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House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was funding.

Topics

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

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?

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

The Conservative Party.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

I heard the hon. member across the way say “the Conservative Party”, but quite clearly the only party in this House that is actually standing up on this bill over and over again is the New Democratic Party.

The reason we have taken such a strong opposition to this bill is that all through the process we saw the Conservatives fail to get a proper deal for Canadians. My colleagues have talked about all of the things they could have worked on to make a difference in this bill but they did not do that because their hearts were not in it. They chose to sell out Canada. They chose not to do the work to protect Canada. Why did they do that? They did it because they were looking at this larger perimeter security deal. In their minds they felt that by integrating further into the United States we could increase the profits of our companies and sell out our grandchildren.

Today, the choice is apparent. What we do not know and will not find out is what this complete perimeter security deal means to Canadian travellers, to Canadians and to the future of this great country of which I am very proud to be a representative.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, on November 18, when the Privacy Commissioner appeared before the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, she tried to clarify that the requirements under the no-fly list and that legislation did have some privacy concerns. She said:

However, C-42 differs from the measures listed above in that it will not result in the introduction of any new domestic aviation security programs nor will it involve the collection of additional personal information by Canadian government agencies.

Rather, it will allow American or other authorities to collect personal information about travellers on flights to and from Canada that fly through American airspace and this, in turn, will allow American authorities to prevent individuals from flying to or from Canada.

I think the Privacy Commissioner has added to the debate from the standpoint that the no-fly list issues, the Maher Arar issue, et cetera, are different cases from Bill C-42 and that there are no conclusions on behalf of the Privacy Commissioner that there are breaches of privacy rights of Canadians. I wonder if the member would want to comment.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Madam Speaker, quite clearly this bill would open the door for the U.S. to use the information that it is provided for any purpose. Even the U.S. ambassador in his letter stated that in most cases the information would be used for security purposes. The door was not closed on that one.

The testimony we heard from one U.S. witness indicated that within the homeland security bill there is no protection for aliens on information. Therefore, when we turn information on Canadians over to the U.S., we are doing it with no protection at all.

I would like to see the Privacy Commissioner go through this again and understand the precise nature of what we are creating with this bill and the type of direction we are taking for the country. When we start to talk about a perimeter of security deal and the sharing of information from Canadian security services with the United States on an ongoing basis, what will that lead to?

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, it is clear that the government messed up in the negotiations. It made a very poor deal. The government could have gone for reciprocity and caused the Americans to back off when demanding information on their 2,000 flights a day versus the 100 that we have to give them.

The government has admitted that the Americans were prepared to let it keep the information but the government was not prepared to spend $500 million or so on the computer system that would need to be set up to keep the information.

The bottom line is that we should get our existing systems working better. We have a no-fly list that does not work. We have the member for Winnipeg Centre on the no-fly list. Former Senator Ted Kennedy is on the no-fly list. We need to clean up that list first.

We also need to get the trusted shipper program working. The American Pilots' Association says that we have 1,000 trusted shippers who are not so trusted because they are sending all sorts of packages and letters onto the airplanes that are not even checked. There is a huge exposure there but we are ignoring that while we are chasing stuff that really does not--

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. I regret to interrupt the hon. member but I must give the hon. member for Western Arctic a chance to respond.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Madam Speaker, a witness who appeared before the transport committee this morning is one of the chief executive officers of a very large security firm from Europe that conducts most of the aviation security on the ground there. His comments about what has happened over the past decade is that after 9/11 we created an aura of paranoia and, in some cases, delusion about what was correct in terms of aviation security, the need for information and the use of the security apparatus that we have put in place. He said that we needed to review that.

What we have here is probably one of the last gasps of the American empire in its desire, through its paranoia, to carry forward this information gathering system in a way that is really not appropriate.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, Poverty; the hon. member for Etobicoke Centre, Canadian Heritage; the hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona, Harmonized Sales Tax.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to enter into the debate on Bill C-42 and to follow the lead of my colleague from Western Arctic who gave a very impassioned speech outlining not only some of the shortfalls of this bill but cautioning us about how this bill would compromise Canadians' right to privacy.

We should frame the argument on two basic points. First, the public has a right to know everything that its government is doing with its money and everything it is doing in terms of the administration of the programs and policies. That is an absolute fundamental right and it is enshrined in the Access to Information Act, which I call the freedom of information act. Freedom of information, I argue, is the oxygen democracy breathes. It underpins and forms the foundation of the western democracy that we enjoy.

