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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

Sealing IndustryOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, it has been more than two months since Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan informed the WTO that they would no longer import seal pelts, a ban they backdated to August. The loss of Canada's biggest market for seal products is a huge problem for Newfoundland and Labrador communities and the government has done nothing to show its supposed support for a humane and sustainable seal harvest.

Why has the government failed to end the Russian ban of Canadian seal products? Why has it failed the communities that rely on the sealing industry?

Sealing IndustryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Abbotsford B.C.

Conservative

Ed Fast ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, unlike the NDP, our government remains committed to defending Canada's sealing industry.

The customs union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia has proposed trade sanctions on seal products. On my instructions, Canadian officials are actively engaging with their international counterparts to convey our concerns over these proposed restrictions. The Atlantic and northern seal hunts in Canada are humane, sustainable and well-regulated activities that provide an important source of food and income for families of coastal and Inuit communities.

Public SafetyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, as of January 2012, more than 420,000 criminal records still had not been updated. Worse yet, criminal offences that should be in the criminal record repository have apparently never been entered. This situation is unacceptable when we consider that a pedophile could be working at a daycare because his record has not been checked.

Instead of putting on a show with ineffective legislation that costs the taxpayers a pile of money, will the Minister of Public Safety finally take action, having already been informed of this situation?

Public SafetyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, our government supports law-abiding Canadians who selflessly give their time to coach and volunteer with vulnerable groups such as children. We encourage the RCMP to work with its policing partners to ensure that criminal record checks are done as efficiently and effectively as possible. Our government has taken steps toward making the process more efficient. Through our leadership, we have reduced the wait times from 17 weeks to 4 weeks.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would like to draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Patrick Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation from British Columbia; the Hon. David Ramsay, Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment and Minister of Transportation for the Northwest Territories; and the Hon. Currie Dixon, Minister of Economic Development and Minister of Environment for Yukon.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Alleged Interference of Minister's Ability to Discharge ResponsibilitiesPrivilegeOral Questions

February 28th, 2012 / 3 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to respond to the question of privilege that the Minister of Public Safety raised in the House yesterday.

I will begin by saying that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons presented a well-researched, cogent argument in support of that. I do not think there is anything I can take issue with in regard to that presentation. However, I do have some concerns about the points that were made by the minister himself.

With regard to the material that did come from the parliamentary secretary, it was quite clear that in each case, when one is looking at the question of privilege, the facts of the case must decide whether in fact privilege has been breached. I believe that is again true in this case.

With regard to the points that the Minister of Public Safety made, he basically had three arguments supporting his position that his privilege had been breached. I will just do a quick summary.

First was that parliamentary resources had been used to attack his position with regard to some incidents in his personal life and with regard to Bill C-30 that was the issue of contention, but it was more that parliamentary resources had been used in that regard that his argument was made.

Second, he argued that the threats that were coming at him, and there can be no dispute over that part of it, that is very clearly a breach of his privilege and the privilege of any member of this House faced with those types of threats, that he either withdraw the bill or additional information would be released, is a clear breach of his privilege and one that would cause us to very strongly agree that his privilege had been breached on the facts of this case.

His third point was on the opposition to Bill C-30, that the people who were opposed to it were clogging up his office. That is the part that most disturbed me. The position that we would be taking as a party is that that is not a valid argument in support of an argument for breach of privilege.

In that regard, Mr. Speaker, I would draw to your attention a ruling by your predecessor, Mr. Milliken, on June 8, 2005. There was a similar type of situation where the member was claiming that his office was being intentionally clogged, that his email and phones were being intentionally clogged on an issue of some import to whoever was doing the work.

The key point for Speaker Milliken was, I believe, the same as in this case. It is not the question of whether in fact that is occurring, although that is a factual matter that should be determined, the important point is whether it is the intent of the people who are trying to contact the minister or the member of Parliament to clog up his office and make it inoperable and impossible for other constituents to have access to the member of Parliament.

The test is: What is the intent of the calls coming in, the emails coming in and the faxes coming in? Intent is the key component.

