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

Topics

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am being asked to give a dissertation on constitutional negotiations in this country. How much time do we have?

It happened starting in the late 1970s, but as this motion points out we must adhere to what is happening in regard to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Whether there would be challenges that would ensue because of this legislation is something that has to be explored. I certainly believe that in committee we could have this debate, but let us be careful in throwing around certain labels as to where people are on this definitively, like their comparing us with child pornographers. Please, let us stay away from that part of the debate.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Conservative

Robert Goguen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Delta—Richmond East.

I am pleased to rise today to address the motion. Bill C-30 provides law enforcement and national security agencies with the necessary tools to conduct their investigations in a world where telephone calls and ordinary email are being replaced by constantly changing communications technology. Even though its main objective is to ensure that the criminal justice system keeps pace with these changes and new criminal techniques, the government is paying attention to the concerns expressed about privacy and certain investigative techniques.

For that reason, we made considerable efforts to consult Canadians and stakeholders. These consultations went on for years and included discussions with the federal and provincial privacy commissioners. This allowed us to craft the bill before us today. I can assure you that each of the investigative powers set out in the bill was carefully developed with privacy considerations in mind.

We are talking here about new measures that precisely guarantee the privacy of personal information. However, it seems that some people fear that the bill will change the fundamental way in which Canadians' privacy is protected and that it will give the police wide-ranging new powers that will give them free access to our private lives.

These concerns are unfounded. In certain cases, people may have misunderstood the complex proposals designed to take into account increasingly modern means of telecommunications. I would like to assure all the members of the House and all Canadians that the purpose of Bill C-30 has never been to intercept Canadians' private communications and telecommunications. Bill C-30 was never designed to monitor Canadians' Web activity or to prevent them from sending emails anonymously. The purpose of Bill C-30 has always been to ensure that law enforcement agencies are able to stay on top of new communication technologies.

In response to these concerns, I would like to present some facts. Since the 1970s, Canadian police have been able to intercept private communications when given a court's authorization to do so, under the Criminal Code. In such cases, the judge has to be convinced that justice would be best served if the communication were intercepted and that the police tried other investigative methods but were unsuccessful. It is only in rare and urgent circumstances, such as a kidnapping or bomb threat, where time is of the essence, that law enforcement agencies are able to intercept private communications without a judge's authorization.

The bill does not change this approach at all. In fact, the bill proposes additional protective measures that go above and beyond the provisions of the Criminal Code related to the authorization of interception in exceptional circumstances, which are set out in section 184.4.

I would like to clear up another misconception, namely that law enforcement agencies and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will be able to obtain basic subscriber information. Law enforcement and national security officers are already authorized to request subscriber information from service providers. However, that information is shared by the service providers on a strictly voluntary basis and there are very few monitoring and review mechanisms at this time. This approach is problematic because some service providers hand over the information on request, while others take a long time doing so or simply refuse to co-operate.

As a result, we have a discretionary and inconsistent system across the country, which threatens the safety of Canadians. The bill proposes a fair and uniform process that will facilitate access to basic subscriber information when needed. It also provides for a solid reporting and verification system, which is currently lacking.

Access to basic subscriber information, such as names and postal and electronic addresses, is especially important when computer technology is involved, because criminals use the Internet to conduct their activities anonymously.

A 2011 investigation into a case of child exploitation on the Internet in my province, New Brunswick, was delayed by more than six months because the authorities had difficulty obtaining basic subscriber information from a service provider. When they finally obtained the desired information, the authorities learned that an adolescent from the region had been the victim of abuse by the suspect. This type of situation is unacceptable.

With Bill C-30, not only will we prevent this type of situation, but we will be implementing various mechanisms to ensure the accountability of those who access the basic subscriber information. Again, this is a measure that does not yet exist.

The bill will require the authorities to keep a log of all requests for access to basic subscriber information, to conduct verifications and to produce regular reports.

