Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to 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, the protecting Canadians from online crime act.
It will come as no surprise that I will be supporting the bill at second reading. There are elements in the bill that I think we have waited too long to implement. At the same time, we have to be very conscious that when we deal with legislation, it needs to be concise but it also needs clarity.
I wonder what kind of message we send to Canadians when the title of a bill has so many components that it leaves many people wondering what the bill is really about. The fact that there are so many subheadings to the bill shows that it is not just looking at cyberbullying and consequences to update our legislation. This is another example of legislation where the government has cobbled together various pieces of its agenda and thrown in something on which I would say we have unanimous agreement.
We did request unanimous consent that the bill be divided to allow similar provisions from our colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, who, by the way, has done amazing work on this file, that is Bill C-540, and the aspect that relates to the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. We asked that it be adopted rapidly in committee, since it has all-party support.
This is where frustration sometimes sets in this House. This is something we could have done, all-party, everybody in agreement, with that particular component of this legislation. We are all in agreement. We could have separated it and passed it; I believe that component has been debated many times. Then we could have spent our time debating the rest of the bill.
There are some problems with the rest of the bill, but that part of the bill that encompasses Bill C-540, the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, could have been adopted unanimously and it could have gone on to the next stage.
I urge my colleagues across the way to consider doing that. They have a majority and could make it happen. They would certainly get consent from our side to separate it that way. We could get something moving in a very timely manner.
The world has changed since I went to school. The kinds of bullying and activities in school are very different now. Bullying is bullying. However, we have different types of bullying. There was a time that if an individual were bullied by somebody at their school, they had to write them a letter. That would happen very rarely because they did not want to get caught, or they would bully the individual to their face. With cyberbullying now, people can bully an individual 24/7 using social media.
I am often amazed at how many of our youth have cell phones. They are not just phones; all of the social media and the Internet are on there. Our youth are very actively engaged. They carry their phones with them, which brings the bullying right into their homes, 24/7.
By the way, I am not saying that we should ban all cell phones for young people. I can see our young people in the House looking at me, wondering if that is where I am going. Not at all. However, I am saying that because technology has changed how our young people interact with each other, so must our legal system. However, we have seen the shortfalls of our legal system. It was not equipped to deal with some very tragic circumstances. Because of that, we have to update our Criminal Code and law enforcement.
However, more than anything, I think we also have a responsibility to educate. Media literacy is very important. We taught children, long before we had all this technology, how to communicate in a positive way and not to hurt each other's feelings. In a similar way, I think our schools, as well as parents at home, have to work with our young people to teach them ways to manage this new world. Even though we may not live in that world, we have to help to construct a safety net for our students and young people, which is what this legislation is all about.
Months ago, we could quite easily have separated and dealt with cyberbullying in the bill proposed by my colleague, the incredibly hard-working member of Parliament for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. Instead, here we have a very complex bill, which will now take time. Some of my colleagues will say that it does not have to take time if we agree to everything that is in the new bill. However, I cannot. There are problems with many parts of the bill before us, and I know we will be bringing amendments when it gets to committee stage.
I always want to use the word “student”. Being a teacher all of my life, that is how I think. However, for our young people, we have to do the responsible thing and try to take the politics out of dealing with this safety issue. This is an issue that has been sensitized because of a number of recent tragedies. I have talked to young people who have told me how terrible it is and how alone they feel when they have been bullied through cyberspace.
I would not say that words do not hurt because they do hurt. I can remember being at school when people got yelled at, and I could see the look of hurt on their faces. Sometimes they were beaten up because children can get into fights. However, what we are seeing with cyberbullying right now is that it is 24/7, and there is no escape.
We know the young people who are vulnerable. We know that it is people from, let us say the gay and lesbian community, the students who are not out. Even the students who are out can also become a target, through the use of anonymity and fake IDs that people can create in this world.
However, to quote the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario on Bill C-13, “the federal government is using this pressing social issue as an opportunity to resurrect much of its former surveillance legislation, Bill C-30”.
We remember when a certain minister was told what was thought of that bill. They feel that this proposed legislation is a resurrection of that bill and the government is trying to sugar-coat it by throwing in a much-needed bill to protect our children.