other kinds. There are dangers there. There are dangers with shared information. We know that. We know that this is the case. However, we also know there is equally a problem with misinformation. As we move through a system, as we go from one country to another, who is to say that the transcription or processing of that information would even be accurate?

How do we understand the systems of the third country? How do we understand how it uses that information, how it holds it, and what this might mean to a Canadian caught up in a land where that information had been used improperly and they found themselves in a dire situation?

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I looked at this bill briefly when it was first presented on the last day that the House sat before it recessed for the summer. I would like members to think for a moment about the timing at work here.

The Conservatives entered the election in 2006 saying they would stand up for Canada. I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that meant they were going to stand up for Canadians. Here we are now at second reading of this bill. But it was presented on the last day that the House sat in the middle of June 2010. I asked myself: Who is standing up for Canadians? What would this bill do? It is a very brief bill. It is a paragraph of some 14 lines.

The bill outlines four separate areas that deserve the attention of every member of Parliament who proposes or espouses to defend the interests of Canadians, whether on issues of privacy, sovereignty, commerce, or security.

The first statement in the bill says that, notwithstanding whatever is in the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, PIPEDA, every Canadian operator of an aircraft is obliged to hand over any information in its control that is required by the laws of a foreign state. The carrier does not have an option. Imagine that.

We have been paying attention to the United States for such a long time in this debate that I have to use it as an example, but this does refer to the U.S. exclusively. The Americans have passed the Patriot Act, and under that act they justify requests for information that go beyond anybody's imagination. This bill says that it does not matter. Whatever protections Canadians think they have under PIPEDA, for example, or the Privacy Act, they have no longer, because the Americans, according to the competent authority that flows from the Patriot Act, have the right to ask for that information and to use it in any way they wish.

I am not paranoid by nature, notwithstanding the profession we are in, but the bill says “any foreign state” over which a Canadian operator of an aircraft flies. The operator does not necessarily have to land in that foreign state.

I want to change the boundaries of the discussion and think for a moment about someone who leaves Ottawa, Montreal, or Toronto to fly to Dubai. If I am not mistaken, if an individual flies on a Canadian aircraft that individual is probably going to fly over the United States, maybe Portugal, probably Spain, or alternatively, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and any of the Emirates. This legislation says that any of those countries can demand information from that Canadian operator. Without that information, any one of those countries can deny our aircraft the opportunity to fly over its airspace.

No one contests that every country has its own right to demand certain conditions be met in its airspace. I think that is called sovereignty, which I will get to in a minute. If we want to respect other countries' sovereignty, we must at least understand that we live in a grown-up world and that a few of the countries that I just cited might have an interest that goes beyond simply trying to find out if Paul Smith or Peter Szabo is actually on that flight. They might actually have an interest in promoting the affairs of their own carriers, and one of the ways to do it is to initiate a series of debilitating actions in law that require our carriers to go through a series of demands that they must satisfy. That would be the business world.

Here we have focused on the United States, forgetting, of course, that there are a lot of other countries over which Canadian carriers must fly in order to maintain a competitive and an economically viable business. We just said, with this piece of legislation, that if any of those carriers want to do business, they can, provided they can convince their passengers that they are up that proverbial creek without that paddle, because the Canadian government will not come to their defence. The Canadian government, under this bill, has completely washed its hands of anybody who boards a plane and flies outside of Canada. If passengers are prepared to expose their entire life, their business practices, whatever private matters they have to a foreign authority, they should not count on the Canadian government coming to their defence.

I know what they would say. They would say so what because that is already the case. The Canadian government is walking away from everybody who runs into trouble, whether they do it deliberately or whether they are caught in a jam abroad, so why should passengers be any different?

According to this bill, if people board a Canadian operated aircraft in Paris and they want to fly to Canada, if the English, the Irish and the Scots demand to have information on them, they cannot get a boarding pass until that aircraft operator provides that information to those three countries, because, of course, that is part of the route to get back into Canada.