What is more, the bill reinforces the role of watchdogs like the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada in ensuring an audit of the agencies under their jurisdiction.

The bill also compels the authorities to issue a written notice when using wiretapping in their investigations in exceptional circumstances and to produce a report in that regard.

These obligations already exist for other activities, including wiretaps authorized by the Criminal Code, and it is only logical to also implement them in this case.

As for electronic surveillance, in addition to ministerial approval, checks and balances are already in place to ensure accountability for the law enforcement agencies that exercise these exceptional powers. For instance, the individuals designated under sections 185, 186 and 188 of the Criminal Code must obtain authorization from a judge in order to intercept private communications, and this goes for each case under investigation. Evidence must be submitted under oath during any criminal proceedings that result from investigations. The Minister of Public Safety must present an annual report on any interceptions relating to an offence for which proceedings may be commenced by or on behalf of the Attorney General of Canada. This report, based on the information provided by police forces, must be presented to Parliament pursuant to the legislation.

Any time important rights are at stake, such as a person's reasonable expectations of privacy, it is in everyone's interest to know when and how investigative powers like the one in question are used.

Collecting data and statistics regarding the exercise of these investigative powers will help us to inform the public and determine usage practices so we can amend them as needed.

We do not have to choose between safety and respect for our rights. We need to find a balanced, happy medium. Our government believes that this bill achieves this balance. However, we also believe that Parliament has a duty to examine this bill in order to ensure that this balance was in fact achieved. We hope it will be examined in a non-partisan environment without any misinformation from the opposition parties.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives would have us believe that nothing is really changing with the bill. However, proposed section 16 would give the authorities the power to compel telephone companies to provide information without a warrant. I have read that a number of times and that is what it says, “without a warrant”.

There are six pieces of information that can be obtained, among them a person's name, address, email address and Internet protocol address. The Conservatives are saying that they have reduced the list from 11 to 6 identifiers. The previous bill contained 11 identifiers. What the Conservatives will not say is that there is a back door, which means that they would be able to add additional identifiers without any scrutiny by Parliament. There are regulations in the bill.

This morning theMinister of Public Safety said that the government would not be adding additional identifiers. Are the Conservatives prepared to take that proposed section out of the bill?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Conservative Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, obviously the bill will be going to committee at which time many recommendations from all parties will be examined tentatively to make sure that a balance is struck between the right of the state to protect its citizens and the right to public information. It is premature at this time to say what the final form of the bill will be, but the equilibrium required to balance those interests is the one which will be struck in its final form.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his speech, and the public safety minister and the department for the good work they are doing to bring balance back to the issue of the safety and security especially of our children. We read about child exploitation rings, and it is important that our law enforcement officers have the tools they need to intercept if, unfortunately, these situations occur and to bring these people to justice.

My question relates to a question that was raised by an NDP colleague earlier this morning. This legislation was tabled by the Liberal government in 2005, and was reintroduced in private members' bills subsequently. The deputy prime minister and minister of public safety at that time, 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.

Why does the member think the Liberal Party today is trying to make this look as though we are somehow going beyond what was originally intended, which is to provide a balance between privacy and ensuring the safety and security especially of our children?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Conservative Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, regretfully, probing into the Liberal mindset is somewhat difficult. The Liberals are full of free principles and ideas and will adopt whatever position they think is possible on the issue of the day. It is really difficult to put oneself in the mind of the Liberal Party at that time or now. However, it is obviously a moving target with the Liberals and they will adopt whatever position seems to be in their favour on any day for the sake of argument and media telecast.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about moving targets and go back to the gun registry. The Conservatives are saying that the police are calling for this. I know that the police called for the maintenance of the gun registry and the Conservatives totally disregarded that information. What makes this case different?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Conservative Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, there is a similarity in the sense that there are law-abiding citizens who use the Internet just as there are law-abiding sport shooters and duck hunters who use the Internet. They have that in common. All we are trying to do is to protect people from being victimized. Both acts go in that direction. The similarity is in protecting people and standing up for victims. It is not taking the flavour of the day to gain points with the media.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Delta—Richmond East B.C.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to respond to the motion. As my previous colleagues have stated, the hon. Minister of Justice is required to inform the House of Commons of any legislation introduced that is not compliant with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I would like to emphasize this point. The Minister of Justice believes that Bill C-30 does not violate any of our charter rights.

