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House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was forest.

Topics

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me the time to speak here today.

My question is quite simple. My Conservative colleague does not seem to want to give a clear answer. He says that people can report sites. That is one thing. But there is a difference between reporting and doing something about it.

My Liberal colleague asked a very simple question earlier. If sites are reported, which is one thing, will the government ensure that these sites are blocked? It is not enough to simply block servers. As someone very clearly pointed out, there is always a way to move the content onto another server. However, if we are talking about a specific site, that is another matter. Will the government ensure that the offending website is blocked directly? The Conservatives must stop beating about the bush and say that the entire Canadian public, some 30 million people, will become informants.

What good does it do to report a problem with certain sites if nothing is done to block them? My question is quite simple. Will the government ensure that the offending websites are blocked in order to protect Canadians of all ages?

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thought I had answered that question. I apologize to my colleagues.

In the technology world, there is the server and then there is the site. The site produces the child pornography. Once it is reported, once we know that the site is hosted on a particular server and the server operators have done everything possible to determine that there was a pornographic site on the hard drive—in general terms—the police will intervene. They have 21 days to look at the evidence. The site will be shut down. It will no longer exist. That is what that means. That is a site.

A site produces pornography and uses the server to distribute its filth to all of our computers. So we must first find out how it works. Recently, a child pornography site was investigated because a number of witnesses reported it. There were about 116 IP address changes in 24 hours. Imagine that. That is what they had to track down.

We have to have a way to catch them, to find them, to bring them to justice and to shut them down. That is the goal.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on Bill C-22, which is really a child pornography reporting bill. The emphasis is on reporting.

I am a little disturbed that, from speeches inside and outside of this House, in press clippings and in hyperbole at committee, people might have been left with the impression that this is a tool that will eradicate child pornography and make great strides towards stopping child pornography. In fact, it does very little.

I know the Conservatives like to have short titles for bills, such as “saving the community from everything bad” and stuff like that. This bill should really have been called the “too little too late act” in attempting to try to curb child pornography. I will explain why.

In 2006, I remember well, the Liberals were defeated and the Conservatives were elected. That is almost five years ago now. There will be a fifth anniversary, January 23. The Conservatives should look at that fifth anniversary and suggest to themselves in the mirror, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, have we delivered the laws fairest to all?”

No, they have not delivered laws. Here we have a law that there is no substantial opposition to. There is no opposition to this bill, and we are sitting here five years later.

In the spring of 2010, because of prorogation and elections and not making these housekeeping-type bills priorities, the parliamentary secretary at that time said:

The government is committed to doing everything it can to put a stop to this growing problem. That is why we are reintroducing in the House this legislative measure to create a uniform mandatory reporting regime across Canada that would apply to all Internet service providers.

If the government is doing everything it can, it should have done it sooner. It should have followed provincial examples. It should have followed international examples. The government would not have had any opposition.

The reason the Conservative government did not do everything it could is that it was preoccupied with a political agenda. It was preoccupied with prorogation, and it let the ball drop on this matter.

This is a growing problem. The government had to reintroduce it. It is not because the government is concerned about this, but it had to reintroduce the bill because it had Parliament crash, to use computer talk. The Conservatives crashed the CPU of Parliament, which is the sitting of Parliament, by prorogation.

Why is this problem specifically for Canada's management of the issue of posting Internet sites?

It is because, as table 1 from the Library of Parliament brief suggests, we are in the top five child pornography website host countries in the whole world. Would the Conservative Party, as a custodian of government, want to be in the top five?

We would not, but we are. We are number three. The percentage of sites hosted by Canada, which in the realm of world populations is not the largest country, is 9% of child pornography websites.

It is a problem. It needed to be addressed on January 24, 2006. It was not. Following that, it needed to go through the collapses of prorogation and be put on the front burner. It was not.

What did the provinces do? What did the people of Canada do through their other elected representatives?

They filled the vacuum. In September 2008, now over two years ago, federal and provincial ministers of justice and attorneys general, responsible for justice in Canada, agreed that the federal legislation to establish mandatory reporting of online child pornography by ISPs was necessary.

This did not even come from the federal government. The federal government should have been aware that being number three in the world is not a good list to be on with respect to hosting child pornography websites. It is not a good thing. The federal government should have been more proactive. Instead, it let the provinces suggest that they needed the federal government to enact legislation.

Here we are in the fall of 2010 finally looking at this legislation, finally speaking to it, agreeing to it and getting it through. In the meantime, this legislation has been leapfrogged by others provincially and internationally. They were more successful, penetrating, effective, coercive and co-operative with respect to the public engagement of reporting child pornography sites than this bill.

