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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

A message from His Excellency the Governor General transmitting supplementary estimates (C) for the financial year ending March 31, 2013 was presented by the President of the Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House.

A message from His Excellency the Governor General transmitting estimates for the financial year ending March 31, 2013 was presented by the President of the Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House.

Nuclear DisarmamentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have four sets of petitions.

The first petition deals with foreign affairs. The petitioners from my area of Castlegar and Nelson and from Victoria in British Columbia state that the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War states that there is no medical response to nuclear war. The UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, has proposed a summit on nuclear disarmament. In 2010, the Canadian House of Commons unanimously passed a motion that encouraged the Government of Canada to deploy a major worldwide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to issue an invitation for all states to gather in Canada to begin discussions needed for a global legal ban on nuclear weapons.

Health of Animals ActPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, the other three petitions I have are in support of my Bill C-322. They come from Ontario, with over 140 names from Quebec, Alberta, Calgary, for example Airdrie, Winnipeg and Regina.

The petitioners state that horses are ordinarily kept and treated as sport and companion animals and are not raised primarily as food processing animals; that they are commonly administered drugs that are strictly prohibited from being used at any time in other food processing animals destined for the human food supply; and that Canadian horsemeat products that are currently being sold for human consumption in domestic and international markets are likely to contain prohibited substances.

The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to adopt into legislation Bill C-322, An Act to amend the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act , thus prohibiting the importation or exportation of horses for slaughter for human consumption, as well as horsemeat products for human consumption.

Suicide PreventionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table a number of petitions signed by over 200 residents from the Waterloo region, Toronto, Manitoba, northern Ontario and British Columbia.

The petitioners are calling on the government to meet the public health challenges posed by suicide by adopting legislation that would recognize suicide as a public health issue, provide guidelines for suicide prevention, promote collaboration and knowledge exchange regarding suicide and promote evidence-based solutions to prevent suicide and its aftermath.

Health of Animals ActPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 28th, 2012 / 10:05 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to present petitions signed by members from southern Ontario supporting Bill C-322.

The petitioners state that horses are ordinarily kept and treated as sport and companion animals and are not raised primarily as food-producing animals here in Canada; that they are commonly administered drugs that are strictly prohibited from being used at any time in all other food-producing animals destined for the human food supply; and that Canadian horsemeat products that are currently being sold for human consumption in domestic and international markets are likely to contain these prohibited substances.

The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to bring forward and adopt into legislation Bill C-322, An Act to amend the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act, thus prohibiting the importation or exportation of horses for slaughter for human consumption, as well as horsemeat products for human consumption.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to present three petitions. The first is signed by residents of my constituency, particularly from Salt Spring Island, Galiano Island and Pender Island.

The petitioners call on this House to review and enact the targets that were set forth in the legislation passed by the previous Parliament that climate change action is required now, that reductions in greenhouse gases must be met to the level of 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

National ParksPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition I wish to present is from residents of Edmonton, Alberta, and the Jasper area.

The petitioners call on this House to protect the ecological integrity of national parks. Given that these petitions speak to rejecting the request for a private sector development in Jasper, which the minister has now approved, I think the petitioners would appreciate it if I were to ask this House to urge the Minister of the Environment to review and alter the decision that has been made. It is not in the interest of protecting our national parks.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the last petition is signed by residents from throughout southern Ontario.

The petitioners call on the government to cease and desist from acting as a public relations arm of the oil industry, to treat the Enbridge supertanker scheme as one that requires study and not lobbying, and to allow the process to take place before taking a position on the issue.

High-Speed InternetPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in this House today and present a petition on behalf of my constituents of Admirals Beach, O'Donnells and St. Joseph's.

The petitioners would like to see high-speed Internet in their community. It is essential for rural areas of Canada and, in particular, in my area of St. Mary's Bay. They do not have access to high-speed Internet and they feel this is a necessity and a way of life that we now need to provide to them.

