House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was police.



11 a.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It is my duty to inform the House that a vacancy has occurred in the representation in the House of Commons for the electoral district of Whitby—Oshawa in the province of Ontario by reason of the passing of the hon. Jim Flaherty.

Pursuant to subsection 28(1) of the Parliament of Canada Act, I have addressed a warrant to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of a writ for the election of a member to fill this vacancy.

Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-FoodPoints of Order

11 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan


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

Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to respond to the point of order raised on April 10 by the hon. member for Edmonton—St. Albert respecting the amendments to Bill C-30, the fair rail for grain farmers act, contained in the second report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food presented on Tuesday, April 8. The government disagrees with the assessment offered by the hon. member.

The amendment in question, which adds clause 5.1 to the bill, is relevant to the subject matter of Bill C-30. It respects the rules and usual practices of the House. It would amend a part of the Canada Transportation Act, a law that is already under consideration in Bill C-30.

The summary of Bill C-30 clearly states that a goal of the legislation, and in particular the part which would amend the Canada Transportation Act, is to “facilitate the movement of grain by rail”. This amendment would provide the tools required in the supply chain to make sure all parties are committed to making this happen.

The sponsor of the bill clearly believes that this clause is relevant and consistent with his policy intentions or he would not have asked his parliamentary secretary to propose that amendment.

Clause-by-clause consideration of the bill followed an ambitious and full series of meetings by the agriculture committee. Many witnesses with interests in this legislation appeared and gave evidence. The government heard what witnesses asked for. In response, it drafted an amendment to fulfill the desire of witnesses.

Furthermore, I understand that the amendment was considered at committee without objection. Not only was it considered without procedural objection, it was adopted by a recorded vote of nine to zero. Every member of the committee voted for and supported the amendment. A competent and informed decision was made when each member reviewed, considered, and voted for the amendment. The unanimously adopted amendment aids and advances the bill's purpose of facilitating the movement of grain by rail.

As the Speaker knows, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, at page 766 states:

An amendment to a bill that was referred to a committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the bill...Similarly, an amendment which is equivalent to a simple negation of the bill or which reverses the principle of the bill as agreed to at second reading is out of order.

An amendment to a bill must be relevant in that it must always relate to the subject matter of the bill...

Erskine May's Parliamentary Procedure, 24th Edition, helpfully defines the scope of a bill at page 6564:

Any amendment (or new clause or new schedule) proposed to a bill must be within its scope. The scope of a bill represents the reasonable limits of its collective purposes, as defined by its existing clauses and schedules. In particular cases difficult questions of judgment may arise. The scope of a bill, particularly of a bill with several purposes, may be wider than its long title, although the long title may help to determine the scope.

Bill C-30's long title is An Act to Amend the Canada Grain Act and Canada Transportation Act and to provide for other measures. Clearly clause 5.1, which would amend the Canada Transportation Act, meets this threshold.

Let me add from page 565 of Erskine May:

An amendment which is outside the scope of a clause may be admissible if presented as a new clause, provided that it is within the scope of the bill.

As I have previously mentioned, clause 5.1 joins other amendments to the Canada Transportation Act to facilitate the movement of grain by rail.

Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules & Forms, 6th Edition, addresses the admissibility of amendments to legislation at citation 698. Let me quote from some of the paragraphs of this citation. Paragraph (1) says:

An amendment is out of order if it is irrelevant to the bill, beyond its scope, or governed by or dependent upon amendments already negatived.

That is not the case here.

Paragraph (2) reads:

An amendment must not be inconsistent with, or contradictory to, the bill as so far agreed to by the committee, nor must it be inconsistent with a decision which the committee has given upon a former amendment.

This amendment complements and enhances the purpose of the bill. It absolutely is not inconsistent with the bill.

Paragraph 5 informs us that “An amendment which is equivalent to a negative of the bill, or which would reverse the principle of the bill as agreed to at the second reading stage is not admissible.” However, this is not applicable because the amendment does not overturn the principle of the bill. I could offer even more quotes from citation 698 to make my case, but in the interest of time, I will not.

Let me take a brief moment, especially as a member of Parliament from Saskatchewan, to acknowledge and thank the opposition members for the work they did; and in fact the non-partisan work they all did, as well as the cordial approach taken during the committee's work to see this important bill considered promptly, expeditiously, and thoroughly.

Members of the House understand extremely well that this amendment is important because it gives tools to the shippers who enter service level agreements. In fact, the proposed amendment further facilitates the movement of grain by rail through the creation of a better balance and accountability between shippers and railways and the strengthening of the strong foundation provided for effective and reliable service. The amendment is something that many witnesses from all commodities have asked for at the committee. The Alberta Wheat Commission said this recently:

AWC would like to recognize the members of the House of Commons and the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food for the amendments made to strengthen the legislation and the potential for effective Service Level Agreements between railways and shippers. [...]The need for financial penalties was identified by AWC as a necessary component for Service Level Agreements.

Mr. Speaker, it is for these reasons that you should find it easy to reject the point of order raised by the hon. member for Edmonton—St. Albert and find in order the second report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food on Bill C-30, the fair rail for grain farmers act.

Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-FoodPoints of Order

11:05 a.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for his contribution to this question. We will come back to the House in due course.

The House resumed from March 7, 2014, consideration of the motion that Bill C-565, An Act to amend the National Capital Act (Gatineau Park) and to make a related amendment to the Department of Canadian Heritage Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

National Capital ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, at this stage of our debate on Gatineau Park, it is important to note that all members of the House agree that Gatineau Park is an immensely beautiful treasure that needs better protection. Unfortunately, that is where our agreement ends right now. We do not agree on what kind of legal protection Parliament should provide for that park, which we all love so much.

The member for Hull—Aylmer believes that her bill, which we are debating here today, Bill C-565, An Act to amend the National Capital Act (Gatineau Park) and to make a related amendment to the Department of Canadian Heritage Act, is adequate.

The Conservative government would rather focus on its own bill, which it promises to introduce soon and which it claims is very similar to bills it has introduced in the past. The Liberal caucus believes that both the NDP and Conservative approaches are inadequate and do not provide sufficient protection for Gatineau Park while respecting the rights of property owners. However, the Liberal caucus is prepared to support Bill C-565 at second reading so that a committee can examine it and make amendments.

Let us consider the magnitude of the problem. Gatineau Park is the only federal park that is not protected by Parliament. Unlike national parks, this park's boundaries can be modified and its land sold, and roads can be built through it without Parliament's involvement.

Gatineau Park is managed by the National Capital Commission, which does not ban commercial or industrial activities or land development. As a result of inadequate legal protection, Gatineau Park has lost a significant amount of land. When the National Capital Commission redrew the park's boundaries in the 1990s, it severed 48 properties, for a total of 1,508 acres. At the same time, 334 acres were allotted for the construction of roads, which were built in violation of the commitments made in the master plan, bringing the total number of acres severed up to 1,842, or nearly 5 km2.

All this was done without Parliament's knowledge, let alone its approval. This would not have happened if Gatineau Park were protected under the Canada National Parks Act, which establishes in subsection 5(3) that the size of the park can only be reduced by an act of Parliament.