With regard to this situation, it is quite clear that Bill C-30 is very contentious. We as an official opposition party have been adamantly opposed to it. The third party in the House is adamantly opposed to it. Lots and lots of Canadians are adamantly opposed to it. One of the ways of expressing that opposition is to attempt to contact the minister's office and tell him that this is a bad bill and give reasons for opposing it.

If you make a ruling, Mr. Speaker, that says that if the effect of what one is doing in trying to contact the member of Parliament, in this case the minister, is to clog up his office, it will significantly impact the ability of individual Canadians to express their democratic voice in opposition to legislation.

In this case, it is clear that the bill is so contentious that it is almost impossible to envision that that many calls, those many emails and faxes were coming in with the intent of clogging his office. The intent behind those was that Canadians were expressing their democratic right to oppose the bill. Canadians were telling the minister that they were opposed to the bill and they were giving their reasons.

It is quite clear that relying on that ruling from Mr. Milliken, the Speaker of the day, would not be a basis on which to make a finding of breach of privilege in this case. The facts speak to that quite clearly.

I want to repeat that we have no problem with the finding of breach of privilege because of the second point that the minister made with regard to the threats. That is not tolerable behaviour in our society, in this Parliament and in Canada as a whole. It is just not the way Parliament and our democracy function. Ministers and members of Parliament cannot be threatened in that way, so there is no question that there is a breach of privilege on that point.

On the third point, with regard to clogging his office, that clearly is not a basis for a finding of breach of privilege. I would invite you, Mr. Speaker, to make it specific that that is not a basis on which you could make a finding of breach of privilege, as did Mr. Milliken in that particular case of June 5, 2008.

The minister's first point is more problematic. He is arguing that the use of parliamentary resources to, as he put it, attack him surreptitiously, is more problematic. It is a grey area. The anonymity is the part that bothers me. If this had been done by one of my staff who had simply sent the minister a message using the resources that we have here on the Hill saying “At a personal level, I'm opposed to the bill”, there is no question that is permissible because the individual is just doing his or her job.

The grey area is the anonymity in the way this one was done. That one, Mr. Speaker, I will throw back into your lap and not make a suggestion. However, I do not think it is clear as to whether, because parliamentary resources are being used to communicate to a member of Parliament or to a minister, that automatically means a breach of privilege. I do not think that follows. It is the anonymity part of it that would be of concern.

Alleged Interference of Minister's Ability to Discharge ResponsibilitiesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to take the opportunity to say that we in the Liberal Party would also like to have the opportunity to comment on the question of privilege either tomorrow or on Thursday.

Alleged Interference of Minister's Ability to Discharge ResponsibilitiesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I only wish to add a comment to the comments made by the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh.

I also deplore the use of private information as a tool of intimidation against any member of the House. That is a valid point of privilege.

I appreciate the clarity with which my friend from Windsor—Tecumseh identified the reason that I felt discomfort yesterday as the hon. minister put forward a claim of privilege in relation to his office being swamped with calls. One hopes in a vibrant democracy that our offices are always swamped with calls, that our mailboxes are full, that petitions are sent and that Canadians rise up and speak clearly when they find that something we have done as their member of Parliament offends them. We must never think that it is a matter of privilege to stop the public from exercising its right to free speech.

Alleged Interference of Minister's Ability to Discharge ResponsibilitiesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I thank hon. members for their further contributions to the question currently before the Speaker.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.

I will begin by thanking the hon. member for Toronto Centre for his motion. I will limit my response to the hon. member's contention that the collection by government of personal information without limits, rules and judicial oversight constitutes a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

That implies that Bill C-30 would provide the state with an unlimited authority to intrude on the privacy and civil liberties of Canadians. This is profoundly misleading. Bill C-30 was carefully crafted to ensure a continuing respect for privacy and civil liberties are maintained and/or strengthened. Bill C-30 has as its primary objective providing the police and national security agencies with the investigative powers they need to combat 21st century crime.

The data preservation scheme proposed in Bill C-30, for instance, is an important investigative tool that would permit the police to order or demand the temporary preservation of computer data. It would not allow for the disclosure of this information without a warrant. Computer data is highly volatile. Telecommunication service providers, for example, routinely delete computer data as a matter of routine business practice. That is why it is imperative that the police have the power to ensure that computer data that might contain important evidence of a crime does not get deleted by a third party before the police have enough time to obtain it by using a judicially authorized warrant or production order.