The petitioners are calling upon the government to take the necessary actions to have communities linked up to the high-speed Internet.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

moved:

That the House recognize: (a) the fundamental right 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; (b) that the collection by government of personal information and data from Canadians relating to their online activities without limits, rules, and judicial oversight constitutes a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ protections against unreasonable search and seizure; (c) that Canadians who have expressed deep concerns about Bill C-30 should not be described as being friends of child pornography or advocates of criminal activity; (d) that the Charter is the guarantor of the basic rights and freedoms of all Canadians; and (e) that the Charter is paramount to any provision of the Criminal Code of Canada; and accordingly the House calls on the Prime Minister to ensure that any legislation put forward by his government respects the provisions of the Charter and its commitment to the principles of due process, respect for privacy and the presumption of innocence.

I appreciate the chance to discuss this important question in the House. I think we would all agree that the introduction of Bill C-30 has caused a powerful reaction around the country. It is important for members, in discussing this issue, to engage not only each other but also the public in a serious discussion of what the issues in this legislation really are and why it is important that we in the House indicate our understanding and support for the principles in the charter, for the role of the courts in asserting the role of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and in our understanding that there may well be objections to the legislation as it is currently drafted. Those objections need to be treated with respect and civility and not with simply a curt dismissal that somehow they represent a lobby on behalf of criminal activity in the country.

I will begin by reading into the record the words of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin in a recent case, the Gomboc decision. That case dealt with the question of the access by police to information with respect to the use of electricity in a particular place because of the suspicion that the house was being used as a grow op. The reason for reading this into the record is not that it says anything about that particular case but that it is a reminder to all of us as to the importance of the issues that we are discussing.

Chief Justice McLachlin stated:

Every day, we allow access to information about the activities taking place inside our homes by a number of people, including those who deliver our mail, or repair things when they break, or supply us with fuel and electricity, or provide television, Internet, and telephone services. Our consent to these “intrusions”, into our privacy, and into our homes, is both necessary and conditional: necessary, because we would otherwise deprive ourselves of services nowadays considered essential; and conditional, because we permit access to our private information for the sole, specific, and limited purpose of receiving those services.

A necessary and conditional consent of this sort does not trump our reasonable expectation of privacy in the information to which access is afforded for such a limited and well-understood purpose. When we subscribe for cable services, we do not surrender our expectation of privacy in respect of what we access on the Internet, what we watch on our television sets, what we listen to on our radios, or what we send and receive by e-mail on our computers.

Likewise, when we subscribe for public services, we do not authorize the police to conscript the utilities concerned to enter our homes, physically or electronically, for the purpose of pursuing their criminal investigations without prior judicial authorization. We authorize neither undercover officers nor utility employees acting as their proxies to do so.

The issues that are raised in the legislation are significant. I want to state for the record, because we all need to be clear on this issue, that the purpose of the legislation is to extend the investigatory power of the police over methods of communication in the Criminal Code of Canada. It is not only about child pornography. The short title of the act is, candidly, a misnomer. It is not really what the act is all about. Yes, it covers child pornography but it also covers any kind of criminal activity. Indeed, it covers activity that is covered by the Anti-terrorism Act and the Competition Act, as examples. This really has to do with extending the power of investigation and intrusion into very extensive matters covering all methods and means of communication.

Let us be clear. Under the current provisions of the Criminal Code, which has the support of all members of the House, we grant to our police officers and our security officials under the CSIS Act the power to watch what people are doing. If they then feel that there is criminal activity under way, we grant them the power to ask a judge whether it is possible to, in the case of the current Criminal Code, intercept phone calls and other forms of communication. No one on this side of the House is suggesting for a moment that it is inappropriate, in circumstances where there are clear and probable grounds to believe that a criminal act is either being performed or is about to be performed, for the police to ask for the powers to look at what is happening. That is not inappropriate.