In addition, because the land management system is inadequate, the NCC has allowed considerable urbanization within the park. Since 1992, 125 residences have been built inside the park.

Despite repeated NCC commitments to acquire private property, some 296 private properties, consisting of 2,112 acres, remain within Gatineau Park. Moreover, several large private properties remain inside the park that risk being turned into major subdivisions, which would impede the park's evolution as a conservation site intended for public enjoyment.

Gatineau Park must be given the same kind of legal protection and parliamentary oversight as Canada's national parks.

Through amendments to the National Capital Act, the park must acquire the legal status, borders and land management mechanism needed to ensure transparency in its administration and guarantee its long-term protection.

We must give this park the protection framework that various citizens' groups have been advocating for decades and help the NCC fulfill its commitment to gradually acquire the private properties, while respecting landowners' rights to continue to live in the park.

Today, the Conservatives are saying they want to come back to this issue with something equivalent to their Bills C-37 and C-20, which died on the order paper in 2009 and 2011. That is not exactly reassuring.

These bills did not offer Gatineau a proper legislative framework, failed to meet basic park protection criteria, perpetuated developments and road building, and would have impaired the park's ecological integrity.

Under these bills, the park boundaries could be changed by administrative decree, without oversight or parliamentary debate.

Now we have the NDP Bill C-565. This bill establishes but a moral obligation to ecological integrity. Measures to ensure the protection, preservation, and management of Gatineau Park for the benefit of current and future generations are put forth with little framework and no real legislative backbone.

In fact, at least three aspects of Bill C-565 could represent setbacks.

First, although Bill C-565 gives the NCC the mandate of acquiring the real property situated in Gatineau Park, it stipulates that:

10.1 (2) The Commission may not, in pursuing its objectives, infringe upon the property rights attached to any real property...located within Gatineau Park.

By so doing, Bill C-565 weakens the NCC, since the existing National Capital Act allows the NCC to expropriate private lands whenever it becomes necessary for the purposes of its mandate.

Bill C-565 will create a dangerous precedent by removing the NCC's ability to expropriate land. It will allow large landowners to divide their land and build new residences in the middle of the park, which would be completely contrary to the park's public and ecological purpose and all the park master plans.

The problem with Bill C-565 is that it does not include a mechanism for acquiring the land.

This is why there is a need for a right of first refusal. Clear regulations would give the NCC the first chance to purchase private property should the private landowner decide to sell, subsequent to which, parkland may be bought and sold on the open market.

People who own land in Gatineau Park could continue to live there and leave their property to their children through estates and trusts. It is important to note that the NCC supported the use of such a right of first refusal when it appeared before a Senate committee in 2007.

Second, although the most recent Gatineau Park master plan clearly establishes that the park's ecological integrity is a management priority, clause 2 of Bill C-565 simply states that the NCC will “protect Gatineau Park’s natural biodiversity, as well as its underlying ecological structure and environmental processes”.

Simply saying that the NCC is to protect the park's natural biodiversity is not as strong a mechanism for preserving the park's ecological integrity as making that protection the first priority. Let us remember that the Canada National Parks Act considers protecting ecological integrity to be a management priority.

Third, Bill C-565 could open the door to hunting in Gatineau Park. Right now, fishing is allowed in the park, but hunting is prohibited.

It is clear that serious amendments are needed to Bill C-565, to better back the NCC objectives of long-term ecological integrity while respecting the rights of landowners. Many amendments would be required.

Indeed, the bill provides no mechanism for public consultation, completely ignores the issue of Quebec's territorial integrity, and fails to make conservation the first priority of park management, which, as I said, is a cornerstone of the Canada National Parks Act.

Above all, the bill should provide, subsequent to consultations with the Quebec provincial government, a real protective legislation for Gatineau Park via an amendment to the National Capital Act.

Such a legislative framework by Parliament would support the NCC's role as park manager and would give the park the same kind of statutory protection and adequate parliamentary oversight that is given to national parks throughout Canada.

We have our work cut out for us. We need to conduct an in-depth examination of this issue in committee in order to find legal protection that works for our beloved Gatineau Park.

National Capital ActPrivate Members' Business

April 28th, 2014 / 11:15 a.m.


Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be speaking to Bill C-565, concerning Gatineau Park. In my opinion, this park is a real jewel in the Outaouais and surrounding regions.

This natural gem is a mere 15 minutes from Parliament. It is incredible how much there is to do in the park, at any time of year: hiking, swimming, cycling, skiing, camping, picnics, canoeing and so on. There is something for everyone, regardless of age or personal preference. People who live in the Ottawa-Gatineau area love planning their activities there because there is so much to do.

In its 2007 report on the Act to amend the National Capital Act (establishment and protection of Gatineau Park), the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources proposed amendments.

At the beginning, the report states:

Gatineau Park is hereby dedicated to the people of Canada for their benefit, education and enjoyment, subject to this Act and the regulations, and it shall be maintained and made use of so as to leave it unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

It also states:

Maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity, through the protection of natural resources and natural processes, shall be the first priority of the Commission when considering all aspects of the management of Gatineau Park.

Those are both important points, and they are in line with Bill C-565's objectives, which are to keep the park from being sold off in small parcels by real estate developers, ensure that future generations can benefit from using the park just the way it is, and preserve all of the biodiversity contained in the park. In particular, I am talking about the large number of threatened plant and animal species that are found in the park. In fact, Gatineau Park is home to the largest concentration of threatened species.

The number of visitors to Gatineau Park has grown steadily over the years, as can be seen from the numbers. According to statistics, it is one of the most visited parks in Canada. In 2011, the park received more than 2.7 million visits and generated more than $25 million in annual economic spinoffs.

However, although this is great news for the region, there are some valid concerns, since all of these visitors could put an already fragile treasure at risk. I will explain, and I want to draw a parallel to another park in the region I am from, just a few kilometres from the riding of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, which I represent.

I want to share a little of the history of Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier, which is located just a few minutes from my riding of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles. This park, which is 670 km2 in area, is located 30 minutes outside Quebec City, in the Jacques-Cartier River valley, in Quebec. It has over 100 km of walking trails and is frequently visited by people in my riding and the entire region.

In 1895, the Province of Quebec created Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier to be an area protected from colonization and a place for fishing and hunting. In 1972, more than 20,000 residents of Quebec City signed a petition within a few days to oppose the creation of a hydroelectric dam on the Jacques-Cartier River. The park has been legally protected only since 1981.

If the public had not opposed the dam and the park had not received legal protection in 1981, the entire valley would have been flooded and urban development, which already exists in Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury, would have taken over by now.

Obviously, these days, the people who benefit most from the park are the people who live in the region, including those who live in my riding, as well as all of the new generations who are happy to have access to a wonderful historic park.

I want to point out that the NDP has been fighting for Gatineau Park for almost nine years. This issue is very important to us and to the public, and we will not give up.

I want to thank my colleague, the member for Hull—Aylmer, for the excellent work she has done on her Bill C-565 and for picking up where my colleagues from Ottawa—Centre left off. They tried to get a bill passed to have Parliament protect Gatineau Park in 2005, 2006 and 2009.