Limited timelines are provided for the preservation of this information. After 21 days, the preservation demand, which would be made by the police and is intended to cover the time it takes to get the preservation order, would expire. The order, which would require judicial authorization, would then expire after 90 days. I do not know of anyone in the House who has had the opportunity to apply for a warrant in front of a justice. It takes a great deal of time and is not something where one knocks on the door and the justice simply issues it. Once that order expires, the bill would require that all data retained for the purposes of the investigation and not otherwise kept pursuant to regular business practices be destroyed. This objective is achieved in a manner that is respectful of privacy.

I will now elaborate with reference to the proposed transmission data recorder warrant and production order. The Criminal Code currently contains what is called a dialled number recorder warrant, as well as a production order for the same information. These tools allow investigators to collect and produce phone numbers, for instance the number of a phone used by a suspect in an investigation. The transmission data recorder warrant and production order would update the dialled number recorder warrant and production order in recognition of the fact that day-to-day communications are no longer restricted to the telephone. Rather, people now communicate using a variety of different technologies, such as email and text messaging. Technology has even advanced to the point where the lines between technologies have been blurred so that phone calls can be made over the Internet and cellphones can be used to search the World Wide Web.

It is clear that an investigative tool restricted to the collection of phone numbers is not only out of date but severely limits its usefulness. As a result, the new warrant and production order would now allow for the collection and production of data to traditional telephone numbers, but also found in the Internet world.

Like the existing warrant, the transmission data recorder warrant would be obtained when there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the data being sought would assist in the investigation of a crime. Like the existing warrant, the data that could be collected using the warrant would be limited to routing data and telephone numbers. The content of the communications themselves would never be provided under this warrant. To ensure that this power is never used to gain access to the substance of communications, this is written into the definition of transmission data in Bill C-30.

If I were to conclude my remarks at this point, I might leave the impression that Bill C-30 is more or less privacy neutral, that it just maintains the existing safeguards and replicates those safeguards for new investigative powers. However, such an approach without more would fail to take stock of the profound effect that technological advances over the past few decades have had on privacy.

Judicial oversight would ensure an investigation strikes the right balance between individual privacy and the public good. Warrants would be tailored to ensure that the standards guiding that oversight fit with the type of technique at issue. Since tracking people clearly has more privacy implications than tracking cars or other things, the bill would make the standard for getting a warrant to track people higher than that for tracking cars or other objects.

Amendments in the bill would make it necessary for police to prove to judges that they have reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed and that the evidence would assist in the investigation before they are granted the warrant to track people.

Much of Bill C-30 is premised on the idea that each investigative technique the police have at their disposal should have a corresponding investigative power. That is why if data needed to be preserved for the purposes of investigation, Bill C-30 would create a specific way for the police to accomplish that. If the police then needed to obtain that preserved data, they could get a judicially authorized warrant or production order.

The bill in fact follows very closely on three previous bills that have been tabled in the House by Liberal members of the House in 2005, 2007 and 2009.

Our government has proposed legislation to ensure Canada's laws adequately protect Canadians' privacy online. We expect Parliament to conduct a thorough review of our proposed legislation to ensure we strike the right balance between protecting Canadians from crime while respecting Canadians' privacy rights.

Mr. Speaker, I hope my remarks have clarified some misconceptions regarding Bill C-30. I do hope, however, that Parliament will take the time to thoroughly study the bill to ensure that it achieves its purpose to better protect Canadians while also ensuring their right to privacy is protected.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague. I am afraid that he is missing some of the key points, just as the security minister yesterday misunderstood, or perhaps did not fully understand, the implications.

I had asked yesterday about clause 34, which would allow the minister himself to designate so-called inspectors. There is no description as to what would be an inspector, but it would be an inspector he decides upon. He would give the inspector the ability to go into any private telecom cellphone business and demand documents, to look at hard drives, and to go through files to gather evidence, all without a warrant.

Perhaps the Conservative Party thinks it is okay for people appointed by a minister to go into private businesses and snoop, to be seen in so-called compliance of the minister's wishes. We in the New Democrats think that is an extraordinary overreach to give that power to a minister.