We have not even passed the bill yet and it is antiquated. How do we feel about that as lawmakers?

We will talk about the bill but the message for the government is that there will be many occasions when it will find no opposition in this House to a bill that seeks to have more reporting of Internet child pornography sites.

Therefore, with some dispatch and a little more efficiency and concern for the actual laws of the country, will the government please, on other fronts, get to legislation that people care about it.

In June, I said:

I would like to express, though, how troubled I am that it has taken the government so long to do something about this important topic.

We are now in November. It has been almost four and a half years and the government has done nothing. The victims of these crimes cannot wait and the government's tactics have deprived many children the free and happy lives they deserve.

Many of us have children and many of us provide the best we can for them and think that we are providing for them a free and happy life.

Those statements and the rest of what I said in June apply now. Let us get on with it and pass this bill.

Earlier in the debate, the parliamentary secretary said that the government was committed to doing everything it could to put a stop to Internet child pornography. In a response to a question, he also said that Canada was a leader in this field by virtue of Bill C-22, which has not been passed in five years, faced with the fact that we are number three on a list of all countries hosting Internet sites and based on the fact that he appears to be either not aware of or at least not disclosing. with respect to very good questions from my friend from the Bloc and my colleague from Scarborough—Agincourt, what is going on in the rest of the world.

What is going on in the rest of the world has already gone on because, in 2002, the sexual exploitation and other abuse of children statute 18 USC chapter 110 was passed. Unlike this bill, which would only puts an obligation on the ISP, the bill in the United States makes it also a duty to have anyone providing telecommunications services to have the same duty.

Let us think of that in a country like Canada where every body that provides telecommunications services, not just ISPs, has a duty to report the existence of child pornography , if it comes to his or her knowledge, and of doing something about it. That is a broader law than the Canadian government has introduced under Bill C-22.

The question that was put to the elected officials at our committee was why we had not broadened the federal legislation to put a more serious duty on other persons other than ISPs. Why should there not be a duty on the general public to report a child pornography Internet site?

There is an obligation under the Criminal Code to report crimes when witnessed. Why is there not an obligation on persons who see these sites? Why do we not do this in Canada? At least the United States, some eight years before, was heading in that direction. Australia, in 1995, amended its code and has had a law similar to the United States law for that a period of time.

We are playing catch-up. Even this bill would not get us halfway to the leaders in the field.

We want to support the bill but we want to blast the government, as we did at committee, for not using broader powers that exist under the Constitution to put duties on average citizens, duties at least on all telecommunications service providers to report. The only way we will be able to crack down on child pornography Internet sites is to know about them and be informed about them.

Great groups like cybertip.ca, and in fact the RCMP which has divisions devoted to this type of crime, are under-lawed and understaffed, but that is another issue. They do not have the legal basis to crack down on the sites that they know about and they are not being aided in the way they would be if we had legislation similar to the American and Australian legislation in this instance.

I want to move from the international scene to talk about what happened in Canada. As I mentioned, in the fall of 2008, attorneys general came to Ottawa, at which time the government would have been two years on the rack, and suggested that we should have federal legislation covering this very egregious problem. It is now two years and two months later and it is finally here.

What did the provinces do in the meantime? What would we do if we were a premier or a minister of justice in a province? We would probably look at what the we could do as province to do something in the vacuum created by the inaction and the incessant political pandering of the federal government.

I will give a couple of examples of what the provinces did. Nova Scotia enacted the child pornography reporting act which came into effect in 2010 and was enacted in 2008. The province took some time in 2008 to act on the recommendations of the provincial and territorial governments when they came to Ottawa and acted fairly swiftly. That act now states that a reporting entity shall be responsible to further up the investigation of complaints it receives from people in general.

That is a very important section because, after reading this, the people in Nova Scotia will feel that their province has done more about the problem than their federal government. It says that there is a duty to report by every person, not just an ISP, not just a telco operator, not just someone involved in scanning the Internet to see what is involved for a police force, but “Every person who reasonably believes that a representation or material is child pornography shall promptly report to a reporting entity any information”. It is irrespective of confidentiality or privilege because it is a crime.

The crime is committed because a child has been photographed or depicted and those depictions are victimizations in a crime in itself, let alone the transmission of that image across the bandwidth in this country. This is a brave and, so far, completely legal and constitutional act on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia.

We hear so much on this side about how fighting crime is the feather in the Conservatives' cap. It is what they are good at. They fight crime. If they were really fighting crime in this instance, they would have done a better job. They would have convinced Department of Justice officials that a federal act could at least go as far as the United States and Australia in touching telcos.

