Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be able to rise in this place today and speak to Bill C-26, a bill that we as Conservatives are supporting to get to committee.
I have a lot of concerns around the bill itself, in terms of making sure that the government did not make a number of errors in judgment in putting it together. These concerns are based on the feedback we have received from Canadians and from organizations, especially on the issues surrounding privacy and the costs that have been offloaded to the private sector.
I also have to raise my concerns. Here we are, eight long years under the Liberal government, and we know that, when it has come down to cybersecurity, it has been slow in responding. A good case in point was banning Huawei from our critical infrastructure, our 5G network. We know that the Liberals sat on their hands and tried to do nothing for most of the past seven years, before they were finally forced to act after a great deal of pressure was brought upon them by our allies, especially within the Five Eyes.
Cybersecurity and national defence go hand in hand. When we talk about our national defence and national security, we know that hybrid warfare has evolved.
It is now about more than just targeting military assets; it is about targeting the entire government as it is at play. All we have to do is look at what is happening in Ukraine today, as well as what has happened to a number of other allies we have, through NATO, in eastern Europe.
We see the troll farms in St. Petersburg constantly attacking, on Facebook and on Twitter, the military individuals, the soldiers and troops, serving there. They also attack things like critical infrastructure in countries where Canadians are currently deployed, like Latvia. As we have witnessed in Ukraine and Estonia, they have not just gone after them through direct kinetic means to take out critical infrastructure, but they have also gone through cyberwarfare as well.
The Russians have done this very effectively in knocking down financial systems, knocking down transportation systems, and taking out power and water infrastructure in places like Estonia. As a prelude to the war in Ukraine, before they had actually started bombing these civilian targets in Ukraine, they were attacking them on cyber. It is part of hybrid warfare and it is the evolution of war.
There is a responsibility upon the Government of Canada to ensure that we are protecting not just our national infrastructure and the Government of Canada, that we are not just using CSE, or Communications Security Establishment, to protect national defence, but that we are also using a plethora of capabilities to ensure that our infrastructure here in Canada is protected.
That includes preventing our adversaries from going after our soft targets. That is what I think Bill C-26 is trying to accomplish, to ensure that telecommunications companies in Canada are stepping up to do their share to protect Canadians from cyber-attacks. We know that cyber-attackers have gone after things like our health care systems. They have gone after the medical records of Canadians. They have gone after the education records of students at schools and at universities. They go after retailers. They can go in through a retailer's back door, harvest all sorts of personal data, especially credit card information, and then use that for raising money, for transnational criminal gangs or for ransomware, as we have witnessed as well.
We must remember that we have a number of a maligned foreign actors at play here in Canada now and against our allies. It was just reported, again, that the People's Liberation Army was found guilty of hacking into U.S. critical infrastructure.
We know that the People's Liberation Army, under the control of the communist regime in Beijing, continues to attack cybersecurity assets around the world, including trying to break through the Canadian cybersecurity walls of our government and national defence on a daily basis.
As I mentioned, Russia has become very good at this. That does not mean that it is concentrating only on its near sphere of influence, NATO members in eastern Europe like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but it is also targeting Ukraine. We know that it is targeting Moldova. We know that it has gone after countries like Romania, but it also does cyber-attacks here in Canada and in the United States.
Russia continues to be an adversary and we have to stand on guard to protect Canadians from those attacks.
We know that Iran, the regime in Tehran, is continuing to be a government that attacks its neighbours and attacks Israel and Canada through cyber-means. North Korea has developed an entire cybersecurity and cyberwarfare unit and continues not to just wreak havoc with the democratically elected, peaceful South Korea, but has also gone after Japan and the Phillippines, and is going after U.S. infrastructure as well. Therefore, we have to take the necessary steps to make sure we can deal with transnational criminal organizations, with nefarious foreign states and with those who are trying to get rich through ransomware.