We focused on the United States. I understand the problem with the United States. If people come from the interior of Canada, as I do, for example in southern Ontario, they have two options. If they want to travel down south, whether to Cuba, Mexico, Latin America, South America or anywhere else, they can go across the lake into Buffalo and use its airport and they do not need to worry about anything. They maintain their privacy. People could board a plane at Pearson and then have to go through this, because the Canadian government just said that their option is to go down the 401 or the Queen Elizabeth Way and go to a foreign country to board another carrier because the government will not help out its carrier. Why will the government not help them out? Because Canadian carriers are already bending over backwards and breaking the law to provide information for homeland security defence in the United States, otherwise they cannot do business there, or they will increase the costs to their business by taking a circuitous route to a further destination, i.e. they will not be competitive with the other carriers in North America.

What does the Canadian government do? Does it stand up for Canada and Canadians? No, it abandons them completely. This bill is a total abnegation of our sovereignty responsibility. Can anyone imagine letting a foreign authority, not the government, but a competent authority within the government of another country, determine what it must know about whatever passenger boards a plane in Canada to go someplace else or another place in order to come to Canada.

A border security agent is the person making decisions for what happens to Canadians either aboard a Canadian carrier here or abroad to come home. The Canadian government stands up for Canada where? It has given up on Canadians and has said ”to heck with that airline business, let the airlines do something else because we need to ensure that we comply with a foreign state's demands”.

The alternative is that it could negotiate. I heard one of the parliamentary secretaries say that we negotiated exemptions. I do not know who the “we” were. I thought the Conservative government wanted to wash its hands of everything that was Liberal, but the negotiations and that exemption took place under a Liberal government. I think somebody said that it was in 2001. I could have sworn it was a little later, but it does not matter. It certainly was not the Conservative government because it refuses to negotiate. It gave up on negotiation.

The government presented this in the middle of the last day that the House sat before it recessed so it would not have the scrutiny of Parliament on running and hiding from its responsibility to protect Canadian sovereignty, Canadian sovereignty, as expressed through commercial interests, through the harassment of the interests of Canadian carriers and through the privacy concerns of every Canadian. Even if Canadians do not understand or do not care about their own privacy, it is integral to what we think is a Canadian.

We have the right to maintain our own decisions regarding the dignity of information that relates to us as individuals unless we give it up. The Conservative Government of Canada just said that it was not worth a tinker's damn. I have it here in 14 lines. It said goodbye. The government does not think it is worthwhile and if there are foreign states that want it, the government will give it to them. If people think they would like to take the aircraft operator to court for giving up their privacy rights, it says here that they should forget it because they will not have a base in court on which to stand.

One of my colleagues from the Bloc was talking about the security issues and the problems of being on a no-fly list. The government made a big deal of having a passenger protect system. That is a no-fly list. People do not know how they got on that list. There are all kinds of ways. Only one person can take someone off that list and that is the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. However, let people try to get a hold of him when they are being prevented from boarding a plane. He has to contact people at homeland security and they do not answer the phone.

Is there a way to keep Canadians safe? We should think about that for a moment. When the Americans asked for this, they told everybody in Canada to forget about the nonsense of $11 million to buy 40 full body scanners because they would not make Americans feel any better about the kinds of people who board Canadian planes. That is essentially what they are doing.

Last spring, the Minister of Finance said that the government would raise another $3.2 billion so that it could invest a further $1.5 billion in air security. In other words, Canada would make a further investment in ensuring that the Americans think that whenever people board planes in Canada, they will be okay. What did the Americans say? They said, “We don't believe you”. I am being polite. They said, “We just don't believe you”.

What did we do? Did we protest? Did we negotiate? Did we go to them and tell them about all of these things that we were doing? Did we tell them that we had spent $11 million on 40 scanners and that we will be spending another $1.5 billion on securing our borders and ports to ensure that anybody who goes anywhere near American territory will be receiving a stamp of approval for safety and security that only Canada can provide and that America will respect?

Did the government do that? No, it did not stand up for Canada. Its current slogan is here for Canada. I do not know where it thinks Canada is. Is it not in our midst? Is it not to protect the interests of Canadians no matter where they go? Is it not to be there to negotiate with other neighbours here in our hemisphere? Should it not be telling them what we have done to ensure that our backyard is safe so they can feel safe and secure ?

