Motion No. 7
That Bill C-13 be amended by deleting Clause 23.
Motion No. 8
That Bill C-13 be amended by deleting Clause 26.
Motion No. 9
That Bill C-13 be amended by deleting Clause 47.
Mr. Speaker, this morning we debated the bill on prostitution. This afternoon, we turn to the bill on cyberbullying. I am almost tempted to start out the same way. This bill also garnered a lot of attention and caused quite a stir. I received many comments from my constituents in Gatineau about this. These people had the same concerns I did. That told me that I was on the right track when it came to the position that the NDP and I took on this file.
I believe it is important to reiterate that many people take the government at its word and believe that it can have a positive impact on the lives of the young people who have suffered all kinds of bullying, their parents and everyone who has been affected by bullying.
As we all know, Bill C-13 was created in the wake of tragic situations involving certain Canadians. Young people committed suicide. Suicide can happen anywhere, in the armed forces and in the general population. Bullying is not a new concept. It has existed for many a moon. I think that we need to find real solutions to offer help instead of playing politics.
From the outset, our approach was not to hold up Bill C-13, but to allow it to take its course. We wanted to be sure that there was an in-depth study in committee and that various witnesses would be able to share their point of view on the bill.
The bill is known as the protecting Canadians from online crime act. It contains 47 clauses and is 53 pages long, but it does not even touch on cyberbullying or online crime. Rather, Bill C-13 addresses the distribution of images, one very small part of bullying. The rest of the bill addresses issues as varied as immunity for Internet service providers, the concept of peace officers and public officers, telecommunications theft and so on. Bill C-13 covers a lot of ground.
We shared these concerns with the minister, the Attorney General of Canada. We thought it would be wiser to split the bill in two so that we could tackle the image distribution issue head-on since it was not as controversial. As for the touchier violation of privacy issue, there are tools that the minister makes a point of talking about regularly, saying that we cannot do one without doing the other. He would have us believe that there are currently no tools available, but there are. We wanted to make sure that what we were doing on that score was completely reasonable. However, the government turned a deaf ear.
Naturally, witnesses told us exactly the same thing and said they were very concerned. Many aspects of Bill C-13 resemble Bill C-30, even though the government agreed to some changes and realized it could not go any further with that particular vision. It did make some minor concessions. The government tried to address cyberbullying via image distribution and the highly publicized cases of Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd and others who did the worst thing imaginable. Seeing no way out of the problems they faced, they saw that as the only solution. That really breaks my heart.
Everyone will agree that there is nothing worse than thinking that suicide is the only way to solve a problem or the only way out. As a society, we are failing miserably. In my opinion, claiming that Bill C-13 will save young lives is laying it on rather thick.
I do not want to dwell on the issue, but even Amanda Todd's mother told the committee that she did not want people's privacy to be invaded in order to keep others safe. That was not necessarily the objective. Once again, the government is failing to be transparent. Like Sophia Petrillo-Weinstock in the television show Golden Girls, I am tempted to say, “Picture it”.
Thursday, June 12 was the last day set aside for the clause-by-clause examination of Bill C-13. On Friday, June 13, the Supreme Court of Canada was scheduled to render its decision in Spencer v. The Queen. This case dealt with the matter of police access to personal information. Several witnesses who appeared before the committee said that this case would definitely have an impact. At the very least, the government should have exercised caution and waited for the Supreme Court ruling.
Some believe that the committee merely conducted a concept study, but that was not the case. The government was producing legislation. The government bill is 53 pages long and we examined it. Then, the committee heard from witnesses with regard to the various aspects of the bill that they were concerned with. For some, it was the distribution of images. For others, it was the violation of privacy and technology. We heard from a whole slew of witnesses who were concerned about very different aspects of the bill.
The people who were dealing with the part related to the interception of data and the gathering of information without a warrant or court authorization felt it was important to wait for the Spencer ruling. After it was tabled, some experts indicated that the June 13 ruling contradicted certain aspects of the government's bill. That is what we were trying to avoid. We had therefore asked the government to wait.
Time and time again in committee, I asked whether we should not wait until June 13. Should we not read the ruling? Should we not seek advice from staff at the Department of Justice who could explain the ruling to us and tell us whether or not it would have an impact?
In law, if you put five lawyers in a room, they would not all say the same thing. In the House, not everyone is a lawyer. Furthermore, even amongst those of us who are lawyers, not everyone is a specialist in every subject. That is why we study things in greater depth in committee, come back to the House with our recommendations, and then vote with full knowledge of the facts.
At this very moment, regardless of my personal opinion and the fact that several specialists said that the ruling in R. v. Spencer goes against many aspects of the bill, I am quite worried. If there is one area in which I do not want to see any glaring errors, that is justice. Justice must be applied correctly and equally across the board.
All that explains why we changed our position. We supported the bill at second reading, but all of our fears regarding this government bill were confirmed in committee.
It seems that the government is using this bill to try to score political points rather than make any meaningful changes. The evidence is quite clear. The fact is, the government voted against the motion moved by my hon. colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, M-385, regarding cyberbullying. Furthermore, it also voted against the bill introduced by my hon. colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, Bill C-540.
Basically, if you ask me, everything is crystal clear.
There is also Bill C-279, introduced by my hon. colleague who delivered a speech on it this morning.
This all tells me that this bill is more about politics than anything of real substance.