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House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is a very important issue. Even more important than the time limitation on the information is the very demand for the information with no limitations.

What I am finding profoundly hypocritical is that in one breath the government is saying it needs to open up the borders for trade and to moving goods across it more quickly and, at the same time, it is trying to restrict the movement of ordinary Canadians across those borders.

When I was the head of law and enforcement for the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, I had the privilege to work with officers who were trying to share intelligence and better track the illegal movement of hazardous goods across our borders and the trade in endangered species. I am sad to say that important intelligence work is being made a sidebar by this threat of terrorists. We seem to be overly preoccupied with it and are now imposing unreasonable rules on ordinary citizens.

We need to take a breath and stand back and take a closer look at the direction we are going in.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, as tourism critic for the New Democratic Party and, even more importantly, as a Canadian citizen concerned about Canadian privacy rights and Canadian sovereignty, I feel it is my duty today to speak about the serious implications that Bill C-42 would have for Canadian travellers taking international flights. It is disturbing but not surprising, unfortunately, that the Conservative government would even think about introducing such a bill.

It might be reasonable to assume that foreign governments would want carriers to provide the names and personal details of airline passengers arriving on their soil. That information is already given by airlines, including for stopovers and passengers in transit.

However, Bill C-42 would go much further. Bill C-42 would have airlines give over the personal information of all passengers to a foreign country, the U.S.A., in which they are not even landing. Just flying over the U.S.A. would be enough.

Let us explore some of the implications of the bill.

Apparently, passengers leaving Canada on a vacation to Cuba, for example, could have their name, birthdate and over 30 other pieces of personal information subject to screening by Homeland Security in the U.S., which would involve running that information through various U.S.A. government databases, including the infamous and notorious U.S. no-fly list. If one's name is not on one of these American lists, U.S. Homeland Security will tell the Canadian airline that one may be issued a boarding pass.

However, we have all heard the horror stories of people with a similar name to someone on that million-name list, or who have been put there by mistake, never to be taken off, especially if they have the same birthday as someone with the same name on that list.

If one is caught up in this mess, one might be questioned, delayed or barred from the flight or, effectively, banned from all flights leaving Canada, if they go over U.S. territory, from then on.

There are already examples of significant misuse.

The standing committee heard the story of Hernando Ospina, a journalist with Le Monde Diplomatique, whose Air France flight from Paris to Mexico was diverted to Martinique just because he wrote an article critical of U.S. foreign policy. And there is the story of Paul-Émile Dupret, a Belgian researcher with the European Parliament whose flight from Europe to the World Social Forum in Brazil was diverted, not because he was a security threat but because he campaigned against the transfer of European travellers' information to U.S. authorities.

Will I be on the no-fly list after this speech?

How can the government assure Canadians that this type of political misuse will not happen if Bill C-42 is passed?

Apparently, the U.S. told the government it needs everyone's personal information so it can check it with the various lists of people it does not want flying, so there will be fewer false matches and problems.

Apparently the U.S. told our government, “Let us clear your passengers for you”, which is what the U.S. seems to be saying, and our government is going along with it.

Is it laziness? Just let someone else take control of our security and give over control in the process. In losing control of our own air security, we would have no idea why particular passengers were barred from going on vacation to Cancun. We would simply have to accept that they would not get to fly internationally any more, because we have given a foreign government a veto over Canadians travelling abroad.

I know members of the government have been arguing that we have to give up some of our sovereignty if we want to have security, that the cost of our safety, just this time, is the freedom of movement of our citizens.

It reminds me of Benjamin Franklin's famous saying:

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

That is ironic, because this bill will not improve the security of Canadians an ounce. It does not have our security interests in mind at all. If it did, there might be some clause for sharing of information instead of it all being one way. U.S. carriers could be giving us their passenger lists, too, so we could make decisions about our security. However, reciprocity is nowhere to be found in this piece of bad Canadian negotiation.

This is ridiculously one-sided. Only Canadian passenger information is being sent to the U.S.A. All it does is send our personal passenger information abroad for governments to do with as they may. They could keep that information forever or pass it along to other groups or governments or use it to prosecute Canadians for their own purposes.

We will not have any control over it. It is yet another significant erosion of Canadian autonomy by the Conservative government.

Why should members in the House, representing Canadians, support the legislation if it will not even improve the security of Canadians? We are not elected to represent the interests of foreign governments, at least not the members in my party and not this member from Thunder Bay—Superior North.

