House of Commons Hansard #89 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was justice.

Topics

An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act (homosexual activities)
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-600, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act (homosexual activities).

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce a bill that is long overdue.

This bill, an act to amend the Criminal Records Act in relation to homosexual activities, is meant to expunge the mention of decriminalized lesbian and gay-identified sexual acts from criminal records. Such acts should have never been the basis of criminal prosecution and conviction. It is time to redress this matter.

Canada decriminalized homosexual activities many years ago. However, people are still left to cope with the burden and the shame of having a criminal record for these activities.

Society has evolved. We no longer consider consensual sexual expression to be matters for the Criminal Code, yet the consequences of past criminal accusations and convictions continue to haunt certain individuals. When seeking employment, one must often declare if one has a criminal record. Employment can be, and likely has been, refused on the basis of an individual's sexual expression.

A great deal of progress has been made in recent years in the area of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

Unfortunately, politicians have too often refrained from doing anything and have passed the buck to the courts.

Before us is a case the courts would have difficulty redressing. This is a collective harm imposed on a discriminated group. To offer redress, we owe it to those who are found guilty by the terms of discriminatory anti-sexual laws no longer in place to be granted more than just a pardon. This bill would expunge their records. Never again would these individuals need to fear that their unwarranted criminal record could cost them their jobs, bar them from travel, or cause them shame.

This issue has been pending for far too long. It is time to take action.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

moved:

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.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the excellent member for Gatineau for raising this important point.

Earlier, we spoke about the number of bills that have been rejected by the Supreme Court because this government always tries to ram through legislation instead of putting in place a solid legislative framework that is not problematic. Consequently, the Conservatives either have to introduce another bill to correct the flaws of previous bills, or the courts are obliged to reject the bills.

Today, the member for Gatineau suggested a way to move forward more quickly, and in a more meaningful and solid manner, precisely so that the positive aspects of the bill dealing with cyberbullying are not rejected just because other aspects require more work.

According to my colleague from Gatineau, would her proposal result in a more effective approach to fighting cyberbullying?

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

I believe that it is indeed much more effective. We have been saying so from the beginning. Clauses 2 to 7 and 27 would probably already have been passed here, would be in the process of being studied in the Senate in order to be passed, even before the summer, and would already be part of the Criminal Code.

With respect to tools, a number of police officers who appeared before the committee told us that they have the tools. We are creating a new offence concerning the distribution of intimate images and it is important that it be added to the Criminal Code quickly.

Then, we could perhaps start advising police forces that they must start speeding things up. They can obtain warrants. Many things already exist. They have many tools. That would allow us to determine whether the more sophisticated tools that the government wants to give law enforcement agencies meet legal tests, are appropriate and functional, and are not likely to be rejected by the courts in future, which would be unfortunate.

For a police officer who is conducting an investigation involving a plaintiff and a victim, there is nothing more frustrating than having the courts reject a case in the end, after an arrest has been made, because the evidence was obtained illegally. That is what we are trying to help the government avoid. We are not trying to protect criminals. We are trying to ensure that the Supreme Court will not have to tell the government, yet again, that the evidence was obtained illegally.

My colleague was right in saying that Supreme Court of Canada has rejected many of the government's bills. Under the circumstances, we are just trying to keep that from happening again by studying this extremely important bill in a measured and responsible way.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her speech and the motion she has moved. I am certain, as are many of our colleagues in the House, that she could talk to us about the young people who told us about being bullied. People close to them were asking themselves questions. How can we recognize bullying? How can we come up with a solution? How can we help? Bullying comes from all directions. People feel somewhat powerless in that type of situation, which will affect the victims for the rest of their lives.

Could my colleague talk a bit about the testimony that she heard regarding the situation in our ridings? I would like to hear her ideas about how we could do a better job of studying this bill and ensure that our young people, and others, are protected.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, that wonderfully compassionate question is at the heart of the subject and affects everyone here in the House. Who here has not heard a constituent or a close friend talk about a child of theirs who is being bullied?

We now know that bullying is changing. That is because technology is changing. We should not be surprised. Bullying is happening faster and can cause much more damage. Before, people were teased in schoolyards, and things stayed in the schoolyard, for the most part. Now, with a single click, things go viral around the world. Bullying is on a much larger scale now.

When victims tell me that they think it is too bad the people studying the bill are not talking about them very much, that makes me think it is even more important to adopt this motion. This bill is 48 pages long, but fewer than 10 of the clauses are about victims.

Victims tell us that they do not really feel included in Bill C-13. They feel like this is actually two separate bills. That is why I said that I sometimes felt like I was taking part in a meeting of cyber-whatever experts. For example, law enforcement experts talked to us about lurking, which they do in Internet chat rooms. Then a victim told us that she had been bullied, and so on.