No, it did not do that. The government came up with Bill C-42, which basically says that the government can beat anybody in a 100-yard dash as long as it is moving away from trouble. It is just insane.

I know some of my colleagues from the other parties think this will be remedied and rectified when it goes to committee. That will not happen. The patriot act goes into effect in December. The Americans warned the Canadian government last year that it had one year to comply or to negotiate.

The government said that there was a better tactic. It said that it would go to sleep for six months and then in June it would present the amendment to the Aeronautics Act that washes its hands of any responsibility to Canadians and Canadian businesses, and then it would send the bill off to committee. By that time, of course, the House will either have been prorogued or it will be close to Christmas and it will say that it has already been done and the message has been sent off.

That is not governance and that is not standing up for Canada or for Canadians. That is an abnegation and abdication of responsibility and authority. If the government asks Canadians for the right to govern this country, it is because it wants to do something that protects their interests and advances their progress. This does neither.

When we are so concerned about security issues, economic issues, privacy issues and sovereignty issues, the government, with this legislation, is taking the fastest route available to sell out on all four. I would have been embarrassed to have been the minister who had to present this legislation.

I was not happy then as the critic for transport to look for ways to be supportive. We always try to look for ways to co-operate. I was looking for the proverbial silver lining in this legislation. I wear glasses but I took them off, got a microscope and went through everything with a fine-toothed comb. I could not find that silver lining.

I was a little distressed to hear that everybody thinks that the silver lining will be in committee. Well, one of the people who will be called as a witness just happens to be a great authority on privacy issues. The Assistant Privacy Commissioner, Chantal Bernier, already came to the committee this past spring. She was asked what the Americans or anybody else would do with this information. As my colleague from the Western Arctic will recall, as he was sitting in that committee, she said that they could keep that information for from 7 days to 99 years. For what will they use that information? They could use it for anything they want.

Who is standing up for Canada? Who says that it is here for Canada? Who is being deceptive? Who is being duplicitous? Who is acting in a fashion that can only be called cowardly? I think Canadians are asking us to point in the direction of the Conservative government.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise on this particular issue.

I know my friend always has something to say on any issue, as we sat on the committee together. I wonder what he would suggest in this particular case.

If we were to reverse roles and instead of our southern neighbour, talk about our northern neighbour, Russia, flying over our sovereign Canadian space and challenging our sovereignty, would we expect them to comply with Canadian rules and regulations?

I am not saying that what the member said is not for some possibility correct or that we as a government would not amend some of the legislation that would come before us. Certainly the government would respect privacy rights of individuals.

However, I would ask the member opposite what he would suggest if the role were reversed. If we were challenged by Russian airliners coming across our space and we told them they had to comply because of the danger they might have against us, what would he suggest to that?

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that I was asked that question, because it was raised during my discussion. I had the opportunity to be in cabinet. It is quite an onerous situation. It is a privilege that very few get, and I am pleased to have had it. This was an issue that came up while I was there.

As I said earlier in my remarks, the government has options. The very first option is to begin to negotiate to defend the interests of Canadians. That is the very first thing, and it is the second thing and it is the third thing. It is the ongoing thing that must happen. We must continue to negotiate. The moment we walk away from the table, we are left with this legislation.

As for Russia, I am also happy to hear that the member wants to use that as an example, because the Russians have never created this kind of a problem for us. It is the big, bad Russian bear, the bugaboo out there that everybody likes to conjure up whenever they want to justify something else. It is an old trick that the government has used.

The government used it just recently when it spotted, 200 miles off the Canadian border, a couple of twin-engine planes that the Russians were using for scouting in their own territory. The government said that was why we needed F-35s: “By George, we are going to spend $16 billion so that our guys can go out there and take care of that Russian menace”. There is no Russian menace.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the member's speech on this bill, and quite frankly, I agree with him.

