Mr. Speaker, what is fundamental about this opposition day motion that the Liberals are bringing in has to do with democracy. A democratic society has due process, rule of law and all of the fundamentals that come with a democratic society, and an independent judiciary. We do not want to live in a country in which the state has all the power and individuals have absolutely no rights. That is why we reference the Charter of Rights and Freedoms here. It is the main bill under which every single piece of legislation must flow. The charter tries to find a balance, which is what we are talking about here, between the rights of individuals to privacy and their own sense of personal integrity, and the security of the state.
How do we find that balance? How do we, in the name of security of the state, find a way to ensure that we at the same time do not trample on the rights of individuals? That is where process comes in. That is where the rule of law comes in. In any democratic society, there are some very fundamental processes we must look at, such as an independent judiciary, due process and rule of law, as well as freedom of expression and freedom of the media, whether it be the Internet or any other kind of media.
There was a time when a very famous Liberal prime minister spoke about the state not getting into the bedrooms of the nation. We can extend that to say that there has to be a limit to the state getting into the hard drives of the nation. If there is a reason to suspect that individuals are guilty of criminal activity, treason or any other kind of terrorism or act against the state, there is due process. I want to give an example of why this bill goes so far and in fact would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Recently there was a widely publicized, huge sting operation with respect to a child pornography ring in Canada. The police were highly successful, as 22 people were charged, 75 charges were laid, 25 search warrants were obtained, and 16 communities across Ontario were fingered. However, it was done under due process of law. There was reason to suspect and warrants were given. The police officers found a way to do that under the current Criminal Code, and under due process of law. We know, therefore, the process of law is working well. When individuals are suspected, the necessary tools are there and working.
I have just come back from Vienna where I was at a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. We were talking about repressive regimes that have flouted due process of law to pick people up on trumped-up charges without any presumption at all or proof of guilt, put them into prisons and torture them. Canada was very firmly opposed to this. A big part of what we are looking at in terms of the OSCE is to create democratic societies.
Canada cannot on the one hand speak against something in the real world, saying that we are opposed to it and support democracy and the rule of law and then on the other hand at home take this insidious way to undercut the rule of law and suggest that there are bogeymen under every bed. We cannot afford to do that in this country. If we are going to have credibility in the world because we stand up for freedom of speech and the rights of individuals, stand against terrorism, support security of the state and do so under due process of law and independent judiciary, then we need to do it here at home. We cannot have two standards. Canada cannot do one thing at home and say another thing abroad. That is what we are talking about.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be a template. It should be a benchmark against which we hold up everything we hope to do in terms of rule of law in this country to see whether it stands up to the charter or violates it. That is what a judiciary looks at when looking at any kind of legislation. The Parliament of a land does not supersede the rule of law. The Parliament of the land is driven by the rule of law. It must succumb to the rule of law itself.
Therefore, we cannot have what we see happening here. When people oppose this kind of violation of the rule of law, we cannot decide that those people are wrong, that they belong with a group of criminals, that they are crooks, pornographers or whatever they call them. There is a standard by which a state must judge its own citizens. We live in a free and democratic society where civil society and opposition parties can oppose what they feel is an infringement of the rule of law, an infringement of democracy. However, when they do oppose, it is not right that they are then subjected to all kinds of suspicious language and people who say that they belong to some kind of subversive group or a criminal activity is going on within those groups.
That is what happens in oppressive regimes, such as in Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine. At certain points in time, their leaders are thrown into jail because they happen to belong to the opposition and disagree with the government. We cannot do that in this country. We have stood as a bastion throughout the world as a country that believes in democratic principles and the rule of law.
There is no need for this kind of bill. We have a process and it works. If the police, a member of CSIS or a minister is suspicious of an activity going on, he or she can go to a judge who will, as an independent person in a democratic society, say that it sounds good and that he or she will issue a warrant to seize. However, to do this at the whim of the police, of the minister or of CSIS, tells us that we believe there are certain institutions that are above the law. There is no institution that is above the rule of law in this country. We also cannot go around as a state spying on our citizens for no reason at all. If we have a good reason, it will stand up to a warrant.
We cannot try this new thing in which a minister would make a decision and then would ask an ISP to have technology to tap into someone's Internet. We do not do that with phone tapping. There must to be a warrant for phone tapping and due process must be observed. I keep repeating the words “due processes” because I am talking about democracy and the rule of law. I am trying to get the government to not run away with the idea that because it has a majority it is bigger than anything else, that it has suddenly become a dictatorship and that it does not need to answer to anyone for anything.
This is one of the things that concerns many of us. We hear that the government, having realized that it went too far, is saying that it will send the bill to committee and listen to the amendments. I must say that, since we have come back under a majority government, the committees have been hijacked by the government. Under the rules of Parliament, the committees must make their own decisions about what they will study and what they will do. They are the authors of their own destiny and their own agenda. This is not happening anymore. If anyone dares to speak out or to bring forward a motion at committee that the government does not wish to have, the meeting immediately goes in camera and nobody knows what is going on. This is government thinking that committees and the institution of Parliament in a democratic society is an extension of government. It is not. It is a democratic entity unto itself and this kind of stuff needs to stop.
The government came into power saying that it would look at smaller government, that it would stay out of the lives of people and that it would not encroach. Here we have a government that is tearing up the gun registry and the names of people. It is cancelling the gun registry because it does not want to get into the private lives of its citizens and yet with Bill C-30 it would be snooping into the private lives of its citizens without due process. This is what we are talking about. If this legislation is actually conforming with the rule of law, it would not violate the charter, which is what it is currently doing.
I would ask the government to stick to the principles of democracy, listen to the amendments, be guided by them and, if they are good, adopt them. It should not try to suggest to the world that it is listening to the committee and having amendments but then voting against them and using its majority to stop any kind of change whatsoever. I appeal to the government to go back to the principles of democracy, start behaving, start listening to what it hears from the opposition and to start respecting Parliament and the rule of law.