Just as important and equal to and parallel with the public's right to know what its government is doing is the truism that the public also has the right to privacy and the government does not have any absolute right to know everything that citizens are doing. That would smack of big brother, an Orwellian nature of things. As Canadians we need to be ever vigilant to recognize and enshrine those two principles.

We in the House of Commons are charged with the responsibility to not only defend and uphold those fundamental rights and freedoms but we are also charged with the obligation to enhance, strengthen, reinforce and buttress those fundamental rights and freedoms. As elected members of Parliament and as the custodians of those rights, we should never entertain a bill that may undermine, erode, diminish, shrink or reduce in any way those very principles by which we define ourselves as Canadians.

When a bill likes this comes along under the guise of national security, the other opposition parties blindly rush to it.

I began my remarks by recognizing and paying tribute to my colleague from Western Arctic for reading this bill and blowing the whistle on the predictable consequences of going forward in this direction. I am surprised there are no other champions of these fundamental rights and freedoms in the House of Commons who are willing to join us in the defence of these fundamental principles.

I want to point out as well perhaps the mother of all contradictions in terms of the Conservatives' views on privacy. They tie themselves in this Gordian Knot, this pretzel logic that they have because, on the one hand, they do away with the innocuous and necessary long form census, something that provinces, minority groups, organizations and institutions rely on, under the guise that it is an intrusion on the privacy of Canadians.

Any time one wants to amend a clause in a contract the first thing the party should ask is whether there has been a problem and, if so, what the nature of the problem is.

A former minister of foreign affairs from Quebec spouted off that he had thousands of complaints regularly coming into his office about the long form census. When challenged to show some of those thousands of complaints, he modified his remarks by saying that he had many, often and frequent complaints. When challenged to show some of those complaints, he said that he had people contact his office complaining. When put again to the challenge, he could not produce a single complaint.

I believe there has been only one incident in the Canadian judicial system of a person being prosecuted and charged with the offence of not filling out the long form census because it was mandatory. One test case went all the way and it was found that the woman did not comply with the legislation.

In spite of the absence of any empirical evidence or any body of complaints, the government stripped away a necessary and innocuous long form census, but, again, in buying a pig in a poke, it seemed willing to strip away one of the most fundamental rights and freedoms that Canadians enjoyed, and that is the right to privacy. It traded that away at an international tribunal.

Nobody gave the Conservative government a mandate to go to Washington and trade away the fundamental constitutional rights of the people of Canada. In fact, I would argue that constitutional rights cannot be negotiated away. Rights are not assigned to people by virtue of some document. They are the inherent rights of Canadians. The right to privacy is one of those.

Yet in a very cavalier, sloppy and cowardly way, the Conservative government has entered into this agreement and it seeks to have the Parliament of Canada ratify it. I say “no”. It will not get the New Democratic Party members of Parliament ratifying this document.

I call it cowardly because the government clearly went into that set of negotiations on its knees. It was not standing on its hind legs. It was bargaining from a position of weakness and it was accepting whatever was handed to it, without taking any steps to defend the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians.

I want to point out that this document finds its origins and is an extension of and materially similar to in the atrocity of the American do not fly list, resonant in, maintained and operated by Washington. My colleague, the member for Elmwood—Transcona, pointed out that in fact I am on that stupid list and cannot get off it. So was the minister of defence, Bill Graham. The Canadian minister of defence was on an American do not fly list and was unable to board a domestic aircraft in his own country. That is how insane this do not fly list is.

This document will extrapolate, expand on and compound the ridiculous situation we see ourselves in with that do not fly list. I could not get my name off that list for love nor money. First, people could not find out where it was and then they could not find out who to talk to. Then after six weeks of trying, we finally got a phone number, a 1-800 number in the United States, which told us to send our birth certificates, our passports, our marriage licences, our driver's licences and in six weeks to three months, a message would be sent back us, telling us whether we could get off that list.

I am not going to send all my documents away to some black hole in some basement bunker in the Pentagon. That is not what a Canadian member of Parliament does when he wants to board an airplane in his own country to fly from home to work and back. That is the absurd nature of this.

Nobody took any steps to protect Canadians when the government entered into this agreement. I do not believe any third party foreign nation has a right to know my credit card information, who I am travelling with, my hotel, my medical condition, any tours or car rentals, or the names people I meet with while I am there, just because I get on an airplane to fly to Aruba for a holiday.

