Mr. Speaker, I gather that my speech will be cut short by question period unless I request the unanimous consent of the House to delay members' statements. Rest assured though, I will not be doing that.
This bill deals with disclosing the identity of passengers flying over the United States who are not stopping there. Given that we have just started debate at second reading, I would like to say, on behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, that we will be supporting this bill simply because we want to examine it more thoroughly in committee. I do not want to get into a long speech about parliamentary law, but typically the vote at second reading is about the principle of the bill.
We will vote in favour of the bill because we want it to be studied in committee. There we will be able to hear from witnesses who will share their diverse experiences and talk about the problems that this bill raises. To prepare for my speech earlier, I was talking to our colleague, the hon. member for Ahuntsic, who is the excellent Bloc Québécois public safety critic. She gave me the names of people who represent various groups that might be interested in providing testimony on this bill.
As I have already mentioned, the purpose of this bill is to allow airline companies to disclose information about their passengers to the countries whose airspace they will be using. That is slightly different wording from the former Bill C-44, which we adopted in 2001, when it was a question of stopovers and passengers in transit. It is appropriate for the country receiving the airline passengers to know the past and present of these individuals.
This bill talks about planes travelling through an airspace, which raises a few questions among members of the Bloc Québécois. We understand that this bill responds to a specific request by the United States. We recognize that the United States is a major trading partner, but that does not mean we have to blindly accept every request the U.S. makes. We saw what type of democracy the Americans had under George W. Bush.
The Bloc Québécois obviously recognizes that every country has the right to regulate its airspace, but the fact remains that we think this measure goes too far. As I was saying earlier, the identified passengers will not even land—or at least not during this trip—in the country that would be receiving confidential and substantial information. I hope I am not telling the House anything new, but planes travel through the air and not always through free or international zones. Sometimes, at 33,000 or 35,000 feet, planes travel through airspace subject to the sovereignty of certain countries, but the passengers of those planes will never touch the soil of those countries. They will only fly over those countries.
The bill gives the countries being flown over the right to receive personal information. We want to study this bill in committee to determine if that is really necessary. The Bloc Québécois wants to ensure that we are doing everything we can to avoid violating travellers' privacy. For instance, one of the questions we would like to ask the department's witnesses regarding the government's approach in this bill is whether the Canadian government tried to reason with the United States and ask it to justify this measure.
As vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, I will have the opportunity to ask such questions on this measure, which, as we all know, comes from the United States. We believe that the information available must be kept to the absolute minimum required. We are concerned about the lack of any guidelines, including for instance, ensuring that only the information requested by the United States will be transmitted. But that is not the case; a blanket disclosure can be made.
Will the transmitted information be determined by legislation rather than regulations? Should the transmission, if necessary, be conditional on the signing of a protocol between Canada and the country requesting the information? Such a protocol would govern how the information is used, stored and deleted. Furthermore, it could provide a mechanism to give the victims of errors an opportunity to correct their information, as well as a process to compensate them if necessary.
Lastly, we believe that passengers must be clearly informed, before they purchase their plane tickets, about the fact that certain countries will be receiving some of their personal information. Given these many problems, the Bloc Québécois reserves the right to oppose the bill at future stages in the parliamentary process. The responses we obtain in committee will determine how we decide to proceed during the clause-by-clause study of the bill and how we vote at third reading.
Mr. Speaker, since you are indicating that the time for members' statements is about to begin, I will continue after question period.