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House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-30.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

Jonathan Tremblay NDP Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Madam Speaker, the NDP wants police officers to have the tools they need to tackle new threats. We believe that it is possible to hunt down criminals without treating law-abiding Canadians like criminals.

Will the government remove all provisions relating to obtaining personal information without a warrant from Bill C-30?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, as I have indicated, the bill does nothing to expand the powers of police to obtain personal information without warrant. The proposed law simply recognizes the differences in technology and therefore attempts to update the law in terms of ensuring that technology is captured by the legislation. However, in respect to personal privacy of individuals, for example the content of emails, the web browsing history, the content of telephone calls, that remains off limits in the same way it does today without this law.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Madam Speaker, the Minister of Public Safety pointed out that the bill was moving laws into the 21st century. I think that Canadians would disagree with him. In fact, it is moving backward to not only cold war but the Communist state, the totalitarian states that we earlier had.

The minister correctly pointed out that the government had reduced the list of identifiers from 11 to 6. However, in a sneaky way, it has included a part in the bill that includes a regulatory power permitting Governor-in-Council to add even more kinds of information that could be accessed without a warrant. Section 64 of the act covers that. Are there additional identifiers that will be added later on?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, the government has no intention of adding additional identifiers. I note the Liberal member indicated that he might want to see one or two more identifiers added without warrant. Certainly, that is something—

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I asked a legitimate question about the logic behind the government's approach to the bill. I did not in any way, shape, or form suggest there should be data added to the list of six.

It is very wrong for the minister to try to spin it that way. I really think he misrepresented—

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I thank the member for his comments, but it really is part of the debate. I think the minister had completed his answer.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, the vast majority of the public, and individuals who are watching, are very curious as to the degree that law enforcement officers, or any others who might be designated through the minister, might have to access their history on websites and the content of emails. The minister makes reference that this does not change what is in place today.

Could the minister assure those who are listening to the debate that the government does not, in any fashion whatsoever, allow for any sort of invasion of privacy without some form of a judicial court warrant to enable police to do so?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, let me quote from the statement of the former Liberal deputy prime minister, Anne McLellan, a statement with which I agree completely. She said:

The proposed legislation will reduce the ability of criminals, organized crime members and child pornographers to use sophisticated technologies to carry out their activities undetected.

Court authorizations will continue to be obtained for interception as they are today. This legislation will not change this requirement in any way.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today and ask the Minister of Public Safety a question.

As a mother and a police officer who spent several years in the child abuse unit, I have spoken with a number of police officers and parents about the need to act quickly when things like kidnappings occur.

I would like to give the Minister of Public Safety an opportunity to tell us if there are other police agencies or police people who are supportive of this bill and how it might in fact help us to perhaps locate a kidnapped child in a timely fashion, which is not possible under what we currently have as legislation?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, if I could just reiterate, there is no attorney general or public safety minister in the country who does not support this legislation. Indeed, the legislation was based on many of their recommendations.

Chiefs of police have indicated that this is absolutely necessary. As one police officer described it, without the legislation trying to attack the problem of child pornography is much like using a cup under Niagara Falls. It simply cannot be done without the assistance of this type of legislation.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to the motion put forward by the member for Toronto Centre. The motion asks the House to recognize the fundamental rights of all Canadians to the freedoms of speech, communication and privacy and that there must be a clear affirmation on the need for these rights to be respected in all forms of communication and that the House recognize that the collection by government of personal information and data from Canadians relating to their online activities, without limits, rules, judicial oversight, constitutes a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms' protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Of course I will support the motion.

The motion asks to affirm the basic rights and freedoms of all Canadians as identified in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, it saddens me that the member for Toronto Centre was compelled to put forward a motion that asks us, the members of the House, to affirm what as legislators we should be protecting everyday, what should be the guiding principle of work everyday in the House. The member was compelled to introduce the motion because of the reckless and ill-conceived Bill C-30, a bill which contains a serious violation of the rights and freedoms of law-abiding Canadians.

When members stood in the House and asked the Minister of Public Safety to reconsider this reckless legislation, the minister said, “He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers”. We are often warned that rights and freedoms are not permanent, that we only keep them if we stand up and fight for them. However, when members of the House stand up and fight to protect these rights when they are being threatened by their government, we are accused of being sympathetic to child pornographers.

I think many Canadians realized because of that moment, if they did not already, that the government was a different kind of government than we had seen before, a government that was not only willing to attack the basic rights and freedoms of Canadians, but would also bully and threaten, in the worst way, when it was questioned about this attack.

I support the motion, but I lament that the government has created the conditions, the situations where this kind of motion is necessary in the first place.

Canadians should pay very close attention to this, not only to the bill but to what appears to be a complete disregard for the basic principles of democracy, rights, freedoms and respect for free and fair electoral process. The Conservatives pled guilty to election fraud just a few months ago. Now we hear the Conservative campaign may have been involved in widespread voter suppression, yet more election fraud.

