Madam Speaker, I cannot say I am pleased to have to stand here and speak on this bill on closure. This bill is one that I have had trouble with ever since it was introduced in Parliament and the whole time it was before the transport committee.
The Conservative government would like Canadians to believe that Bill C-42 is just about ensuring Canadians can fly to destinations in the sun, that we have to pinch our nose and vote in favour of this bill, which really sells out Canadians' freedoms and liberties.
It is surprising how the so-called standing-up-for-Canadians party is so quick to make a move like this.
However, the bill before us is just part of the sellout. The larger issue is the total sellout of Canadian sovereignty under the perimeter security deal, which, if this government has its way, we will likely not even see inside the House of Commons. It will never get debated here.
We know the reality is that this bill, which is a completely unnecessary invasion of Canadians' privacy, is just a stopgap until the government has instituted a perimeter security deal. My fear is that if the Conservatives have failed to stand up for Canadians when they negotiated this deal, just how supine will they be when it comes to selling out Canadian sovereignty as part of a perimeter security deal?
When the minister appeared before the committee on this bill, he said it had to be passed before the end of 2010 or the U.S. would close its airspace to Canadian flights. That did not happen. The minister allowed the Americans to bully him, or perhaps he was simply bluffing the committee. We called their bluff.
The Conservatives pointed out the exemption they obtained for domestic flights. It is laughable. The exemption is based on a non-binding diplomatic note, much as the rest of this is based on letters, not treaties. There is no clear indication of how any of this is set in the relationship between Canada and the U.S. What the exemption really shows is that this bill is not about security or fighting terrorism, but about allowing another country to determine who may come and go from Canada. It proves this bill is setting us up for the bigger perimeter sellout.
In researching this speech, I came up with some interesting statements. On privacy, I found the following quote from the website of the member for Langley on how Conservatives protect the privacy of Canadians:
One of the key duties of a government is to protect the rights and privacy of all of its nation’s citizens.
Given the government's total failure to protect Canadian's privacy through Bill C-42 and how it will deal with privacy and other information issues through the perimeter security deal, the member for Langley may have to amend his website.
On the Conservative Party's website, it is said that:
Under the strong leadership of [the Prime Minister] Conservatives are taking action for Canada’s sovereignty, safety and security—
Then there is this line from the Prime Minister's bio page:
As Prime Minister, he....stood up for Canada's sovereignty--
However, Webster's dictionary has the following as a part of its definition of sovereignty:
freedom from external control.
I have trouble thinking this is the case here. It seems that when it comes to protecting the rights of Canadians, the Conservatives have failed completely.
On February 9 of this year, the parliamentary secretary told this House:
—I will tell members what I do require, and what I think this government has required, from the United States. We have required that the Americans uphold and strengthen the vital cornerstones of our Canadian values, such as due process, the rule of law and the preservation of individuals' civil liberties, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and privacy rights.
My goodness, that is a long list. None of it appears in this bill. None of it is found anywhere within any treaty or any agreement between the United States and Canada that comes under this particular section.
What has the member done here?
When we start to talk about the perimeter security deal, most Canadians do not believe the Conservatives when they say they can be trusted to protect our rights.
Postmedia News reported on February 18, 2011, that:
Two-thirds of Canadians fear [the] Prime Minister...will "compromise" by giving up too much power over immigration, privacy and security to get a deal with the United States on border controls, a new poll has found.
The national survey, conducted exclusively for Postmedia News and Global Television, also finds Canadians are split over whether they "trust"...[the Prime Minister] to craft a deal that maintains this country's independence.
The poll by Ipsos Reid reveals Canadians want [the Prime Minister] to adopt a much more transparent approach to the "perimeter security" negotiations that are being held in total secrecy.
That is what Canadians think about what the Conservatives are doing.
There was also an online poll last week in theGlobe and Mail. Of the 67,000 respondents, 90% said that they did not think we should give up information in this relationship with the United States.
The day after the parliamentary secretary for transport made his claims about how the government was protecting the rights of Canadians, the leader of the Liberal Party wrote in the Globe and Mail:
The content of the proposal and the manner in which it came about raise serious questions about the government’s commitment to defending our sovereignty, our privacy and our rights as Canadian citizens.
It is too bad for Canadians that MPs are supporting Bill C-42. I think Canadians should raise serious questions about the Liberal commitment to defending our sovereignty.
Then there is the line from the Liberal transport critic, which shows how much backbone the party has in protecting Canadians.
As I said in my speech, this is not a law that I particularly like because it does raise concerns about privacy and issues such as those raised by the hon. member. However, for practical purposes, I think we have little choice but to pass the bill. The Liberals had a choice. They could have protected Canadians but, no, they wanted to side with the Conservatives, and we can expect them to continue to work with the Conservatives on this particular issue.
Then there is the line from the member for Willowdale who said:
--we are now being held hostage. If a Liberal government had been asked to do this, we would have asked how we could work this out so we did not accede to this and sacrifice the privacy of Canadians.
It is not too late. If the Liberal Party would go against this bill, we would force the Conservatives back to the bargaining table with the United States to work out a better deal on this bill.
Then we have a line from the member for Eglinton—Lawrence who said, “This bill is a total abdication of our sovereignty responsibility”.
Can anyone imagine letting a foreign authority, not the government but a competent authority within the government of another country, determine what it must know about whether passengers board a plane in Canada or go someplace else or another place in order to come to Canada?
Canadians will be watching the vote on this particular bill.
What about the Bloc? Surely, it must defend sovereignty. Its critic said:
As the Bloc Québécois transport critic, and with my colleagues who agree on this position, we had to take individual freedoms into account, but we also had to take into account feasibility and the viability of air carriers that have to use U.S. airspace.
Once again, we see that the choice being made is between freedom and liberty, the rights of Canadians and a supposed infringement upon the commercial movement of aircraft.
When it comes to protecting the rights of Canadians, there is one party in this House that puts Canadians ahead of profits. Which party is that?