I asked the parliamentary secretary earlier what sort of negotiations were done, given that the Americans have potentially 2,000 flights a day over Canadian airspace, flying to Europe and other parts of the world, whereas Canada has only 100 or so, flying over American space. There is certainly a lot of room for negotiation there, because in terms of the Americans providing all that information to us on a reciprocal basis, that would be quite onerous on their part. They would think twice about trying to push this point with us if it were going to put a lot of pressure on them from their airlines and residents who are flying.

He did not answer that question at all. He avoided the question.

The question really is: did the government just roll over and avoid negotiating with the Americans and just accept the terms they were given by the Americans?

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak for what the government has done or did not do on this. I can speculate on the basis of the modest experience that I have.

The member is quite right. There are two competing commercial issues at play. The American airlines go through Canadian airspace. Canadian operators go through American airspace. It is an unbalanced amount. They say they need the information for their security. We are not worried about any security or lack thereof coming from the United States. It is purely a commercial interest.

What did we do? As I said, one can either negotiate to promote and defend Canadian interests, be they commercial or private, or one can walk away. The government clearly walked away. It did not negotiate. For that, it is a shame.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his usual passion on most subject areas. Stefano and Matteo are probably very pleased to see his interest on this.

I am looking on my computer here for the current regulations that are in force.

My question for the member has to do with what kind of information an operator has. I know he has been vice-chair of the transport committee and these things may have come up.

However, it seems to me that there is a potential ripple effect or domino effect that I have a name, I have an address, and by the way, I have a credit card number. I have who is the usual passenger companion, what card was used and whether there are reward points, and so on. Those tend to open up and flower into probably a fair bit of information.

It is good to see this point about the information required specifically under the foreign laws, but I wonder if the member could express his concerns about the scope of information that may be available and that may put Canadians at risk.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

My hon. colleague from Mississauga South is absolutely right. He focused on all of the market information that might be available to a competent foreign agency. What they do with that information is beyond our control.

What they are exploring, of course, is not just the personal information, name and address or whatever, but anything that comes with one's credit card and credit history. In fact, over the course of these last 24 hours we discovered that there are photocopying machines and companies that lease these things out that have access to every piece of information that one has ever put on that photocopier, going back to one's SIN number and to any kind of documents that relate to oneself.

They have been able to find out how much people earn, how many people they support with that money, what they have given to agencies, to charities, or in gifts, or what purchases they have made. The impact is limitless from a market point of view. Not only is it limitless, but the law says it is whatever they require.

It is not just what the carrier, the operator, has in his or her possession; it is what he may be required to have by a foreign state.

So a foreign country is making decisions for us. Goodbye Canadian sovereignty.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to rise in the House today and refute a number of the things the hon. member is saying. I listened as closely as I could. Most of his statement was 99% incorrect or not factual, so it was very difficult to listen really closely.

There is little basis in fact on what he said. There is little resemblance to reality.

The reality is this: When we became government, we changed the way we dealt with Americans. We have a respectful, straight-up relationship that was not there under the previous government that this individual was a member of.

An example of that is the fact that we took a long-standing trade irritant called softwood lumber and we settled that issue. We had a recent trade irritant called buy American and we settled that issue. We settled that because we have a stand-up, upfront, respectful relationship that you folks over there could have done any time you were in power for 13 years.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I just remind the member to address his remarks to the Chair and not directly at the member.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

I suppose that a drive-by smear might be able to stick provided it was accompanied by facts. I did not hear any from the colleague opposite.

Just because he could not get any of the facts, it does not mean that they are not there.

By the way, with respect to how we dealt with the Americans, we said, “We treat you with respect and dignity, reciprocate”. On the softwood lumber issue, I do not know if “negotiation” has a new meaning for the Conservatives when they left $1 billion of the $5 billion on the table and said this was a great deal. We were negotiating to get all $5 billion. They gave away 20%. That is not very good.

If that is the way that the Conservatives look at negotiating with the United States, or indeed any other country, then the country of Canada would be well rid of them.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Kania Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak to Bill C-42 today. I would like to start with an analysis of the title: strengthening aviation security act. My question, given that this is how the government has entitled it, is how does this strengthen Canadian aviation security? How does it strengthen Canada? How does it strengthen the safety of Canadians going on such flights? My suggestion is that it does not in any way.