We are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the charter this spring. It has set out some of the protections for privacy and some of the concerns that the House of Commons and the Senate had with respect to entrenching certain critical individual rights. It is important for us to recognize that the charter simply expresses and codifies what, in effect, has been the law of Canada and indeed the common law throughout countries that follow the common law, and the Criminal Code, which applies to all jurisdictions in Canada and has been our jurisprudence for hundreds of years, which contains limits on the powers of the state to intrude into the privacy of people's homes. If we are to break through that line and cross over that frontier, we have to have the approval of the courts before we can do so.

The issue which is raised most directly by Bill C-30 is really the issue contained in clauses 16 and 17. These provisions pertain to, in clause 16, written requests, and, in clause 17, oral requests.

Clause 16 states:

On written request by a person designated...every telecommunications service provider must provide the person with identifying information in the service provider’s possession or control respecting the name, address, telephone number and electronic mail address of any subscriber to any of the service provider’s telecommunications services and the Internet protocol address and local service provider identifier that are associated with the subscriber’s service and equipment.

Section 17 allows not just any authorized person but any police officer, if he or she has reason to believe on reasonable grounds that the urgency requires the information right away, to get that information simply by making a phone call and saying, “We need this information right away”.

There is room surely for a legitimate debate about whether or not obtaining that information is in fact a breach of privacy.

We have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but before the charter, there was a principle underlying our legal system, what I would call a basic right, that the state cannot intervene in the private affairs of individuals without the authorization of a judge. That is clear. That is the problem we have with this bill. We see the need for a civil debate in which all participants clearly acknowledge people's right to privacy. In addition, with sections 7 and 8 of the charter, it must be clear that the law specifically protects individual rights and privacy.

The debate today can go in many different directions. I think it is very important for the House to treat the views of those people who are concerned about this legislation with a degree of understanding and respect.

We on this side would never say that we do not believe there are grounds, times and ways in which the police and other investigating officers have a right to access information which is held by a service provider. In the same way, a telephone company would have to allow for interception of a telephone call. As well, if criminal activity is taking place on the Internet, or by means of a cell communication, or by some other digital means, of course, it is reasonable for the police to have access to that information in order to know what is going on.

The key issue is whether the House is prepared to say to Canadians that it can happen, but it cannot happen without prior judicial authorization. It is really a very specific issue. However, when we look at all the other provisions of the bill, it is complicated. It is a long piece of legislation.

We welcome the fact that, in response to this literally unprecedented wave of objection to the bill, the government has decided to put it into committee before calling it for second reading. I think that is a good idea. I would argue that would be a good idea for a lot of other legislation as well. We would be glad to see that done on other occasions. I say to the government that we think it is important to do this.

On our side, we are strongly committed to having this discussion, at least to recognize that there is a legitimate basis for concern on the privacy argument. If we were to simply reject that right to privacy, we would be flying in the face not only of the charter, but of the charter as it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada in literally dozens of decisions it has taken since the House voted on the charter in 1981.

I hesitate to even mention this point, but I happen to be sitting not very far from where I was standing when I voted in favour of the charter and the patriation of the Constitution. I am not going to quote my own words from that time, but I invite the member opposite to read the speech. I recommend it to him in terms of his level of enlightenment.

I have heard members sitting in this House criticize the charter. When those people say that the charter is something which works on behalf of criminal activity but not on behalf of others, that is simply not true. When we are arguing on behalf of privacy we are not arguing on behalf of criminal activity. We are arguing about the boundaries of the distinction between what is private and what the state has reasonable grounds to have access to. What are the tests that the state has to meet in order to cross that line?

The courts have said there are tests that people have to meet. The courts do insist that the police follow these sets of rules and regulations. Yes, in circumstances they can be difficult and onerous. Yes, if the steps are not followed properly then there are decisions that are made, in effect, to say that there has to be a new trial because the rules were broken with respect to what was admissible as evidence. There is a name for that in our society. It is called the rule of law.