They might even say that when a crime is visited upon a child or person depicted on a pornography site, that is a crime that touches the national interest. It is not merely the interest of the child being protected and it is not merely the domain of the provincial government under the Child and Family Services Act and that power in a section of the Constitution. It is clearly a criminal justice issue.

Where were these titans of crime-fighting when they went to the Department of Justice and said that they had some issues with getting a stable government and were preoccupied with keeping power and getting the ads out on the nightly news?

What we is a powerful legislation like the one in Australia, in the U.S. or, even better, the one I mentioned in Nova Scotia. Manitoba's legislation is very similar. Those are two jurisdictions that said, “Elected persons in Manitoba and Nova Scotia, we can't wait for the federal government”.

I am not sure, because there have been so many changes, but I think I am being completely non-partisan. There is not a Liberal government in those two provinces and there has not been for a while, so we are talking about NDP and Conservative governments. They took the bull by the horns and said that they would protect the children in their provinces because they could not wait for the federal government to invoke a federal criminal justice power in the legislation before them.

What we have now in Bill C-22 is something we can all agree on. However, we need to get the message out there that this is too little and it is too late because other jurisdictions have leap-frogged us. The bill is a step in the right direction. I do not want to leave my remarks by being 100% critical of the government. Making the reporting of child sexual abuse images mandatory for ISPs is a good step. It is a good tool to put in the hands of law enforcement. As I said before, groups that came forward during the parliamentary hearings process would be very able to administer the law.

We might have one criticism. The Conservatives had five years but they could not even put the governing aspects of the bill, which is who reports to whom and what gets done, which are the guts of the bill, into the bill. The bill says that subject to regulations we will sort this all out later. My goodness, they have had five years to get this together, would we not think that they could have picked an agency like Cybertip or a division of the RCMP? Instead of regulation, which to us is uncertain and will not be effected or enacted immediately, could they not have put in this fairly short bill the details of which agency gets reported to and what is expected of that reporting agency? It does not seem to be that difficult because Nova Scotia and Manitoba already have it in their acts.

I always say that when there is an issue like this, sometimes we need to look east to the Maritimes, and Nova Scotia has a regime that is working. Nova Scotia went through the constitutional argument of whether it had the power and it does. The federal Conservative government never went through the rigours of that but it presented a bill to us. I suppose we should all fall on our swords on this side of the House and say that it was our fault because we did not propose amendments. We did not propose amendments because it would take the bill beyond the scope.

We are not the government yet but if we were the government we would have had legislation like this done much quicker. We need to keep in mind that the growth of Internet porn sites is exponential. By 2008, every first law officer in this country, the attorney generals and ministers of justice, agreed that something needed to be done and, in some cases, they did. When they expected the federal government to do it, the federal government did not deliver. It is just delivering now in November.

The bill requires Internet service providers to report child pornography to a designated reporting entity. We heard evidence that the RCMP or Cybertip.ca might be those entities. It is true that federal legislation can only provide a mandatory duty where it finds a nexus. As suggested in my speech, I do not think the nexus is just with child and family services provincial power. It is with a criminal activity or a criminal law power. Although not everyone in the House is a lawyer, I think we all recognize that taping, making a video, photographing or the image taking of a young person in a pornographic situation in itself is victimization and a crime of the first order. The transmission of that is also a crime of the first order.

It think there is a positive duty on every Canadian, at least all those involved in the telecommunications services, the Internet service provider businesses and, by and large the Internet providers, to report those crimes. That is where the government has fallen down and that is why we are urging the Conservatives, on a completely non-partisan basis but a basis that says yes, to get this bill passed. We need to get on with it. We need to do something more effective and more in stream with the rest of the world and now the rest of the country.

As the Conservatives often say, but it rings so true in this case, “let us get the job done” with respect to the reporting and the cracking down on child Internet pornography sites.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's speech was a very good one and I appreciate his support on this. I appreciate his comments about the time it took as seemingly an international laggard on many issues.

This is one where, yes, indeed we are the third largest host of these types of images, hosting these types of websites, and here we are with this legislation. The member points out quite rightly about some of the provincial legislatures going further ahead in what they are doing, such as the concept of Cybertip, which is a very good initiative that is taking place.

Some of the amendments that were made in committee have reflected this. I would like the member to comment on that with regard to putting these on line. But this hopefully will serve as the pre-eminent piece of legislation in this country when it comes to the reporting of child pornography.