When we have something precious, our first instinct is to protect it. I do not think Gatineau Park is any different. It is something precious not only for visitors, but also for nature itself and for future generations, as I explained.

Therefore, the NDP is asking that Gatineau Park's boundaries be enshrined in law and given parliamentary protection.

The NDP continues to insist on this because Gatineau Park is not currently protected by parliamentary law and can be sold one small parcel at a time to private interests without parliamentarians being able to do anything about it.

Furthermore, we are unsure of the limits and boundaries of the park. That is one more reason why we should clarify the status of the area that we want to keep out of the hands of private interests for the benefit of the general public and all those who want to visit the park and enjoy the activities available.

We, the NDP members, want the park to have the same legal protections as our national parks. However, we want to be very clear that we are not asking for Gatineau Park to be designated a national park.

I would like to return to the background of this park and the problems it faces. Gatineau Park is operated by the National Capital Commission and for 75 years has not had any special status. Thus, unlike national parks, it has no legal protections or official status. At present, 2% of the land located within Gatineau Park belongs to private interests. What could happen is that development arising from the growing demand for housing could encroach on Gatineau Park.

All available data indicates that the region's population will grow significantly in the years to come. This leads us to believe that real estate developers will look to Gatineau Park for housing sites. That is one of the threats to Gatineau Park that we want to stave off by providing this parliamentary protection and nothing less.

There are many advantages to passing Bill C-565 that will benefit the inhabitants, the environment, biodiversity, future generations and the first nations.

By passing this bill, we can prevent the sale of public land in the park and also give the National Capital Commission the mandate to purchase the 2% of private property within the park.

By passing this bill, we are also ensuring that we can maintain the biodiversity of any endangered animal and plant species in Gatineau Park, which, as I said earlier, is home to the largest concentration of species at risk.

By passing this bill, we can leave this heritage for future generations and protect the environment.

By passing this bill, we are reminding Canadians of the importance of the historical ties linking Gatineau Park and the Algonquin people, who roamed the Gatineau hills long before the arrival of Europeans.

It is not just the NDP that wants this special protection: many stakeholders support our position. I am talking about Nature Québec, the Conseil régional de l'environnement et du développement durable de l'Outaouais, and the Ottawa Valley chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, to name a few.

There is also the petition circulated by my colleague, who sponsored Bill C-565. That petition has gathered nearly 5,000 signatures. That many signatures clearly proves that the people overwhelmingly support our initiative.

Furthermore, according to a survey conducted by Le Droit in 2009, 86% of respondents wanted the government to bring in legislation to protect Gatineau Park. The government has even shown some signs of openness on this issue. Now we want it to translate words into actions by supporting Bill C-565. After all, the government has recognized that “Gatineau Park is a precious natural resource”.

Accordingly, all that remains to be done is to vote in favour of Bill C-565, which is a good bill, because as I said earlier, the NDP has been fighting to get it passed for over eight years now.

National Capital ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


David Sweet Conservative Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, as always, it is an honour to speak here in the House of Commons, representing my constituents from Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, and today, more specifically, all Canadians, as we debate Bill C-565.

I would like to use this time to address an integral issue at the heart of this debate on Gatineau Park, which is the effective and realistic protection of Gatineau Park, its beauty, biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as its integrity, status, and significance as an integral part of Canada's capital region, a larger region that also requires protection for generations to come.

The government has a record of trying to move forward with proposals to amend the National Capital Act that would offer strong and effective protection to not only the park but also the entire national capital region. This record includes Bill C-37 in 2009 and Bill C-20 in 2010, both of which unfortunately died on the order paper, as well the signalled intention to introduce a similar government bill in the near future.

On the other hand, the latest attempt by the opposition to pre-empt our efforts, as embodied in Bill C-565, comes up short by being too narrowly focused and too short-sighted.

I think we can all agree that the key to ensuring the beauty and vitality of not only Gatineau Park but also the entire capital region for generations to come is by taking concrete legislative and administrative steps to protect the natural gifts that we have.

Recognizing this fact, over the past several years the government has introduced Bill C-37 and Bill C-20, both of which sought to strengthen and update environmental protections for the entire national capital region, including the greenbelt and Gatineau Park.

These bills sought to legislate the national interest land mass, or NILM, concept, a designation applied to both Gatineau Park and the greenbelt, which would offer strong protections and oversight, including requiring project proposals to be reviewed by the National Capital Commission and prohibiting the disposition or transfer of property within these green spaces without Governor in Council approval.

Under these previous bills, the Governor in Council would also have enjoyed the authority to oversee the criteria and process for designating property in the national capital region as NILM land. Additionally, these bills required the NCC to manage its properties in accordance with the principles of responsible environmental stewardship, which would have obligated the NCC to always consider possible environmental impacts when managing its properties in the entire national capital region.

By contrast, Bill C-565 is unnecessarily restrictive as it only applies protections to Gatineau Park. As my fellow colleagues have pointed out previously, there is a lot more to the national capital region than Gatineau Park alone. We are also surrounded by the greenbelt and multiple urban green spaces that fall under federal authority and the NCC's stewardship.

Bill C-565, curiously, unfortunately, and needlessly, introduces measures to protect only one of these parks: Gatineau Park. This approach in Bill C-565 is overly narrow and we must ensure that any re-opening of the National Capital Act enhances the protection of all green spaces in the capital region, including both Gatineau Park and the greenbelt.

With regard to protecting the integrity of Gatineau Park and its boundaries specifically, and in addition to their designation of the entire park as national interest land mass, the previously mentioned government bills sought to legislate defined boundaries for Gatineau Park and the greenbelt. By explicitly defining the boundaries in the National Capital Act, these bills would have ensured that the park was protected and that its boundaries could only be altered by the Governor in Council when absolutely necessary, such as when required for the public benefit, for example. This would combine active protection of the park with a necessary degree of flexibility in recognition of the unique characteristics and location of this natural asset.

Let us talk about the environment protection of Gatineau Park specifically. Protection of the natural systems and internal integrity of the park figured prominently in the previous government bills in this area, and I can assure the House that these imperatives remain a priority for this government.

As already emphasized during our previous debates on this issue, the government remains fully committed to the protection and maintenance of the park as a destination of natural beauty and recreation for all Canadians as well as for international visitors to our capital. This commitment to environmental protection was evidenced in the previous government bills through their application of the concept of “ecological integrity”.

Ecological integrity is a concept used in the Canada National Parks Act and is applicable to all of Canada's federal parks, with a view to ensuring their protection and preservation. Bill C-37 and Bill C-20 both sought to apply this concept to Gatineau Park, including to all of its ecosystems and biodiversity, in order to provide the park with this high degree of environmental protection.

At the same time, one of the key proposals to protect Gatineau Park in the member's bill is the imposition of an obligation on the NCC to purchase all privately owned properties in the park. We are talking about approximately 377 properties in the park with a roughly estimated current market value of $100 million. Furthermore, this $100 million does not take into account the inflation in property prices that would almost certainly materialize as a result of this legislative obligation.