That is why I think that victims were kind of buried in the process. I know that the government wanted to make sure all of the side stuff went through, but all of that stuff got to be bigger than the main event. This is the unfortunate result.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Gatineau will know that the people in my province of Nova Scotia have been very concerned about this issue of cyberbullying after the events that have happened there, involving, for instance, the Rehtaeh Parsons case. There is a strong desire, of course, for action to deal with that.

With any bill before us, it is important to look at the details. I want to ask her about the proposal in the bill that not only police officers can make information requests of telecommunications companies about who has what email address and so forth, but what is called public officers can do that. From her study of this bill, what does she take “public officers” to mean?

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I gave the definition when I gave my speech at second reading.

Since we are living in a world of cyberinformation, I encourage everyone to get on the Internet and type in the words “criminal code peace officer”. We get a list of people including mayors and all sorts of officers. When the legislation refers to that term, it means that a whole host of people have access to the information.

My colleague from Halifax West is right to mention this. In fact, this is one of the aspects that needs to be studied. We must determine who has access to certain information in order to prevent certain people, like Mayor Rob Ford, an example my colleague from Timmins—James Bay really likes to use, from having access to it. Technically, it is true that Mayor Ford has access to this information, since his position is included in the Criminal Code definition. Certain things might need to be amended.

If I started reading the definition, I could probably go on until 4 o'clock. When I started last time, I stopped partway through and that took five minutes of the wonderful 20 minutes I was given.

Since I am running out of time, I will just sit down.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

May 26th, 2014 / 3:35 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate and I listened carefully to my friend opposite. First of all, I want to state unequivocally that this government is very concerned and takes the privacy issues of Canadians very seriously. That is the very impetus to this legislation, Bill C-13 and others. The government should also indicate that all government agencies comply at all times with Canadian law. It is surprising in some ways that I have to state that, but that appears to be the backdrop to some of the concerns raised by my friend opposite.

The activities of the government's law enforcement and security agencies in particular are all subject to independent agencies and oversight. Again, this is not as if law enforcement or the definition of peace officer enables individuals to, without jurisdiction, without proper oversight, simply access privacy and the private information of Canadians. They have to seek judicial authorization. That is embedded in the bill before the House and now before the committee.

I should note that we have worked closely with the interim Privacy Commissioner, as with her predecessor, in developing provisions within the bill that we think strengthen privacy protection for Canadians, including increasing the investigative powers of the Privacy Commissioner.

In regard to the issue of examination by experts, we now have the bill at committee. We now have a multi-party committee that is looking at the bill in detail as it would in the normal course of parliamentary procedure. It has the ability to call before the committee experts, more than just one expert. Committees are masters of their destiny. The committee can hear from experts with a specialized knowledge and I submit that there are certainly more than one, to speak to these issues and to bring to the forefront in a very public way, and answer in a very public way, concerns that my friend and others may have raised.

I want to come back to the substance of the member's argument with respect to splitting the bill. She would know and others would know that within the bill is an attempt to modernize our efforts to enable law enforcement to now police the Internet. To use the vernacular, it is giving the police the ability in the virtual world to enforce and protect Canadians the way that we see in the normal course of events in the real world in the law enforcement community.

Sadly, many of the provisions of the Criminal Code as they pertain to intimidation, to what we call bullying, the type of intimidation that very tragically led to the death of a number of young Canadians including Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd, whose parents we had before committee. This is all about enabling the police to in some cases, pre-empt and prevent the type of very insidious activity that takes place online that caused these young people to feel so despondent that they took their own lives.

To pass a bill that has within its text the words that will create a new criminal offence that would prohibit the non-consensual distribution of intimate images and criminalize that type of activity that might have saved the lives of Parsons, Todd, and others, but not then enable the police to gather and present before the courts the evidence necessary to obtain a conviction, the necessary ability for law enforcement to uphold the law, would be an empty vessel. It would be a shell of a bill if we did not modernize those provisions of the Criminal Code that allow law enforcement to do their important work.

It pertains to more than just this new provision of the Criminal Code. It pertains to acts of terrorism. It pertains to acts of fraud, all of which and other acts can occur online, as the Speaker and others would know. To separate the bill, I would suggest, would be perverse. It would run counter to the intent of the government to allow police and law enforcement to do their good work.

Speaking of perverse, I find it somewhat contradictory that the hon. member would argue such a point and would suggest that we simply pass this law preventing cyberbullying from occurring, but not allow the police to actually enforce it.