In subclause 34(4) it actually states that these so-called inspectors named by a security minister could bring with them anyone they felt would help them in doing their job. Does the member not think that that is a complete overreach? Why is it that he could allow such an abuse of private business?

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if the member opposite understands what he is talking about. Subclause 33(1) says the minister may designate persons or classes of persons as inspectors for the purposes of the administration and enforcement of the proposed act. That is this act.

The member gets way past what he is talking about. What we are talking about is the collection of information by lawful authorities that is done under a warrant, under judicial order. It is a whole different thing. There are lots of inspectors out there who inspect a variety of things. This would be an inspector for the purposes of administration and enforcement of the proposed act only. If he were to go on through it he would see that it is for verifying compliance with the act.

I spoke to the owner of an Internet providing agency that does a great deal of business in Southwestern Ontario. He told me that he read the bill. He said that it would put into place all kinds of safeguards that do not exist. I would think that if the member were really interested in this bill and the privacy of Canadians, he would support the bill.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the government has recognized that there are flaws in the proposed legislation it has brought forward. It has said that it will bring it to committee prior to second reading. In a sense, it is good that we are having this debate today. Otherwise we would not have had a debate on Bill C-30 before it went to committee.

The government has a nasty tendency to go in camera in committee. This stops the public from being able to participate or listen to what is being talked about. I wonder if the member can provide information to the House or assurances that the government will not have in camera sittings during the discussions of this important bill when it goes to committee. Can he provide Canadians that assurance?

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, committees are the authors of whatever they wish to do in their committees.

Quite frankly, I would wonder why Liberal members would not be standing up supporting this. They have brought it forward in three different parliaments. I do not know what their big problem is. This bill does protect the privacy of Canadians. It provides judicial oversight for that which is being done without judicial oversight.

This is a good piece of legislation. With every bill that goes to committee there is an opportunity for all kinds of input. In this case, I think the member should be supportive of the bill and deal with it in committee.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this motion which points out the fundamental nature of privacy in Canadian law and calls on the government to ensure that the legislation it proposes engenders a respect for privacy. It is on this point that I will speak. I will highlight some of the ways in which Bill C-30 would reflect continuing respect for the privacy and civil liberties of Canadians.

One of the most consistent themes in Bill C-30 is privacy with precision. Every investigative power would have specific and appropriate privacy safeguards in place, calibrated to the level of intrusiveness of the techniques for which the power is designed. In plain language, the standard for authorizing an investigative technique would be directly related to its level of intrusiveness. Bill C-30 would move Canada away from a one size fits all approach where a single investigative power can authorize a wide range of investigative actions toward more specialized investigative powers drafted with particular investigative actions in mind.

I will give a few examples of how Bill C-30 would promote privacy with precision. The first of these is production orders. A production order is a court order that requires a third party who has possession or control of certain types of data or documents to deliver this material to the police within a specified period of time. Production orders are used in cases where it is more practical to have the holder of the documents or data retrieve information for the police rather than having the police conduct the search themselves with a search warrant. The use of production orders not only offers the police increased efficiency in protecting all of us, but also provides increased privacy protection for all Canadians. Third-party holders of computer data are best placed to be able to locate the requested information precisely and without inadvertently collecting information that is outside the scope of the request. Therefore, as an investigative technique, production orders actually help to minimize inadvertent intrusions on privacy. Production orders enhance privacy.

Production orders already exist in the Criminal Code. There is already a general production order as well as one that relates to a narrow set of financial information. Because of the broad nature of a general production order, it has a higher judicial threshold than the financial production order. To use a general production order, police must satisfy a judge that they have reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed and that the information requested would provide evidence of that offence. However, most investigations are not general in nature. Often the requirements of an investigation are quite targeted. In those cases, it makes sense to create specific tools that would allow police to obtain the specific data that they are looking for and which are designed to reflect the expectation of privacy associated with that kind of data.

Bill C-30 proposes the creation of three new production orders that have been designed with specific investigative techniques in mind. We are proposing to create a production order for data related to the routing of telecommunications, which would be known as transmission data; a production order for tracking data; and a production order designed to trace specified communications.

