Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to speak to the very important Bill S-4. It concerns the sharing of personal information in the digital age. It deals mainly with the way in which we legislate against companies responsible for the loss or sharing of information. We know this is a very sensitive issue because we are in the digital age where more and more personal information is found online. We think first of banking information, and also of information that sometimes seems not that important, but that is nevertheless part of peoples' private lives. It is information that we share on social networks, such as photos.
This covers all kinds of of complex issues, such as copyright, that we have addressed in the House since the last election, and the dissemination of information pertaining to national security. We had an important debate on this issue during the debate on Bill C-51. We learned that information technology companies, or startups, had concerns about some of the bill's provisions.
Of course, we are all familiar with the infamous story of Bill C-30, where the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness at the time told us that we stood either with the government or with child pornographers. This example shows just how big an issue we are dealing with and the Conservatives' poor record in this regard.
First, I would like to mention something very important and very simple: the obligation to review the privacy legislation every five years. Obviously, this is very important given how quickly technology changes. Unfortunately, such a review has not been implemented. A number of bills were introduced in this regard, but they died on the order paper when the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament. There was, of course, Bill C-30, which is a whole other story, and there was also the bill introduced by my colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville. That bill, which the government refused to support, sought to implement a robust privacy review process, give more power to the Privacy Commissioner and have clearer legislative provisions.
Bill S-4 includes similar provisions. However, they do not go far enough and there are still worrisome loopholes. One of the grey areas that I am particularly concerned about has to do with organizations, such as banks, that could share private information. These organizations are required to report a loss of personal information to the Privacy Commissioner only “if it is reasonable in the circumstances to believe that the breach creates a real risk of significant harm to an individual”. That may seem clear, but when it comes to legislative measures, we can see that there is a lot of leeway in how this provision of the bill is worded. The company could decide that no one's privacy was really violated and that there was no risk of harm to the individual and simply not report the privacy breach.
One of the flaws in this bill is the requirement for a court warrant, which my colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville brought up earlier and which she included in her bill. The Supreme Court recently ruled that any invasion of privacy by the government and any request that the government makes to a private company that is in possession of our information require a mandate. There is no such requirement in this bill, which is extremely worrisome. That is why I made the link earlier to Bill C-51 and the debate on Bill C-30, which did not end up taking place because we managed to get the government to back down. The government seems to be on the wrong track and does not seem to take privacy seriously.
Its record is a great example of that. How many times does the House need to hear criticisms about mismanagement at the Canada Revenue Agency, for example, during question period or at every possible opportunity, whether it is when bills are introduced and petitions are presented or at press conferences?
This department is in possession of the most sensitive information on Canadians, such as their social insurance numbers and their tax information. The department has been the victim of data breaches, and the government does not seem to be taking any responsibility. That makes it hard for us to trust that the government will require private companies to comply with high privacy standards when it is not capable of doing so itself. This situation is extremely worrisome.
We know that this is a complex issue because more and more things are done online. As far as matters of national security are concerned, we know that as legislators we have work to do. We wanted to propose amendments to ensure that this bill went further and complied with the Supreme Court decision. Like a number of witnesses in committee, we question the constitutionality of this bill in its current form.
If I am not mistaken, the 18 amendments the NDP proposed were all rejected. True to form, the Conservatives did not listen to any of the testimony or pay any regard to the amendments proposed by all the parties. The amendments proposed by the NDP were all based on what the public had to say and on the very hard work of my colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville, who was trying to get suitable provisions for 2015, not 2000. Technology changes and so does our reality, and we have to adjust accordingly.
In this context, there are a number of troubling aspects. First, this bill was introduced in the Senate, which, naturally, we criticize every chance we get. The Minister of Industry made an announcement about how he wants to proceed in the digital age, but instead of introducing this bill in the House himself, he introduced it in the Senate. That is one problem.
The second problem is that the Conservatives wanted to skip second reading and send the bill straight to committee. That is not a bad idea in and of itself. The NDP has asked for the same in order to study certain extremely complex files.
For example, we asked to take this approach for Bill C-23, which we called the “electoral deform” bill. Since the government wanted to go straight to committee, we thought it was willing to accept amendments and listen to witnesses, but that did not happen.
The third problem concerns another of the government's bad habits: the honour of the 97th time allocation motion was bestowed on Bill S-4 in order to limit debate. Unfortunately, at this rate, the Conservatives will have moved 100 such motions by the time the election is held. To be blunt, that is pretty shabby.
Although it is important to protect Canadians' privacy and to do what it takes, in 2015, to implement an approach appropriate for the digital age, recent Supreme Court decisions have cast doubt on the constitutionality of this bill.
This bill does not go far enough, and since the government wants to limit debate and does not accept the amendments and the work done in committee, we cannot and will not support this bill. I am very pleased to rise in the House to say that.