That is the privileged information the Government of Canada traded away and not just to one party but to all the parties to this agreement: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Panama, the Dominican Republic, the United States and the European Union. We do not even know all the terms and conditions of this deal because they remain secret. We do know the terms and conditions of the deal between the European Union and the United States, and it is shocking.

This personal information can be held by the United States for 40 years, shared with other countries without the knowledge of the host country, us, or the individual. Passengers will have no idea if this information is being trade around like party favours at some kind of a confab between those member countries or countries that are stipulated to this treaty.

The United States can unilaterally amend the agreement as long as it advises us of the change. Who would negotiate a deal like that? That is not a deal between partners, when one side can unilaterally amend it at any time just by notifying the other side. That means the Americans can inform Canada tomorrow, or as soon as we ratify this, that they are going to change all the terms and conditions of it. I do not think the government was defending our best interests when it went to Washington and entered into this arrangement with the United States.

I do not know what forces were driving the government's reasoning to enter into this, but it certainly was not upholding the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians, those freedoms by which we define ourselves as Canadians.

It is our job as elected members of Parliament to uphold, strengthen and enhance freedoms, not trade them away at the bargaining table for God knows what. In fact, the government is like Jack and the Beanstalk. It traded away our cow for three beans that will probably never sprout.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to focus for a moment on the question of democracy. One of the worst aspects of the bill is that a decision on a Canadian citizen's travel plans would be made by an institution in a foreign country, in this case the United States. My hon. colleague has already talked about how frustrating and impossible it is to get redress from that institution.

There is a concept in democracy of no taxation without representation. The idea is that those who made decisions over our lives should be democratically accountable to us.

Could he comment on the failure of democracy in this case by having the rights of Canadians determined by a foreign body that has no democratic accountability to citizens? We have no ability to challenge the determination, to go to an elected official or to vote someone out of office who fails to take action on our behalf because those officials are all in a foreign country. I am interested in my hon. colleague's comments on that aspect.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, there are two points in law that I could point out today for the benefit of anyone listening.

First, it is a principle of natural justice that with any regulation that imposes a restriction on people or governs people in any way, there be an avenue of recourse, that there be a grievance procedure of some kind to allow people to file complaints or correct an error. It was clearly an error that got me on the do not fly list, but there is no avenue of recourse for me to file a grievance, correct the error and get myself off of it.

In this much more expansive and comprehensive treaty we are entering into, there are far more details we would want to study. First, people have a right to know if they are on that list. Second, they have a right to know how they got on that list and by what qualifications, et cetera. Third, in any sense of fairness and natural justice, they need to have an avenue of recourse.

The second point in law is that a person can be presumed to have intended the probable consequences of his or her actions. We have to be aware of that as we go forward with the bill. People could be presumed to have intended the probable consequences of their actions with this bill and that is the erosion of the right to privacy of Canadians. They are educated and know better.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, the member and I have worked together quite a bit on a few issues. One issue he has raised, and I have also raised it often, is the whole issue of legislation including a requirement to have regulations or subsequent information, which Parliament never sees after a bill has gone through the entire legislative process.

The point the member raises is that the disclosure requirements in this bill should have been fully negotiated, in my view, in advance. They are still in process and we will not know the final answer. It really makes it very difficult for parliamentarians to do a thorough job and make an informed assessment about whether there are in fact privacy breaches.

Based on what the Privacy Commissioner knows at this time, she has not concluded there are breaches. It does not mean that there may not be. The member has a point and I give him an opportunity to comment.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, it is shocking. In most legislation it is true that the devil is in the details and they are often in regulations put into effect after we are finished debating a bill in the House of Commons. In this case, a worse situation exists.

Article 5 of the European Union-United States deal is that the United States may unilaterally amend the agreement as long as it advises the European Union of the change. This has happened once already. Not only would we be buying a pig in a poke and we are not satisfied with the current terms and conditions, but the U.S. can unilaterally and arbitrarily amend the agreement just by notifying us. Yet the inverse is not true.

The other party to this so-called agreement may not unilaterally amend the agreement, only the United States can. What crack group of chimpanzees did we send there to negotiate this agreement. We should put a bag on—

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very proud to rise on behalf of not only the New Democratic Party but the people of Timmins—James Bay and speak to Bill C-42.

