That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights that, during its consideration of 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 Committee be granted the power to divide the Bill into two bills: the first consisting of clauses 2 to 7 and 27, related to cyberbullying; and the second bill containing all the other provisions of Bill C-13.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Châteauguay—Saint-Constant for seconding the motion.
As the saying goes, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
After second reading stage of Bill C-13, it seemed clear to me that it would be best to divide the bill because the bill had strayed from what it was meant to address, which is cyberbullying. It does much more than that. This bill has some 50 clauses, but barely seven or eight clauses on cyberbullying. The issues it addresses vary.
Members must understand why it is important to remove clauses 2 to 7 and 27 from the bill so that we can finish studying them right away. The rest of the clauses need to be studied much more carefully, as many people are telling us.
I made the request subsequent to a motion that did not receive the required unanimous consent of the House. I am trying again because we are now studying different parts in committee and have additional information.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that we will be able to keep working much longer because the government has indicated that it wants the bill passed before the end of this session. That concerns me because there are not many meetings left. There are still many, many people who want to testify. I would hate to hear that the process is going to be fast-tracked for the most contentious clauses on terrorist activities, telemarketing and theft of a communication service. That is what I suspect will happen so that clauses 2 to 7 and 27 get passed. The bill also includes some of the provisions from Bill C-30.
There is also the issue of privacy and the fact that Canadians have already overwhelmingly rejected the provisions contained in Bill C-30. There is also a series of concerns about which of the provisions where included in Bill C-13, which ones were set aside, which ones were put back in with slight changes, and what kinds of changes are needed.
These are very specialized provisions. They are so specialized that it is rather odd in committee. Parents of victims are there on certain days. At those times we are truly reminded of why Bill C-13 was supposedly introduced. It completely changes how the committee works. The next day, the witnesses might be cyber experts or police representatives.
I do not think this request is crazy or illogical. It makes sense. I have a hard time understanding the government's insistence on passing a bill that contains provisions that are not necessarily widely accepted or that have not been approved by even a small segment of the Canadian public.
The mother of one victim, Amanda Todd, made statements to the committee that some found incredible. If anyone could have been expected to support Bill C-13 100%, it would have been one of the victims in this huge file, but this mother herself recognized that we should not have to choose between security and privacy. These two concepts are extremely important.
I am not saying that we should reject the provisions in Bill C-13 that deal with access to the private data of some individuals in this context.
We have to recognize just how important this is and give it the thorough study it merits, the way it should be done. We have not done that kind of analysis in a long time.
The committee received a letter, and I would like to read parts of it that I find particularly persuasive. I am not the only one calling for the bill to be divided in two, as we have asked in the motion. The letter was addressed to the committee chair, the very competent member for Burlington, and came from Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner, whose stance is echoed by many of her counterparts. I would like to read parts of the letter because she puts a fine point on why we are making this request:
As the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, I am writing you to assist the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in fulfilling its duty to ensure that Canadians have both effective law enforcement and rigorous privacy protections. To find the most compelling testimony on this point, you need look no further than to the statement made before your committee on May 13, 2014:
“We should not have to choose between our privacy and our safety. We should not have to sacrifice our children's privacy rights to make them safe from cyberbullying, 'sextortion' and revenge pornography”.
As you know, these are the words of Carol Todd, whose daughter Amanda took her own life after being shamelessly bullied and abused by a person yet to be brought to justice. The federal government, this Committee, and Parliament as a whole each owe families like the Todd's, as well as all Canadians, their best thinking about both privacy and safety. The fact that over the last decade, the government has repeatedly failed to pass legislation updating police surveillance powers is a sad testimony to the government's failure to honour Canadians' reasonable expectation that they deserve and can have both.
The time for dressing up overreaching surveillance powers in the sheep-like clothing of sanctimony about the serious harms caused by child pornography and cyberbullying is long past. In my view, the government should immediately split Bill C-13 and move ahead quickly to deal with those provisions of the bill that directly address the proposed new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images...In the future, further consideration may need to be given to how best to respond to other forms of cyberbullying, for example, of the most unfortunate kind, recently seen on an Instagram account called “IF_U_ON_THIS_KILL_URSELF” (as reported on by Global News). In the meantime, the remaining surveillance-oriented provisions of Bill C-13—some 46 of its 53 pages—should be withdrawn and redrafted.
This work should be approached with reasoned thought and without imposing a time constraint—as this government so often does with everything it introduces in the House—so that we can arrive at and draft good provisions. This is not a trivial matter. We are dealing with people's privacy.
The goal here is to stop crimes, but that does not mean giving carte blanche to the government and police forces to do whatever they want, however they want, whenever they want. There are rules. However, in Bill C-13, those rules are not very clear, and experts do not seem to agree on them. The rules need to be studied and possibly amended, and that will not happen with Bill C-13 as presented in the House and in committee, or with the deadlines imposed on us, or with the commitments by the minister and his government to have this bill passed before the summer break.
It is absolutely cruel, when I see the list of all those who asked to be heard, including experts from across the country. They wanted to be heard on the issue so that we can give our law enforcement agencies the best tools to do their work properly, while respecting Canadians's right to privacy.
Canadians also have the right to be protected by the government. They are already protected by the charter. It has already been noted that Bill C-13 does not include anything on wiretapping. Under the Criminal Code, a person must be notified that they were wiretapped. What is more, there is absolutely nothing in Bill C-13 to indicate that the person concerned has to be notified that some of their information and data has been shared. There needs to be some sort of mechanism to inform a person that their data has been shared. There is the issue of immunity that was given to the telecommunications companies.
The real goal of Bill C-13 was to penalize behaviours that have to do with the distribution of intimate images. That is all. Clauses 2 to 7 and 27 have to do with crime related to the distribution of intimate images. That is not the only form of cyberbullying. It is the rest that shows what is really behind Bill C-13.
Our motion calls for an instruction to be given to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights that, during its consideration of 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 Committee be granted the power to divide the bill into two bills: the first consisting of clauses 2 to 7 and 27, related to cyberbullying; and the second bill containing all the other provisions of Bill C-13. It is not only experts who are calling for this action to be taken, but also the mother of one of the victims, a woman whom the government likes to quote regularly.
I think that she was very wise in making this recommendation. The government would not be showing weakness by supporting this motion. Rather, it would be showing that, for once, it is listening to people's recommendations. Our intention is not to reject everything in the second part of the bill, and I would not want to hear the members opposite saying that we do not want to give the police the tools they need. That is not at all the case.
What we want to do is to make sure that the tools that we give them are legal and that the application of Bill C-13, if it is passed without amendment, will not eventually lead to a case before the Supreme Court where another bill has to be rejected. Such an approach will just keep bringing us back to square one. That is not a good way to show serious concern for smart justice in Canada.
Give us some time. That does not mean giving us time to stall for nothing. It means giving us time to hear what experts have to say on the subject. Give us the time to analyze each clause without feeling like we have a gun to our heads because the work needs to be done in the next few hours, the bill needs to come back before the House by June 10 or the bill needs to be passed before the House breaks for the summer. That is not an intelligent way to pass a bill that is so important and that will have such a great impact. Many people are still not sure what the consequences of this bill will be.
We are not rejecting the bill. It simply needs to be examined more intelligently.