First of all, under the existing law we can already have airlines disclose the information of persons travelling on planes when they are landing in foreign countries. That is perfectly reasonable. Every sovereign state has the right to know who is coming into their country. I would expect no different for Canadians or any other country.

The government is now essentially trying to amend it so that if flights are going over a foreign jurisdiction, and let us be clear that we are talking about the United States and this is why we are having this discussion at all, if flights are going over the United States, even if they are not landing in the United States, private information on Canadians will have to be disclosed. How does it strengthen Canadians or in any way live up to the descriptive “strengthening aviation security act”? How does it strengthen aviation security for the benefit of Canadians to disclose this information when the flights are not landing in a foreign jurisdiction, period, and they are not landing in Canada? How is it even logical to say that this is strengthening protections for Canadians?

I would like to take a particular example in terms of our sovereignty. It is one thing to say in the circumstance of flights going over the United States and landing in some other foreign jurisdiction that information has to be disclosed. It does not strengthen anything for Canadians and it is still problematic, but that example needs to be compared specifically to the example of a flight leaving Toronto and landing in Vancouver. So if a flight goes over the United States to go from one Canadian jurisdiction to another Canadian jurisdiction, there are multiple concerns.

First of all, once again, how does this strengthen the safety of Canadians? It is not logical. It is not reasonable. It just makes no sense. Second, how is it that the Conservative government is willing to give up sovereignty, willing to give up privacy concerns, when there is a flight originating specifically, as this example indicates, in Toronto and landing in Vancouver and never landing in the United States? Please explain how that in any way strengthens the safety of Canadians.

Also, this is not even logical. How does that strengthen the safety of Americans?

Canadians need to know that the Conservatives are willing to give up our sovereignty. A flight from Toronto going to Vancouver never leaves the grasp of Canadian jurisdiction. At all times that flight will be governed by Canadian law. Those passengers will never get onto foreign soil. It is Canada--Canada, going over the United States, yet in those circumstances the Conservative government is willing to give up our sovereignty by giving private information about those passengers to a foreign government when those passengers will never set foot on foreign soil. How is that logical? It is not logical. We all know it is not logical.

The only thing that seems obvious is twofold. One, the Conservatives are not very good negotiators when it comes to foreign relations, and I will give a couple of examples that we have all been speaking about already. But two, for whatever reason, although they can be tough on Canadians and have no problem with not helping people through EI and various benefits, and when it comes to social and economic issues in Canada they have no problem being tough there, how can they not be tough when it comes to a foreign country, and particularly in this instance, the Americans? What are they afraid of?

We are a partner in Afghanistan. We are the Americans' largest trading partner. They trade 25% to one third, depending on the current statistics, to Canada. We trade 80% to the Americans. We are their largest exporter of oil and energy.

The Americans need us just as much as we need them. Why do we have to be afraid of them? If there is a reasonable request, as with any friend, we negotiate, we say yes and we work it out. However, when the request is not reasonable, we say no, we give our reasons and be respectful.

Once again, how does it strengthen and protect Americans to give information when the flights are going from Canada or to Canada or from Canada to a foreign jurisdiction? The only thing I can think of is perhaps, in addition to other concerns, the Americans do not trust the Conservative government, despite the fact that it has spent a lot of money, some people say billions, on screening mechanisms and other initiatives. Does that not work? It is not good enough? Does the government admit that they are not working, that the initiatives are broken, or that it has not spent enough money or it has not drafted legislation or regulations properly?

Why does this have to take place? Why do the Americans not trust the Conservative government to ensure that persons boarding Canadian flights will not be a risk? If the government's position is that the Americans should trust us, then, by definition and logically, its position should be they are overstepping their reach and we should simply say no in these circumstances.

On foreign affairs, I would like to know what specific negotiations have taken place between the Conservative government and the American officials on their request of Canada and Canadians. Why can the Conservative government not convince the Americans that the steps it has taken to increase airline security in Canada are good enough? Why does this private information need to be disclosed? Maybe the Americans cannot be convinced or maybe the steps are not good enough. It is the government's onus to tell us why the security measures in Canada are not good enough that we would need to then disclose to a foreign jurisdiction this private information. Frankly, Canadians deserve better.