Under Bill C-42, the Conservative Party has decided to allow the private information of Canadian citizens who fly to the Dominican Republic or Cuba, not even entering the United States, to be given to U.S. Homeland Security. This information includes credit card information, personal information and who a person is flying with and it is without even telling the people about it. Homeland Security will then make the decision whether those Canadians will be allowed to board their flights.

This is a very disturbing bill, but it speaks to a deeper issue. When I go home to Timmins—James Bay, people tell me that Ottawa is broken. They tell me that the politics of Ottawa favours the insiders, the bagmen, the senators and the pals of the ruling party. They wonder how the government could be so out of touch with the needs of average Canadians.

So the people back home know, when they travel with family and friends to the Dominican Republic, their government has never bothered to tell them that it will take their private information and give it away.

If the Conservative government was an honest government, and we know “honest” and “Tory” does not really fit in the same sentence, it would go back to the Canadian people and tell them that part of the deal is to sell out their privacy because it thinks there is a greater good. That would be a discussion we could have at the Tim Hortons or with our church groups, but the Conservative government does not do that. It is trying to force this bill through, shouting about national security and the war on terror.

Let us go back to where the war on terror started. It was not hosers in flip-flops and tank tops with lobster-red skin coming home from Cuba in March who decided they would take a plane and fly it into the towers. It was not Canadians from Mississauga or Red Deer who decided they were going to attack our number one trading partner and the people of the United States. The Canadian people were there on 9-11 helping the American and international flights by allowing them to enter Canadian airspace so those people could be looked after. We were an ally, as we have always been.

Who started the so-called war on terror? They were people who were invited into the United States, who were vetted by the United States government, who bordered domestic flights and took control of those flights and caused that horrific day of tragedy.

Yet there is no attempt by Homeland Security to get the information of people on domestic flights in the United States where this terrible act of terror happened. It is asking the Canadian government, the Conservative Party, to do that. To be fair, I am sure our trading partners have sized those guys up from the get-go. They figure they will get what they ask for, because on the so-called war on terror, we are all supposed to give up something.

We have given up all manner of rights and privacy to stop this so-called war on terror. We have seen 85 year-old ladies at the airport getting manhandled or six year-old kids getting patted down and we have been told that this is important, that these basic rights have to be suspended.

The rule of law is based on the right of people to confront their accusers. It is based on the fundamental right of privacy of a person. These rights are given away in the bill.

We need to look at history and other places where there has been a war on terror. Think of England in the 1970s with the terrible bombing campaign by the IRA. It was considered okay to suspend massive civil liberties then. What happened? Poor Mrs. Maguire, her four children and their relatives were dragged off to prison for 113 years because the government of the day cowed the opposition into saying that civil rights, basic rights of privacy had no place in a so-called war on terror. We have to do better. We have to talk about this bill and we have to go to the public.

It brings me to the second point of my conversation today which is the hypocrisy of the government. The Conservatives said they would do things differently. They said they would clean up the Senate. What did they do with the Senate? They filled it with party hacks and fundraisers.

The Conservatives tell Canadians they are tough on crime and yet two of those senators, bagman Gerstein and campaign manager Finley, are now up on charges. Two senators whose basic job is to raise money and work for the Conservative Party on the public dime are now being charged. What is the government's position on criminal charges brought against two Tory bagmen senators is that it is an administrative error. It is the hypocrisy of this.

The old Reformers back home must be rolling over that the government which said when it came into power that it would clean things up is not only as cynical and rotten as the previous government, and that is saying something, but that it has filled the Senate with people who are under criminal charges and it is letting them stay there and continue to work on the public dime.

We see the hypocrisy of the Conservative Party. This is the government that said it would stand up for Canada. What did it do? The Conservatives went to the U.S. and negotiated a bill. It is important for people to know what is in the bill, because it is a government that will run attack ads, smear people and trash their reputations and go on about fictitious iPod taxes, but it does not have the guts to run radio ads in anybody's riding saying, “We are taking your personal private information and we are giving it to the United States”. That is what happens when people vote for a Conservative government. It does not tell people that. It is running with smoke and mirrors and all kinds of side issues, any hot button it can find to get people back at the Tim Hortons riled up.