This proposal is also unnecessary. The NCC already has the authority, pursuant to a 2008 order in council, to purchase private properties in the park without seeking Governor in Council approval for each specific purchase. This has permitted the NCC to increase its ownership of properties in the park while also taking into account the availability and prices of the properties, the resources it has available, and the strategic importance of the sites for significant ecosystems, in prioritizing its property purchases in the park. This, in our view, is the most fiscally and environmentally responsible course of action for Gatineau Park and Canadian taxpayers.

Speaking of protecting Gatineau Park for all visitors, I want to address a problematic component of Bill C-565 that seeks to provide hunting rights in the park. Let me say that it is an absolute imperative of this government to protect and ensure the safety of all Canadians as well as international visitors to the park. We are talking about an area visited by over 2.7 million people per year, many of them young children. In light of these facts, it seems rather irresponsible to be proposing such hunting rights in a shared space, which could seriously jeopardize the safety of visitors to the park.

I would suggest that there is little debate that the National Capital Act, enacted 55 years ago, in 1959, could use a significant update. Although the act still effectively governs the National Capital Commission and its activities in the National Capital Region, it is clear that the NCC could benefit from updated enabling legislation in order to even more effectively administer its mandate in the national capital region, including the continued protection of Gatineau Park.

That being said, Bill C-565 does not enhance those protections in an effective or appropriate way and is, at the same time, unnecessarily narrow in its application solely to Gatineau Park. In our view, the bill would have negative consequences for the park, the region, and Canadian taxpayers.

This government has repeatedly introduced legislation in recent years to amend the National Capital Act in order to improve the NCC's transparency and governance structure, strengthen environmental protections, and provide the commission with effective and modernized tools to manage and protect its properties in the national capital region. These legislative proposals are evidence that we are working toward implementing a clear and comprehensive vision tor the continued protection and improvement of the entire national capital region and are seeking to provide the NCC with updated legislation to accomplish this goal.

I anticipate that the next government bill in this area will provide another embodiment of this commitment and our continued perseverance in this endeavour and I look forward to its introduction.

National Capital ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.


Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I speak to the bill in front of us, I would like to take the opportunity to provide condolences to the family of Marc Robert Nelson, whom people in the House will know as the worker who died recently at the Bank of Canada. This is a day of mourning for injured workers and those who have been killed on the job. I want to provide condolences on behalf of our party and Parliament to Marc Robert Nelson's family. It is a tragic loss, and something that reminds us of the need to look out for job safety everywhere.

The bill we have in front of us has a fairly long history. As has been noted by my colleague from across the way, there have been different iterations of the bill. They have been from me, from the government a couple of times, and now from my colleague.

One thing we should understand is the reason for having this bill in front of us. As has been noted by all members who have spoken to the bill, it is the need to protect a park that many people thought already had protections.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you have gone there with your family, as others have. When people come to Ottawa, they do not only come to the House of Commons; they usually take the opportunity to visit the region. Gatineau Park is fundamental to the identity of the national capital region.

When we talked to people about Gatineau Park, it was a great surprise to many to find out that it is not a park, in essence, with protections. Rather, it is a park in name. When we think about all of the other parks—frankly, the government has done some good work in protecting parks and creating new parks—the fact that we have not protected Gatineau Park and given it the fundamental protections it needs is something most people find very surprising.

The good news for people who want to see Gatineau Park protected is that I do not see any contention at all with anyone that it should be a park, that it should be protected, and that we should have some legislation to protect it. When people look at Parliament, they often see that there is derision and that people cannot agree on the day of the week. When it comes to Gatineau Park, people agree, and we have heard agreement from the government side, that there should be protections.

In fact, Bill C-20 and Bill C-37 of previous Parliaments would have given just that. I worked with the government on Bill C-20 and Bill C-37 when they came before the House. They were government bills. As I mentioned, I also had a bill of my own. We actually worked together to try and move things forward to protect Gatineau Park for reasons that have been mentioned and are probably worthy of reiteration. It is a place of history. It is a place of biodiversity. It is a place for recreation. It is a place where people come to enjoy and to protect nature. It is a fundamental piece of history for first nations, who were the stewards of the land before there was European contact.

It embodies many of the values, symbols, and history of our country. That is why I am passionate about Gatineau Park. Yes, I am the member for Ottawa Centre, but for people in Ottawa and for those who have experienced the national capital region, Gatineau Park is a shared place. It is not one entity for only those people who live in and around the park. That is why it is so important.

As I said, there is consensus to protect the park.

It was interesting that back in 2008, we were looking at bringing forward legislation to protect the park. I worked with the government at the time. I had my own bill. The government then brought in its legislation. I had a campaign going to get public support behind this, as my colleague from Hull—Aylmer has done. It was then a matter of consulting the community and getting the park going.

Bill C-37 was brought forward. What was not mentioned by the government, just for the sake of facts, is that the reason Bill C-37 did not go forward was that Parliament was prorogued. Let us put that on the record. It could have been passed. We would now be talking about how great the Gatineau Park bill is and that all the things we want to see being done had been done.

Alas, as everyone knows, when Parliament is prorogued, government bills die. Fine, that was okay. We came back and worked with the government on Bill C-20, a government bill, to strengthen the bill, and it was a good experience. It was not a priority of the government. It finally brought it forward just before the 2011 election, and there was not time for it to make its way through. I had pleaded with my friend, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to get it going and fast-track it, and we could have had it done. That is by way of background.

The government has picked out a couple of things it thinks is worthy of note to suggest that we should oppose the bill. I appeal to those who look at the role of backbenchers and individual members of Parliament to look at the bill and what the government is saying in its critique of it, particularly my friend from the Hamilton region. In his speech, he noted things that could be changed at committee. If the government wants to protect the greenbelt in Ottawa, there is nothing in the way of doing that.

With respect to my friend across the way and the government members who have been given their points as to why they should oppose the bill, they should actually reflect on the argument. Their argument is that the Gatineau Park bill is too restrictive and does not include the greenbelt here in Ottawa. It is a simple thing to amend it at committee. We could support that. We have no problem with that. In fact, that is what we did with Bill C-20 and Bill C-37.

Note that when private members' bills come forward, members want to make sure that there is a chance that a bill can be passed. They sometimes bring forward bills and the government will say that they are too big. My friend from Hull—Aylmer put this very specifically with respect to Gatineau Park. If the government wants to make the scope bigger, fine, we have no problem with that and will support that.

With regard to some of the other issues, they really are not worth killing the bill.

I know that there is a Conservative member bringing forward an initiative to allow members to have more say in legislation.

One of the things we should honour is that if a bill is not too controversial, we should allow it to at least get to second reading. After all, we only get one shot at this, whether we are on the government side or in opposition. Respectfully, if there is good intent, as there is in this bill, at least let us get it to committee. I plead to the government, because there will be a change of government sometime. Members will be in a position when they will want to bring their private members' bills forward, and we should remember that, because this is about how Parliament functions. The bill could be amended by bringing in best ideas.

I was recently at a conference with legislators from the U.K. and the U.S. When they bring forward legislation and members get behind bills, there is an opportunity to have debate and input. We do it at second reading. It gives life to an issue. I would plead with the government to think about this. This is about protecting the park, but it is also about protecting the integrity of our Parliament. If the bill is not up to the standard the government or backbenchers or frontbenchers or anyone wants, then that can be dealt with at committee.