Gutting the privacy rights of Canadians for no improvement in our safety is a foolish bargain. It is no wonder the Canadian Civil Liberties Association called the bill:

—a complete abdication to a 'foreign government' of Canada's duty to protect the privacy of Canadians, and a cessation of existing Canadian legal safeguards. This abdication and cessation of privacy protection is unacceptable and dangerous.

This was what it said at the transport committee in November 2010.

The legislation rolls back, and it rolls over, Canada's privacy laws in order to get airlines to pass along the names and personal information of air travellers to a foreign government. It gives a foreign government the ability to tell our air carriers who can and cannot fly on flights that do not land in its country.

We in my party are very supportive of thoughtful efforts that genuinely increase safety and security for Canadians, but the bill does neither. Bill C-42 is an egregious invasion of the personal privacy of Canadian air passengers and an abdication of Canadian sovereignty by the government.

Our very own chief justice said, in 2009, that,

One of the most destructive effects of terrorism is its ability to provoke responses that undermine the fundamental democratic values upon which democratic nations are built.

This faulty legislation undermines both the sovereignty of Canada and the privacy rights of Canadians. There is no evidence that it will even increase security. I invite all members of the House to keep the interests of our constituents and all Canadians in mind and vote against Bill C-42.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

February 2nd, 2011 / 4:25 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and I think you would find agreement for the following. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, during the debate tonight pursuant to Standing Order 52, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House for this motion?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, it is not simply Canadian citizens who will be impacted by this, but it could also be Canadian foreign policy and it could be those people who seek refuge in Canada.

Mr. Edward Hasbrouck of the Liberty Coalition, a U.S.-based civil liberties group, who gave testimony in our committee, said:

You should be very clear that the enactment of Bill C-42 would grant to the U.S. government de facto veto power over the ability of virtually anyone to obtain sanctuary in Canada, since in most cases it's impossible to get to Canada to make a claim for political asylum or refugee status without overflying the U.S., and that power of the U.S. would be exercised at the worst possible point: while a refugee is still on the soil of and subject to the persecution of the regime they are trying to flee.

If we have a situation where, such as in many of the countries in South America or Central America, people head to the airport to escape a tyrannical regime or unfair treatment in that country, they could be turned down by the U.S. government regardless of what the Canadian government wanted in this instance.

Once again, not only is this an abrogation of the personal rights Canadians, but is it not quite clearly an abrogation of our right as an independent country to set our own foreign policy?

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I certainly have to agree with the hon. member for Western Arctic. He has done a lot of work on this file. He knows it well and I trust his judgment and opinion.

However, adding my own subjective observation of our Prime Minister's behaviour over the last five years, whether it is protecting Canadian rights in any area, it is clear that his loyalties lie more with the wishes of our neighbour to the south than they do with Canadian autonomy, Canadian privacy and even the right to our own natural resources.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have looked at what the bill entails and I have looked at what is happening with other bills, namely the potential agreement of border security. This is just another nail in the coffin of Canadian sovereignty and Canadian independence.

In my long lifetime, we have seen an erosion of what I call our independence and our ability to act and think for ourselves as a nation. There used to be a time when the leaders of all parties stood up for the rights of Canadians. We can think back to John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, Tommy Douglas. Those people understood the concept that we were a sovereign nation.

During those times, our farmers were protected. The lumber industry was thriving. We had well-paying jobs in manufacturing, protected by various agreements with other countries.

Then we saw progressively, in the 1980s under the Mulroney regime, a deterioration of this. We saw the tremendous pressure that the corporate elite had been exercising finally bear fruition when we saw the free trade agreement which resulted in NAFTA.

We see absurd situations today in which, for example, we have fruit growers in my area who have a hard time making a living because of all the produce being dumped from the United States. We see absurd situations in which Canadian governments have been sued by foreign corporations because they have decided to be a little stringent on environmental laws.

Then we have seen the buy American policy over the last couple of years, with the Americans tightening up trying to protect their municipal governments and their industry. Our reaction is to allow them more access to our contracts. For the first time in history, we have seen what we call the subnational governments subjected to trade agreements. We are seeing this with the proposed Canada-European trade agreement, the fact that municipalities will be in danger. In other words, municipal contracts will have to come under the scrutiny of big multinational corporations from Europe and we will lose our autonomy.

Many of us spent time speaking out against the Security and Prosperity Partnership, the SPP, and we thought it was put to an end. Now we are seeing a border agreement. The Prime Minister will be going to talk to the President of the United States on Friday to fine tune it.