Does that mean Bill C-30 will have absolutely no effect on the privacy rights of Canadians? Of course not. Any legislation that gives police new investigative powers will necessarily impact upon the privacy of Canadians. What is important, however, is whether the impact on privacy is justified to ensure the public safety of our country.

Our government firmly believes that we have proposed legislation to ensure Canada's laws adequately protect Canadians online, without breaching their constitutional rights. All of the new powers were carefully tailored to ensure that the proper level of scrutiny, whether it is transparency or oversight, was built into the specific powers sought.

I would like to remind hon. members on the other side of the House that similar legislation has not only been tabled by previous Liberal governments, in 2005, 2007 and 2009, as stated by others in this place as well, but the Liberals have supported these same changes with weaker oversight and weaker protections for privacy.

Bill C-30 is about providing police officers with the tools they need to fight crime today. It is about modernizing investigative techniques so they can catch those who would exploit technology for criminal purposes.

Thirty years ago computer crime was mostly a local crime that could be policed and prosecuted more or less in the same manner as traditional crimes. The Internet has changed that. The Internet is ubiquitous and so is computer-related crime. It knows no borders and we cannot investigate and prosecute it without the assistance of our international partners.

In fact, among the many things that Bill C-30 would do, it would allow Canada to ratify the Council of Europe convention on cybercrime. In order for Canada to ratify international treaties, it must first bring its law into conformity with the requirements of the instrument. In the case of this convention, for example, it requires a member state to have the ability to preserve computer data. Bill C-30 would respond to the requirement by creating the preservation order in Canadian law.

This convention, otherwise known as the Budapest convention, is the pre-eminent international treaty dealing with cybercrime. Canada was among the countries that negotiated this treaty and was instrumental to the inclusion of the child pornography provisions contained within it.

By putting Canada in the position to ratify the Budapest convention, Bill C-30 would do two things. First, it would answer our need for increased international co-operation in this area. Second, it would enhance the safety of Canadians by providing our police officers with the tools they needed.

The convention, which requires states to adhere to relevant international human rights standards and to create certain baseline substantive offences and procedural powers, also provides states with a mechanism for international co-operation. This increased ability to co-operate with our friends in the area of cybercrime, and especially child pornography, will increase our success rate in capturing criminals who use international borders to stymie investigations.

Finally, 32 countries have already ratified this convention, including two of our most important partners, the United States and the United Kingdom. Further, Australia, another important Canadian ally, has been asked to accede to the convention. The importance of this convention is underscored by their participation.

Canada's ratification of this convention will extend the reach of Canadian law enforcement around the globe as more and more non-European countries seek accession. This ability will ensure that more cybercriminals are brought to justice and will make Canada a safer place, especially for our children.

I would like to reiterate what I have previously said. This legislation is not new to Parliament. I find it very ironic that the Liberal leader would table a motion in the House that criticizes legislation that his party previously supported and tabled when the Liberals were in government. As I have already stated, the previous Liberal legislation had weaker protections for the privacy of Canadians.

The Liberal Party is the last one that should lecture Parliament on how to better protect Canadians, while also ensuring the respect of their privacy. This is another clear example of the fact that the Liberals are completely void of values, principles and ideas. They simply adopt whichever position they think is popular on the issue of the day. This is not what Parliament is elected to do.