We did not give the courts some sort of new role that they did not have before in the charter. The courts always had the role and the responsibility of saying that when legislators go too far, or when legislators are unwise in how they proceed, then there needs to be a step back. There have been lots of times in Canadian history, long before the charter, when the courts said we could do this, but not do that.

Perhaps there are some members opposite who remember the infamous Alberta press bill, where the legislature under the intellectually precedent government of the one opposite, the Social Credit Party of Alberta, said the press had to give the government side of every story they were running. The press had to provide for the alternative official position in order to allow for balanced reporting. The Supreme Court of Canada said there was no way they could demand that, as it was an infringement of the freedom of the press and an infringement of freedom of speech.

In Quebec, long before the charter, Premier Duplessis personally said that Mr. Roncarelli, because of his association with the Jehovah's Witnesses, could have a restaurant but the restaurant could not have a liquor licence. The Supreme Court, in a very famous judgment, said he could not do that. He could not use a completely irrelevant argument in order to stop somebody from pursuing his legal rights.

What the charter was intended to do, and I believe on balance what it has done, is essentially entrench and formalize the rights we have always known were there. The charter is an effective guarantor. Frankly, Parliament has to be a guarantor as well.

It is important for us in the House to understand what is at stake in these discussions. It has to do with our common commitment to the rule of law, our common commitment as a Parliament to the law of Canada, which includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and our common commitment to civility in how we treat the people who are on the other side.

There is no reason why the government should be voting against this motion. There is no reason for anyone in the House to vote against it. It states in a very balanced way the principles of the charter, the issues that are at stake here, and why it is so important for us as Canadians to deal with this issue in an intelligent way.

The police have to be able to do their job. We need to be able to deal with acts of violence, acts of terrorism, child predators and crimes inflicted on children. However, we need to do it in a way that fully conforms with the rule of law in our country.

Of course we will be following this debate with great interest. But as I have said, today's motion is clear: yes to private rights, yes to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and yes to the important concept that we can all agree to a necessary balance, the necessary role of the courts, respect for individuals and a civil debate on this issue.

There has been a lot of emotion around this debate. It is important for us to understand where some of that emotion comes from. We need to be able to deal with these issues with mutual respect and to study the bill carefully. I can assure the government we in the Liberal Party, in our role in the opposition, are going to be doing that in a responsible way. We will continue to work for a criminal code and a working police force, and the protection of Canadians that also guarantees the rights that all of us have to privacy and the rule of law.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, I have a practical question and I will try to remove the rhetoric from it. It is an important point--

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

There won't be much left.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, maybe members should wait for my question before they start laughing.

I have read the motion. The member talked about section 17. My reading of section 17 is that in an emergency the police have the ability to get information to track somebody. I am not trying to exaggerate, but as an example, based on my reading of section 17, if a known child predator had abducted someone, the police would be able to get that basic information and attempt to find that individual and resolve that issue in an emergency. That is my understanding and if I am wrong, then you can enlighten me.

What is the Liberal Party suggesting in terms of changes to section 17 to ensure that law enforcement officers are able to act quickly to resolve those types of issues?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I would remind members that they should address their comments through the Chair.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, first, I know some of the emotional circumstances the member for Burlington must be going through in his own constituency. Our hearts are with him and his fellow residents of Burlington as they deal with the tragedy of the recent train crash.

The member is right when he suggests that in an emergency situation that is exactly what police would do. Currently under the Criminal Code the police do not have that power. One can get a judge in an hour. There are ways in which one can quickly go to a judge.

I am looking forward to listening to people. I am looking forward to listening to representatives of the police forces across the country and asking them how they would compare this with what they currently have to do under the Criminal Code. These are perfectly reasonable questions.

The reason there is a lot of concern is that generally speaking, we have not authorized the handing over of this kind of information without prior judicial authorization. That is the issue. At what point do we cross that line? That is what we have to discuss. We have to be able to discuss it without being accused of being such terrible people. It would be nice to be able to have this conversation in a way that would allow us to do that.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Madam Speaker, like a lot of Canadians, I am also appalled at the introduction of the Bill C-30 by the Conservatives. It would treat law-abiding citizens like criminals, and that is wrong.