This is so international in scope; it is so important for us to adhere to all international agreements that we have talked about. Many of us have attended international legislatures, especially in places such as Europe where the proliferation of the Internet has been equal to our own, if not surpassing it, in the sense of using it for all the nefarious reasons.

Just recently we talked about spam. We are here talking about child pornography and images, but it is a very intricate piece of legislation because one of the images may be from one country and another image from another country and they are all contained within one site. So it is quite a web.

I would like the member to add further comment on the provincial aspects and how they are plowing ahead, especially two provinces, and also the international scope.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, generally speaking, we could not do much with the bill except make more specific some of the reporting requirements.

As to the member's question about specific legislation, for instance in Nova Scotia, section 6 of its act, which I did not get to in my main comments because I had a mere 20 minutes, says, “Where, after reviewing a report made to it,” which is a reporting agency like Cybertip, “a reporting entity that is not a law enforcement agency”, because it could be reported to the local police force as well, “reasonably believes that the representation or material is child pornography, the reporting entity shall report the matter to a law enforcement agency”. It is very direct, very clear, and it is very powerful.

What is happening in the world, however, which is the broader part of the question by the member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, is that this has moved from a legal question of the protection of the domain where one lives to an international question involving questions of international intellectual property law and international powers variously displayed in the transmission of Internet or bandwidth.

I do not propose to have any answers to that except to say that in Canada, in November 2010, is it not funny or strange, or wrong really, to think and to know that the countries that do the best job in cutting down on the hosting of Internet child pornography are the totalitarian regimes, the communist regimes, the third-world regimes that, like China and other countries, completely cut it off?

I am not saying that is a solution at all, but we need a broader examination of intellectual property and bandwidth transmission for sure.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, just with regard to Cybertip, I want to point out, not wanting to be partisan on this issue, that it was an NDP government in Manitoba that first brought it in, modelling it to some degree after a Labour government out of England.

I want to take some issue with the last comments that my friend from Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe made. Although he is accurate about totalitarian regimes shutting off the Internet, in effect, from this type of material, and also for all sorts of material and the exchange of information within those regimes, the reality is that the vast majority of the material that is being produced, where the children are being victimized, where they are being abused, in some cases to the point of being killed to produce this child pornography, in fact is coming out of some of those totalitarian regimes: Eastern Europe in particular, parts of Russia and other parts of Asia.

A significant proportion is coming out of the United States as well, but the majority is coming out of those jurisdictions. So I do not want any impression left that we should be looking to those totalitarian regimes as the model to be followed.

When Cybertip was in front of us at committee, they made it quite clear that they did not have sufficient resources. I would just ask my colleague whether he would be supportive of urging the government to provide greater financial resources to Cybertip so that for some of the programs that they want to initiate or expand, they would be able to do so.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, we do not have time to argue which countries are the worst offenders, but in terms of posting sites, the United States is first with 49%, Russia is second with 20%, we are third at 9%, and Japan is fourth at 4%.

Those are all reasonably developed countries. I understand that crimes are perpetrated in third-world countries, in non-developed countries and in totalitarian countries. I think he and I might agree, however, that in Europe, great strides have been made in curbing the hosting of Internet porn sites, and that is where we have common ground.

Finally, his comments on Cybertip could not have been more well chosen. For instance, in their evidence they said that illegal sites regularly change location. In other words, it is incredibly hard to pin these sites down.

Their evidence was in observing it, because they observe this as part of their mandate in Manitoba and other places. In a period of 48 hours, Cybertip counted 212 Internet protocol addresses in 16 countries for one website. This is like the spreading of mercury on the floor. It is incredibly hard to detect and very resource driven. Money is needed, financial resources. That is where I join with my friend in agreement.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Madam Speaker, I previously put a question to the parliamentary secretary in the Conservative Party and I did not feel that I got the right answer. So I would like to ask for my Liberal colleague's response.

Websites are very simple. The website goes up. It is hosted in a particular country on a particular domain, and if we know that the website is spreading information or has pictures of young adults or child porn, the Government of Canada can simply legislate in order to shut it down.

My question for the parliamentary secretary was why it is not doing this. What I got was that there will be a reporting system, and so on and so on. A reporting system is fine, and certainly we could spend $42 million for a reporting system. We are third in the world in the hosting of these pictures of kids and child porn.

It is very simple. The government moves and it orders the service providers to shut them down. The service providers have to oblige and shut them down, and these websites are gone, erased, so we are no longer third in the world.

It is a simple solution. The government can amend the legislation, can act on the legislation and send a directive out and shut these things down.

I would like to get my colleague's views on this.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, it certainly seems simple, and I agree with the member for Scarborough—Agincourt totally.