Let me finish with the following. Everyone agrees that we should protect Gatineau Park. Let the bill get to committee. Let members of Parliament play their role as representatives of their constituents, and let good ideas go forward. Let us not get in the way of a good idea and the participation of everyday members of Parliament on the bill. People want to protect the park. Members agree on that. Let us get the bill to committee so Parliament can do its work, so MPs can do their work, and so citizens can see the value of the work we do here.

National Capital ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.


Ted Opitz Conservative Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share my thoughts with this House on Bill C-565. It is flawed, it is inefficient, and it would cost taxpayers an estimate of up to $100 million, if not more, which is unacceptable. It also would create administrative confusion between provincial and federal jurisdictions, and of course, the National Capital Commission.

The National Capital Act was passed over 50 years ago, in 1959. It continues, without major updates, to successfully govern one of the most important crown corporations in the capital region, the National Capital Commission. The NCC is mandated by the government to prepare plans to assist in the development, conservation, and improvement of the national capital region so that the nature and character of the seat of the Government of Canada reflect its national significance. The commission is the steward of all federal lands in the national capital region, including Gatineau Park. In collaboration with the NCC, the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the NCC can continue to effectively fulfill all of its functions, including the protection of Gatineau Park.

That being said, Bill C-565 does not offer any proposals to assist the NCC in accomplishing its mandate in the capital region as a whole. In more specific terms, Bill C-565 lacks any effective or appropriate mechanisms for future generations.

First, the bill would result in the misspending of millions of dollars of taxpayer money. The bill would amend the mandate of the NCC to require it to purchase all available properties in the park. There are currently 377 privately owned properties in the park. In a normal market, and extrapolating from the prices of acquisitions in the past, the cost to purchase all of these 377 properties would be over $100 million. If that figure were not big enough, multiply that $100 million many times over, based on the strong possibility that this legal obligation of the NCC to purchase properties would lead to exponential inflation of private property prices in the park. The result of this scenario would be the NCC being legally obligated to buy hundreds of properties at prices far above their normal market value. Meanwhile, this money could be better spent on the park's protection and maintenance while acquisitions continue to be prioritized based on how they contribute to the long-term sustainability and well-being of the park.

Second, the bill goes into great detail concerning the NCC's obligation to protect biodiversity and to promote education and leisure activities in the park. These ideas are far from revolutionary, as the previous government bills introduced in 2009 and 2010 proposed similar obligations. However, these previous government bills took a more appropriate approach by utilizing the concepts of ecological integrity and environmental stewardship, which are foundations of existing federal parks legislation, including the Canada National Parks Act. The forthcoming government bill would continue to make use of these concepts.

Third, although I appreciate that the bill sets out the same boundaries for the delineation of Gatineau Park used in our previous bills, that is where the similarities end and the problems with the member's bill begin. The bill would absolutely prohibit a sale or transfer of any public lands within these boundaries. This inclusion shows a lack of understanding of how a park with the size and unique character of Gatineau Park needs to be managed. Sometimes it is necessary, in the public interest or in the interest of the park itself, to perform minor alterations to the boundaries. The NCC requires a mechanism that allows government oversight of the transfer or disposition of a piece of property, as long as the overall area of the park remains the same. Our government bill would ensure that the integrity of the park was protected while the NCC was provided with this necessary flexibility.

In the meantime, the NCC already has in place a designation called a national interest land mass, or NILM. A property designated NILM cannot be sold or transferred without government oversight and approval. Gatineau Park is designated an NILM. This designation has been successfully used for many years in the capital region to protect and manage property the government wishes to maintain for future generations, which includes, of course, Gatineau Park.

Fourth, the bill would create preferential treatment in Gatineau Park for aboriginal peoples and local communities regarding rights of subsistence. It is my opinion that this refers to hunting and fishing rights in the park.

At this time, no hunting is allowed in the park, while a few provincial lakes allow licensed fishing.

Hunting is inappropriate and unsafe in a park that hosts more than 2.7 million visitors per year from around the world. Clearly, there is a safety hazard there.

Furthermore, the bill would put the NCC in the precarious position of deciding who is allowed to do what in the park and who would require regulation and enforcement, at a very high cost to taxpayers. This provision would effectively pit the local community against visitors in a park that is meant to be enjoyed equally by everyone as part of a capital region shared by all Canadians.

Fifth, the bill could potentially infringe on provincial jurisdiction as well as federal relations.

The bill states that the NCC may not, in pursuing its objectives, infringe on real property rights. I would like to remind members that real property rights in Gatineau Park are already protected by the Code civil du Québec. This inclusion in the bill is therefore redundant and unnecessary. I do not know why the chief opposition whip thinks it is necessary for the federal government, through its legislation, to pronounce and interfere on issues of provincial jurisdiction.

The final issue with the bill is its unnecessary amendment of the Department of Canadian Heritage Act. The rationale for this inclusion comes from the transfer of the activity and events mandate in the national capital region from the NCC to the Department of Canadian Heritage, pursuant to economic action plan 2013. However, the member should know that subsequent to this transfer, the NCC and the Department of Canadian Heritage entered into a memorandum of understanding under which the NCC would continue to handle these responsibilities for, among other places, Gatineau Park and the Mackenzie King Estate, while the Department of Canadian Heritage would be responsible for these activities in urban areas of the capital region. This is another example of the lack of understanding and nuance that permeates the opposition whip's bill.

In conclusion, the bill is irreparably flawed. It must be opposed, as it would be extremely costly to taxpayers. It is unnecessarily rigid, blunt, and at times, quite redundant. It could potentially present issues relating to provincial jurisdiction and federal-provincial relations and could create favouritism and controversy regarding hunting and fishing rights in the park. It is unnecessarily narrow in addressing only Gatineau Park within a much larger national capital region.

Shortly the Government of Canada will introduce an act to amend the National Capital Act and other acts that will be similar to the previous government bills. The intention of this forthcoming legislation is to provide the National Capital Commission with all the tools it needs to continue to successfully fulfill its mandate.

For these reasons, I would like to inform the chief opposition whip and members of this House that I oppose Bill C-565.

National Capital ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be speaking to Bill C-565, a very important bill introduced by my colleague from Hull—Aylmer, who is also the chief opposition whip. This bill must certainly have meaning for most members of the House because it aims to protect one of the national capital's treasures. I was somewhat familiar with this region before, but I have learned more about it in recent years, now that I come here quite regularly as part of my duties as the MP for Sherbrooke.

Tourists certainly know about the park—it attracts 2.7 million visitors a year. That is quite impressive. One of the reasons why I am pleased to be speaking to this bill is that I love the national capital region, the Outaouais. Of course, I prefer the Eastern Townships, but that is a debate for another day.

There has been some debate about protecting parks in the Eastern Townships. For example, Mont-Orford provincial park created a lot of buzz in the Eastern Townships. The leader of the official opposition knows that topic well, as he was the Quebec minister of the environment at the time. That is why I think it is important to support the bill introduced by my colleague from Hull—Aylmer, which is designed to protect Gatineau Park.

