Mr. Speaker, the amendment before us today would change Bill C-21 by amending proposed subsection 93(1) to clarify that the data collected under proposed sections 92 and 93 would be retained by the agency for a period of no more of 15 years maximum.
I would like to spend the remainder of my time discussing the implications of a 15-year period, given that this is the amendment that we are discussing today and the fact that in a few short days this chamber that we are currently in will likely be closed for a period of 15 years or so. For many of us, this will be the last time we get a chance to speak in this place. In assessing the impact of a 15-year period, let us review how much has changed since parliamentarians rose in this place in 2003.
The member for Calgary Forest Lawn was only in his second term. Many of our colleagues did not carry smart phones; they actually had go back to their offices to check their messages and email and to make some phone calls perhaps. Google still competed with AltaVista as a search engine and, Mr. Speaker, I believe if you looked at the faces of the pages right now in front of you, they would be slightly confused as to what we were talking about. YouTube did not exist, Facebook did not exist, and Twitter did not exist. For our colleagues 15 years ago, responding to news cycles involved reading headlines and watching the morning news, consulting with experts and thought leaders during the day for a few hours, and sending a written statement before a deadline. Fifteen years ago this month, I wrote my last exam for my undergraduate degree.
Therefore, what words of wisdom do I have for parliamentarians who will occupy this place 15 years hence, and what do we need to do to keep this place relevant over the next 15 years? When we look at the things I have just talked about, our world has fundamentally changed in a 15-year period, and across different flavours of government we in this place have a propensity to move way too slowly. In preparation for this speech, I was looking at the Hansard from November 2003, and what was really startling to see was that a lot of the issues we are debating today are very similar in form and concept to those that were being debated in 2003. Now the news cycle does not move in nine-hour increments, but in one-second increments. The economy has fundamentally changed and I want to talk about that in a second too.
When I look at where we need to be in 15 years, we are almost 15 years behind. We need to start looking in Parliament, and do this across party lines, at things like data and privacy in a much more robust way, which I am not even sure we have political lines to discuss yet. I look at things like China's social credit system and the fact that a government like it is using a ubiquitous form of technology to give scores to its citizens that will determine if they can be employed or travel. Then I look at my own smart phone and I wonder how much of my privacy I give up daily. We are advertized to because we give consent to release our data in ways that we often do not realize. It is not just about advertising. It is about knowing where we are and knowing what we might do in our spare time and using that for advertizing or for other nefarious purposes.
We have not, as a Parliament, really started to think about the implications of that for our pluralistic society. Indeed, we might not be able to regulate these issues because things change so quickly. How can Parliament address this over the next 15 years? I am concerned about that. As parliamentarians, we probably need to start talking about the value of data rather than just looking at a regulatory approach. That does tie into this bill as well, but what concerns me is that as a Parliament we are just not there.
I watched the U.S. congressional hearing of Mark Zuckerberg some time ago, where, in one of the questions, he was asked about email. There was just no connection between the reality of the data breach that was alleged to have occurred and legislators' knowledge of the context in which we are operating. Therefore, I hope that in a 15-year period we would start getting this right, because data and the transfer of data and how it is used is affecting every aspect of Canada.
That brings me to the next point. I hope we can get our act together on the economy in Canada. The way the economy is operating is fundamentally changing. Someone who is entering the workforce is not going to have the same paradigm that you and I, Mr. Speaker, did when we entered the economy. For a lot of people 18 and under, the reality is that full-time work in one job might not be available to them. Many people today work in the gig economy, driving Ubers, doing a little stint with Instacart during the day, or small contract work as opposed to sustained long-term work over time.
What does this mean for home ownership? What will home ownership even look like in 15 years? Does it exist in Canada? How do we ensure that people have opportunities to participate in the economy and that we are do not see income disparity growing over time? How do we sustain a middle class as the economy changes? These are things that deficit spending and small tweaks to the tax code are not going to address, because the economy has fundamentally changed and is fundamentally shifting. That reality is something I never hear us talk about here.
In 15 years, I hope we will have started to take this issue seriously and will not be looking at it with a regulatory approach, with government becoming even more onerous and ubiquitous and more entrenched in society. Rather, we need to focus on how we can allow people to prosper and innovate as the economy changes, which we should not necessarily see as either a good or bad thing, but just something that is happening that we need to adapt to in order to make sure that people can still prosper as we go forward. This is something we have not spent a lot of time discussing in this place, and I hope that we do in the future.
I also hope that we start looking pretty seriously at Canada's role in the world. Times have changed. Our relationship with the United States is not what it once was. We are seeing the heads of major global powers rearing, which could lead to some pretty serious instability over time. We have to ask a very difficult question: How do we maintain our country's sovereignty? We have to start taking that question very seriously. I do not think we are equipped to defend ourselves as a country. We need to do a better job in this place at really taking that seriously, understanding that procurement of military assets is not something that can be led by bureaucrats over a 20-year period who fail to deliver results when there are very real threats to our sovereignty, including in the north, with regard to trading relationships, and getting caught in the middle of disputes between large powers.
If in 15 years time we have not figured that out, we are going to have a major problem on our hands. I do see the world changing in that dynamic, and it is not for the better. We have to be prepared to stand strong and true if we are going to stand strong and free. That means that we really have to think about that. It also means that if we do believe in multilateralism, we do not allow these multilateral organizations around the world to dictate our policy without their being tasked for reform.
Many of our multilateral organizations 15 years ago were starting to their efficacy fall away from their original purposes when they were put into place after the great wars. I am concerned about where our country will be in 15 years time if we do not start pushing the status quo and some of the sacred cows associated with the United Nations, the European Union, NATO and other groups that have served the world in the past but now have questionable roles, given perhaps nebulous mandates or efficacy, and which do not, as Parliament does, stand up and realize that questioning dogma is something we are supposed to do in here from time to time.