I am fairly new to the House but I have done a bit of research. I found out that this lawful access bill was introduced by the Liberals not only in 2005, but again in 2007. What has changed in this legislation that the Liberals are now opposing it? Why are they flip-flopping on this? What are the reasons?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I am not sure there has been a flip-flop.

It is interesting that legislation has been around since 2005. A question one might ask is, if this bill has been such an urgent requirement, why has it taken seven years to come to the floor of the House? There will be lots of explanations for that. If the member wants to get into a partisan debate, he can.

I do not think it should be any surprise to anyone that governments facing a complete transformation of the technology that is now being used by Canadians, and hence by some criminals, would seek to update legislation with respect to seeking the ability to carry out surveillance activities using technologies that were not available in 2000, 1995 or 1990.

I can assure the hon. member that in any government where the NDP has been involved, the police have been very concerned about their ability to do their job when criminals are working ahead in terms of technology and governments are way behind in terms of access to technology. This is not a new issue for Canadian police forces.

All I can tell the hon. member is that my views on this matter have not changed. My view is it is not unreasonable for governments and police forces to be looking at the ways and means in which they have to be able to deal with criminal activity using the latest technology, and sometimes using it in very destructive ways.

On the other side, my view is equally clear. We have to do it in a way that is consistent with Canadian legal traditions and with our protection of privacy.

It seems to me that in every piece of legislation like this, we are always trying to find the right balance. My concern is that this legislation as it is currently drafted does not reflect that necessary balance.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Toronto Centre for such a balanced perspective on what could be described as a moving target for Canadians. Technology is evolving very quickly. Knowledge is doubling every 18 months. I would like to raise two points and ask him to take a second to elucidate for Canadians.

First, how important is it for Canada to get this right, because of the extent to which developing countries, emerging economies, countries around the world are looking to Canada as a touchstone for balance in terms of privacy, the protection of our right to privacy, and access to this information?

Second, we often hear from the Conservative government how, perhaps, distrustful it is of the existing members of the judiciary. The Conservatives have often talked about judges making the law. The Minister of Public Safety has criticized for years members of the judiciary as being too liberal.

Could my colleague expand on that to help us understand, and should we be addressing this at committee as well?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, first of all, of course it is important that we take this seriously. If we look at legal decisions being taken around the world, the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada are cited in almost every jurisdiction in the world as models of finding a balance and expressing principles that are deeply entrenched in our traditions. It has to do with the charter, but as I said in my speech it does not only have to do with the charter.

I am looking at my colleague from Mount Royal, because when I go back he will give me a grade on what I had to say with respect to what happened. He will tell me where I was right and where I was wrong, as will my colleague from Vaughan, but it will be a different grade from him and that is okay. He and I have had a relationship debating these issues going back many years in the province of Ontario.

I do think it is very important that we get this balance right.

The second thing I would say is I would hope the government by now would realize that attacking the judiciary is not something anybody should do. We have a very fine judiciary across the country. I do not agree with every judicial appointment that has been made, and I suspect the Minister of Public Safety does not agree with all the appointments that were made prior to his coming into office.

The fact remains that the courts usually have the balance pretty right. They have to make unpopular decisions sometimes. They have to make difficult decisions. We have a very strong appeals court system in our country. We have a very strong Supreme Court of Canada. It is very important for us to recognize the importance of the independence of the judiciary as being a fundamental principle of the Canadian Constitution.

Courts will often have what they think is the final word. Parliament will have an opportunity to respond sometimes. However, it is very important for us to realize that what helps to define our democracy is the independence of our judiciary and the quality of the people who are currently serving on our courts.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to address the motion before us today. During the past weeks there has been much attention on Bill C-30, the protecting children from Internet predators act.