I imagine that the majority of my colleagues' ridings include a number of parks or protected areas. For example, Sherbrooke has Bois-Beckett park, a wonderful spot that is protected by a municipal bylaw. There are provincial parks such as Mont-Orford. I am sure that there are parks in every riding. I believe that Drummondville has Voltigeurs park and, of course, the Boisé Marconi wooded area. Those are areas where biodiversity is protected by municipal, provincial or federal regulations. Today in Parliament, we are talking about a park under federal protection.

We need to protect the biodiversity of all these protected areas, giving animals a place to take shelter when there is a lot of construction and more and more people living on their land. It is important to preserve places where biodiversity can continue to grow. Gatineau Park is one of those important places in the region.

This immense park, which covers 7.8% of the greater national capital region, allows species threatened by the growth of areas inhabited by humans to go to places that are safer for them. That is why I support Bill C-565.

Here are some key facts to further the public's knowledge of this park. The park recently celebrated its 75th anniversary and is currently managed by the National Capital Commission. Unfortunately, Gatineau Park is currently not protected.

That is why the bill was introduced. The park currently has no protection. It can be sold to real estate developers. Houses can be built there. The law does not set any limits. The bill would ensure that real estate developers could not start a project in Gatineau Park without approval by Parliament, as is the case for all of Canada's national parks.

Giving an extremely important park like Gatineau Park similar protection—even if it is not exactly the same—is the least we can do. That is what the bill proposes. The bill would not make Gatineau Park a national park like all the others, but it would give it similar protections in order to protect the biodiversity so that the park's 2.7 million annual visitors can continue to enjoy it for years to come and our children and grandchildren can enjoy it as well. This is how we can ensure the sustainability of this massive green space that is part of the region.

It is also important to note that two official residences are located in Gatineau Park, including the residence of the Speaker of the House. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, you do not live there, but as the current occupant of the chair, you are entitled to live in the residence, which is located in the park. The Prime Minister's country retreat is also located in Gatineau Park.

The bill proposes a number of things. I cannot list them all, but the bill's main purpose is to establish the park's boundaries and to prevent the sale of public land within Gatineau Park. This bill was drafted following a number of consultations held by my colleague, the member for Hull—Aylmer, who circulated petitions on this matter. It was one of my colleague's campaign promises. This bill is the result of extensive consultations and did not just appear out of thin air.

Other members have introduced bills in this regard. In the past, the government itself introduced bills concerning the park. Unfortunately, although the park has existed for 75 years, nothing has been done to this point.

When we vote on the bill in a few days, I hope that all my colleagues will follow my example and vote for this bill at second reading. We have heard that some Conservative members want to vote against it. However, I hope that they will change their minds so that we can at least send the bill to committee. I have heard some criticism from the Conservatives, but if the bill does not go to committee, it will be impossible to improve it. I urge those members to vote for the bill at second reading. If they have suggestions on how to improve the bill, they can bring them forward in committee. I urge all my colleagues to vote for Bill C-565, as I will be doing.

National Capital ActPrivate Members' Business



Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the House for their participation in this debate, which is particularly important to the people of Hull—Aylmer.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the dozens of volunteers involved in my “Together let's protect Gatineau Park” campaign. Their passion for our park is truly inspirational.

What I heard during this debate is that, like these volunteers, MPs recognize the exceptional value of Gatineau Park. We all hope that it will be preserved.

However, as we know, good intentions are not enough to protect the park. We now have a responsibility to put words into action.

Over the past seven years, the House has examined several NDP initiatives to meet this objective. All of them died on the order paper. There is no more room for failure. We must move forward if we want to leave a healthy park to future generations.

Whether it be because of its rich biodiversity or its contribution to the economic development of our region, Gatineau Park is clearly a genuine national treasure.

It is unacceptable that Gatineau Park is the only major federal park that has no legal standing and no legal protection.

The measures proposed in my bill are simple. They will remedy this situation by giving our park protections similar to those in place for our national parks.

In practical terms, this means that Gatineau Park would be granted real legal standing. Its boundaries would be entrenched in law and could no longer be secretly changed.

The National Capital Commission's mission would also be changed to include the responsibility to protect Gatineau Park's ecological integrity and to acquire the real property located within the park.

This bill will finally give Gatineau Park—a park that was created 76 years ago—the protection it deserves.

When I launched the “Together let's protect Gatineau Park” campaign in 2012, I quickly realized that the protection of this park is a cause that goes beyond political allegiance.

By signing my petition to protect Gatineau Park, thousands of people in the Outaouais region and throughout Canada have already given me their support. I also have the support of non-governmental organizations known for their expertise in this area, such as Nature Canada and the Ottawa Valley chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

Today, I urge all members from all parties to support this bill. I urge them to send the bill to committee so that we can truly discuss the very foundation of the bill and its benefits and, by working together, find a solution to protect our park.

I urge them to respond to the call of our volunteers from across the country, from citizens and organizations who care about the future of Gatineau Park.

We cannot let this opportunity pass us by once again. I know that people are hesitant and have questions, but those cannot be sorted out in the House. We can only answer these questions by sending this bill to committee, having an open discussion, and listening to the public and organizations as they make recommendations, offer suggestions and tell us exactly what they expect.

As I mentioned at the start of my speech, everyone agrees that Gatineau Park needs to be protected. In 20 years, we will no longer be able to say that we forgot, that we dropped the ball and that we should have done something when we had the chance in the House.

Now is the time to act. Now is the time to think about this and to protect our park together.

National Capital ActPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 12:09 p.m., the time provided for debate has expired.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

National Capital ActPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members



National Capital ActPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

National Capital ActPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


National Capital ActPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

National Capital ActPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


National Capital ActPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, April 30, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

The House resumed from November 29, 2013 consideration of the motion that Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak about Bill C-13, the protecting Canadians from online crime act, which would update the Criminal Code to respond to the pernicious issue of cyberbullying. Bill C-13 achieves this goal by proposing new criminal offences of distribution of intimate images without the consent of the persons depicted.

Further, to ensure that police are properly equipped to investigate and enforce the proposed new offences and other criminal offences that involve the use of the Internet or that leave behind electronic evidence, the bill also proposes to modernize the Criminal Code's investigative tools. Similar modernization updates are being done to the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act and the Competition Act to ensure that they remain responsive and relevant to the requirements of modern technology.

The bill has received considerable attention in the media, including for the proposed amendments to the investigative tools. I would like to focus my remarks on those elements of Bill C-13 that deal with the investigative tools amendments.

It is not uncommon to hear people talking about how technology has changed their lives. The Internet allows us to book airline tickets from the comfort of our homes, at any time of day or night. GPS systems allow us to get from Montreal to Saskatoon without a road map and without stopping to ask for directions. It has also changed the way that we communicate with each other. Mobile phones keep us connected to each other no matter where we are, and text messaging has made communications so fast and cheap that it is easy to stay in touch with people halfway around the world.

Canadians are world leaders when it comes to using the Internet. In 2012, 83% of Canadians over the age of 16 used the Internet in their personal lives, and that number continues to rise. The possibilities and opportunities that these technologies open up for us are nothing short of incredible. However, just as these technologies can be used to bring people together, they can be used for nefarious ends. Technology can facilitate a wide range of criminal behaviour, including the sexual exploitation of children, identity fraud and, as we have seen most recently, serious forms of cyberbullying.