This bill, of course, cannot be amended. It is way beyond the scope of this bill to shut down Internet sites, and so on. This bill is about reporting, about the Internet service provider reporting, if they get a tip. As I said, it is too little, too late.

The government could bring in a new piece of legislation. It could do part of what my friend suggests. One of the problems that Cybertip mentioned is that a website can change location in a few minutes by using a network of personal computers that are known as zombies. In other words, they keep moving around to computers that are vacant, or zombies.

However, what is clear is that the Internet service providers, the companies, know that these zombies exist. The solution would be by legislation with respect to these zombies that provide the content of the website but can never be caught. Cybertip recommended that when zombies are detected, the ISPs, the companies running the networks to which these computers are connected, should be able to suspend service to those computers until the infected computers are restored or removed.

That is a law that needs to be enacted. I think the government has to be firm. It has to tell these companies that provide Internet services that this is the way it is going to be. If we enforce it--

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order. The hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, first, I recognize that this is a good bill. It is not outstanding, but it is useful despite its limitations. It was about time that it was introduced. It comes after a similar bill which, if I am not mistaken, was introduced by the Liberals in a previous Parliament. At any rate, consideration of that bill was stopped because of prorogation in 2009.

The government deserves much criticism for not having moved this good bill forward, considering that all members agreed with its provisions. However, before criticizing the government, I will outline what this bill does.

Bill C-22 is entitled “An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service.” Again, as in so many instances before, it is important to remind those who will read this piece of legislation that it does not require Internet service providers to ensure even minimal monitoring of the sites they host to determine whether they contain juvenile pornography.

Let us take a look at the duties under this bill. It allows ordinary citizens who stumble across a child pornography site immediately notify their Internet service provider. It is then incumbent upon the provider to relay all pertinent information to an agency, which remains to be determined although the government assures us it will be. Will this be done in 2020? We cannot tell. At the rate at which the government is moving on implementing its legislation, it could take a very long time.

That is basically what is required of the Internet service provider. If I happen upon a child pornography site, I notify my Internet service provider. It is not asking much of the provider to notify the police. It has the duty to do so, and to provide any pertinent information to the agency that will eventually be designated.

The service provider must then preserve the information on the site for 21 days. That time was discussed in committee. In fact, it is ample time for the police to do what they need to do. We understand that someone has to determine whether the site actually contains child pornography, where the site is, and where it migrated from. A member who spoke before me talked about this. It is apparently very easy for people who are familiar with computer technology to have these kinds of sites that wander from one provider to another, from a Canadian ISP to an American ISP, from an American ISP to a Japanese ISP, and come back via a European ISP. There is some complexity involved.

The first duty of a service provider that receives information from a member of the public is to preserve, report and notify. Once it has preserved the information for 21 days, it then has an obligation to destroy the data from that Internet service.

Second, obviously, the bill provides that the information must be retained confidentially. That goes without saying. The service provider will not be alerted that it is about to be eliminated, we don’t know exactly when, and that it may get caught in the next few days. The information must therefore remain confidential.

This bill is very short. I have addressed about four clauses out of 12. To understand the next clauses, we have to know that it is currently illegal to view a pedophile or child pornography website. However, if you have viewed one and have said so, have reported it to your Internet service provider, you will have immunity; as well, no civil proceeding can be commenced against you. I imagine that it would be the service provider that would want to do that. So this bill is stating the obvious. I hope that no action would be brought against someone because they reported an Internet site, which they in fact have no obligation to report, contrary to what this bill implies at the outset. There can be no proceedings brought. Let us suppose that a mistake has been made and it was not genuinely child pornography—I do not know how such mistakes can be made, but let us suppose. We can rest easy; the provider cannot bring proceedings against us because we have immunity.

That is essentially all there is in this bill. It is not long, but it is important to have it to supplement various measures that have been taken elsewhere, in particular the creation of specialized police squads and the development of various techniques that use addresses to identify the people who design these sites, so that proceedings can be brought against them. As we often realize, we may discover that they are continuing to make sites like these, and that in doing so they are using children. Thus they are committing assault and may even be forcibly confining children who are victims. This bill is very useful, and it is another weapon in the police arsenal for combatting a crime that is unfortunately too easy to commit.

That being said, I cannot get over seeing the government boast about this bill. First, we heard the ineffable Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice with his ineffable knowledge of the issues. He said it was a source of pride and glory for Canada, at the Palermo meeting, when everyone voted unanimously. Well, we came last in the class. Not only were we last in the class, but there were already at least four provinces ahead of the Canadian government: Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Ontario. Those are the provinces that founded Cybertip.ca, the organization he was talking about. Maybe that will be the designated organization. That organization seems to be very valuable, but for the moment it has not yet been designated. Cybertip.ca seeks out child pornography sites. When it finds them, it reports them to the police. That organization was created by the provinces.