Our government expects Parliament to have a thorough debate and 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.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to this important motion, and to Bill C-30 as well, because this is basically a reiteration of the previous Liberal bill. We know Bill C-30 is actually flawed. We know the privacy commissioners and experts are all already worried that the personal information of Canadians could be obtained without a warrant, violating the rights and freedoms of law-abiding citizens.

We talk about law-abiding citizens on this side of the House and on that side of the House the Conservatives talk about law-abiding citizens when it comes to guns. I am trying to get some sense from the government. If the Conservatives felt that the gun registry was so intrusive for law-abiding citizens, why are they tabling legislation such as Bill C-30, which is even more intrusive? It just does not make sense.

On the other side of the House, the Conservatives say that if members are not on their side, then they are on the side of pornographers or they are not on the side of law-abiding citizens. What are they trying to do? Does this not contravene the Charter of Rights?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, what we are trying to do is what we committed to do, which is stand up for law-abiding Canadians. We are the only party in the House that consistently and continually stands up for law-abiding Canadians. We are not those who speak of harming those who have already been convicted of criminality, as we often hear on the other side.

The bill does meet the Charter of Rights. The minister stands behind that. It is our duty to do that when proposing legislation and we have met that challenge. We have actually beefed up, or made stronger, any privacy concerns in the legislation from what was tabled by the Liberals.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, with regard to clause 17 of Bill C-30, which refers to the extenuating circumstances that police require to just get information, could she expound upon that? I think there is some confusion that police can get information without doing anything. There has to be extenuating circumstances. Could she explain that for the opposition?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his hard work on justice files and his long-term service, both now in the House and before he came to this place.

Extenuating circumstances means exceptional circumstances, where there is perhaps, for an example, a very serious terrorist threat or something like that. It is important to understand and emphasize that we are actually joining other developed countries around the world, those which we do business with regularly, in terms of the provisions of the bill.

Many countries already have in place the ability for law enforcement, in limited circumstances, just as this, to get information from Internet service providers. They include many north European countries, as well as the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, and a long list. We need to work co-operatively with our international partners in this regard.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, as our colleague clearly indicated, the question is whether the needs of police require privacy to be breached, given that police already have extraordinary means of obtaining this information without going to a judge.

What the member is presenting as a justification is not acceptable.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I understand the concerns of Canadians when it comes to privacy rights. They want to know that we are striking the right balance. That is why this government has referred the matter to committee so we can have a full and open airing of these issues and so the appropriate witnesses can be brought forward to ensure that we strike a balance with which all Canadians can be comfortable. There are serious international issues at play here that we need to address from a law enforcement perspective. We also want to protect the privacy of all Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Vancouver Centre.

It is with pleasure that I stand today to address what is an important motion. I hope and suspect that Conservatives, along with New Democrats, will join us in recognizing just how important it is with regard to our charter and privacy-related issues.

The bill that we are obviously citing at great length is Bill C-30, and we do that for a good reason. Even the government would acknowledge that it blew it. The government received overwhelming kickback from the public in regard to how it messed up in terms of what it proposed in Bill C-30.

The Prime Minister is not known to back down even when he is wrong. He has had an awakening of sorts in regard to just how outraged Canadians are with respect to this issue. We do give him some credit for acknowledging that outrage and how he is now prepared to send Bill C-30 to committee.

One of my colleagues reminded me that under the Conservative government committee meetings end up being held in camera. The Conservatives hold them in camera because they do not want the public to know what is being debated inside a committee. When the government says that it wants a meeting in camera, that is just a nice way of saying the public does not get to participate, that it does not get to listen to what is being said behind those closed doors. No government has ever had more in camera sessions in such a short time span as the new majority Conservative government.

We know how stubborn the Conservatives are when it comes to making changes. We can tell them that they have made mistakes, but would they recognize those mistakes? It takes a great deal of convincing.