Contrary to the implications of the interim Liberal leader's motion, our Conservative government strongly believes in the principles of due process, respect for privacy and the presumption of innocence. Bill C-30 adheres to those principles. Through Bill C-30 we seek to update Canada's laws as they do not adequately protect Canadians from online exploitation. We want to update our laws while striking the right balance between combatting crime and protecting privacy. That is why we will send this legislation directly to a parliamentary committee for a full examination.

Over the days and weeks, since we introduced this legislation nearly two weeks ago, I have listened with great interest to the comments of several hon. members and have also been quite intrigued by the remarks of several individuals and groups which have appeared in the news media, both those opposed and those in support of Bill C-30.

All of us know full well that healthy debate is one of the cornerstones of our parliamentary democracy. Indeed, it is the cornerstone of our democracy, but all of us also know that to be healthy, a debate must be informed by facts rather than speculation and unwarranted fearmongering. It must be informed by actual facts rather than personal attacks and half-truths.

As the interim Liberal leader clearly knows, our government strongly believes in the principles of due process, respect for privacy and the presumption of innocence. The fact that this motion seems to imply otherwise is not surprising.

Just yesterday, the interim Liberal leader apologized for one of his senior researchers who was responsible for a smear campaign against me. As I said yesterday, I take no issue with an open attack on the floor of this House in which the source of the attack may be seen by all. I do take strong issue with the idea that taxpayer dollars would be used to secretly attack a member of this House.

Despite yesterday's revelation and apology, the Liberal Party and the interim Liberal leader owe Canadians some answers. Did the senior researcher for the Liberal Party, Adam Carroll, use taxpayer resources and if so, what was the cost? Is the Liberal Party of Canada going to reimburse this amount to the House? What involvement did the member for Papineau have in this campaign? When did he first know a Liberal staffer was involved? Upon making this discovery, what did he do to prevent the smear campaign from advancing? Indeed, what did he personally do to advance and promote it?

Despite this smear campaign, I will continue to do my duty and carry out my responsibilities in respect of this legislation on behalf of our government. I am therefore very pleased to have this chance to speak to the real facts about Bill C-30 and to set the record straight on a number of fronts.

Canadians deserve to hear a reasonable dialogue on issues which affect their lives and ensure their overall safety, a dialogue based on reason rather than hysteria, a dialogue based on facts rather than the outlandish conspiracies put forward by the member for Timmins—James Bay. I therefore want to focus my remarks today on what Bill C-30 will do and then speak about what it will not do, in other words, what is in the legislation and what is not, what is fact and what is fiction.

I have spent the better part of my career advocating for the safety and security of Canadians. As a prosecutor, as a child protection lawyer, as a federal and provincial attorney general, and in my current job as Canada's Minister of Public Safety, I have made it my goal to put the rights of victims ahead of the interests of criminals.

Over the years it has become more and more clear to me and to countless thousands of other Canadians that our laws were falling far behind the technology used by criminals. The frustration that police have experienced through the years is palpable.

After I entered politics, I heard the same story from law enforcement officials so many times that I began to wonder if the problem would or could ever be fixed. Even so, soon after my appointment as federal justice minister in 2006, I was introduced to the concept of lawful access, which dealt with the challenge of fighting crime and investigating threats in an era of new communications technology. I was struck by the reality that our approach to the Internet has been shaped for a previous generation, one grounded in equipment like the telex machine.

This is a concern that we have heard from law enforcement and security agencies right across this country, as well as our international allies. I might add at this point that our international allies have, in fact, adopted this legislation. In that respect, Canada is not going ahead of any other of our fellow western democracies. In 2009, Chief Constable Jim Chu of the Vancouver Police Department said that our laws were “originally written in the era of rotary phones”. Bill C-30 would repair this.

Bill C-30 is not the first attempt to update our laws. The problem is well known. As acknowledged by the interim Liberal leader, even the Liberals knew it. The Liberal Party introduced similar bills on three separate occasions and its present position on Bill C-30 clearly proves that the Liberals are a value-free, principle-free, idea-free party that will accept and adopt whatever position they think is possible on the issue of the day. Liberals have been supporting legislation such as this for 10 years, with weaker protections for privacy. Our government introduced similar bills twice, once in 2009 and once in 2010.