Here in Canada just a couple of years ago, we saw a situation in regard to the Royal Military College in Kingston, which the member for Kingston and the Islands is certainly aware of. The Department of National Defence stated that RMC had been a target. It originally called it a mass phishing campaign, but a month after the incident, it was established that the phishing campaign was actually a cyber-attack going after financial information and personal data of cadets. These had been compromised and published on the dark web, and were made available to a lot of people who participate on the dark web to profiteer from that information.
According to several observers who looked at the hack of RMC Kingston, it was attributed to a cybercriminal group called DoppelPaymer that did not seem to be connected to a nation-state actor. There are criminal organizations out there that are going about their criminal activities in such a way as to extract dollars from governments, retailers and private citizens, as well as from other corporations, to line their pockets and continue doing other nefarious things that sometimes go beyond the cyberworld.
I have said in the past, when we have talked about other legislation here dealing with cybersecurity, that we not only need the ability to defend, but also that the government has the responsibility, especially under national defence, to attack using cybersecurity. We cannot just be here deflecting the arrows; sometimes we have to be able to shoot down the archer. The way we do that is by having a very robust cybersecurity system. We need the best capabilities and the best personnel who are able not only to sit here and defend, that is to put up shields and fight off the attacks, but also are able to go out there and take out the adversaries, to knock out their systems, so that we are safer here at home.
With regard to some of the criticisms that have come out, I know that letters have come in from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and the Business Council of Canada wrote a very detailed brief, as did the Citizen Lab in looking at the bill. When we read through the documentation, we see that one of the concerns that has been raised, especially by the Business Council of Canada, is that there seems to be an imbalance. We are telling members of corporate Canada to go out there and make sure they have the proper cybersecurity systems in place, but at the same time we realize that it is not just up to them to do the defending. What we see is that the corporations are saying that either they have to do it or we are going to fine them up to $15 million or five years of jail time, and that the individuals who work for them could also be held criminally responsible for not doing enough.
Sometimes resources are not available. Sometimes there are new companies that may not have the ability to put in place the proper security systems. I look at a lot of the Internet service providers that we have, for example. They are covered under the Telecommunications Act, yet, as new start-ups, they may not have the personnel or the equipment to properly defend their networks. Would we go ahead and fine these companies up to $15 million? Then what would we do in regard to jail time and fines for those criminal organizations that are profiteering through cyber-attacks? Where is the balance in this? That is one of the concerns we have and one of the things we have to look at through our study at the industry committee when it brings this forward.
A huge concern has been raised, especially by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, on how this would be implemented and how it may affect the privacy rights of Canadians at the individual level. Corporations have broader responsibilities and do not necessarily fall under the charter, but their clients who they are going to protect and the information they are going to be required to share with the Government of Canada could very well be violations of their clients' privacy rights.
When we look at section 7 of the Charter of Rights, we have to balance the right to life, liberty and security of a person with section 8 of the charter which says that we have freedom from search and seizure. When we drill down on section 8 and go to some of the legal analysis of our charter, as all the rights and freedoms are laid out, it tells us that the underlying values of freedom from search and seizure when it comes to individual privacy is the value of dignity, integrity and autonomy. Again, I think we are all concerned that when we look at Bill C-26 at committee, we ensure the bill balances those rights of the individual to be both secure and safe from cyber attacks, but do it without compromising privacy rights and charter rights as described in freedom from search and seizure. The way we do that is through warrants.
We know that through National Defence, the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, which has a long-standing history of defending the Canadian Armed Forces, has to comply with the charter. It has to comply with all Canadian legislation and it cannot do indirectly what it is prohibited doing directly. Therefore, CSE cannot go to the National Security Agency, or NSA, of the United States, say that it is concerned that a Canadian maybe talking to a terrorist organization offshore and ask the agency to spy on that individual because CSE is prohibited from spying on the person and listening in through the Communications Security Establishment. CSE cannot go to the NSA and ask it to violate Canadian law on its behalf to find out what is happening in the same way CSIS cannot go to the FBI or the CIA and ask it to spy on Canadians. It cannot do indirectly what it is prohibited from doing directly under Canadian law. The way to get around that is to apply for warrants.