It should rile people at Tim Hortons that the government goes to the U.S. and agrees that the information on the passenger name record set up with the travel agent, which includes people's credit card information, where they are staying, who they are travelling with and all the booking information, can be given to another country to keep, and it could be traded with any other country. People do not even have to go to a country. They could be just flying over it. The Conservatives would sell that information and not have the decency or the honesty to tell the people of Canada that this is what they are doing.

It is within this agreement that no person may know what information is being held by the United States and he or she is not in a position to correct that information. It is like Kafka gets caught up with the bullies and the fundamental issue of rule of law is the ability to challenge the accusations. We know from the war on terror that is not what happened. We saw what happened to Mr. Arar, how he was pulled out, thanks to our allies in the United States, sent overseas and tortured, and how hard it was to clear his name. Even with his name cleared, he cannot be taken off the so-called no-fly list, this black hole list, as my colleague from Winnipeg Centre said, that people are put on.

What do we need to do? Number one, we need to get rid of the Tories. That is a reasonable solution. We have to get rid of them because they do not represent Canadians. They do not represent what is good, so let us get rid of them.

Number two, we need to look at legislation and read the fine print. We see in bill after bill it is a government that stands up and shouts at opposition members and tries to bully them, and it is pretty successful usually with the Liberals. The Conservatives bully opposition members and tell them not to read the fine print, but just sign. If the opposition members do not sign, they are enemies of the state, they are soft on crime, they are some kind of pinko pervert. The Conservatives will throw whatever they can.

However, our fundamental job in the House is to read the fine print so we can go back to our constituents and tell them that in the bill, the government that told them it would stand up for them has taken their personal information, their basic right to privacy and given it away. They do not even have to ever travel to the United States, but they might be flying over it some day, maybe on a flight from Winnipeg to Toronto. They might be within their own country and that information could be traded away. It allows foreign countries access to Canadians' privacy for data mining. It is highly problematic.

What do we need to do in order to have a proper bill for safety? We need to work together to ensure that we have bills that protect the best interests of our citizens and not simply sell out to the lowest common bidder.

I will be more than pleased to take any questions or comments as this is a fundamentally important element to the democratic process

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, as ever, my hon. colleague is cogent, down to earth and speaks the plain truth on behalf of the citizens that he represents so well. I consider it a privilege to share the House with him.

A number of members who have spoken to this bill today have raised the concern about the violation of our basic rights in this country. What needs to be stated even more strongly is that these are entrenched constitutional rights. They are in the Constitution. This is not just some kind of folksy platform idea that maybe we have basic rights and opportunities in this country, the right to mobility, the right of security of the person, the right to have the principle of fundamental justice and due process applied to citizens.

I wonder if the member would like to speak about what direction this bill is taking us in and whether it is an underhanded way of trying to undo our basic constitutional rights.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague has raised a very important point. We are talking about something fundamentally profound to a functioning democratic society, which is that the constitutional rights guaranteed to citizens cannot be arbitrarily taken away.

We have seen how the government will break whatever rule, rip up whatever agreement and break any law it can get away with, but the fundamental constitutional rights of individual citizens cannot be compromised. This bill has arbitrarily compromised it.

I am very concerned because the government refuses to even tell Canadians. It is trying to bully the opposition into allowing this. Once these fundamental constitutional rights of people are broken, then we can no longer say that those rights exist.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, there was some excellent testimony at committee about this bill and I want to make sure the voices are heard in this debate.

Dr. Mark Salter, a professor at the University of Ottawa, stated:

Governments want this information so that they can build profiles of not just risky passengers but safe passengers as well. Research clearly demonstrates that in the United States and the U.K., government agencies are trying to collect as much data about travellers as possible.

He went on to say:

--I think it is dangerous to sacrifice our privacy and our freedoms for the dream of zero risk or perfect security. This particular measure—

Speaking about Bill C-42:

—does not provide additional security for the aviation sector, and it places an additional burden on Canadian citizens who are flying...

Canadians' data should not be hostage to the most paranoid regime that an air company chooses to fly over. The proposed change to these data protection regulations to include overflight states dramatically increases the vulnerability of Canadians' data while offering no means of redress or appeal.

I am wondering if my hon. colleague can comment on the situation where experts testify before the transport and public safety committees that roundly condemn this bill from stem to stern and yet the government does not pay any attention to that expert evidence and plows ahead.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, it is fairly straightforward. When we talk about data being held hostage by a paranoid regime, we are describing the Conservative Party. It attacked the long form census first claiming it had thousands of emails and then it was hundreds. Then it said there are a few people somewhere who think there are black helicopters in the sky spying on us, which might be the Conservative base, and that as long as one person in Canada has any kind of privacy concern, it will strip away an internationally recognized census and planning bureau, which it did. Yet with this bill, it trades away all Canadians' right of privacy and basic constitutional rights for a dime. In fact, not even a dime, it will do it for free.