This last type of production order would be a very important tool for addressing the complexities of modern communication. It would allow police to trace the origin of a communication that may have gone through several different telecommunication providers before it reached its final destination. It would protect Canadians from inadvertent intrusions into their privacy.

I cannot stress enough that all of these production orders would have important built-in privacy protections. For example, both a production order to trace specified communications and a production order for transmission data relate to transmission data. Transmission data is a term clearly defined in the Criminal Code to expressly exclude the content of communication. Not even the subject line of an email would be available using either of these powers. It is important to stress that. We hear about people being concerned that others would be able to access the content of our emails. Not even the subject line would be available for these powers.

Information in the possession or control of an individual that does not fall under any of the specialized production orders could be obtained by the police using the general production order. However, the police would need to satisfy a judge of the higher belief-based standard. The same applies today.

Important privacy safeguards have been included throughout Bill C-30. Each investigative power in the bill has been carefully designed to strike a balance between the safety and security and the rights and liberties of all Canadians, such as preservation orders. This kind of tool is essential to our ability to conduct effective investigations in an era where crucial evidence can be deleted in the blink of an eye. Police officers will be able to do their jobs without fear that the data they need will be lost or deleted either intentionally or inadvertently as a matter of regular business practice during the period it takes to obtain a warrant or production order for that data.

If a police officer does not get a court order or search warrant to obtain the preserved data before the demand expires, any data that would not be retained in the ordinary course of business would be destroyed. The data would not be provided to the police without a court order or warrant. Should the preservation demand need to be extended, police officers would have to obtain a preservation order from a judge or justice. The order would then give them up to 90 days to get a production order or search warrant to obtain the data that had been preserved.

If the police are unable to get the production order or warrant by the time the preservation order expires, the person in possession of the preserved data is required to destroy it unless his or her business practices otherwise require that it be retained. What this means is that only specific data would be preserved under this scheme for a limited period of time and only for the purpose of the investigation. An even more fundamental privacy safeguard of this scheme is that data which would not otherwise be kept by a business would be destroyed as soon as it was no longer needed for an investigation.

These safeguards exemplify our efforts to respect privacy throughout the bill and respect privacy rights under Canadian law.

With regard to respect for privacy, let me quote Matt Torigian, Chief of Waterloo Regional Police Service and president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. His statement clearly rebuts the fears expressed by the opposition. He stated:

We (the police) would also, en masse, be the first group to speak out on anything that has the potential to violate the integrity and the rights and freedoms of Canadians.

These are just a few examples of how Bill C-30 would promote privacy. As I have noted, the government's approach is one privacy with precision, well-defined investigative powers with strong privacy safeguards that will have been carefully calibrated to a particular investigative context. Our government believes we have proposed legislation that will ensure Canada's laws adequately protect Canadians online.

We also, however, expect Parliament to conduct a thorough review of our proposed legislation to ensure that we do strike the right balance between protecting Canadians from crime while respecting Canadians' privacy rights. I would ask hon. members to exercise due diligence in that review.

I will highlight the need for this legislation. Chief Torigian has noted that Bill C-30 would require the same types of judicial approval as old-fashioned wiretaps and would in cases even increase the regulatory burden. However, as Chief Torigian said:

We need to ensure that investigative bodies in Canada have the necessary tools to safeguard institutions, public bodies and private individuals.

As a grandfather of nine grandchildren, I cannot overstate the need to update our laws so they adequately protect all Canadians from online exploitation.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I note the member made the very reasonable comment that Conservatives expected Parliament to conduct a thorough review of the bill to ensure it achieved the right balance, et cetera. It was exactly the same wording and statement made by the previous speaker on the Conservative side, so clearly there are some talking points.

Since the government won its majority last May, there has not been, as far as I know, a single bill that was reviewed at committee in which the majority Conservative members accepted any of the amendments, ideas or results of the thorough review, including Bill C-10, a massive, complex bill with many amendments offered. All were rejected at committee.

Could the member please tell us why any member of Parliament in the opposition parties should actually believe there will be anything different this time?