All we have to do is look at Bill C-10. The Liberal Party brought forward amendments at committee stage, but the government voted against those amendments. It did not want anything to do with them. What happened? Conservative senators brought in the amendments because the government, in its stubborn way, did not recognize how important those amendments were. I am sure the government is a bit embarrassed now.

We are glad that the government has seen the wisdom of bringing Bill C-30 to committee before it is debated in the House. That is why there is strong merit to looking at today's opposition day motion as a statement. I look forward to a Conservative member standing and assuring us that there will not be any in camera sessions when Bill C-30 goes to committee, that the meeting will be open to all those individuals who want to follow the debate. We anxiously await hearing that sort of commitment.

The Conservatives talk about the rights of victims as if they have a vested interest in protecting the rights of victims. Just because they repeat it many times does not necessarily mean they have any more interest in the rights of victims than members of the opposition. Not only are we interested in the rights of victims, we are also interested in protecting people from becoming victims in the first place. That is why we believe in addressing some of the issues that fight crime. We do so to prevent victims in the first place. The Conservatives do not own the moral high ground when it comes to protecting the rights of victims.

The Conservatives say that they want to protect law-abiding citizens. I would suggest that one of the ways they could do that is by supporting the Liberal Party motion before us today.

I will read what the motion says so that members can reflect on it between now and the time to vote.

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.

If the Conservatives are sincere when they say that they want to protect law-abiding citizens, I would suggest that voting for this motion would go a long way in protecting their rights.

The Internet has grown as a tool in many different ways. I think that we underestimate the role it plays in the lives of Canadians. I have heard statistics that Canadians have access to and use the Internet like no other country in the world. We have seen the benefits of the Internet. We can look at the social groups of Facebook and others to see how well utilized they are. We can appreciate how many people today bank online and purchase online. The Internet is used every day by a vast majority of Canadians. It has become a part of our lives.

It is interesting that NDP members and Conservatives have joint speaking notes. They bring up those speaking notes because they are a little sensitive to the Liberal Party being practical and wanting to protect the rights of individuals. Therefore, they pull out their speaking notes, whether New Democrat or Conservative, to say that the Liberals proposed in 2002, 2005 and 2007. I think I might have even heard another year.

Gee whiz, yes, the Liberal Party does have a proactive approach to bringing legislation forward. The difference is that we are also open to ideas, amendments and changes, which is something the current government has never demonstrated. Hopefully the NDP will never be provided the opportunity to govern. I will not preclude what Canadians might ultimately decide, but I have seen NDP administrations in my own province and I can talk about disappointments in this area.

They talk the line of wanting to protect the interests of Canadians. Well, the Liberal Party has overriding concerns and we would say to members of other political entities, Green, New Democrat or Conservative, to go back before 2002. They should go back to 1981 and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees privacy.

The vast majority of Canadians want just cause and having to go to a judge, which could take a half hour or whatever amount of time it takes. We do not underestimate the capabilities of law enforcement or our courts. There are wonderful people who work within our law enforcement industry and court infrastructure who can expedite the process. They can make it happen quickly if the need is there. Let us not override how important it is to protect the rights of individuals to their privacy.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I want to read the summary of a bill. It states:

This enactment requires telecommunications service providers to put in place and maintain certain capabilities that facilitate the lawful interception of information transmitted by telecommunications and to provide basic information about their subscribers to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Commissioner of Competition and any police service constituted under the laws of a province.

That was the summary in Bill C-74, which was introduced by the Liberal Party. I also have a copy of Bill C-416, also introduced by the Liberal Party.

Does the hon. member not understand that the problem people have with the Liberal Party is that it continues to flip and flop? It has no interest in public safety. Its only interest is scoring cheap political points on the backs of Canadians' safety. I wonder if he could comment on the differences between the two bills when they were introduced and whether the party at that time sent the bill directly to committee so that all parties in the House could have input. Is he instead doing the same Liberal thing, flipping and flopping to try to score some stupid political points on the backs of Canadians' safety?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the difference between the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party is that the Liberal Party will not only listen but, in fact, adopt good ideas. That is the difference between the Conservatives and the Liberals. The Conservatives come up with ideas even if they are wrong. I can give ample examples of where the government has been wrong. The F-35s come to mind. Do members think they can get them to change their minds? It is almost mission impossible. That is the difference.