The member said again that we were the first in the world, that our ideas were received unanimously, and that we were applauded. Well, sometimes the last ones to get there are applauded. It was high time to get there, because we are already modelling it on similar legislation in the United States, Australia, South Africa, France, Belgium and most European countries.

So he demonstrated once again what this government worries about; it is always how well a bill can be used for demagoguery. This one, apparently, was not useful enough for the government to pay attention to it, so it left it hanging. It has been hanging for five years now. Yes, we are in a hurry to pass it. So instead of constantly accusing us of delaying its bills, the government should present us with the bills on which it knows all members are in agreement, and we will pass them quickly.

In its bills, however, it continues to try to force us onto the same path as the American Republicans to the south, when its party has the support of only a little more than a third of the population of Canada. I often hear the Minister of Justice boasting about his bills, saying that we will see how popular the Conservatives are, as compared to us, and things along that line, come the election. That is his only concern. With my age and experience and the evidence of what I have done in the past, I think I can venture to say, without the people in my riding lynching me, that the direction they want us to take has put the United States, our neighbours to the south, on the road to disaster. In a single generation, it has become the country that imprisons more people than anywhere else in the world: the American incarceration rate is the highest anywhere.

The policies that the Minister of Justice wants to adopt are always the same: he wants us to help him put as many people as possible in prison for as long as possible. That sums up virtually all of the bills he has presented us with. On top of that, he dresses most of his bills up with misleading titles.

There is one bill he still trying to get mileage out of today, namely the so-called anti-child trafficking bill. In fact, he did get some mileage, because all parties but the Bloc Québécois were spooked. Even the Senate was spooked. Yet, when we read this bill on child trafficking—which does not take long, a mere three minutes—nowhere are the words child trafficking to be found. Putting forward legislation on child trafficking that does not mention child trafficking—that takes some doing.

What is clear from reading the bill is that it actually deals with the exploitation of persons under the age of 18. Obviously, child trafficking is a form of exploitation of a category of children, namely minor children. But to punish any and all instances of exploitation of persons under the age of 18 with a five-year minimum sentence is a bit much. That is the kind of excess we are headed for.

Because we denounced that, he keeps saying that we are against protecting children and in favour of child trafficking. That is just not true. We are against child trafficking. At the same time, we are against painting all instances of exploitation of minors with the same brush.

In fact, the definition of exploitation of minors would apply specifically to the exploitation of seniors. In Quebec, there is a very smart and excellent ad campaign against the exploitation of seniors. The behaviour described and explained in the ad corresponds precisely to the definition found in this bill, which is not about child trafficking, but the exploitation of minors.

The Minister of Justice always has ulterior motives when he proposes something. He tries to see how many votes he can get for the Conservatives, how much he can annoy and scare the other parties by criticizing them, how he can show that he is tough on crime and how many more people he can put behind bars for even longer. That is what the Americans have done. We, however, are trying to provide the best ways to fight crime.

This is one way to fight crime, namely to allow people who end up inadvertently or deliberately finding child pornography—which they are not allowed to do because just looking at child pornography is an offence—to do something about it, report the material to their Internet service provider or to the police. If they report it to their Internet service provider, the latter is required to do something about it, follow procedures to notify the police, preserve evidence for a certain amount of time and shut down the website.

The federal government lagged behind the rest of the west in this area and it even lagged behind four provinces. It is high time we took action. I still have time left, but I have said enough. The sooner this bill is passed, the better.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, the member sits on the justice committee and has had a detailed look at the legislation.

While many of us think the bill could have done more and could have been enacted sooner, it is kind of a snitch law, and we do not have many of those in our Criminal Code.

Does the member think the bill might raise some new challenges. I am not in any way undermining the apparent support for the passage of the bill. There are not very places in our Criminal Code where we say that failure to do a particular thing constitutes a criminal offence. A case where that does happen, for example, is the failure to provide necessities of life for a child.

In this case, given that it is a very brief bill, does the member think the prosecutors might have difficulties trying to prove a negative, or trying prove intent, knowledge and facts that prove a negative, which prove that nothing happened, including no reporting? Based on the member's experience, is this a potential problem? Does he think, as legislators, we may have to spend some more time on this in the future?