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, the illustration the member gave was Bill C-10. Everyone in the House knows that Bill C-10 had been debated in various forms and that different parts made up the total of Bill C-10. Canadians expected us to get moving on many of those initiatives. That was exactly what needed to be done. It does not mean the amendments were not considered, but it is the obligation of government to implement its agenda when it comes to protecting Canadians.

The member commented about using talking points. I would just like to read from a news release from November 15, 2005, when the then deputy prime minister and minister of public safety, Anne McLellan, stated:

We consulted extensively to ensure this legislation strikes the right balance between the needs of police to maintain their investigative capabilities and the business considerations of the industry, while respecting Canadians’ privacy, rights and freedoms.

What has changed? This was introduced by the Liberal government of that day. Today the Liberals are trying to make it look like we are somehow intruding on the privacy of Canadians.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, I know my colleague is passionate and believes of what he speaks.

What he has not talked about is clause 34 of the legislation, which really gives unfettered discretion to the minister to appoint an agent who can walk into an ISP establishment, second all of the employees in that establishment, have them open up all the books and records without a warrant and in total and absolute unfettered discretion.

Therefore, I am surprised to hear his remarks that there are protections within the legislation when in fact clause 34 speaks of exactly the opposite circumstances.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, let me remind the member, first, that every attorney general of every province and territory of our country endorses Bill C-30.

As I stated in my earlier remarks, Chief Matt Torigian of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, who is the chair of the Canadian Association for Chiefs of Police, said, “We would also, en masse, be the first group to speak out on anything that has the potential to violate the integrity and the rights and freedoms of Canadians.”

The Calgary deputy chief of police said, “We really need to modernize this area of the law...We can’t create safe havens where criminals can ply their trade”.

The Canadian Police Association President Tom Stamatakis said, “Without this legislation we are asking our police to use pagers and typewriters to keep up with criminals using smartphones and tablets”.

It is clear. All we are asking is to update the laws of this land to give police officers the tools they need in the current environment with the telecommunications that we have.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for York West.

I am very pleased to speak to the motion today because of the important principles that are so fundamental to Canadian democracy. The motion calls on the House to recognize the fundamental right of all Canadians to freedom of speech, communication, privacy and an affirmation of the need for these rights to be respected. It talks about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protection against unreasonable search and seizure. It mentions that any legislation put forward by the government must respect these provisions of the charter and its commitment to the principles of due process, respect for privacy and the presumption of innocence.

A lot of the debate on this today has centred on Bill C-30 and it will be that bill that I address my remarks toward.

I want to quote the interim leader of the Liberal Party because what he has said captures the balance that Parliament needs to find on the bill, and that is “The mark of a democratic society is how it balances collective security with individual rights and freedoms”.

I am not at all objecting to the idea of strengthening the ability for police officers to carry out their surveillance work and their investigative work in an age of Internet and electronic communications. Surely we do need to update these provisions that are in the laws and that is what the bill has sought to do. In fact, when the attorney general and solicitor general of British Columbia came to Ottawa saying that the province supported the need for new powers, I supported that. It is something we do need to do.

The question is whether this bill achieves that end? I will be speaking about the ways in which it does not find that balance and the ways it, either inadvertently or deliberately, changes the landscape for the public in terms of our security and our right to privacy of information. It makes changes through very vague language and vague concepts that are not well defined in the bill and that are open to subjective interpretation in terms of grounds for accessing people's information without a warrant.

People across Canada have been concerned about this. It is not surprising when most of the privacy commissioners across the country said that the bill went too far, that it was bad legislation. I will quote the federal Privacy Commissioner who said:

On the balance...the new Bill...contains serious privacy concerns...In particular, we are concerned about access, without a warrant, to subscriber information behind an IP address. Since this broad power is not limited to reasonable grounds to suspect criminal activity or to a criminal investigation, it could affect any law-abiding citizen.

That is a mild comment compared with the comments of the Ontario privacy commissioner who had a great deal of concern about the bill and called it an encroachment of surveillance as it was presently configured in the bill. She said that the bill was wrong. She said that it actually terrified her and could become the norm, that there was a huge downloading onto websites of information that service providers did because they were unable to serve the one-by-one requirements under the bill. That has happened in other countries. According to the commissioner, this is fundamentally wrong, it flies in the face of freedom and liberty and this freedom is not based on the state access to whatever information it wants on its citizens. This is how she characterized the potential result of the bill.