When we talk about paranoid regimes playing hostage with our data, voila, the Conservative Party of Canada.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2011 / 5 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, I must admit that I rise with some concern having to follow the eloquence and passion of the member for Winnipeg Centre and now the member for Timmins—James Bay. They are always a little intimidating to follow because of their eloquence and oratorical skills, quite frankly.

The member for Timmins—James Bay is suggesting intelligence, and I am going to take issue with him on that, not with regard to the member for Winnipeg Centre but for the member for Timmins—James Bay. The eloquence and oratorical skills are clearly there, which are skills that are sorely lacking in the House in many ways.

This is the second time this week I have spoken to this bill. I spoke yesterday on the same bill, but at that time I was specifically speaking to the contents of the bill. I will come back to that in a few minutes, but I want to address some comments on the reason I am allowed to speak the second time, as have so many of my caucus members, which we would not have been allowed to do according to the rules of the House but for a typical bullying manoeuvre by the government. What it did was this. Late yesterday afternoon it brought a motion to the House, which certainly is within its rights to do, which had in effect the purpose of shortening debate on the bill. That was moved yesterday by the House leader, but what that did was re-open the debate.

We are allowed not only to speak against why debate should be continued. We are also allowed to explain the significance and importance of Bill C-42 to the Canadian people and their basic rights which are fundamental to the democracy that is Canada. Quite frankly, it is ironic. Had the Conservatives not brought that motion, the debate probably would have ended sooner simply because we would have run out of time in terms of the number of speakers we had who wanted to speak to this.

I want to make the point very clearly that our caucus is utterly opposed to this bill because of the breaches of privacy and also because of fundamental rights that will be affected very negatively by this law if previous patterns in the United States follow. Our caucus is absolutely opposed to the bill. A large number of caucus members have insisted on being given their opportunity to speak to the bill to express the reasons why they and their constituents are opposed to it.

To some extent, I have to thank the Conservatives for giving us this opportunity to speak more. Yesterday I was limited to 10 minutes, with five minutes of questions and comments. I am getting a second chance because our time for the 20 minute speeches had lapsed.

This is a criticism of both the government and the Liberal official opposition. Both parties have stood in the House at various times, both at second reading and again at third reading, and argued that we had to pass this because it was being demanded by the United States. This is particularly true of the Liberals but also of the Conservatives, that they have tried to somehow rationalize their support for the bill on the basis that we know there is potential for problems. Both sides of the House, the government party and the official opposition, have, in their more honest moments, admitted that. There is real potential for abuse to the Canadian citizenry. We hear repeatedly the line, “We will take care of that down the road”. That is grossly irresponsible on the part of any parliamentarian. We are talking about basic privacy rights and also the high risk to other fundamental rights, human rights and civil liberties.

There is no reason to believe that it will not happen given the history of the U.S. no-fly list and the way the Americans have abused both their own citizenry and some of ours in the past. There is no reason to believe that it will not occur again.

What is happening here, if this bill goes ahead, is we are exposing many more thousands of Canadian citizens and residents to their names ending up on that no-fly list and the process being used against them.

One of the real problems with this legislation is the regime in the United States that deals with the no-fly list. We know, and this came up at committee repeatedly, that the no-fly list in the United States is full of errors. We always hear of the reality of the now deceased Ted Kennedy's name being on it. The former interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Bill Graham, was on the no-fly list. We have heard from my colleague from Winnipeg Centre that he is on the list.

The point being is that it is obvious that those people do not pose, in any way, a threat to the United States, and certainly are not a terrorist threat. In many other ways they may pose a threat to some of the policies of the United States, but that is okay in a democracy. People are allowed to have that voice.

The problem is people like that, and many more, get their names on the no-fly list and there is essentially no way of getting their name off. There is no way for it to happen. For the average person, the process does not exist. If those names came off the list, if Mr. Graham's name came off, or if Mr. Kennedy's came off, it was because there was some political person somewhere who said that it was really dumb and that maybe those names should be taken off, and then some official somewhere was directed to get their names off the list. We have no idea how that happens.