Our Canada is not what it used to be and this bill, as I said earlier in my speech, is just another nail in the coffin of our sovereignty.

It used to be when we would talk about borders, especially with the Americans, that we would go across in a friendly manner. There were friendly border guards. We would go back and forth. Sometimes we would have to provide ID and sometimes we would not. It worked and our countries were relatively safe.

Now we see a tightening up. I am hearing cases in my riding of people subjected to unnecessary abuse by American border guards. Whereas before they used to go across for business or pleasure, now there is racial stereotyping, verbal abuse and interrogation. At the same time, the Americans want us to co-operate and have a free border.

Many companies cannot ship in a timely manner to the United States. Supposedly, an agreement would stop this. However, at the same time, the Americans do not seem to have a will to work with us.

I would like to submit that this whole fiasco of the F-35 purchase, this tremendous pressure on us, is almost like blackmail, that if we buy these airplanes, they will give us freer access to their borders. That is how it is appearing. We are being told we have to buy into this airplane that is not suited for our Arctic patrol, has one engine, cannot land on short runways, and is not even proven.

Let us move on now to this bill.

As we know, our Aeronautics Act currently exempts the operators of aircraft from restrictions on disclosing personal information without consent when the laws of a foreign state require disclosure of information about anyone on board a flight that is landing in that state.

Accordingly, passenger information for any Canadian flight that will land in a foreign state can be disclosed to a foreign government without restriction by the air carrier. The important part of that is “that will land in a foreign state”.

Bill C-42 amends this section to expand its application. As we are currently discussing, it would now apply not only with respect to foreign states in which the flight is landing, but also to any foreign states that the flight would travel over. I find that ridiculous. For example, if I, or someone here in the House, went to Mexico, Latin America or Cuba, our names would be subject to American security measures. That makes no sense. How is that logical if the flight will not be landing in the United States? Why should we have to give Canadians' personal and secret information to the Americans?

As we have already learned during this debate tonight, this does not apply to flights arriving in Canada that fly over the United States. There is something wrong there. If a flight from Vancouver to Toronto flies over the United States, that is okay, there is no problem. We do not have to provide the United States with the information.

However, according to this bill, if the flight goes to Cuba, that will be the rule. I find it shocking, and wrong, to force us to provide personal information on Canadians to a foreign government.

None of this really seems to make any sense.

Some people have been quoting witnesses who appeared at committee. I would like to thank my colleague from Western Arctic, who is responsible for transport, for providing information. Although I was not at committee, the national coordinator, International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, who said:

After running a risk assessment for each passenger using data mining technology, Homeland Security in turn issues a boarding pass result back to the airline. The result instructs the airline to issue a boarding pass, deny permission to travel, or issue an enhanced screening requirement. These regulations give the U.S. access to a whole subset of information on air passengers who are not entering the U.S. but merely overflying its airspace. Furthermore, this information can be shared among at least 16 U.S. agencies and with foreign governments. The program gives the government of a foreign country a de facto right to decide who gets to travel to and from Canada, since the vast majority of Canadian flights to and from Europe, the Caribbean, and South America overfly American airspace.

My colleague from Thunder Bay said something in a humorous manner, but we have to understand that there are implications here. What if someone from homeland security does not like what we are saying here today? What homeland security does not like what my colleague said, or it does not like the fact that I am criticizing the U.S. government? What is to stop it from putting my name or anybody's name on that list? How can we get off that list? The next time I board an airplane for Mexico will I be banned from going?

The bill does not make any sense. There is no reciprocity. We should all give our heads a shake before we support a measure like this.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise as transport critic for the Bloc Québécois to speak about Bill C-42. To begin with, I would like to mention that, in order to facilitate the passage of this bill, the Bloc Québécois will support the subamendment introduced by the Liberals even though our party had already proposed an amendment in committee.

As the hon. member just said, I too found that it was difficult to examine this bill in the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities because there are two opposing philosophies or approaches. We heard from human rights and freedoms advocacy groups and from the Privacy Commissioner, Ms. Stoddart. Ms. Stoddart had serious reservations about this bill with regard to respect for civil liberties and privacy.

Previously, a similar provision referred to any aircraft making a stop at the end of a flight or making a stopover en route to another country. Now, Bill C-42 stipulates that certain personal information must be provided about the passengers on board any aircraft passing through U.S. air space. We do not see this as being a problem, if the Americans can guarantee that the information will be destroyed after a certain number of days and that it will be not be shared with other organizations that are indirectly involved.

