Mr. Speaker, while I was preparing to speak to Bill C-42, I found it quite shocking that the government put forward a motion for closure just a few minutes ago.
The comments by the parliamentary secretary who prefaced that motion were equally problematic. He referred to the need to move on, that this was fearmongering and that Canadians are not concerned about the substance of Bill C-42, something I feel is both problematic and unsubstantiated.
When speaking with Canadians, issues of privacy in an increasingly globalized world are very much issues of concern. Whether it is the Internet, travel that many of us do in a much bigger way, or the way we move around in general across our country and around the world, the security of Canadians, our information and privacy is something we value.
As Canadians, we also have confidence in our government to protect that security. Unfortunately, Bill C-42, a bill that the government supports, flies in the face of the sense of security that Canadians want and the security that is tied in with the respect for privacy that they feel is critical. We are seeing the government shrug its shoulders and say the U.S. is making it do this, so this is how it goes.
This speaks overall to a larger question of sovereignty and the extent to which we stand up as a sovereign country and say that we have real problems with what is being asked of us, we do not feel that pieces of this legislation are in line with establishing a safer, more secure world and, in fact, the bill is rife with problems, gaps and challenges that we cannot even predict properly in terms of what kind of trouble they could bring.
Whether it is in committee or here in the House, I am proud to stand as a member of the NDP in saying that we need to put a stop to the bill. We need to go back to the drawing table to find a way of securing people's privacy, working toward more secure travel and standing up to the U.S. government, which has not only made clear what it wants but, quite frankly, has threatened our freedom of mobility as Canadians if we do not comply with what it wants. Many Canadians would want to see their government show some courage on this and stand up for our sovereignty on something that is as critical as individual Canadians' privacy.
The bill is problematic for many reasons and that is why we in the NDP are saying the debate ought not end and that we need to go back to the drawing board. For example, the information forwarded as a result of this bill would be the passenger name records, which are files travel agents create when they book vacations. These records can include credit card information, who people are travelling with, their hotels, other booking information such as tours or rental cars or any serious medical conditions of passengers.
Why would this information be pertinent? Who people are travelling with, what hotels they are staying in, or what tours they decide to take, whether it is sightseeing, snorkelling or whatever people do during their holidays, it is a completely ridiculous notion that this somehow has to do with maintaining national or international security.
Even medical conditions being shared is something we know can be problematic for many people. Without proper regulation as to who might access this information, potential employers or corporate actors could use such information not only in a problematic way but in malicious ways as well.
Other problematic points include that the information collected can be retained by the United States for up to 40 years. This information may be forwarded to the security service of a third nation beyond the U.S. without the consent or notification of the other signatories.
It has been referenced in many cases in this House. We have seen how this has backfired in such a horrific way in the case of Mr. Maher Arar, someone who went through an incredible trauma. He has shared his story with our country. The government took a stand to compensate him, but we still see that the U.S. refuses to take him off the list. If this is the partner we are supposed to be reasonably dealing with to protect our own citizens, we can just go to past experience to find out quite quickly that a great deal of harm can be done by this kind of legislation.
Furthermore, no person may know what information is being held about him or her by the United States and may not correct that information if there are errors. Any Canadian who would hear this would be horrified to know that there would not be the opportunity to correct the record, whether it is the mix-up of a name, or a whole host of information that is going to be out there. The failure to recognize this as a gap, as potential for real trouble and not just for the individual, but for families, communities and Canadians in general, that their government would not stand up and say this is wrong, is quite shocking.
To bring closure to such a serious debate around security and privacy and recognizing that the two are not at opposite ends but in fact can complement each other, something that is not in Bill C-42, is certainly in line with what we have seen from the government time and again. It is an effort to silence debate and muzzle those who are speaking out against what is being said on behalf of Canadians. The effort is to silence those speaking based on past practices and experience and research by qualified witnesses who have said there are gaps that need to be looked at. We also need to recognize that pressure is being put on us as the Canadian Parliament by the United States. Why can we as a sovereign country not stand up and say this is wrong? It puts our citizens at risk. It is rife with problems and can only be problematic in the future. We need to look at it.
Whether it is in terms of the government's muzzling of debate through prorogation, whether it is through its actions on important parts of our country, whether it is the census, the forced exodus of senior officials who have questioned the government's agenda, all we have seen is an effort to silence and muzzle time and again. The reasoning brought out is that somehow it is fearmongering or somehow Canadians do not think this. This comes from a party that has spoken for the importance of respecting individuals' privacy and respecting Canadian citizens. This is at the heart of respecting Canadian citizens and their rights. They feel this is a country that respects privacy and security and says we are not going to be put at risk and we are not going to be threatened by the U.S.
This is not the only example of this government's failing to stand up for us as a sovereign country. We see this on economic issues time and again. The House will have heard that I have stood up to fight for my home community which is suffering at the hands of a foreign takeover gone wrong by Vale, which announced that it would close the smelter and refinery in my hometown of Thompson. It is an unnecessary battle given that the reason we are at this juncture is because the government opened the door to the sale of a profitable Canadian company to a resource that is integral to us as a sovereign country and is now being called upon to stand up for Canadian workers, for Canadian people, and to stand up for our sovereignty, whether it is in terms of our economy, our resources, or our privacy.
That is what Canadians expect from their government and it is definitely not what we see with this closure motion or with Bill C-42.