Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on Bill C-42 and support my colleagues in the House of Commons.
The member for Burnaby—New Westminster is absolutely correct. With regard to safety management systems and other deregulatory matters, the government has put passengers at risk. It is attempting to say that it is doing this for security reasons, but that is certainly not true.
I want to start with the privacy aspects of this bill. The Patriot Act in the United States gives all kinds of liberties to the U.S. departments and agencies. However, one of the things that we need to put on the record is that the passenger name record is part of this agreement. That is what is required for these secret treaties that take place.
The PNR is a file created by the travel agent when someone books a ticket. It is a system created by the travel industry to facilitate travel, so that all bookings and other information are passed along as people move from one travel company to another. The PNR can contain information on credit cards, other passengers on the same flight, locations travelled to, phone numbers, medical conditions, and even food eaten on the plane.
That is what the PNR can provide, and the information can now be available to several countries that are now going to have access to travellers' personal information, with no stopgap.
One of the things I want to touch on is the U.S. Patriot Act. I think it is an important model to look at, because right now Canadian information can be accessed in the United States. The requirement of the Patriot Act is that the company cannot tell people when they are accessing that information. That information can be granted to the American law enforcement agencies.
There is no agreement or consent on how that information is used or scrubbed or where it goes. That is the reality.
It is interesting that the previous administration, the Liberals, outsourced the census data collection agency. We fought to keep it in-house, because Lockheed Martin had its data collection system in the United States.
In the end, all the Canadian census information, all the private information that we had under the control of the Privacy Commissioner, became null and void. Once it went to the United States to be assembled, there was no way it could be recovered. We could not know when, how, or where that information was going, because by law this cannot be disclosed.
CIBC, which has its data management evaluated in the United States, is vulnerable to having its information accessed through the Patriot Act. Once again, it is against the law for CIBC to notify customers that this information has been accessed.
That is one of the things that many civil liberty organizations have been fighting for years, and this is going to be happening under Bill C-42. All the information that is out there is going to be in their systems, and we will not know when or how it is used under the Patriot Act.
The European data collection systems operate under certain principles. At least they have some backstops for privacy.
It is interesting to talk about airline security, what is happening out there, and how this is going to help. I want to bring up a local case of airline security. It showed that some of the common sense solutions are not working. Even though the U.S. is a big proponent of infringement on Canadian civil liberties, they have serious problems in their own maintenance of airline security. None was more compelling than that of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the attempted bomber who landed in Detroit, Michigan, near my area, 40 kilometres away from the border.
It is important to note that he flew from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan. He had started in the Middle East. This was the famous underwear bomber who had to be tackled and subdued. He flew across part of Canada, too. He showed up at the airport and got a one-way ticket to Detroit, with no baggage and no winter clothing in the middle of winter.
American officials were tipped off a week earlier about the possibility and did nothing about it.
We heard nothing but deafening silence from the government about this security breach. It put Canadians at risk because the plane travelled across parts of Quebec and Ontario and back into Detroit. All these extra elements would not have made a difference, because common sense was not applied in this case. Instead of raising this with the U.S., we did nothing. That was unfortunate.
These are opportunities to point out that we in Canada do some good things here, not to chastise the United States. This was an opportunity to let the Americans know that we protect privacy.
During the U.S. election several comments were made about the 9/11 attackers coming from Canada. Comments were made about Canada being weak on terrorism. The reality is that the terrorists had U.S. documents. They did not come from Canada. In fact, Canada played a significant role in 9/11 by allowing stranded airplanes to land. Many Canadian officials, volunteers, and members of fire departments went to Ground Zero later on. The U.S. continues to claim that we are weak on security. And we still do not have a full contestation. It is appalling at best.
I want to talk a bit about the European Commission's Data Protection Working Party. The commission set up six principles to guide it through the collection and transmission of personal information.
First, the purpose limitation principle states that private information should be processed for a specific purpose and subsequently used or further communicated only insofar as this is not incompatible with the purpose of the transfer. It is very specific in scope.
Second, the information quality and proportionality principle states that no excessive information should be provided, especially depending on flight information.
Third, the transparency principle requires that individuals be provided with information as to the purpose of the processing and the identity of those in control of the information in the third country and other information insofar as this is necessary to ensure fairness.
That is the one sticking point. It is a problem when dealing with the United States, our number-one trading partner.
Under the Patriot Act, this information can be accessed by government departments such as the FBI and the CIA. A judge could issue a release of information. We will not know how or when the information is used or where it goes. That is problematic, especially if one is not travelling to the United States. It is unfortunate. It is a situation that defies our historic aviation principles, and it is one that will expose people to data collection and privacy issues. Once again, we have no recourse.