But civil rights groups told us that up to 16 organizations could receive the information transferred to the Americans. That is why the Bloc Québécois called for reciprocity. If that is what the Americans want, then any American flight that is flying over Canadian territory should also provide a list of its passengers. Unfortunately, that suggestion was rejected by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. As democrats, the members of the Bloc Québécois accept that decision. But it would have made sense. It could apply to a number of American flights originating in Europe, headed for New York, Washington or Dallas, that fly over the Queen Charlotte Islands, Greenland or Iceland. We had concerns; we heard them. That was our first concern.

The second had to do with the Americans' exclusive right to impose this measure. The typical American approach is based on a fear that the events of September 11, 2001, would happen again. That is an editorial comment. I am not sure that terrorists would follow the same pattern. The planes that hit the towers were American. The terrorist pilots who committed this terrible act were trained at flight schools in Miami, in the United States. Thousands of people died.

The administrative assistant working for Xerox Corporation on the 48th floor of Tower 1 of the World Trade Center, who was busy typing up a report, did not deserve to get hit by a plane. What happened was unspeakable, indescribable.

In other words, the Americans seem to think that if terrorists want to strike, they will use exactly the same pattern.

What is more, Americans are driven by fear. Nevertheless, a sovereign nation can impose any rules it wants to on its land. That is why we in the Bloc Québécois are sovereignists and we want a sovereign Quebec.

That was our second concern. We met with people from Air Transat, the largest charter airline in Canada and the pride of Quebec. Air Transat received help from the QFL Solidarity Fund to start up. I am not sure, but I think that is the case. Air Transat has its head office in Quebec. It provides thousands of jobs in Quebec. It is currently ranked first in the charter travel industry. We should talk about holiday travel, as opposed to business travel. Its current charters go south, but it also has flights to Europe, mostly during summer and fall. Air Transat is number one, and the people at Air Transat told us in committee that if we did not agree to comply with this American requirement to provide lists, Air Transat would be doomed to bankruptcy.

Allow me to explain. I want to address the members from central Canada. Air Transat would no longer be able to offer direct flights from Edmonton to Cancun or from Calgary to Mexico, to the islands, to Jamaica. These provinces are in central Canada. If we refuse to provide the list, we cannot use American airspace. A plane leaving Edmonton would have to go to Vancouver, a lateral flight, in order to take the Pacific route to then go south. This would run up incredible costs and increase the duration of the flight. I imagine that it currently takes three and a half or four hours to get from Calgary to Cancun. The other route would take eight hours. Air Transat could no longer continue to operate.

Air Transat flights that leave from Montreal, Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver can use the air corridors. However, there is another problem that was explained to me and that made sense. Air Transat has some large carriers like Airbus A330s, Airbus A310s and Airbus A320s. These planes land in Montreal. I see my colleague, the hon. member for Jeanne-Le Ber, who must hear planes landing at Dorval in his riding. Some of his constituents are even bothered by the noise at times. That is another issue being examined by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. I do not know whether you are aware, Mr. Speaker, but an Airbus A330 needs more than 50 metres to land. It cannot stay in Canadian territory. If you have ever flown in that aircraft, you know that when it arrives from Europe or the south, it must fly over the American border in order to land, depending on the wind and whether it is on the north-south runway. The border is just a few kilometres from Montreal—50, 60 or 70 kilometres, I do not remember exactly. So, in order to turn to land, it must cross over into American airspace.

This also applies to Air Transat flights in the eastern market. In Vancouver, they have precisely the same problem because they have large carriers, which need a little more room to land and take off than a Cessna, for example. Can we all agree on that, Mr. Speaker? I know you are listening, for you keep nodding your head, which shows that you are paying attention.

In closing, the Bloc Québécois approved this bill in committee and will vote in favour of the amendment to the amendment proposed by the Liberal member.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I enjoy working with my colleague from the Bloc on the transport committee.

I understand the ramifications to the airline industry and how that plays out and I also appreciate that negotiations have taken place . According to evidence given at committee, within the homeland security policy there is room for a full exemption for all of these flights if the Canadian government matches up to the security requirements for the passengers at the same level as they are provided in the United States. Government members said it would cost billions of dollars to raise our security level such that we could achieve the full exemption.