To the disappointment of many, and despite the tireless efforts of people like Paul Gillespie, formerly of the Toronto Police Service and now the head of the Kids Internet Safety Alliance, and Roz Prober of Beyond Borders, none of these attempts resulted in the passage of these necessary amendments to the law, as these bills all died on the order paper. I am sure that many hon. members have heard Mr. Gillespie speak passionately about the emotional toll that child exploitation investigations take on front-line officers. Each day these officers are confronted by the bleak reality that thousands of children are sexually abused in graphic, unimaginable ways. The reality is that police simply do not have the tools to effectively fight these crimes. This is true not only in cases related to child pornography but also identity theft, online organized crime, and many Internet scams and frauds.

More than a decade ago, police spoke up and told the government of the day that they lacked the tools to keep up with changing technology. Here is just one example that illustrates the ongoing frustration and problems with the current system. It comes from Kingston Police Detective Constable Stephanie Morgan. Detective Morgan received information via the Internet that a person might attempt suicide. When she approached a telecommunications service provider for help in locating that person, she was prevented from proceeding further. She said:

In that case, the Internet service provider refused to give us that information because of the person's privacy. To this day, I don't know who the person was who sent the message, I don't know if they were in distress or if they later committed suicide.... I think that would not have happened if this legislation was in place.

Let me give a second example. Hon. members may have heard of the case where, as part of a massive worldwide investigation of child pornography, Germany alerted Canadian law enforcement officials that 200 IP addresses using Canadian Internet service providers were associated with online child exploitation. The RCMP requested information from these Canadian Internet service providers to help them identify potential suspects. Unfortunately, the RCMP was unable to identify the account holders associated with 47 specific IP addresses due to a lack of co-operation from some service providers. That meant that 47 leads reached a dead end and that today countless children remain at risk.

A third example is an international criminal investigation that involved 78 Canadian IP addresses linked to the purchase of child pornography. In this case, requests for customer names and addresses were submitted to the relevant Internet service providers. However, this basic subscriber information was again not provided by all the service providers. As a result, 18 suspects have not been identified and today remain free to jeopardize the safety and security of young Canadians.

These are not isolated cases. Last year alone, 62 requests for basic subscriber information made by the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre in Ottawa were refused. It is simply unacceptable.

That is why, on February 14, I reintroduced legislation that closely resembles the efforts of the previous Liberal government, but with important improvements that better protect the privacy of Canadians. I might point out that this legislation has the support of all provincial and territorial attorneys general and public safety ministers. The Liberal flip-flop on this piece of legislation is simply unbelievable.

Bill C-30 allows police to request six kinds of basic subscriber information to assist with the kinds of investigations that I just spoke about. However, just as critically, it makes police 100% accountable through audits and obligations to report to federal and provincial privacy commissioners.

Let us look at the first part, that relating to basic subscriber information.

Basic subscriber information is essential for criminal and national security investigations, as well as for responding to non-criminal community needs such as assisting families to find runaway youths. We have improved on previous versions of this legislation by reducing the number of basic subscriber information points that police could request of service providers, from 11 in the Liberal legislation down to 6. This information is clearly stated: name, address, phone number, email address, Internet protocol address, local service provider identifier and nothing more. This is the modern day equivalent of a phone book and phone book information.

Bill C-30 would put in place a system of checks and balances that simply does not exist today, including the fact that officials would have to be designated to make subscriber information requests. Only a limited number of officials would be allowed to be designated to request basic subscriber information, either five individuals or 5% of an agency's workforce, whichever is greater. It would be set out in the law that all requests for basic subscriber information would have to be made in the performance of a duty or a function of the agency in which the designated official is employed.

