Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join my colleagues in opposition to Bill C-42. It is clearly an important bill when we look at what is at stake.
There used to be a solid core of supporters and even members within the Conservative Party who prided themselves on the issue of privacy protection. That seems to have been lost recently. It has been pawned off at times, and I give the example of the bizarre and unusual case of the census conundrum.
The government has said that it wants to make sure that the privacy of citizens is protected. It has said that citizens should not feel obligated to tell the government how many bathrooms they have in their domain and other personal information. When asked how many people had actually complained about this, the government said one was enough. We are still not sure who that one person is. Some people think it might have been someone in the minister's backyard.
The point is this is not about the census and people know that. We in this Parliament are bound by the provisions for protection. We have the oversight. The problem with this bill is that we would be handing over Canadians' right to privacy to another government.
The government has talked about not being able to pony up the money for the database for the collection of this information. Not only will information be handed over to another government but that information will be held by that government and we will not be able to get to it.
I really want to underline the importance of the intervention made by my colleague from Windsor. I have had case after case right here in the nation's capital involving people who have been denied entry into the United States. When our government is asked what can be done, we are pointed to homeland security in the United States.
I do not know if the same situation exists in Saskatchewan, but I do know that people right across this country have been faced with it. If a constituent is on a no-fly list, his or her member of Parliament will probably talk to the minister or someone in his department. They are told that this is something that the department cannot handle. This is under the oversight of homeland security in the United States. After a very long route through voice mail, we can bring forward the case but that is the end of it. We will not be heard again.
Right now we have problems with regard to Canadians being able to freely travel abroad, particularly south of the border, and we have not figured that out yet. The government has been very silent on this during this debate. The government is going to oblige the United States when asked for this information, but we have not even figured out how to get someone's name off a no-fly list.
Constituents are scratching their heads and wondering why they cannot cross the border into the United States. They cannot figure out a way to get their name off the no-fly list. The government is about to open this up even further by sharing data through Bill C-42. It does not make sense.
Where is the consistency within the Conservative Party that used to stand up for privacy? This is not about the census. This is not about how many bathrooms there are in somebody's house. This is about a person's ability to travel abroad without the fear of being put on a no-fly list or without the sharing of personal information. That is what we are talking about here. We are talking about providing credit card information. We are talking about providing the date of birth of a Canadian citizen.
This reminds me of the debate in the House on Bill C-31 to reform the Canada Elections Act, when Liberals and the Bloc wanted to support an amendment to that bill and to streamline electoral practices by putting birth dates on the list.
Members may remember this. There was a strong debate in committee. I asked Ms. Stoddart, the Privacy Commissioner, to come before committee to get her opinion on whether she thought having birth date information on an electoral list was a good idea. At the time I was not supported by the Liberals, Conservatives and the Bloc, who said that we had already heard from Ms. Stoddart. The problem was we had heard from Ms. Stoddart before the amendment was put forward.
I wrote to Ms. Stoddart and asked her opinion, as Privacy Commissioner, about having one's birth date on the electoral list.
Mr. Speaker, you will know, having been in a couple of campaigns, that the electoral list is shared widely. To have that kind of private information, with people's dates of birth, on a list that is circulated so widely is asking for trouble. Allowing others to take people's information from the electoral list to apply for a credit card or to do the other things that data miners do opens up many doors.
At the time, Ms. Stoddart got back to me and the House and said she had grave concerns about this compromising Canadians' privacy. Eventually, thankfully, that bill was dropped, but it was about to go through the House. It is the NDP Party that stood against that flagrant abuse of Canadians' privacy.
Again, I go back to the Conservatives and ask what happened. They used to be the ones who talked about protecting privacy. Now it is only about whether people have to say how many bathrooms they have in their homes. That is the line in the sand now.
What about when someone travels abroad? What about when someone's data is collected and captured by another country? Does that not matter any more to the Conservatives? Is it simply a matter of shrugging and saying this is the way we do things now? I want to underline that because this is a government bill.
To my friends in the Bloc and the Liberal Party, reviewing things after five years is not going to do what is needed, or even within two years or a year. If it is bad legislation now, do not pass it. When they vote for this bill, they are blessing this process. It is too late a year later, when a constituent asks how his or her information got into a database in the United States, to say we were told that it would not happen, that we trusted this would be a process our officials would keep their eye on. That is not good enough.
Today opposition members have an opportunity to say no to this bill. It is not about saying we do not want to negotiate with our friends south of the border. It is in fact saying that we should negotiate with our friends south of the border, which we did not do.
I am surprised that both the Liberals and the Bloc have decided this bill is okay. I say this because I know many of them and know that their constituents will be concerned about privacy. I am sure many of their constituents have been on the no-fly list and have not been able to get their names off it. I am sure many members have had to deal with those cases.
At the end of the day, I return to the issue of whether this is a good deal for Canadians. I say it is not: it puts our privacy in peril. If that is the case, then we as New Democrats say no to this bill. We need a better deal and we say no to Bill C-42.