Mr. Speaker, before I begin my remarks on the bill, I would like to pay my respects to the members of the House who rose today and shared personal experiences regarding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which reported today. Many of their words were heartfelt and were received that way. The House has work to do and I commit on behalf of my constituents to share in that journey and in that work. It is important work that lies in front of us. Not all of us will get a chance to speak to it today, so I wanted to be on the record with those comments.
Regarding the legislation that sits in front of us, this is yet another piece of legislation that toys with privacy and the impact of changing privacy rules. There have been several in this session of Parliament. Taken in isolation, they all creep toward something that is making more and more Canadians worried about their privacy and the security of their private data, wondering what the true motive of the government is when we take all of the items in concert.
There are ways of rationalizing and accepting, and even valid criteria to act upon in changing the privacy rules around data, but what seems to define the legislation and much of the actions of the government is that each and every one of those pieces of legislation is rushed through. Careful consideration of the impacts that are proposed are almost never part of the consideration, never reflected in amendments, and never reflected in the refinement of rules.
This latest legislation was presented to the House, then presented and pushed through committee and re-presented to the House as perfect from the get-go. I have covered politics most of my life. I have been around legislative processes in all three levels of government in our country and I have never seen such arrogance around the notion of presenting perfect legislation. The record of the government having its rules and regulations tested by the Supreme Court ought to give it pause for consideration, that when wise individuals and learned groups appear before committee and point out glaring mistakes, omissions or concerns there never seems to be a capacity to listen, only to soldier on.
While perhaps I respect the tenacity of the government on these files, errors are being made that put people at risk. However, what it really does, and I think this has been seen in the last part of the session, is that Canadians do not trust the government with their privacy anymore. It leads to speculation, worries and even paranoia, to the point where the faith in the government has disappeared. That is a concern.
In many of the omnibus bills is the kernel of a good idea, of a legitimate process, but it gets obscured by the omnibus nature of some of these bills, by the vagaries of some of the language, and by the intransigence and stubbornness of committee members and members of the opposite party to sit there, to listen, to take input, to make amendments, and to make a good idea a better idea, which is the role of Parliament. It astounds me that the government seems to think it gets it right the first time, every time. I have never seen that in any government. Any government that has that much self-assurance really ought to stop and consider whether it is acting in the best interest even of itself.
One of the dynamics here is that there seems to be this belief that the private sector is acting in the interests of the private sector, that it has the best interests of private individuals at heart. If the government truly believed that surveillance, the sharing of information, and the distribution of that information to third parties was such a wise way to go and was part of the argument toward stronger public safety rules and regulations, imagine if we were not talking about metadata right now and talking about rifles instead. The government would never tolerate, in fact has never tolerated, this kind of tracking, intrusion and data banking of people's information about something which is really dangerous, such as a gun. Yet when it comes to private information, it lets it go this way, that way and every way. It clamps down on the very same individual rights and privileges of people with their data. It will release that information and share it willingly, but will not do it when it comes to guns. There is a contradiction there that does not make sense.
There is a balance that needs to be struck. We hear about that balance all the time around various other debates, but when it comes to sharing information, it seems to go out the window. We have a party that on the one hand says we cannot share any information about who owns weapons in this country, but on the other hand says that we can go into anybody's computer and distribute that information as widely as we want in the name of public safety.
If the party opposite could reconcile that contradiction for me, I would be happy to listen to the arguments. However, from my perspective, we need a balance in both of those issues, and that balance has not been achieved in either one of them. In large part, that is because the paranoia with which the government pursues one file is coupled with a complete lack of trust on another file. As I said, it is contradictory and does not make any sense to me.
The other issue that crops up again and again is the government's inability to orchestrate proper civilian oversight of the changes it is making. Just as it has no doubt about the legislation that it introduces and believes it to be perfect from the word go, the government never seems to think that there is a need to review and be perpetually vigilant about where the legislation may be going off track or delivering results that were not intended or expected. There is no oversight about how this information is being shared or how the agencies that are pursuing, sharing, or developing it are conducting themselves.
The absence of this oversight on so many files tells me another thing. It tells me that the government does not trust civilians as much as it trusts itself. That, at the heart of the legislation, has to raise concerns on the opposite side. Either we trust people or we do not. The government does not trust the opposition. It does not trust ordinary Canadians. Half of the time it does not even trust the courts to provide this oversight and review and to check the government against its own mistakes.
Parliamentarians are human, and they make mistakes. We all have to correct each other, and if we do not build that into legislation, particularly into privacy legislation, we fail each other. That is one of the reasons that, despite there being some good in this bill, on balance it fails.
The bill fails in two regards. In fails in that it would not create a consistent approach or a collaborative effort to create better legislation, which worries us. It also fails because it would once again fail to bring in a mandatory and processional review of how this legislation is performing. Without those checks and balances, the legislation leads to Canadians worrying that their government is not protecting them. Those worries take Parliament, the respect for Parliament, and the respect for the rule of law into places that they just should not go in a modern democracy.
For those reasons, my party and I will not be supporting this bill.
New powers require new responsibilities, and the best way to make sure that they serve both the public and private interests of individual Canadians is to make sure that Canadians have oversight of these rules and regulations. Once again, that is absent from this legislation, even though experts who appeared before the government in committee urged that it be there. That is a failing, and it is a failing that has ramifications far beyond this bill.