As I said in my speech yesterday, I have been working for the better part of a year on behalf of a prominent citizen in the Windsor area. It is going to be extremely damaging if it ever comes out that his name is on that list. I can say with absolute honesty and frankness that I have tried every single angle, including political routes, and have had no luck in getting his name off the list. We cannot even figure out who is ultimately going to be able to do that.

We have had other cases. The member for Vancouver East had one three, four or five years ago. It was for someone who was from Ontario, but who was on the west coast. It dealt with flying into the United States on business and then flying home. When this person gets to the airport in Vancouver, he is told, “Sorry, you're not allowed on the plane. Your name is on the list”. There was no explanation as to which list it was at that time. We subsequently learned, quite frankly from information from one of the clerks at the desk, that it was the U.S. no-fly list.

He has not been able to get his name off this list. So any flights that he takes now in Canada, he has to be sure that he is not in any way going through U.S. airspace because he will not be allowed on the plane.

It is a system that is rife with abuse. It is a system that is also grossly inefficient. It does not work. That is the bottom line. Yet, we are being told here, both by the Conservatives and the Liberals, “You have to vote for this because our American neighbours who we all know are great negotiators are saying that is the only way we are going to allow you to fly through our airspace”.

It is interesting in that regard. That threat has been outstanding. It was supposed to be in effect at the end of December, if this bill did not go through, and all flights flying through U.S. airspace would be cut off. Here we are at March 1 and our planes are still flying.

We have to continue to call the Americans' bluff and say that we are not going to do this, that if they clean up their list and implement some meaningful protections within that system, so that people whose names get on the list erroneously can get them off in an efficient, quick way, then we will negotiate with them as to whether we are going to allow this information. But before that, this bill should be voted down.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his presentation today on the bill.

We have been listening for at least two days now to speeches and presentations on this bill and we have yet to hear from any government members. If we were able to hear from government members, we could at least ask questions of members of the government who have negotiated this deal and who are bringing it in. However, we are left asking questions basically of ourselves. We are not getting any answers from any of the Liberals or the Bloc members, who have simply rolled over and followed the Conservatives on this issue.

Speaker after speaker for our party have listed all the problems with this negotiation. There is no reciprocity. There is no attempt to even get reciprocity on the issue. That would have slowed down the process a lot. It would have got us probably a better deal. We got an exemption, but in a way the exemption simply defeats the purpose of the bill. We are flying point to point in Canada, for example, Toronto to Winnipeg or Toronto to Vancouver, and we are flying over American airspace, we are flying right over all those sensitive installations, buildings and big cities that they are worried about, and it does not seem to be a problem. It is only if we are flying to another country over U.S. airspace that we have to give this information. So, there are a lot of questions here that are really unanswered.

In terms of PNR issues, we have best practices with agreements with other countries that we follow. They could have taken that wording and used it in this deal. They did not do that. Hence, the very poor approach at negotiating here.

This is a really bad deal. I think the Liberals should smarten up; the Bloc should smarten up. They should pull back a bit and start asking more questions. We should renegotiate the whole thing because the flights that were supposed to stop on December 31 have not.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the other questions, if I can add to the list, is, why do we not have a clear, in writing, binding agreement that says if this information is going to be shared, it is not to be shared with anybody other than the United States?

At committee, we saw some of the examples of the abuse. We have situations where we are passing on information as to where we are travelling, what hotels we are staying at, what tours we are taking. There are all sorts of information where corrupt or anti-democratic governments are quite prepared to use violence against their citizenry to use that information to track if we are having meetings. Let me use Colombia as an example. If I am going to Colombia to meet with some of the labour movements there who are generally targeted by that government and by the paramilitaries, and that information is passed on to the government, it certainly can be leaked and often is leaked to the paramilitaries. So, the people I am meeting with are now in danger. I could go on with any number of other examples.

So that, again, is a pre-condition. If we are going to share this information with our closest ally, our closest ally has to absolutely guarantee, with no exemptions, that this information stays in its country, within its services, and is not passed on to other countries.

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, Roch Tassé, from the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, described it this way:

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,--

Now, I ask my hon. colleague to tell us, is this really what Canadians want? Do they want, when they decide to fly to Mexico or Latin America, a foreign government determining whether or not they get issued a boarding pass and determining whether they can fly?

Strengthening Aviation Security ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh has less than 30 seconds.