I will be splitting my time with the member for Terrebonne—Blainville.

Last Friday, I had a chance to attend a citizenship ceremony in my community of Surrey, British Columbia. It was a very special day for those attending their citizenship.

I, too, remember a special day for me about 20 years ago when I became a Canadian citizen. There were about 85 people, elderly, young, in all walks of life, and they came from about 20 different countries. Many of them told me that they came here for a better life. A number of them came from war-torn countries. Others came from lawless countries and some may have come from countries where there might be police brutality. Many had escaped these terrible situations to adopt Canada as their new country. I could see the pride in the eyes of the would-be new immigrants.

As a part of preparation for citizenship, the new Canadians learn about our Charter of Rights. It would be fair to say that most of them expect the government and the governing party of Canada to respect the Charter of Rights.

I had a chance to address the new citizens at the end of the ceremony and encouraged them to get involved in politics and the political process in Canada, if they were not already involved. I encouraged them to exercise their right to vote. I can only imagine what those new citizens feel when they see headlines about this new country they have worked so hard to become a citizen of saying that those rights and freedoms are under attack by the sitting government and that the governing party is already guilty of election fraud, perhaps even widespread voter suppression and, more seriously, election fraud.

In May, I was elected to represent the people of Surrey North in the House. I and all members of the House have been given a wonderful opportunity and a phenomenal responsibility. New Democrats are standing up to protect the basic rights and freedoms of Canadians and the serious erosion of privacy and expansion of unchecked surveillance powers contained in Bill C-30.

I challenge the members on the other side of the House to do what they know is right and reject Bill C-30. They should think about the responsibility they have and what our rights and freedoms mean and do what they know is right.

This motion also calls on the House to recognize the charter as paramount to any provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada and for the Prime Minister to ensure that any legislation put forward by the government respects the provisions of the charter and its commitments to principles of due process, privacy and the presumption of innocence. Without the principles of due process, adequate judicial oversight, respect for privacy and the presumption of innocence, our judicial system and, ultimately, our democracy stops working.

I ask members on the other side to seriously consider not only supporting this motion but understanding the gravity of the threat to our rights and freedoms contained in Bill C-30. I also ask them to consider the responsibilities they have as legislators and as members of a governing party that has shown a very serious lack of respect for not only our rights and freedoms but also our democracy. We should not have to stand in the House and speak to this motion but here we are today because of the actions of the government. Canadians deserve better.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague a question in reference to a question asked previously by the member for Saint Boniface when she raised the issue of a potential kidnapping.

My understanding is that in issues of potential kidnapping or loss of life, the government already possesses the power under section 184.4 of the Criminal Code to intercept private communications without court authorization. I am wondering if the hon. member agrees with this interpretation of section 184.4 of the Criminal Code and, if that is the case, if he could comment on why the minister did not inform the member for Saint Boniface of that fact.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Madam Speaker, he is absolutely correct. There are provisions in the Criminal Code that allow for the police, in emergency situations, to investigate or have arresting powers. However, this bill would infringe on the very rights and freedoms that we enjoy, the rights and freedoms of our forefathers and that Canadians have fought for. That is what is disturbing and why Canadians are upset.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Portage—Lisgar Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Madam Speaker, I want to ask my colleague a question about the very disturbing rhetoric and misinformation that has been provided by the opposition in the media.

How can the opposition ever defend the misinformation, lack of understanding or purposeful fear-mongering regarding this bill, specifically that the police will be able to look at law-abiding Canadians' emails and web activity, which is 100% false? I am wondering how the opposition can, in good conscience, stand in this place, mislead Canadians and bring this debate to such a very disturbing and distracting level that we have seen in the last couple of weeks.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Madam Speaker, the only one misleading Canadians is the government. The only one that is scaring Canadians is the government.

The Minister of Public Safety stood in this House and accused all members when he said that either we were with him or with the child pornographers. That is what is scaring Canadians and it is not acceptable. Canadians will stand up for their rights and freedoms and we will fight with Canadians to defeat the bill.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, on the last question from the government side about fear-mongering, the opposition parties are only pikers compared to what the Conservatives did with the gun registry. They told all gun owners that the Liberals would come and take their guns. We are only pikers at this stuff.

In sitting through the gun registry testimonies, I listened to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the police boards of Canada and witness after witness who said that they wanted to maintain the gun registry but all that testimony was dismissed by the government. The law enforcement people said that it was a useful tool but that was dismissed by the government.

I would ask my colleague if he thinks there is any indication, on the testimony coming through the committee on this particular piece of legislation, that the government will be more receptive to listening to changes by Canadians who have concerns about the bill.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Madam Speaker, I can only speak to the experience that we have had with the government, not only in regard to time closures on bills but also on the amendments proposed by the NDP and my colleagues on the gun registry and other bills. Clearly, the government is not interested in looking at solutions that will work for Canadians. It is more interested in scaring Canadians and going on with its hidden agenda.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to support the Liberals' opposition motion.