The current sections of the code were put in place during the time of rotary telephones and prior to the Internet. This is very much an overall modernization attempt by the government. It does not pertain to just this new section of the Criminal Code.

What I also find somewhat contradictory in my friend's argument is that she says there is an urgency. She spoke, rightly, with real and genuine passion about the harm being done on the Internet. She was asked a question by a colleague from the NDP about the necessity, in fact I would call it a moral obligation on the part of the government and all members of Parliament, to act to protect young people from this type of activity.

Yet, almost within the same breath, the member suggests we slow down and not act with haste. I think the member used the word “stall”. We are not stalling just for the sake of stalling. That is in fact what would happen. This bill would not advance, it would not come into being, and it would not become law.

I believe there is urgency. I believe there are exigent circumstances, as the Supreme Court would say, that require this bill to become law and that necessitate action on the part of the government. That is why we are bringing this bill forward, holistically, in a way that not only puts new provisions in the Criminal Code but also gives the police the ability to enforce the law.

Bill C-13 specifically would not create new protection from criminal or civil liability for those who voluntarily assist law enforcement. It simply clarifies existing provisions. Further, the provisions would provide protection for those who voluntarily assist police where such assistance is not otherwise prohibited by law. Bill C-13 would not protect or propose to protect a mechanism that bypasses the necessary judicial oversight, as some might have suggested.

I want to come back to one of the witnesses, Carol Todd, mother of Amanda Todd, who was referenced by my friend. I, as a new father, personally cannot imagine the pain and suffering that she has endured, losing her beloved daughter. Clearly this is a subject that is very deep, very emotional for her. I reviewed her testimony. I heard her concerns. As a result, that very day, I reached out to her. I spoke with her in person. The very next day, she came to my office and we had a very detailed discussion about the concerns she had raised at committee. I am not going to go further than that, other than to suggest that I believe she came away with a much better sense of comfort and confidence in what the government was attempting to do.

I do note, and I think it bears repeating, that at the end of the day, and I know my friend will confirm this because she was there, Mrs. Todd and all family members who testified, all said in their testimony that they wanted to see the bill passed as quickly as possible.

That runs completely contrary to the impression that my friend has left, that somehow Mrs. Todd or other family members wanted this bill delayed, wanted this bill split, wanted this bill somehow put into a side track that would prevent it from becoming law. That is a complete mischaracterization of what was said. All family members said they want this bill to become law.

I felt it was incumbent upon me to correct the record on a number of those statements by my friend. I repeat again that this bill is central to our government's commitment to contributing further to addressing the issue of cyberbullying across this country. It is a key element of the government's agenda to support victims and punish criminals.

Again, I find it passing strange that my friend would suggest that somehow victims were being overlooked in this bill, that there was not specific reference or perhaps there was insufficient reference to victims. We have an entire bill dedicated to enhancing victims rights, a bill that was the result of extensive cross-country consultation with justice stakeholders, most importantly the victims and those who work with victims.

That bill is completely in keeping with the very premise and underpinnings of this legislation to enhance the rights of victims, to enhance their involvement in the criminal justice system, the respect they deserve, the information flow. The very critical epicentre of a role that they play in our justice system is contained in commensurate legislation known as the victims bill of rights. Therefore, somehow suggesting that this bill may be lacking in reference to victims I find disingenuous at best.

The issue of cyberbullying, I agree with my friend, is an age-old problem. Technology has irrevocably changed the nature and the scope of bullying. There is no denying that. Bullying is now conducted via the Internet. It is no longer simply happening in schoolyards with pushing, shoving, and fights. This now follows a victim home. It is carried with them in their pocket or on their hip with their handheld device. It is with them in the classroom. It is omnipresent because of the Internet. That necessitates action. It necessitates legislation empowering police to do more in terms of tracking, identifying, arresting, and charging those who are responsible for crimes on the Internet.

This problem, as was referenced, is not going away. It is in fact becoming worse. It is more prolific. It is more broadly spread than ever before. It does not respect borders. It does not respect jurisdictions. Many of these images are permanently in place. Therefore, this legislation, in addition to other things, provides action to remove offending images. It provides the types of pre-emptive acts that we hope might prevent the despondency that was felt by some of the victims, like Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd, and others.

Over the past number of years this issue has become prolific. That is what I view as a clarion call for government action, not further study, not delaying it, not allowing experts who may have some other agenda in mind, but simply moving the bill into law. There are suggestions that somehow this is against police wishes because in some obscure way this could possibly necessitate a constitutional challenge. As sure as night follows day there will be challenges in the court, but the member opposite is well aware of the fact that the Department of Justice regularly, as a matter of routine, examines legislation for charter compliance. Will this prevent a charter challenge? Of course not. Are we to be reticent to pass laws because a lawyer, an interest group, or an individual may decide to launch a charter challenge? I would respectfully submit that that would be irresponsible, particularly knowing what is at stake. There are literally lives at stake. That is not rhetoric. That is not an overstatement because we know the result of inaction here. We have seen it far too often, and it is going on as we gather here.