For internal auditing purposes, officials would be required to record the purpose of each request for basic subscriber information. The police, CSIS and the Competition Bureau would conduct regular internal audits to ensure that their practices and procedures for requesting basic subscriber information complied with the legislation. All findings of these audits, including any concerns and actions taken or proposed, would be provided either to the Minister of Public Safety or the Minister of Industry, as well as the review body responsible for that organization, such as the Privacy Commissioner.

Basic subscriber information does not include information pertaining to the websites a person has visited, or the content of emails or phone calls either made or received. Police will continue to obtain judicial authorization, or a warrant, before requesting this type of information from service providers, as they do today. There is no change to the law in this regard. Bill C-30 would create no new powers to access the content of emails, web browsing history or phone calls beyond the powers that already exist in Canadian law today.

Law enforcement and national security officials will continue to rely on lawful authority before they are allowed to intercept communications. This has been the case for the last 40 years and will continue to be the case under Bill C-30. I emphasize this point because so far there has been a great deal of misinformation spread about this component of the legislation.

As I mentioned earlier, law enforcement officials today can already intercept private communications in very exceptional circumstances without first obtaining court authorization. It simply recognizes that there are situations and some cases where action needs to be taken quickly, in such cases as kidnappings or bomb threats, where an immediate interception could help save lives. Furthermore, this legislation proposes to add robust safeguards to the laws that will increase accountability and transparency.

Some have accused me of not reading a bill that I have been involved in shaping for over half a decade. Ironically, when I read most media coverage of Bill C-30 I am struck by just how poorly the bill is understood by many writers.

That is why our government intends to send this legislation directly to committee for full examination. I hope that all Canadians, and especially members of Parliament and the media, will read, discuss and reflect on the bill. The fact is that stakeholders, victims advocacy groups, police associations, all attorneys generals and public safety ministers in this country have asked for and support these changes, as do many ordinary Canadians.

As I have said before, the proposals we are putting forward are not new or even revolutionary. The focus of Bill C-30 is not to create new interception powers. It will not compromise the privacy of Canadians or put an undue burden on businesses. What it would do would be to bring our country's legislation out of the Cold War era and into the 21st century, along with other western democracies around the world.

This legislation would provide law enforcement and CSIS with the updated tools they need, while providing maximum flexibility for industry and creating rigorous safeguards to protect privacy. It strikes an appropriate balance between the needs of law enforcement and CSIS, the competitiveness of industry, and the privacy of Canadians.

We told Canadians during the last election that we would continue to crack down on crime. We have delivered on that. We told them that we would address the needs of the victims of terrorism by allowing them to sue the perpetrators of terrorist acts and their supporters. We have delivered on that. We have done a lot. We are doing a lot.

I look forward to continuing the debate on Bill C-30 both at committee and in the House.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened intently to the minister's speech and I have a couple of questions.

Does the minister feel that if the RCMP were given more financial resources it could be more effective in tracking down child predators?

Furthermore, there is a difference between the bill the minister introduced now and the one he introduced in the previous Parliament. The bill would give the power to obtain a more limited set of pieces of subscriber information. I am wondering what changed in the minister's mind to reduce that number.

One of the pieces of data that will not be covered by subsection 16(1) is the IMSI number. I am just wondering if the minister feels that the IMSI number is similar to a number in a phone book. If that is the case, why did he not include the IMSI number under subsection 16(1)?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, what we did in the bill was take the principles and, indeed almost word for word, the legislation produced by the former Liberal government. The deputy prime minister at the time, Anne McLellan, said:

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.

When I looked at the bill, I examined what issues could further strengthen the privacy rights of Canadians without compromising the ability of the police to effectively investigate. That is why we essentially landed up on the six criteria. If the member feels this list, from the 11 to the 6 on which we have settled, is somehow too restrictive, that is something I am willing to consider and debate. However, police officers have told me that the six are sufficient for their purposes. I think that fits with the overall scope of balancing the rights of investigation and the privacy of ordinary Canadians.