Fourth, the right to access, rectification, and opposition principle states that the subject of the information should have the right to obtain a copy of all the information that is processed relating to him or her and the right to rectify the inaccurate information. In some situations the person should be able to object to the processing of the data relating to him or her.
Fifth, the person should be made aware of what the exposure will be and be able to choose whether or not to travel. They should know what they will be getting into if they are travelling. People can make a choice. People have a chance to have their say and make another decision if too much information is going to be exposed. Another means of transportation can be chosen, but there is a choice in the matter.
Sixth, there is a restriction on onward transfer principle. Transfers of personal information to further countries should be permitted only where the second country is also subject to the same rules as the country originally receiving the information.
There we have it. Once again, the Patriot Act is going to create problems for that, because it does not subscribe to any of those types of elements.
It is really important to talk about some of the civil liberties. Here is what some of the experts are saying.
Roch Tassé of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group said, “The Americans will have a veto on every passenger that gets on a plane in Canada even if they are not going to set foot on American soil”. Mr. Tassé added, “What will happen if Canada invites the ambassador from a country such as Cuba?”
These are situations where we have lost our sovereignty.
Living in a border town, I can say that our American friends and cousins are our greatest allies and we have so many people with so many strengths who travel back and forth. Literally thousands of nurses go from Windsor to Detroit every single day.
Generally speaking, the relations are good, but I have seen applications of an extreme nature take place. It is ironic. We have in Windsor doctors who the province and the federal government will not let practise in Canada with the credential barriers that they have. They are actually practising in Detroit. They go over there every day and they save American lives. At the border, though, they are treated as a security threat. That is the reality.
The ironic thing is that, even right now, sometimes in Windsor when we cannot get a specialist or we cannot get an appointment and there is nothing in London, for example, we will actually then send a Canadian over to an American hospital, who can get treated by a doctor who is not qualified supposedly in Canada and we will pay a premium for it. It is the most absurd thing that is happening.
We have seen these situations take place where, individually, people get singled out.
We had a number of high profile cases in the U.S. where people were put on the no-fly list, even including American politicians. It is not out of the realm that it could happen. So I think Mr. Tassé's comments are very good.
The Air Transport Association of Canada also made its grievances known. It believes the submission of Canadian passenger details by Canadian airlines violates Canada's laws on the protection of personal information and electronic documents, as well as laws on aeronautics. That was its opinion of this bill.
I would agree. When we look at the bill and what it does, it circumvents some of the privacy elements that we have built into the entire system.
This comes ironically at a time when the government is killing the long form mandatory census and bringing in a new national household survey. It was interesting, because when the government first came out with this, the minister argued that this would violate the privacy of Canadians and the government wanted to protect their privacy. The long form mandatory census is against that. It violates an individual's personal privacy.
I called the Privacy Commissioner's office and talked to the deputy and asked, how many cases are there of privacy having been breached or how many complaints do we get on the census? There had been a handful over the last 20 years. It turned out, when I asked whether the census goes through a privacy system, they said yes. They actually work with the census group and with the Privacy Commissioner. It goes through an audit there and also at Treasury Board to ensure that no one's personal privacy is affected. They described their working relationship as excellent. There was no weight at all to the minister claiming that the census was affecting personal privacy. There was no evidence provided to the Privacy Commission. The commission was actively engaged, and in fact, it actually changed some of the questions or some of the techniques of the census so that privacy is protected. It did that a number of different times.
I am going to wrap up by thanking our transport critic for working on the bill. It is an important issue for ourselves because we believe privacy and civil liberties have been trampled on at different times under the guise of security.
But in the case I mentioned before, which was in Detroit, there are obviously other techniques that can be employed. Simply do not let people on with a one-way ticket, no luggage and no screening of any significance, and even bomb material on the plane.
In these types of situations, if we are going to be looking at exposing Canadians' personal privacy through secret deals, then there needs to be backstopped, clear paths of recourse developed to ensure that Canadians are going to be protected.
The government of the day never did anything about challenging the Patriot Act, getting some clauses or some elements in there, in the U.S., to actually deal with the Canadian situation to make sure, at least, that if there was going to be an exposure, there would be some protection for them, some accountability.
That never happened. So at the end of the day we are left with this type of mess where Canadians' privacy is certainly going to be threatened and put at risk. I think it is unfortunate, because a lot of people probably will not even know this happens, the exposure of their personal privacy. In this day and age, that is something people still want to keep maintained.