Does my hon. colleague think that our security clearances on passengers flying out of Canada on international flights are lax or not of a certain standard? If they are not, does he buy the Conservatives' argument that this would cost an extraordinary amount of money in order to make it happen in a good fashion?

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the NDP member for his question.

In any case, this is not the first time that the Conservatives have talked through their hats in committee or in the House.

They are talking about billions of dollars without any costing. That is what was said. I do not want to attack the credibility of the member who said it. Perhaps, deep down, he believes it, but he did not provide us with any proof. It is easy to say that something will cost billions of dollars. Fortunately, he did not say that it would cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

We should look up the word “exaggerate” in the dictionary. It is tempting to believe a little white lie. We can be inclined to believe that it is true. But billions of dollars?

I agree with the hon. member. The Conservatives were talking through their hats. That being said, we have a decision to make and we cannot simply ignore the economic impact of that decision. I would not want to be responsible for the closure of Air Transat. On the contrary. I am in favour of Air Transat and I am in favour of further developing Air Transat and creating more jobs in Quebec.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, this week the Prime Minister is travelling to the United States to make an agreement on security arrangements between the two countries. This is a serious matter. At committee we were given the understanding that these regulations had to be put in place and finalized by December 31 to the satisfaction of the United States. Those were the conditions laid down by the government.

The lack of information about what the Prime Minister is proposing with regard to security information in the United States vis-à-vis the perimeter deal--

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I will have to stop the hon. member there.

There are only 30 seconds remaining for the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am missing part of the story. Also, I did not think that you recognized the hon. member twice. I suppose the Standing Orders allow it if no one else rises. I thought he was beginning his speech.

If I have understood correctly, at the end of his question, he spoke about the security perimeter negotiations with the Americans. As I understand it, the Prime Minister will be in Washington on Friday. It seems that one of these items is on the agenda. Unfortunately, I did not understand the question.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am sure people are well aware that I am rising to speak to Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act. We are dealing with the amendment. I want to commend the member for Western Arctic for so ably outlining all of the reasons that New Democrats are opposed to the bill.

I want to read a bit of the legislative summary because it is important that people understand why we are so opposed to the bill.

The bill would amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. It would amend the section that allows the government to expand the application so it would apply not only with respect to foreign states in which the flight is landing, but also to any foreign state that the flight would travel over. The air carrier would be able to provide disclosure without consent. Those are the two key points about which we have been speaking. One is it is not just that flights are going to the U.S., but even flying over it would require that this information be released. The second is that it is without consent.

I want to touch on the legislative summary that outlines the problems with the no fly list. These are problems people are concerned about in the current context.

With regard to the no fly list, the summary states:

The program was the focus of some controversy in its early days, since Transport Canada, assisted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), adds names to the list without the knowledge or consent of the potential passengers. There has been considerable concern that names will end up on the list mistakenly, resulting in an innocent passenger being banned from air travel. For example, there were media reports that two young boys, a 15-year old junior champion athlete and a 10-year old both named Alastair Butt, were initially stopped from taking domestic Air Canada flights in 2007 because this name appeared on the list.

Essentially, a couple of children were not able to fly.

Many organizations have spoken in opposition to the bill. I want to read something from the press release of the Council of Canadians dated December 3, 2010. It states:

Secure Flight has been roundly criticized by international civil society groups because it requires that a large amount of your personal information be transmitted to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security even if your flight only passes through U.S. airspace. It's not just name, gender, age and destination as government sources claim. Any and all information contained in your travel records will be transmitted to the U.S. security officials, who may use it for whatever purposes they see fit.

We give over a whole lot of information when we are flying, particularly if we are going to a hotel. We have given credit card numbers and we may have given medical conditions. We have given all kinds of information that the Department of Homeland Security will now have access to and can do whatever it pleases with it.

The Council of Canadians goes on to state:

For the vast majority of flights to and from Europe, the Caribbean and South America, Canadians will be asking permission from the U.S. government to travel. If your name is on the expensive and flawed U.S. no-fly list, you could be denied a boarding pass.

Canada has made many steps to harmonize airline security with U.S. programs but none has been good enough to prevent ever more draconian demands. Our severely flawed made in Canada “no fly” list was supposed to prevent the imposition of the U.S. list on Canada. But that benchmark has moved again to the point the U.S. must issue travel permissions to Canadians.