We know that this type of action is also going to require much more than simply passing bills. It will require a very progressive and aggressive public education effort. It will require having teachers, parents, police, counsellors, public servants, and I respectfully submit, everyone we possibly can bring to this cause, talking to young people, talking to everyone, about the necessity for responsible action when using the Internet because it is a powerful instrument to have that information in the palm of one's hand but it also requires responsibility and responsible action.

That is what this legislation is about. That is what the bill intends to do. If it is irresponsible, illegal, and dangerous action, we want the police and public law enforcement to have the means to act and to call people to account who have defrauded the elderly of their money, who have perpetrated or attempted to perpetrate acts of terrorism, bullying, or other illegal activity.

The stories themselves, the personal tragedies, are there. They are heartbreaking. I have heard time and time again during consultations that I have been involved with, “What is the government going to do? When is the government going to do it?”

This is what parents are most concerned about. I have not had one parent say to me, “I wish you could just study this more. I wish you could somehow slow this process down so that we could hear from more experts”. They are telling us to do something about it. That is what we are attempting to do, not somehow derail the effort, which I would submit has thus far been quite a non-partisan effort. It has been one that has garnered attention, but only because the stakes are so high, I would suggest.

In fact, I would remind the chamber that we are acting on recommendations that came from federal, provincial and territorial working groups on cybercrime. The working group already studied it extensively, considered whether cyberbullying was adequately being addressed under the Criminal Code, and found it lacking. It found there was a need that had to be filled.

In July of last year, the Department of Justice, on behalf of all federal, provincial, and territorial partners, publicly released an extensive report that was available to the committee. It is entitled “Cyberbullying and the Non-consensual Distribution of Intimate Images”. All of that and more consultation led to this point, and the working group made nine unanimous recommendations with respect to the criminal law response. It is significant to note that the very first recommendation in that report calls for a multi-pronged, multi-sectoral approach to the issue of cyberbullying. It calls upon all levels of government to continue to build on the initiatives to address, in a comprehensive manner, this serious issue of cyberbullying.

Therefore, I wholeheartedly endorse and support that recommendation. It recognizes that the current situation is intolerable and inadequate. I think most experts agree that something had to be done, and that is where we are. We are now at a point where criminal law reform represents part of this larger multi-sectoral approach that is required.

Returning to the bill before us today, I am pleased to note that all of the proposals contained in the bill were in fact recommended by the provincial, territorial, and federal working group, and supported by provincial and territorial attorneys general, I am quick to add. The bill has two main goals: create the new Criminal Code offence, as I have referred to it already; and, importantly, modernize the investigative powers of the Criminal Code to enable police to effectively and efficiently investigate cyberbullying and other crimes committed via the Internet, or that involve electronic evidence.

The preservation of evidence is a very important part of this. Specifically, the modernization portion of the bill contains amendments to the Criminal Code, the Competition Act, the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act to ensure that the laws are suitable for the technologically advanced world that we now live in. There is a common thread in these amendments, in this effort, and that is to provide law enforcement agencies with the tools they need in the 21st century to fight crime, and continue, I am quick to add, to respect the civil liberties of all Canadians.

Let me conclude by saying that the proposed new offence and the complementary amendments that would fill an existing gap in the Criminal Code are aimed at providing broader protection for all victims and deterring criminal behaviour. This legislation is not a complete answer, and it would be untrue if I were to suggest that this was the final answer to all of the concerns expressed throughout this process. Yet, it is a key piece of the broader response that is necessary to address this complex issue.

I strongly urge members to support the continued examination of the bill at the committee in its current form, and not to interfere in that process, not to derail that process, not to in any way slow up the passing of this bill. The last thing that parents, particularly those who have children who have experienced this, want to see is any sort of delay or derailment of the process. I am quoting Glen Canning when I say he was of the belief that had this law been in place, perhaps his daughter, Rehtaeh Parsons, would still be with us today.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his speech. I get the impression that something was lost in translation.

I think we were lost in translation on many points.

Nothing in our motion indicates that we want to indefinitely postpone the second part of the bill, which has to do with giving tools to law enforcement officials and everything other than cyberbullying. That is not what we are saying. We simply want the first part to be passed quickly and sent to the Senate. The bill should not go further than necessary.