Technology has also introduced us to new crimes that simply did not exist before there were computers. Crimes like computer hacking and denial of service attacks have been added to the criminal justice lexicon.

Technology has changed the types of evidence that are left behind after a crime has been committed. Previously, a telephone number may have revealed the identity of a suspect; this information may now be found in the transmission data of an email. Conspiracies can be created in online chat rooms, and people even speak of electronic fingerprints.

It is time to update the offences in the Criminal Code to reflect these new ways of committing old crimes, as is the case when we think about bullying versus cyberbullying. The amendments in Bill C-13 would update the investigative powers in the Criminal Code and the Competition Act to ensure that investigators have the tools they need to deal with the evidence in this new technological environment.

Some of the proposed Criminal Code modernization amendments found in Bill C-13 would update existing offences, while some of them would update existing investigative tools or create new ones.

With regard to the existing Criminal Code offences, Bill C-13 proposes to update the crimes of conveying false information, indecent communications, and harassing telephone calls found in section 372. Currently these three offences contain language related to outdated technologies, such as the telephone and telegraph. With the proposed amendments, these same acts would be punishable when committed using email, text messaging, or any means of telecommunications.

As much of the prohibited conduct in section 372 is currently relevant to traditional bullying, for example, repeated and harassing phone calls, the proposed amendments would ensure that these offences are also responsive to cyberbullying.

Further, the bill proposes minor updates to other Criminal Code offences. The amendments are part of the government's efforts to modernize the Criminal Code as it relates to new technologies. For example, amendments to the offence of possession of a device to obtain telecommunications services are also being made to another possession offence in the Criminal Code in relation to the possession of computer hacking tools. These amendments make the two similar provisions consistent with each other and, in an effort to increase transparency, update them to reflect the current jurisprudence in the areas that hold that a device includes a computer program.

On this particular issue, it has been very wrongly reported in the media that Bill C-13 proposes to criminalize the theft of cable signals. In fact, the theft of cable signals has been in the Criminal Code since 1960.

As to Bill C-13's proposed modernization of investigative tools, these amendments are designed to target electronic devices and tailored to ensure minimal intrusion on privacy and civil liberties.

There has been some confusion about some of the investigative tools included in the bill. I hope to dispel some of these myths today as I explain the rationale and the reasoning behind these necessary changes to the criminal law.

First, the bill proposes two new tools aimed at preserving volatile electronic evidence. They are called preservation demand and preservation orders. I would like to emphasize that preservation should not be confused with data retention schemes.

Nothing in this legislation would require Internet service providers to collect everyone's information and keep it on hand indefinitely. A preservation demand or order would require a person or a business that is not the target of the investigation to preserve a prescribed set of computer data, for example, an intimate image found on a website. The data could be preserved only for a limited amount of time in association with a specific investigation.

A good way to think of this particular tool is as a “do not delete” order; it simply asks the person to preserve or save the information already in his or her possession for a limited period of time. This tool is essential to enable the police to conduct effective investigations in the area where crucial evidence can be deleted with a simple keystroke.

The preservation demand or preservation order would provide the police with enough time to go to a judge and get the warrants or orders needed to obtain the highly volatile evidence. The police can do this without fear that the data they need will be lost or deleted, either intentionally or inadvertently as a matter of regular business practices, during the period that it takes to obtain a warrant or production order for that data.

The duration of the preservation order would be limited to 21 days for domestic investigations and 90 days for international ones. This means that if a police officer does not get the court order or a warrant obtained for the preserved data before the demand expires, that data would not be retained in the ordinary course of business and would be destroyed. The data would not be provided to the police without a court order or warrant.

If the duration of the preservation order needs to be extended, the police would have to return to a judge or justice to obtain a preservation order. The police would then be given up to 90 days to get the production order or a warrant to obtain the data that has been preserved. If the police do not get the production order or the warrant by the time the preservation order expires, the person in possession of the preserved data is required to destroy it, unless his or her business practices otherwise require that it be retained. This means that only specific computer data would be preserved under this scheme for a limited period of time and only for the purpose of an investigation.

An even more fundamental privacy safeguard of the scheme is that the computer data that would not otherwise be kept by a business would be destroyed as soon as it is no longer needed for an investigation.

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

In addition to the preservation scheme, the bill proposes to update the existing production order regime. A production order is a judicial order that requires third parties, such as a bank, to provide the police with documents containing data in connection with an investigation. This is in contrast to a search warrant that would also be issued judicially but would allow the police to search for the material themselves.

There are currently two types of production orders in the Criminal Code. These are production orders for a very particular type of basic financial information, such as the status and type of bank account, as well as the more general production order for any type of data that might be needed to conduct an investigation.

Often the requirements of an investigation are quite targeted, and general production orders could provide the police with a lot more information than they require in certain circumstances. In those cases, it makes sense to have specific tools, such as a financial data production order, that would allow the police to obtain the specific data they are looking for and that are designed to reflect the expected privacy associated with that particular type of data.

One way of thinking about this kind of tailoring is as privacy with precision. Instead of using one big tool for every problem, we would be providing several tools that are more precisely suited to specific types of problems.

The bill proposes to retain two existing categories of production orders already found in the existing Criminal Code. In addition, it is proposing three more to deal with specific types of data associated with modern technology.

In particular, Bill C-13 proposes to create production orders for historic tracking data, which would permit police to determine, for example, the pattern of bank card usage for a period of time; historic data related to the routing of telecommunications, such as the time an email was sent, and to which address, which would be known as transmission data; and historic data designed to trace specific communications.

The last type of production order would be a very important tool to address the complexities of modern communication, as it would allow the police to trace the origin of communications that may have gone through several different service providers before it reached its destination.

Other changes that are being proposed in Bill C-13 would impact the existing tracking warrant provisions. This is different from the production order for tracking data which provides information about past movements.

Police have been able to get judicially authorization tracking warrants for over 20 years, which permit them to track the whereabouts of a person in real time. As one can imagine, technology has changed a lot in that time. Where police were once able to track people with limited accuracy, there are now technologies that can track objects much more precisely and closely.

Bill C-13 proposes to split the existing tracking warrant provisions into two types of warrants: one for tracking people, and one for tracking the location of a transaction or the movement of such things as a car.

The warrant for tracking things would continue to be available on the standard of reasonable grounds to suspect, like the existing tracking warrant provision. However, this legislation proposes to increase the threshold necessary to get a tracking warrant in the situation where people would be tracked. This would mean that when police officers apply to the judge or justice for a warrant to do this more continuous and accurate type of tracking, the officer would have to meet a higher test to convince the judge that the tracking warrant is needed.

This is a dual approach, which would allow the police to retain the efficiency of the lower threshold warrant while increasing the privacy protections in situations where the greater privacy interests are at play.

Another warrant provision which Bill C-13 is proposing to update is currently known as the number recorder warrant. This permits the police to monitor the phone numbers dialed from a particular telephone and the numbers which call a particular telephone.