We have been talking about protection of the rights and freedoms in the charter for a long time, particularly in terms of the protection of individual rights.

There seems to be a lot of noise in the House.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order please. I would ask members to hold their conversations outside the chamber so that the member can speak.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, in light of Bill C-30, it is absolutely crucial that we reopen the debate on the importance of privacy protection. The opposition parties understand the need to modernize our legislation; however, Bill C-30 goes too far and directly infringes upon section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects us against unreasonable search or seizure. When a minister proposes bills like this, we need to have a debate and I am happy we are talking about this issue here today.

Many civil society stakeholders, privacy commissioners, my colleagues and I wrote letters to the Minister of Public Safety to share our concerns and those of our fellow citizens regarding clause 16 of the previous version of this bill, Bill C-52. The minister had the opportunity to correct his bill. We told him about the problems we saw with it and about our concerns. Did he make any changes? Yes, he made some. We heard the minister say so earlier in his speech; clause 16 reduces the number of identifiers from 11 to 6. That is true, but as my colleague from Surrey North pointed out, the minister also added provisions to the bill in a rather backdoor fashion. Paragraphs 64(1)(q) and 64(1)(r) give the government the power to prescribe and add identifiers to the list. Has the bill really been corrected? No. Only superficial changes have been made. I have a serious problem with this.

When we shared our concerns about this bill, we also spoke about judicial oversight. There was not enough. We had a problem with giving access to Internet users' private information without judicial oversight. Has the government alleviated this concern? I would say no. Yes, the government has put a system in place, but it is an internal audit system. For Canadians who are concerned about the protection of their privacy, this is just a semblance of judicial oversight. It is not enough, and Canadians are not satisfied with these measures.

If the minister had taken the time to read our letters and listen to the concerns of Canadians and privacy commissioners, he could have fixed these mistakes. Instead, he is covering them up by sending the bill to committee. He also accused us of supporting child pornography. We see a minister who had the opportunity to fix his bill and to protect our right to privacy but did not do so.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms exists for a reason. It must be respected. The protection of privacy exists for a reason. It is set out in section 8 of the charter. It is the House's responsibility to make decisions. And when it does, it must take into account what is written in the charter. It is our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It must be respected, particularly when we are making decisions and laws in this chamber.

When I see bills like Bill C-30 introduced in the House, I wonder whether this government really respects the charter. In fact, this is not the first time that the Conservatives have introduced a bill that goes against the legislation that protects our rights and freedoms. Rather than listening to the opposition and to Canadians who are concerned about their privacy, the Conservatives accused us of supporting child pornography. They accused mothers, fathers, grandparents, privacy commissioners and their former colleague, Stockwell Day, of supporting child pornography.

In a democracy like ours—I know that these days it is feeling less like a democracy than usual—it is unbelievable that a government can accuse its own voters of supporting child pornography because they are against a bill. I thought we were living in a democracy and we had the right to speak out against things and protest.

We are living in a high-tech world. Everyone has a BlackBerry, an iPhone, an iPad, laptops. We carry our cellphones with us. Through this bill, the government is giving itself a tool that can determine our geographic location at all times. The government is telling us that the same information is available in the phone book, but the last time I checked, the phone book did not provide my geographic location at all times. It had my address, my phone number and my name, but not my Internet protocol address or my Internet service provider identification number.

It is a real problem: our minister is telling Canadians that this is the same information that we find in a telephone book, which is absolutely not true. This is information that will allow the government to take away the anonymity of the Internet user. These days, the Internet is used as a discussion forum, a forum where people can discuss their concerns.

I want to thank the House for this discussion. I hope that all hon. members of the House will stand up and support this Liberal opposition motion to protect the privacy of their constituents, those who elected them.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Portage—Lisgar Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Madam Speaker, I want to ask my colleague the same question that I asked a previous speaker from the opposition. More specifically, I would ask the opposition member where exactly in the bill does it say that the police will be able to check the emails or web habits of individual law-abiding Canadians, or look at what they have been surfing on the Internet? I want the member to give me a very specific location in the bill where that is stated, but she will not be able to because that is completely false.

How can the member in good conscience make these statements which are completely untrue and outrageous, and which have taken the debate on the bill to such a negative and destructive level that we have ever seen in the history of this Parliament?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, first of all, I would like to say that what I find to be negative are the comments made by some that those who oppose the bill are supporting child pornography. In my opinion, that is negative.

I would like to add that, personally—I believe this also applies to our party—no one has said that there could be access to emails. I never said that.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

That's exactly what Charlie Angus said.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Did you listen to my speech?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

It's getting pretty nasty in here.