We have the recent example of losing Camp Mirage. We have the case of the security council seat. When I was in my riding of Brampton West over the break week, I received a lot of calls from people who were both upset and embarrassed that we had lost that security council seat because of, as many commentators have written, the foreign policy of Canada was no longer Canadian. Our foreign policy is not what the world expects and has become used to, a progressive and involved one. What we have is a American republican foreign policy, which does not bode us well in the international scene.

In addition to the weakened sovereignty and to the fact that the amendment to the statute is not logical, we have other concerns.

At the transport committee on May 11, as has been mentioned earlier, the assistant privacy commissioner, Chantal Bernier, stated that, the United States would retain this information for as long as 7 days to 99 years. She also added:

—our understanding is that information collected can be disclosed and used for purposes other than aviation security, such as for law enforcement and immigration purposes.

Once the Americans have the information, they will use it for whatever they so choose.

Let us look at why this is a concern. What if the Americans decide they are providing information to other countries? Not all countries are equal, but the Americans are our good friends, and that is fine. However, what about other countries across the world to which Canadians would not want their personal information disclosed? What if we have Canadians who have been naturalized, who have come from foreign countries, who were refugees, who were persecuted, who were in some way hurt, whose families were hurt, who have families remaining in those countries that could be subject to blackmail or harm?

Once this information is out and the Americans have it and they choose to disclose it to a third country, Canadians could be at risk and for no logical or rational purpose. The fact that the Conservative government wishes to disclose this personal information in those circumstances could be harmful to Canadians who have come from other countries, specifically refugees who have been naturalized. This is a serious concern.

What about the precedent that this would create? The Americans are our good friends, but if we give them everything they want just because they ask—

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

It's their land.

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4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Kania Liberal Brampton West, ON

I hear the parliamentary secretary saying “it's their land”. It is not their land. A flight between Toronto and Vancouver never lands on foreign soil. It is always under the jurisdiction of the Canadian government.

Let me get back to the precedent. Once we give our American friends whatever they want, even when it is not logical, what if other countries then ask? England is our good friend too. What about other countries that perhaps are not so reputable? Where are we going to draw the line? Who are we going to insult? Are we going to have diplomatic incidents or visa restrictions imposed on Canadians like what happened with Mexicans? How is the government going to guard Canadians from future foreign and diplomatic problems? The government will have less discretion to simply say no to this kind of request when it says yes to whatever the Americans ask for.

I would like members to look at the name of the act once again. It is called the strengthening aviation security act. I would ask the Conservative government to explain how this act and the amendments in particular would strengthen the protection of Canadians and protect Canada's sovereignty.

We are members of Parliament in Canada. We are not American senators or members of the House of Representatives. We have an obligation to Canadians to sometimes say no to our very good friends when they overreach.

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4:35 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I hope, based on my colleague's comments and his colleague's previous comments, that they and their party will vote against this bill.

We are talking about a bill that would change the Aeronautics Act so that every time someone buys an airline ticket all the information given to the travel agent will be sent to the security agency. The law would implement a number of secret treaties that the government has recently signed with other nations. The government has signed or is negotiating secret treaties with Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Panama, the Dominican Republic, the European Union and the United States.

The Conservative government likes to conjure up fear. The Conservatives try to get people to believe that they need to change the laws here because they are at risk. They need to build more prisons because there are criminals out there who they are not aware of and who need to be put in jail.

There is a problem with the bill with respect to the retention of the information. Not only would we be giving out information to people we do not even know, but we would not have the opportunity to tick a little box saying that we allowed the information to be given out. That is quite problematic.

I also want to touch on his colleague's comments a while ago, because he talked about body scanners. To me, body scanners are an invasion of privacy. Not only are they an invasion of privacy, but we do not know how much radiation goes through those scanners and we go through them all the time. It is just like the Wi-Fi study that we are doing right now.