Although it is true that some of us still use traditional telephones to communicate, few old-fashioned dialing mechanisms are still in use. An increasing number of Canadians are using smart phones, text messaging, email, and other high-tech methods to communicate. Police need to be able to capture the routing information that these new technologies produce, the same way that we can currently capture the phone numbers under existing warrants. The proposed transmission data recorder warrant and the new production order for transmission data would allow police to do just that.

Where police could previously only get the phone number of someone who was dialing, they would now be able to get parallel updated forms of communication destination information like email addresses as well. This would provide for much-needed modernization in this area, since technology has moved well beyond telephone dialing.

I think it is important to emphasize that this warrant would retain the Criminal Code's existing privacy protections. Neither the warrant nor the production order would allow police to obtain the content of people's emails, text messages, or phone calls. They would not even get the subject line of emails using this warrant. In essence, Bill C-13 would permit police to get information about where a communication is coming from or where it is going to. That is the only kind of information they are going to get with this warrant and production order.

Besides these new and improved investigative tools, Bill C-13 also proposes to clarify and safeguard the common law powers of police. Section 487.014 would be amended to remove the requirement for police to be administering or enforcing an act of Parliament before they can ask for information. The current wording has been creating problems for the police in performing everyday duties, such as getting information for the purpose of notifying a next of kin.

There has been some concern about this amendment removing the limits on what police can ask of persons who voluntarily provide information. Let me be clear. The common law powers of the police are rooted in legitimate police business, which is one limit. Further, the existing restrictions on the provider of the information would remain. They can only provide information that they are not otherwise prohibited by law from disclosing. Indeed, providers of information will be governed by federal or provincial privacy legislation that will restrict the disclosure of personal information. To be clear, the primary purpose of this provision is to ensure that police do not need a production order every time they want to ask a question.

These amendments are the result of extensive consultations, both on the elements relating to the proposed new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images and on the modernization of investigative tools.

The proposals in Bill C-13 were recommended in recent federal, provincial, territorial reports on the issue on cyberbullying and non-consensual distribution of intimate images, which was released in July 2013 and supported by the federal, provincial, territorial ministers in November 2013.

The report strongly recommends both the proposed new offences and the reintroduction of the elements related to the modernization of investigative tools. The report also recommends that the enactment of new offences be supported by updated investigative tools.

Bill C-13 would provide police with a set of tools which would allow them to be effective and efficient in conducting a complex investigation in the modern world. This would apply to serious forms of cyberbullying, including the proposed new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images as well, or other offences that occurred in cases of cyberbullying, such as criminal harassment or extortion.

Our government is committed to combatting cybercrime in all forms. This bill is a necessary addition to the legislative tool kit.

When we look at the legislation, it is important that we really highlight the fact of what is going on. The reality is technology has changed, the environment in which our police services work in has changed, and they need modernization of the tools so they can go about doing the job they have been asked to do for many years.

We need to ensure they have access to the tools and the information, so we can still protect our families and our loved ones when they are victims of cyberbullying or cyber crime. When we see situations where someone is trying to entice someone to do something wrong, or when we see situations where people are being bullied or harassed, we will have the tools to prevent that from leading to something more serious.

It is important that we see proper legislation move forward. It is very important that we balance the privacy rights of the individuals with the rights of the police and the rights of the victim. The way this legislation is drafted, we have done just that. We will allow the data to be retained, but at the same time the police officers involved will have to receive the warrant before they can use the data. That is relevant and it makes a lot of common sense. I think a lot of Canadians would understand that.

I just hope that all members appreciate the importance of this bill. It is very important that we modernize our laws and our abilities to take advantage of new technologies as they become available, and to take on new criminal activities that are using the new technologies, ensuring we have the tools for our police officers to ensure these new technologies are not abused but are used for what they were originally intended, for public good.

I hope all members of the House will support the need for modern tools for modern times. Bill C-13 would provide just that. I look forward to questions.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP will be voting in favour of this bill, because it is very similar to the bill introduced by my colleague from Nova Scotia. However, I find the lack of prevention included in the bill really unfortunate.

I understand that the government wanted to focus on criminalization, but could the bill not have been improved by placing greater emphasis on prevention, as well as criminalization?

The House of Commons wants to protect as many young people as possible from the scourge of bullying, and right now, I do not see much in the way of prevention in this bill.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the member brings up a good point. The bill is one part of the equation. I am sure the Minister of Justice and others would agree with this, but I do not want to speak on their behalf.

If we look at this, it is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to cyberbullying. Education as well as the exact things the member is looking for are very important things that we should be considering as we debate the bill through committee.

The reality is we need to ensure we put the tools in place for the police forces so they have the ability to take on these criminals. That does not mean this is the end all and be all. This does not solve what we are looking at; it is part of the puzzle to solve the equation.

Education and other factors need to be looked at. We have to ensure that our kids are kept safe. Not only that, we have to ensure that our kids understand the consequences of their actions when they send text messages or images. They need to understand there are consequences, and that they could be hurting someone when they make that anonymous note in an email, text or tweet. Their actions will have consequences and will impact someone's life. Just because we are not looking at them, we should not think it is not happening.

It is very important that this be a part of many things to tackle cyberbullying.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for outlining some of the effects of Bill C-13 and how it would help to modernize the tools available to our police forces to investigate, to actually reflect the fact that there are many changes in modern technology.

A number of years ago I introduced a private member's motion in the House, Motion No. 388, which sought to clarify an offence in the Criminal Code of encouraging someone to die by suicide. While it currently is an offence in the Criminal Code, it was not clear in the code as to whether that included telecommunications and Internet technology. Motion No. 388, which passed unanimously in the House, called on government to implement some of those changes.

I was pleased to note that in the comments made by my colleague and also some comments I was able to read that the bill would actually give police better tools to track and trace telecommunications, their origins and destinations. Could my colleague highlight how the bill would make it impossible for those who would presume to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet to continue to do that kind of devious work?

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a disgusting act to go online to convince somebody to take his or her own life. I think everybody in the House would agree with my colleague that his motion was an honourable one, a motion that definitely needed to come forward. I hope to see it enacted as we move forward.

One of the important things we are seeing in this, and which he highlighted in his question, is the fact that we are giving police the tools to actually trace where information comes from and who is doing this type of stuff. It is not being done to just one person; it is being done to multiple people. It is a sickness that needs to be dealt with. I call it a sickness because I do not know what else to call it. It is very disgusting when someone takes on the role of convincing somebody else to take his or her own life.

Having said that, we need to ensure we have balance. We need to ensure we preserve people's rights, dignity and privacy, and we want to ensure that exists. We also want to ensure that when we come across a situation where this is happening, police officers can have the data preserved so they can get court orders and warrants to do the proper investigation. There has to be a proper process put in place, which has been done in Bill C-13.

I look forward to seeing what impact these changes would have and that hopefully this bill would solve the issues involved in cyberbullying and the people who are disgusting enough to try to convince somebody else to commit suicide.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, for me this issue is very important. As a young woman, I have grown up with a lot of technology around and have learned to be wary over the years. Certainly young people need to know how to protect themselves, et cetera.

My colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord raised the importance of preventive measures. He presented a motion on a national strategy to prevent and end bullying. Unfortunately, the Conservatives voted against that. I would like to know why my colleague voted against that and believed it was not a good way forward to prevent bullying.