Canada can still say no to Secure Flight. In fact, we would be doing the world a favour by voting no to C-42 because of the enormous global concern about the program from other states, as well as various international bodies, including the United Nations. Because of our geographic location, Canadians have the most to lose from the imposition of Secure Flight rules on Canadian travel. It's only right that Canada takes a stand now, before it's too late.

I could not agree more with that statement by the Council of Canadians.

Other groups that are opposed as well. I will not go through them all, but the Council on American-Islamic Relations has said that the bill could potentially have huge impacts on Canada's sovereignty and our privacy and Charter of Rights.

It is the sovereignty issue I want to turn to now. We are seeing a continuing harmonization in Canada with U.S. rules and regulations. For those of us who have been in the House long enough, we can remember back a few years ago some of the talk that was going on about smart regulations.

Anybody thinking about smart regulations would say, “What is the matter with regulations that are smart?” Smart regulations were an effort to harmonize our regulations in Canada with many of the regulations in the United States. These could affect our health care, our pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and it goes on. These could remove from Canada the right to say no to certain products. Smart regulations kind of went underground because there was a large hue and cry in 2005, particularly in the agricultural sector, about the move to do these smart regulations. Then we had SPP, the Security and Prosperity Partnership agreement. Again, Canadians en masse said, “absolutely not”.

About six or eight months ago some us on Parliament Hill who were opposed to the SPP, the Security and Prosperity Partnership agreement, had a bit of a celebration because we thought it was dead.

I have an article from the Globe and Mail of February 2, which says that the Prime Minister and the President are eyeing sweeping changes in border security. This is an article by John Ibbitson and Steven Chase. The subtitle is, “Plans to implement greater intelligence sharing sure to raise sovereignty, privacy concerns”. I have a few quotes from this because it is relevant to what we are talking about here. It states:

[The Prime Minister] and [President] will meet on Friday to set in motion the most sweeping changes to the Canada-U.S. border since the 1988 free-trade agreement.

According to information obtained by The Globe and Mail, the Prime Minister and the U.S. President will order a working group of senior bureaucrats to finalize within a few months agreements that would transform the 49th parallel through co-operative arrangements on trade, security and management of the boundary line.

It would mean sharing intelligence, harmonizing regulations for everything from cereal to fighter jets, and creating a bilateral agency to oversee the building and upgrading of bridges, roads and other border infrastructure.

The important part of that last sentence is the harmonizing regulations for everything from cereal to fighter jets.

Many of us in the House, certainly in the NDP, have been fighting smart regulations and the SPP. Now the government looks like it is bringing it back under another guise. This time it is border security.

The Globe and Mail article goes on to say:

Some of the agreements could be implemented through changes to regulations, but others could require legislation that would have to be approved by Parliament and Congress.

The new co-operation plan is a follow-up to a failed attempt in the past decade, the Security and Prosperity Partnership, to harmonize the regulatory regimes of Canada, the United States and Mexico....

The most controversial aspect of the talks will be an attempt to more deeply integrate the sharing of intelligence on people and products to ensure that anything or anyone entering either country would be properly inspected and the information shared.

There is a couple of other problems with what is being outlined. One is when things are done by regulation, it effectively removes parliamentary oversight. Most regulations, unless it has been designated in the legislation, do not come to Parliament. What we could essentially have is by the back door, by stealth, imposition of regulations in Canada that Canadians simply do not want. They have signalled that under smart regulations and under the SPP.

First, it is critical that we oppose vigorously Bill C-42, and I hope Canadians are listening to this. I hope they write their members of Parliament to tell them they do not want this violation of our privacy information, that they do not want the United States to say who can fly in Canada. If somebody who wants to go south somewhere and has to fly over the United States, the United States could say, absolutely not, that a boarding pass cannot be issued to that person.

Not only do we not want Bill C-42, we do not want smart regulations. We do not want the SPP. We do not want this new border security agreement that will erode our sovereignty even further.

I am ever hopeful that Canadians are paying attention to this very important issue, the very important erosion of our sovereignty.

There is a number of other ways that the legislation could be amended.

As my time is almost up, I urge people to look at the 1998 European commission's key principles, which would certainly help the legislation be more effective, and also the comments of our Privacy Commissioner who appeared before the committee and outlined a number of issues that she felt were important and that should be included in any legislation where the privacy of Canadians could be infringed upon.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, the member's comments bring back some memories of being at meetings with the Privacy Commissioner and looking at some of the implications. It turns out that the issue of Canadians' privacy continues to grow. Information on many of the things we do is out there.