Does my colleague believe that Canadians would be at risk, that they could be targeted as a result of the information being provided?

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4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Kania Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to make it absolutely clear that I am in favour of all security measures that protect Canadians and any airline traveller. The point of this conversation today is whether this bill is logical and whether it actually protects anybody.

When it comes to her question, we do not know, but that possibility exists. If this information goes to the Americans, they are allowed to use it for whatever they wish. They are no blocks in terms of how we can control that. If they provide that information to a foreign country or once the precedent has been established by the Conservative government to essentially give other countries whatever information they want on Canadians, and they do that with other countries that may be a risk, yes, that potential for putting Canadians at risk is certainly there.

I use the example in particular, because I deal with constituents of mine who came to Canada as refugees. If people become a refugee in Canada and they actually get to stay in Canada under that, there is some problem because they have been at risk in some way in their host country. If they wish to go back and visit family members, or go to neighbouring countries, or whatever it may be, or they have family members who remain, even if they are not going there, in some way we do not wish to harm either those individuals who are now Canadians or their families, so the risk exists. In a free and democratic society, we always have limits, but those limits need to be based on reason. We cannot simply provide limits to the protections and freedoms of Canadians because the Americans or another country say so. We need to do it based on logic.

In these particular circumstances, I am still waiting for the explanation from the Conservative government as to how these amendments to the statute would actually protect Canadians as opposed to simply just giving in to our American friends.

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4:40 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that I would trust the rule of law that is imposed in Canada and the United States over almost any other nation in the world. I would suggest, first, I trust in the rule of law that is applied in North America by the court system that is independent and impartial.

However, as far as the fearmongering by the members opposite in relation to domestic flights that were, in part, negotiated to be excluded from this, I ask the member to check who negotiated that. Was it the previous Liberal government? No. It was this government that negotiated with our southern neighbours on many aspects of this and other treaties to make Canadians safer.

The member asks how will this make Canadians safer. I think it is clear from what happened in 9/11 that we are all subject to terrorism. We in this Conservative government will keep Canadians safe by negotiating and also sharing information that will otherwise put Canadians in peril. Let us be clear. Terrorism knows no boundaries. This government will keep Canadians safe.

As far as insulting our American neighbours, I ask that member go back in time to a national TV broadcast where one of the Liberal sitting members of Parliament stomped, jumped up and down, on a figurine of the United States president at the time. I am sure that did a lot to help our friendship with the United States, since the Liberals were in government at the time it took place. What happened to that member? Zero, zip. She continued to sit in the House and the Liberals did nothing.

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4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Kania Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have respect for my hon. colleague, but when I ask him to have the Conservative government describe how this legislation would protect Canadians, I do not think the most logical argument is that a number of years ago some member of Parliament stepped on a doll. I suggest that is window-dressing and rhetoric as opposed to answering the question.

When the member speaks about a previous government's bill, once again, that is window-dressing and rhetoric, since it is the Conservative government's bill, Bill C-42. This bill seeks to put these onerous restrictions on the privacy of Canadians by letting the Americans know all about these people on the flight, even the ones who are flying just across Canada.

For him to suggest somehow that his rational, logical argument in favour of the bill is doll stamping or that some years before somebody introduced some other bill, which is not the one we are discussing, that is not a rational response.

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4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member has brought to the debate something fundamental about what the object is of this legislation, the strengthening aviation security act.

We do have a passenger protection program. The Privacy Commissioner issued a report in 2009 which concluded that there are even some problems with regard to the Canadian system of protection of that information, but that is the program under which passenger protection is covered.

This is not just about Canada and the U.S. This is about any country in the world that happens to have legislation requiring this information. For instance, if a flight left Canada and flew over Pakistan but did not land in Pakistan, the Pakistani government could say that it wanted to know the name of everybody on that plane, without having some sort of reciprocal requirement or objective. It really could get ugly and complicated as to how to coordinate all that information when there may be no contact between that plane and the government.

If a foreign government does enact legislation requiring information for aircraft flying over its land, how do we comply without--

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4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I will have to stop the member there because there is only a minute left for the member for Brampton West to respond.