I worry about where our country will be in 15 years. I have spoken to some issues here in the House. Why can we not talk about how the United Nations selects refugees, when we do not see them referring genocide victims to host countries, or about why the United Nations will not condemn Hamas?
Why can we not talk about how we interact with our allies in terms of military objectives, or about the role of multilateral organizations? Are they supposed to be giant bureaucracies that sometimes just provide contracts for management consultants and cocktail parties, or are they supposed to do something? What is that something, and what is Canada's role in that change over time? Is Canada's role sometimes to maybe say that everything is not working and that we need to tweak stuff? Is it our role to just stand idly by and say, “Nothing to see here”?
I would hope that in 15 years' time this chamber would become a place where we can question dogma, where although we might not agree on the policy instrument or outcome, we could at least agree that in order to move forward and to make progress, we cannot simply say there is nothing to see and nothing to change, when there is.
The other thing that I think we have to think about over a 15-year time period is the people we represent. That goes without saying in any instance, but we have seen movements around the world bringing governments to power for different reasons, but each reflective of the fact that there are a large number of people around the world who do not feel they are listened to or that they have a place in here, or who feel they are not represented by the people who might occupy this place in 15 years' time.
There are a lot of people around the world who have fought, and especially in our country, who have gone overseas to fight in missions, and who now question how they are treated at home. There are a lot of people whose skills are becoming out of date, as manufacturing processes and industries change, and they are asking, “What about me?” The response they often get from us is that, “You're wrong. You're not experiencing anything wrong. What you're feeling, what you're saying is wrong.” When we ignore the cries of people, we are failing in our job as parliamentarians.
That is something to keep in mind. Over a 15-year period, we cannot just listen to a certain group of privileged people when we are making our policy decisions. I would hope that over a 15-year time period we would start reinserting people's voices back into some of our policies that we bring forward, and that people's concerns would not be dismissed by labelling them, as certain people in this place are wont to do from time to time. Instead, we should actually reflect in our policies both the best data and the best outcomes, while also reflecting the challenges of the people we represent.
The reality is that we are paid to be here on behalf of those people. We are paid to serve them, not ourselves. If we fail to put their voices in our policies and to think about that over time, I think we will fail them. I am concerned about some of the choices we have made over the last 15 years. The state is ubiquitous. Very rarely in this place do we question the role of the state. We often talk about how we have added bureaucracy or regulation, or have increased the state, but we often do not talk about what we managing.
What concerns me is that time after time I see colleagues of all stripes walk in to read speeches prepared by government bureaucrats, without even reading them beforehand, or without even talking to their constituents about how they feel about a certain bill. When we allow our public service to dictate policy and direction, we fail in our role as parliamentarians. Even parliamentarians with a role in the government have a role to question what the government is doing, and the role of the state, be it around the cabinet table, in our caucuses and certainly here in this place.
I would hope that in 15 years we realize that it is not a sin to question dogma. I have seen that to be perhaps one of the most challenging things with respect to what has changed in this place over the last 15 years. We each have a responsibility to go back to the voices of people and reflect them in our policies and in the context of a changing economy.
I could spend lot of time talking about artificial intelligence. Maybe in 15 years we will not have jobs in here. We do not know. We have the tools to have a direct democracy. Maybe that is something the people of Canada will start talking about in a short period of time.
What do we need to do? Parliamentarians and all Canadians need to value critical thinking. When we talk about the changes in news, how news is consumed, what is news and what is true, I do not understand why we would support failed media business models or why we would talk about the fact that the government has to prop up or determine what is right and what is wrong. In a democracy and in a pluralism, it is up to us to critically evaluate with our own skill sets what is true, what is right, what everybody's agenda is. Those are our responsibilities in a democracy, condensed and coagulated and focused. As parliamentarians, they are even more so.
In 15 years' time, I would hope that we are not having conversations in here about the Speaker's role, Question Period or whose job it is to regulate the content of ministers. We are taking that responsibility on ourselves and we are coming up with what is right and true.
I hope that we also protect our pluralism. I hope that we protect our sovereignty. I hope that we do not cede the rights that we have as parliamentarians and as Canadians to other agencies or organizations around the world, that we do not cede our philosophies and our democracies to ideals that are not that, around the world. I hope that we reverse this path that we have been on of increasing the role of the state and go back to a role that is more free.
I would hope that people who follow us here above all come into this place and challenge dogma, that they challenge the status quo within their own parties, even when it is difficult, across the aisle when it is not so much so, and that they are receptive to different schools of thought.
The rights that we have in Canada are not static. We are the exception; we are not the rule around the world. We have to constantly protect our rights and assume that they are under threat, because they are, and our actions and our words in this place should reflect that.
In 15 years, I hope there is one thing that does not change and that is that the people in this place respect and love the people who love them, who stand behind them and make them better people, even in the day-to-day grind, the sausage making of this place, in the light of public scrutiny those who love us, who protect us, and who are there for us even on dark days.
In the dying minutes of my speech I would like to thank a few people who make my life easier. They are the engine behind the hood ornament. I would like to thank Sean Schnell, Julia Parsons, Bari Miller, Kim Tyres and Jillian Montalbetti for working like slaves over the last many years for the people of Calgary Nose Hill, and Paul Frank as well. I would also like to thank Jeff, Tori, Kori and Kepi for teaching me that there is more to life than this place from time to time.
In 15 years, I hope that we still remember how special it is and what a privilege it is to stand and serve people in this beautiful, wonderful free country. I hope that we continue to understand that what we have here is something that we have to fight for, even when it is amongst ourselves, and that it is indeed worth fighting for.