I also understand that the requirement to report the flights will no longer apply to domestic flights such as those from Toronto to Vancouver that happen to cross U.S. soil. It will only be required when a flight goes from Canada to a third country and passes over the U.S. It is my understanding that arrangement is about to be put in place.

Does the member believe that we still accommodate the U.S. far too much in its over-reaction to 9/11?

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Madam Speaker, the member is correct. Domestic flights will be exempt. Those of us who fly from here to Vancouver Island welcome that piece of news because the flights often fly over the northern states on the way home.

I agree with the member that there is far too much intrusion into Canadian sovereignty with what is happening.

It is just wrong when we have to ask for the blessing and permission of the United States to allow Canadian citizens to fly to Cancun, or Cuba, or some other point when the flight goes over the United States. Canadians should be able to determine whether they are safe on a plane. Canadians should be able to determine who should be on a no-fly list, if they agree with such a thing, not the Americans.

I urge all members to oppose this bill and to say no to what the United States is trying to impose on us.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Madam Speaker, most of us here believe in our country. We have a certain respect for our sovereignty. We believe in our institutions. Yet we see a progressive movement away from our ability to control what we have in Canada as a nation. Bill C-42 is just one step in that direction.

I wonder if my colleague has any ideas as to why the government would be willing to do this. Why is it that the government cannot stand up for what we in Canada really believe in? Why can the government not stand up for our rights instead of progressively selling out step by step our ability to do business we are used to doing here in Canada?

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Madam Speaker, my colleague asked an excellent question.

Thank heaven there have been New Democrats in the House. We have seen the government cave under tremendous pressure on things like the MacDonald, Dettwiler takeover and the potash situation in Saskatchewan. Without our voices in the House talking about the importance of Canada maintaining its own identity, about Canada maintaining control over its own resources, about Canada maintaining its own sovereignty, we would have seen more Canadian resources sold down the river.

All of these foreign takeovers that supposedly have government oversight are rubber-stamped by what we call the ministry of rubber-stamping. Virtually none, except for the two that I have mentioned, have been turned down by the government and, it is sad to say, by previous Liberal governments.

We really need a government that stands up for Canadians, that stands up for the protection of our resources, for the protection of our sovereignty, for the protection of our privacy. Pieces of legislation like Bill C-42 do not give comfort to Canadians that the Conservative government is acting on their behalf.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I think the question regarding Bill C-42 at this point is what would happen if we did not pass this bill. The government told us that if it was not in force by December 31, the Americans would deny overflights of United States territory, but here we are on February 2 and Air Transat is operating fine.

I understand the Bloc's concern that it has to do what Air Transat tells it to do. In the area of the air passenger bill of rights, the Bloc members were onside with the NDP in the beginning. Then Air Transat got to the Bloc members and they flipped to the other side and did what Air Transat told them to do. Now Air Transat is telling the Bloc members that they have to pass this bill because it is going to cost too much to fly around the edges of the United States. I guess those are valid concerns, but there are broader concerns to be dealt with on this issue.

At the end of the day, I feel, and I think this caucus feels, that if we had negotiated with the Americans in a tougher manner, they would have backed down. If we had said to the Americans that they would have sovereignty over their airspace and we would provide the information for those passengers for those 100 flights a day flying over their territory, but they would have to reciprocate and provide information on those passengers on the 2,000 planes that fly over Canadian airspace each day, I think we would have seen the Americans back off a bit.

They would have had to come to grips with what their constituents would have to say about this, what their airline industry and airlines would say to their government, and what all those thousands of passengers would have to say. There would be an uprising in the United States against their congressmen and senators. They would be telling the U.S. government at this point to hold back and be a little more understanding of the situation.

Let us look at what we would be providing under this agreement versus what we are providing under the agreement with the European Union.

Under this agreement, I do not think we negotiated anything with the Americans. I think we simply kept their demands and said, “Yes sir, whatever you want you are going to get”. The reality is that we would provide all the PNR information to the United States, which the U.S. could keep for up to 40 years and perhaps share with other foreign governments. We are not really sure about that. The information on the PNR is tied to an individual's name, so privacy is a huge issue.

Let us look at the agreement Canada has with the European Union regarding the same information in the PNR. As a matter of fact, the Canada–E.U. agreement has been praised by Canadian and European data protection authorities because it has specific time periods for the disposal of data. In other words, they cannot keep it for 40 years as the Americans can under Bill C-42. They have to dispose of it after, I believe, a week. I am not sure of the days, but it is not a very long period before they have to dispose of the data. It limits the data's use, unlike what we are giving to the Americans. It limits, in particular, the individualization of the data. This is a really important point.