The people who appeared before the committee told us that they want this bill to be passed quickly. I obviously do not want to put words in their mouths, but they were talking about the cyberbullying part. They pointed out that they were not experts on the other part. They only hoped that the other part would not delay the part that they were most interested in.

The minister is talking about a report from his provincial and territorial partners, and I find it interesting that everyone agrees that this kind of legislation is necessary. However, I do not think the report says that the current bill is necessarily what all the provinces and territories want. I do not think this should be put on them.

I am trying to understand something. I would like the minister to explain why the government thinks that studying a bill means blocking, delaying and impeding, even though the study is conducted in good faith with good witnesses. I have a hard time understanding this attitude, which seems to come out of nowhere.

I would like to know what the minister's deadline is for his bill to come out of committee.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I understand my dear colleagues' speeches just fine. There is no problem with the interpretation; I understand.

I repeat that we need to take action. We do not need more time to examine the details. We have the opportunity to do so in committee.

It is happening, and it has happened. It happened at the provincial–territorial–federal level. It has happened, and over an extended period of time, I would suggest. The time is now before us to act and to do something substantive to respond to the technological advances that have occurred, that have created this dangerous situation, where there are gaps in the Criminal Code, blind spots, if you will, when it comes to the ability of the police to investigate and hold people accountable for acts that are tantamount to criminality.

We want to move forward expeditiously. We want to protect people. We want to ensure that the police, acting with judicial oversight, have those necessary investigative powers and tools before them.

I would move, seconded by the member for West Nova, that the debate now be adjourned.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin

I have to advise the minister that the motion cannot be put during question and comment period. It has to be done during the speech.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to put on the record that I support the NDP motion on this matter, and agree with the position that we should split the bill, as other speakers have pointed out. I thank the hon. member, the justice critic for the official opposition, for bringing this forward.

The motion to split the bill is supported by no less than the interim Privacy Commissioner for the federal government, the Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian, and the British Columbia Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham. All of these experts are noting that what is happening here is more than a response, which we all support, to protect the vulnerable from cyberbullying. We all support that. However, in the guise of protecting the victims of potential cyberbullying, we are opening the floodgates to quite a Draconian invasion of privacy of Canadians from coast to coast.

That is why today's Globe and Mail had the cartoon of an RCMP officer, with one hand with a cute little puppet, talking about how we are going to protect children, and on the other a stethoscope to listen to everything that is going on within that house. Privacy rights are essential. I would ask the hon. minister if he would not reconsider at this point, not trying to end debate, not trying to push this through without proper review, but actually listening to those impartial public servants who are mandated to protect privacy. Would he not take a moment, listen, and reconsider support for splitting the bill?

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, is the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands actually putting before this House as part of her argument that editorial cartoonist? Not prone to any sort of exaggeration or mischaracterization, is that somehow part of her argument to slow up and derail the efforts to amend the Criminal Code and enhance the ability of law enforcement to protect young people? I find it stunning that she would suggest so in such a way.

As far as the interim Privacy Commissioner's concerns, she had the opportunity and would have the opportunity to publicly comment, as she has. We have heard from other experts, and we continue to hear from experts at the committee.

Now is not the time to slow down, go back, or re-examine what we know is obvious. Suggesting that the government, via this cartoon, is putting a stethoscope to every Canadian's private information is of course perverse. It is the height of exaggeration.

The answer is, no, I am not going to follow the advice or criticism of editorial cartoonists. We are going to act with haste to protect children, protect those who are vulnerable, including seniors, to fraud online. Protecting the interests of Canadians is what is at the very core of this effort and the core of this bill.

We do not agree with the NDP motion to split the bill. We think it is time to move forward, and that is the government's intent.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague, the Minister of Justice, but I think he has a problem of selective hearing if he thought my entire argument boiled down to The Globe and Mail editorial cartoon.

I think that sometimes satire is the best way of piercing the veil of increasingly draconian policies. However, it happens that I also referenced the privacy commissioners from Ontario, British Columbia, and federally, all of whom have pointed to serious problems, as well as many other critics who are looking at this.

As a matter of fact, in the language used by Ann Cavoukian, this is very clearly a wolf in sheep's clothing. What could be clearer in saying that in the guise of doing one thing, this particular administration is willing to open the floodgates so that we will have private information from cellphone companies turned over to the RCMP?

I do think that satire often crystallizes an issue quite well. I encourage the Minister of Justice to pay attention when his legislation becomes the stuff of clear satire and the skewering of draconian polices by those, whether privacy commissioners, lawyers, or advocates for our civil liberties in this country, of which I consider myself one.

Before Bill C-13 gets rushed through this place, we should look at it and split the bill.