Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague from Halifax's speech. It is very difficult to say it more eloquently than she has, particularly with her knowledge from the Halifax area of the impact that the tragedy of the Rehtaeh Parsons case had, not only on the family, but also on the whole community, in terms of it developing an understanding of how serious this is and can be.
She also has knowledge of the consequences, not only for individuals who go so far as to be induced to commit suicide, but also the thousands of others who are affected by bullying but not affected to that extent. However, they are still affected in their lives, in their self-esteem, and in their ability to carry on an ordinary life. This is particularly when we talk about cyberbullying.
For the most part, research shows that the ones who are most affected by cyberbullying are young people, particularly young women between the ages of 12 and 14. However, it can affect people at any age. This is a very vulnerable group when it comes to attacks on self-esteem and the kinds of bullying that take place online.
In its most common form, we are talking about cyberbullying as threatening or hostile emails. That affects about three quarters of victims. Hateful comments affect about half of all victims. The research considers 12- to 14-year olds to be most at risk, and girls are affected more than boys.
When we talk about this event, we are talking about vulnerable young women for the most part, and the serious damage to their mental health and well-being. It has negative effects on social and emotional levels, and schooling. It provokes feelings of despair and isolation, depression, and suicidal tendencies. An interesting research result is that victims and bullies are nearly two times more likely to commit suicide.
There are extreme cases. Amanda Todd is one of them. The perpetrator has not yet come to trial, as far as I know, but he was an Internet predator. He committed what appears to be a serious and intentional criminal act. However, if we look at the bullies being twice as likely to commit suicide, we are clearly talking about people with problems of their own who are engaged in this behaviour.
It tells me that this issue has to be dealt with as a criminal matter, because it is one. It is the causing of intentional suffering using the means of the Internet. It also has to be dealt with as a problem that needs another aspect to it, in terms of prevention. We need to deal with it as a criminal matter. The member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour brought that forward very quickly. However, we also have to have some strategy for trying to educate, prevent, and to help people understand what they are doing and how much harm it can cause.
We did have both of those reactions from this side of the House, and in a very timely manner. The member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour brought forth something that was mocked. It was perhaps not mocked, but it was a small bill that dealt squarely and head-on with the problem. It identified the problem and asked all hon. members to bring this forward and deal with it. That was a year and a half ago.
When it wants to adopt a private member's bill that meets political needs, the government will adopt it. It will bring it forward and make sure it is fast-tracked. It could have done the same thing with the bill by the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, but it did not. If the government had said it did not work or if it did not like the wording, it could easily have been changed. There is a lot of expertise in the Department of Justice.
We have an omnibus bill now. We have our usual “throw in the kitchen sink” bill. The Conservatives will call it one thing—it is called “protecting Canadians from online crime”—but it is really about all kinds of other things. There are all kinds of other things thrown in there about protecting Internet providers or theft of communication services and all sorts of other stuff. It has nothing to do with the issue that we are dealing with.
Instead of taking it, going forward and doing the right thing for once, the government decided to use it, as my colleague from Halifax said, to have another go at this failed bill brought forward by the former minister of public safety who shocked Canadians with his statement and his approach and had to have the bill withdrawn. The elements of that bill are still here, in terms of how they are dealing with the so-called “lawful access” provisions, and I will get to that a little later.
However, I am more interested in the failure of the government to take seriously the plight of victims of cyberbullying and deal with it swiftly and uncontroversially, because it could have been done. That is what the victims, the families, the school teachers and community leaders across the country wanted to see happen. They did not get that from the current government because it has this other agenda, this other way of dealing with things that tries to push forward something along with something that is good and put in all the other things that were failed policies in the past and do not meet the tests of compliance with the general law, do not meet the standards that have been there for many years when it comes to privacy and other events, and obtaining of warrants when it is invading people's policy, listening in on their private conversations, and getting access to their data, which is based upon a warrant.
We have, sadly, a failure to do that.
Then, when the opportunity came to support a motion brought by another colleague of ours on this side calling for a national anti-bullying strategy, what did the government do? It said, “No, we're not going to do that. We're not going to support that.” That would have provided some of the other preventive educational opportunities to support the schools, which are trying to solve some of the problems among the schoolchildren, to help communities deal with this, and perhaps even to help provide education to police officers and police departments. They do not all have all the answers, either, frankly.
While we are glad for the contribution that any member of the House has made in their private life prior to coming here, we do know that a lot of work needs to be done to ensure that police departments across the country have the tools to be able to work with us. That comes by having some legislation in place, not so swiftly as to not be considered, but to take it and say this is something that we have identified as a problem, it is a shock to so many Canadians that this would go on, and let us try to ensure that the problem is solved as quickly as possible.
That brings me to the other part. As I have two minutes to deal with it, I will not repeat all of the things—I cannot obviously—that my colleague, the member for Gatineau, has so ably represented in her argument in the House and her work before the committee in identifying, along with the experts, the failings of the bill, when it comes to invasion of people's privacy, the use of standards such as reasonable suspicion instead of reasonable and probable grounds to believe as a standard for obtaining a warrant. That is something that experts pointed out, that my colleague from Gatineau pointed out. She has done a wonderful job in presenting numerous and reasonable amendments to that part of the bill, all of which were rejected by the other side.
I do not think Canadians are surprised anymore when they hear that bills go to a committee of reasonable responsible people, experts come and give their opinions as to what needs to be done to make it acceptable, those amendments are put forward and not a single one, not one reasonable amendment that would fix the bill, was adopted. However, we are used to that, and I think Canadians are used to the fact that the current government has its own ideas about things and is not prepared to listen to anyone else. It wants to ensure that it has things its own way.
That is what is wrong with the bill. We would have loved to be able to be here and have a non-contentious bill that would solve the problem and hopefully save some lives. This is a matter of life and death.