The information under the Canada–E.U. agreement is rendered anonymous. This allows the security services to build up the profile without attaching it to any one individual. Therefore, security is maintained.

If the member for Winnipeg North wants to get on a plane under this agreement that he is likely to vote for with his caucus colleagues, the Bloc and the government in the next number of days, the information he would have to provide would be in the Americans' computer system and it would be tied to him. They would do data mining and build a bank of information and a profile on him over time.

Under the Canada–E.U. agreement, the PNR information is separated from the person's name. Therefore, a person's privacy is maintained. They still accomplish the same goal that they are trying to get. They can build up profiles but they are not violating privacy. This has become one of the global standards for international treaties on PNR agreements. By getting involved with the Americans in Bill C-42, we are moving away from that high standard with the passage of this legislation.

I wish the Liberals and the Bloc would pause for a second and take another look at this.

As I said, we were supposed to pass this bill by the end of the year or the flights would stop. Well, the flights are continuing, and if we do not pass this legislation now, the flights are going to continue into the future. The Prime Minister will be in Washington on Friday no doubt to provide some answers and excuses as to why his government has been unable to get this legislation through the House. It is his problem to explain it, because he waited until the last possible minute to bring the legislation before the House in the first place.

There are other broader issues we should be looking at here. We should get the initial infrastructure that we have had in place since 9/11 working properly first. I will give a few examples of things that are not working right and some broad areas that we should be looking at.

One example is the trusted shippers program. We have a huge exposure in Canada and the United States with I believe it is 1,000 trusted shippers under the trusted shippers program who are not following up on packages and baggage. People are sitting on airplanes after having gone through all the security procedures, and packages and parcels that have not been checked are on the planes right underneath them. Does that make any sense at all?

We should be concentrating on where the exposures are. Right now the biggest exposure according to the American Air Line Pilots Association is the trusted shippers program, all the mail and packages that are being put on planes without being checked. Why are we not looking at that area? In the whole area of the no-fly list, we do not even have the bugs worked out on that yet.

A couple of years ago, we were stopping Senator Ted Kennedy and refusing to let him on a plane. The member for Winnipeg Centre was denied boarding several times because another person with the same name was on the no-fly list. Six-year-old Alyssa Thomas was denied boarding because her name is on the no-fly list. They would not let her on the plane.

And we trust these people with all these data? Good luck, if the Bloc and the Liberals, and the government for that matter, think that giving all this information to the Americans is somehow going to provide security.

All we are going to get at the end of the day is perhaps a delayed flight if we have to go around American airspace. I am not suggesting that is ever going to happen. I would suggest that we should call their bluff and not pass the legislation.

What are other countries doing? What is Mexico doing? The member for Western Arctic said the Mexicans are not participating in this program. Why do we not check these things out? Clearly, the government has no desire to give us information as to what is going on.

When I talk about a reciprocal agreement, what kind of negotiating is going on in the government when it simply holus-bolus accepts what the Americans want it to do? The Conservative government does not say that if we are going to give them information, we want theirs. Did it occur to anybody over there in the government, the government negotiators, at least to suggest that to the Americans? Perhaps that would have slowed down the process a bit. But no, we are simply rolling over.

The government told me that it does not want to ask them for the information because we do not have a computer system that could handle all the information. The Americans are going to take our information on 100 flights and they are going to spend, and I forget the figure I was told, but a huge amount of money anyway to deal with this data and we would have to do the same thing if we got information from them.

I would suggest that the government start looking at its negotiating team and maybe get it to do a little more work.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, it is nice to come back to the same old, same old. The member is always enthusiastic about these things. The reality is that there are other considerations. We do not deal with matters with the Americans on an item-by-item basis. It is all in the same pot.

When I was on the transport committee, after 9/11 we went to visit with the officials at homeland security in the United States. The gentlemen broke down and cried at the thought of 9/11. They trained all of their flight attendants in karate so that they would be able to take on hijackers. They did absolutely everything and found that nothing worked. They wanted to salvage Thanksgiving week, their biggest flight volume week, but it was a disaster. Confidence has been lost. They are doing bizarre things.

I hope the member agrees that we should be more concerned about the overall privacy issues that we in fact contribute to ourselves. There are a lot of things that we need to do and learn t to protect our privacy. This is only one small issue.