The state is supposed to have a reason for the collection of information from citizens. It is supposed to be limited and for particular purposes that are specifically identified to individuals. Her view is that this is under attack with the bill.

The bill creates a structure for this widespread surveillance. Again, I will quote the privacy commissioner of Ontario:

This is going to be like the Fort Knox of information that the hackers and the real bad guys will want to go after. This is going to be a gold mine.

She is also concerned about the new powers created for the police that are designed to obtain access to surveillance data, and about the whole framework that companies will have to put in place by installing equipment for real-time surveillance.

Given the response by privacy commissioners, who know what they speak of, it is not surprising that people in civil society became concerned and started to speak out. In Vancouver Quadra at the town hall I hosted last week, I can say that people were very concerned about the change in the tenor of privacy under the bill.

With these kinds of reasonable concerns it was that much more offensive and insulting when the Minister of Public Safety essentially said that either we agreed with the bill and the government or were on the side of child pornographers. That level of discourse we cannot allow to continue in this House of Commons. It has undermined any moral authority of that minister with the bill as presented.

It was ironic that afterwards the minister had to admit on public television that he had not read the bill and did not actually understand some of its provisions and the repercussions thereof. That was after he had made that very offensive statement we are all familiar with.

The bill has had a rocky start. It was not properly thought out and the consultations were not properly done with privacy commissioners.

I will also give a couple of examples of concerns that were raised by an Internet business CEO and president at my town hall very clearly.

Some of the previous speakers have talked to section 34. However, I am speaking about sections subsections 371(1) and 371(2). This is where the legislation creates a wide class of offences that are vague in description, using terms that could be interpreted by law enforcement with an extremely wide range of discretion. That is the nub of what people are concerned about.

Subsection 372(1) says:

Everyone commits an offence who, with intent to injure or alarm a person, conveys information that they know is false, or causes such information to be conveyed by letter or any means of telecommunication.

That is pretty subjective. How does one define an intent to alarm a person? That could be a phone bank calling the constituents of Mount Royal, asking if they knew that their member of Parliament had stepped down. That could be an alarming piece of information. Therefore, whoever made those calls would actually be committing an offence under this and would be liable to imprisonment for up to two years. I hope the members on the Conservative side of the bench really let that sink in.

That subsection is about conveying information that someone knows is false with the intent to alarm a person. That would be against the law and subject to a jail sentence. Think about how widely that could be interpreted.

Here is another one, subsection 372(2):

Everyone commits an offence who, with intent to alarm or annoy a person.

Has anyone on the Conservative benches ever sent an email with some intent to annoy someone? If so, it would be an offence if they were making an indecent communication. Who is defining what is decent and indecent? Some people think that a photo of clothing that is too tight might be indecent. What about a swear word? It might be considered indecent. If a member opposite sent an email or communication that was indecent but intended to annoy, he or she would then be committing an offence and subject to up to two years in prison. I think I am making my point that—

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order. The hon. member's time has elapsed. Perhaps she can add some more comments in questions and comments.

The hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to most of the speeches, along with the rhetoric and fearmongering. She used terms to the effect that it was not thought out and there was not adequate consultation and yet, just a few years ago, the deputy prime minister and minister of public safety, the hon. Anne McLellan, tabled the same bill and said, “We consulted extensively to ensure this legislation strikes the right balance....”

My question is simply this. Was Anne McLellan wrong or was she lying?

Opposition Motion--Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, even Liberal members sometimes disagreed with their government and voted against it at committee. That would never be allowed by the Conservative government. The government does not allow its members to disagree. These things would have been hashed out in committee in a way that has not been possible under this over-controlling and dictatorial government.

Another point is that it is a matter of trust. This is a government that has lost the trust of the public. It has muzzled scientists, independent officers of Parliament, and civil society by cutting the funding of those who do not agree with it. It is trying to muzzle MPs and we will not let that happen. This bill would put a chill on the debate and the marketplace of ideas happening on the Internet and it would be an attempt to muzzle—