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, Internet service providers are required to report to the police sites reported to them by people who discover said sites when surfing the Internet. If the people who report these sites see that they are still up after a certain period of time, they could go to the police and inform them that they already reported the site to the ISP. The police can take them at their word and go after the Internet service provider. This legislation does not create many requirements. It does not require Internet service providers to do everything they can not to host child pornography sites.

Employees of Internet service providers who discover child pornography sites in course of their work are also required to report such sites to the police. Evidence would probably be produced by employees who report sites to their employer, the Internet service provider. The employees might later realize that the employer did nothing about it.

I thought my colleague was going to ask me whether this is consistent with the Charter or not. He did not mention it, but in my opinion, there is no problem in that respect. Requirements not to do something exist in a number of laws, provincial laws in any case. I know that in Quebec, there is a requirement to report a situation in which a child is in danger to the head of youth protection services. Exceptional measures are taken when children are involved.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague sits on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Clause 12 of the bill proposed by the government is as follows:

A prosecution for an offence under this Act cannot be commenced more than two years after the time when the act or omission giving rise to the prosecution occurred.

Of all the bills introduced by the government, this is the first time I have seen this approach of limiting the responsibility of someone breaking the law to two years.

I would like to know if my colleague also thinks that this is the first time we are seeing this type of approach and if he believes that it is tough enough to protect the children victimized by these sites.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, I must once again remind my fellow member, who sits on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and whom I respect a great deal despite the fact that we do not belong to the same political party, that practically the only offence identified in the bill is when a service provider is informed that it is hosting a child pornography website and that service provider fails to report the site to the organization that will be created and also fails to preserve the data. We are talking about 21 days. It should be fairly quick to determine whether or not the ISP has preserved the data. The bill has to set out a few offences, but they are not serious ones. This makes it possible for private citizens to work with service providers who we hope are responsible enough to report this type of situation to the police. That is about it. As for the rest, there is still the obligation of confidentiality and immunity from prosecution.

The purpose of the bill is to set out the method by which action can be taken against websites. The bill is not designed to punish those who set up child pornography websites. If it were, the limitation period would certainly need to be much longer.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I must inform the hon. member that he will have three minutes for questions and comments when the House resumes consideration of this bill.

The House resumed from November 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-304, An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

5:25 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment to the third reading stage of Bill C-304 under private members' business.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the amendment, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #131

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

(Bill referred to a committee)

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

It being 6:13 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private member's business as listed on today's order paper.

National Tree DayPrivate Members' Business

November 24th, 2010 / 6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should proclaim September 22 as National Tree Day.

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank my friends at Tree Canada who have supported my efforts to sustain Canada's urban forests during the past several years. Their assistance and guidance have been much appreciated by the good people of Ottawa—Orléans and by their servant in this House.

It is a fact that Canada is an immense and magnificent country: a mari usque ad mare. We are fortunate to have several wonders of nature, especially the tree, both grand and humble. The humble tree has played a very crucial role in the history of Canada. It has been a source of life and economic vitality. The tree also plays a key role in our ecosystem.

The trade through the forest products industry is a major generator of employment in both rural and urban Canada. The industry is responsible, both directly and indirectly, for over 600,000 jobs and it has annual revenues of over $50 billion. This represents almost 2% of Canada's gross domestic product.

Canada is the largest and most successful forest products exporting nation in the world. The backbone of this industry is the tree.

Closer to where we are now, the softwood lumber industry has been an important presence in the Ottawa Valley, and its rivers, on both the Ontario and Quebec sides, have also contributed a great deal.

The special square timber found throughout the region was extremely valuable and served as the foundation of the forestry trade in the Ottawa Valley. The forestry boom lasted almost a century in this region and its effects can still be felt and seen.

It was a catalyst for significant immigration to the region, including my own family 180 years ago. The forest industry was responsible for significant growth and cultural expansion of what we now know as Ottawa.

Over a lifetime, the average Canadian produces enough greenhouse gases to sustain 15 trees. Comparatively, each of us as members of Parliament produces enough waste in one year to sustain 200 trees.

Each year I plant a tree during National Forest Week. I do it in honour of a local constituent whose contributions to the community deserve to be recognized through the presence and vitality of a tree. It is also an act to offset my own ecological footprint, albeit a small act. I do it often with the scouts and I have done it since the days when I was a scout.

In all of Eastern Ontario, I can point to the forests that I have helped plant since childhood: 52,000 trees to date. My father, the late René Galipeau, was the one who gave me the taste for this. He used to always show me the pine forests that he had planted and that his father, Louis, had planted before him. He passed that on to me. My youngest son, Claude, has planted over 23,000 trees and he is only 26 years old.