Yes, Liberals demonstrated and demonstrated quite well. Over the years, Liberals have been very clear that they are concerned about this area, but in no way would Liberals pass legislation that would invade the privacy of Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, there are similarities between the Conservatives and the Liberals. One similarity is that the Liberals did this in 2005 and the Conservatives are doing it now. They are treating law-abiding citizens like criminals with Bill C-30. Those are the facts.

I have a question for my colleague. We know that warrants not being required was part of the Liberal bill to access information. Would the Liberals be introducing amendments to the bill so we can eliminate warrantless identifiers?

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Yes, Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party will be introducing amendments. I am sure the member will be anxious to see them. Before the member gets all high and mighty in terms of the Liberals and Conservatives and the Liberals' positioning on this particular bill, if he had listened to the minister he would have noticed that even NDP administrations have supported the legislation. I know that the NDP, which has never governed in Ottawa, likes to take the approach that it could never make any mistakes. I can assure the member that the NDP does make mistakes, plenty of them.

I only hope that the NDP will see the merit in the Liberal opposition's amendments and support them because we all need to be concerned about the privacy issue related to Canadians. That is what the Liberal Party is going to be fighting for. We are going to stand up and fight for the privacy of Canadians. There needs to be due process and we are going to fight for that due process with or without the support of New Democrats.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

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.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we had two Liberal bills, Bill C-416 and Bill C-74. Clause 6 and clause 24 of the Liberal bills went further than this government's bill does. Lo and behold, between those two bills, there were no changes whatsoever.

The previous member said that the Liberals like to listen and make changes and yet in the 38th and 39th Parliaments there were no changes whatsoever. In the two bills that they introduced, they went further than the bill we have introduced.

Do the Liberals not see that the reason they continue to go further and further away in this chamber is that they flip and flop and, unlike the NDP perhaps and unlike this party for sure, they do not have the best interests of Canadians at hand? They only have the best interests of the Liberal Party and how they can score some cheap political points on the backs of all Canadians who want to be safe and secure.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, talking about cheap political points, I think the government woke up one morning after the bill was tabled and realized that Canadians did not have time for this bill and that Canadians were astounded by this bill.

Again, if the bill can pass what we call the sniff test, which is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and it does not violate the charter, then that is okay. However, this bill violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That is absolutely clear.

The member can talk about whatever bills he wants but if they violate the charter they will not stand.

Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and FreedomsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Vancouver Centre will have three minutes remaining for questions and comments when the House next returns to debate on this motion.

Safe Night Off Winnipeg StreetsStatements By Members

February 28th, 2012 / 1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, last week, I participated in a very special Winnipeg event that helps sex trade workers to be safe from violence, harm, hunger, homelessness and exploitation for one night. This event is called Safe Night Off Winnipeg Streets or SNOW. It is an overnight gathering I have participated in for years as a concerned mother, friend and woman.

It allows participants to take a break from the street to enjoy one night in a warm, secure environment surrounded by friends. Free haircuts, makeovers, food and health care are provided. There are also people to talk to about information or resources that can help.

Today I want to personally thank the organizers and volunteers who work together to show exploited women, transgendered and two-spirited individuals that we care. I applaud people like Dianna Bussey of the Salvation Army, Karen Roth of Sage House and Kristi Havens from Mount Carmel Clinic who have put countless hours into this outreach. Their efforts in collecting donations to provide each participant one night of pampering are commendable and I encourage Winnipeggers to support this worthy cause.

A special thanks goes out to the participants who shared their personal pain with me that night. I will not forget them and I will pray for their safety and well-being.