Judicial appointments are made to have supernumerary justices over these organizations to ensure that charter rights are protected, even when conversations take place inadvertently. In the past, CSE has listened in on people who may have been in Afghanistan funding the Taliban or al Qaeda. They may have family in Canada and were talking back and forth about something that had nothing to do with operations on al Qaeda or the Taliban. However, because it involved a Canadian citizen, it had to go through the proper processes to ensure that his or her charter rights were protected by getting a warrant to listen to those conversations. Whether they were listening electronically or through wire taps, it is all mandated to watch that we do not trip over the rights of Canadians under legislation.
Bill C-26 would not address this like we have under the National Defence Act, under the Criminal Code and under the whole gamut of cybersecurity that has been in place up to date. The privacy rights are paramount.
To come back to Bill C-26, the Supreme Court of Canada said in 1984, as well as in 1988, that privacy was paramount and was “at the heart of liberty in a modern state”. Again, did the Liberal government ensure the bill was tested first to ensure those privacy rights were protected? This is what we will have to find out when we get Bill C-26 in front of committee.
We can look at information that has come from places like the Business Council of Canada. One of the concerns it raises goes back to this whole issue of huge fines on Canadian corporations, as well as the employees of those corporations, if they are found to have been not responsible enough to put in place proper security protocols to protect their clients from cyber attacks. Because it goes against individual employee as well, we will create another brain drain from Canada.
We are unfairly targeting Canadian employees who are going to be working for these cybersecurity firms, working in the telecommunications sector and in our financial institutions. If they are found to have erred, which a lot of times it is by error or by a lack of resources, then they are held criminally responsible and they are fined. The question becomes why they would want to work in Canada when they are afforded better protections in places like the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom or Australia, which was held up by the Business Council of Canada as the gold standard we should be striving to achieve, and what it has done through their own cybersecurity protocols.
We want to ensure that we protect critical infrastructure, but we do not want to chase away very good Canadian employees and force them, with their skills, to go offshore where they have better protection and probably better pay. We want to ensure we keep the best of the best here. We want to ensure we do not go through a brain drain, as we have witnessed before when the Liberals have targeted professionals in Canada, such as lawyers, accountants, doctors or anyone who set up a private corporation. Now I fear the Liberals are going after individuals again who we need in Canada to protect us here at home, that they are creating a toxic work environment and those individuals will want to leave.
The Citizen Lab wrote a report entitled “Cybersecurity Will Not Thrive in Darkness”. It brought forward a ton of recommendations on how bad this bill was. It suggested that there needed to be 30 changes made to the act itself.
We realize that the government has not done its homework on this. We need to ensure we get experts in front of us who are going to look at everything, such as there is responsibility upon government to help corporate Canada ensure we have the proper security mechanisms in place to prevent cyber attacks. We have to ensure that those corporations are not being coerced into sharing private information with the Government of Canada that could be a violation of private rights, which may be a violation of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, PIPEDA. We want to ensure that privacy rights will be cohesive, but, at the same time, collectively, we need to balance all federal legislation that is in contravention of each other.
We need to bring in the legal experts. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association needs to be before committee. The Citizen Lab, which is very concerned about individual privacy rights, has to be front and centre in the discussion. We need to ensure the Business Council of Canada, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and others are brought forward, along with the department officials who were responsible for drafting this bill at the direction of the Liberal government.
I will reiterate that I will be voting in favour of the bill to ensure it goes to committee and the committee can do its homework. I would hope that the government will allow the committee to do a thorough investigation, as well as a constructive report with recommendations on how to change and amend the legislation.
Finally, I would remind everyone that the Supreme Court of Canada said, “privacy is at the heart of liberty in a modern society”, and we have to take that to heart to ensure we protect Canadians from cyber attacks, as well as to ensure they have their privacy, dignity, integrity and autonomy respected.