It is important to note in the context of this discussion that while Canada is a forest nation where 10% of the earth's forests reside, 80% of its people now live in cities and towns. For these people, individual trees that make up the urban forest are now tremendously important from an environmental, economic and psychological point of view.

Strategically planted coniferous trees shield us from violent winter winds, and on hot summer days, deciduous trees give us shade that can reduce temperatures by up to 15 degrees.

Trees work hard to improve the lives of citizens and lower the costs for communities.

Trees make life worthwhile. As I have just illustrated, they reduce energy costs. They filter out gases and particles in the air we breathe. That is something I have experienced myself. At the northern tip of Ellesmere Island, at the top of the world, near the North Pole, is a Canadian settlement. It is the northernmost inhabited place in the world. It is in fact Canadian Forces Station Alert. I travelled there. The rugged beauty of the place is breathtaking. The air is so pure that a hill located at a distance of 10 kilometres appears to be a mere kilometre away. Why? Because the air is not polluted by vehicle emissions and human activity.

But wait, Environment Canada has a greenhouse gas monitoring station there. I have been there, too. I saw the results of the research. Alas, remnants of the pollution that we create in southern Canada floats as far as Alert, but much less so in the summer months when the foliage of our deciduous trees absorbs most of our carbon emissions.

Trees also prevent run-off, ensure the cleanliness of our streams, lessen noise, reduce the heat island effect caused by asphalt and concrete being heated by the sun, and provide habitats for birds and other wildlife.

Trees have been shown to increase property values by up to 20% and reduce air conditioning and heating costs by up to 15%. They have actually been shown to improve people's shopping experiences.

Trees add a psychological dimension to our communities by fostering a sense of belonging, and they even help reduce the incidence of graffiti, domestic violence and attention deficit.

This motion is about acknowledging what trees do for us and our communities, and about accepting our responsibility to ensure that the ways we use them are sustainable and respectful.

National Tree Day is a time for all Canadians to recognize the importance of trees in their lives by doing something like planting or preserving a tree or just enjoying its presence.

I am most grateful for the support of Tree Canada. It continues to work on behalf of Canadians, greening over 450 school yards, planting over 76 million trees, and helping over 350 communities' urban forest programs in every province and territory in Canada.

Tree Canada Chair Dorothy Dobbie, a former member of this House, her volunteer board and professional staff do this great work largely with the help of the private sector in partnership with community groups from coast to coast. I salute them, and in particular Cedric Bertrand and Melissa Nisbett.

The Canadian Forestry Association and the Canadian Institute of Forestry also support this initiative, and I want to salute the leadership of people like Barry Waito and Wayne Kelly and their respective boards of directors from across Canada.

Most of all, I pay tribute to my friend, Michael Rosen, the man who is both the executive director of Tree Canada and a source of inspiration for anyone who is passionate about a healthy environment for Canadian communities.

Mr. Rosen and his dedicated staff work tirelessly to produce and to provide a better quality of life for today and for future generations.

I hope that all the members of this House will support my motion and encourage their constituents to honour the presence of trees and their contributions to our past, present and future.

National Tree DayPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, I come from the town of Bishop's Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador. A book was written about my town in the last 10 to 15 years, the title of which is, In the Centre of the Forest...I Remain.

I uphold, support and agree with all the hon. member has said about the mystique and allure of our forests, and how important trees are to this country. I certainly believe in all the aspects he talked about. He talked about the increased value to everything we own. There is no doubt about it. Our majestic forests provide us with a peaceful environment. Forests are the basis of an important industry and trees represent us around the world. For example, where does the maple leaf come from?

I support the member's motion. I think it is a good one. Would the member agree that we should make a concerted effort to increase the amount of planting through a new national silviculture program?

National Tree DayPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague's suggestion is worth taking a look at.

I am speaking here in this chamber surrounded by wood. Without trees, we would not even have the desks we have here today, or they would be built out of a slightly less worthy material. I sincerely thank the member for her comments.

National Tree DayPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, first I want to correct the record. This is not a bill. This is a motion, and I would like to ask my colleague about the fact that the Prime Minister has refused to recognize a series of motions, everything from Mr. Broadbent's motion on child poverty to other motions that have been passed, such as one on which I worked with the member for Hamilton Mountain related to a seniors charter of rights. That is the first question I would like to ask.

I would like to ask a second question. How does he square the circle around his government's terrible record related to the ash borer beetle and the pine beetle, where we have lost thousands and thousands of trees, and most recently, that it killed the most important piece of climate change legislation in the Senate just last week?