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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was kind.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as NDP MP for Burnaby—Douglas (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act October 28th, 2010

It has not even been proclaimed yet, as one of my colleagues points out.

This is really problematic and a very sad day that we are here to do this.

Bill C-49 is a piece of legislation that is extremely unfair to refugees. We just listened to a speech from a Conservative member that had a completely confused understanding of what it was to be a refugee or a refugee claimant in Canada. The member seemed to believe that all of these people were criminals or potential criminals and talked about them in that way. Nothing could be further from the truth, and even in the situation where a refugee claimant may lose that determination, I would think there are very few, if any, of those people who any Canadian would reasonably define as a criminal. It is very sad that this kind of confusion can exist on the Conservative bench amongst government party members about the intent or the need for this piece of legislation. That is a very serious confusion and misleads Canadians about the situation of refugees and refugee claimants in Canada.

Even if we look at the situations that seem to have given occasion to this particular bill, the arrival of the boats on Canada's west coast with largely Tamil refugees, that is not a fair descriptor yet. Many of the people who have arrived in Canada in boats, recently and in past years, have had successful refugee determination cases. They were not criminals. They were not queue-jumpers. They were in fact refugees, as determined by the established process here in Canada. That characterization of them is false and misleading, and it is very sad that it continues to be promulgated.

Bill C-49 is a deeply flawed bill and deeply unfair to refugees. It does not honour Canada's obligations under our own equality law, under the charter, or under international law. It is a sad departure from Canada being, in 1986, a country that was honoured by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees with the Nansen Medal for its refugee work as one of the outstanding countries in the world in terms of refugee resettlement and support for refugees. This is a far step from that point in our past history.

This bill would deprive refugees of an independent review. Because it moves to the detention system, which we have largely avoided in Canadian refugee determination and Canadian refugee law, it goes to the expensive alternative of detention. Detention is hugely expensive when compared to the value of a refugee claimant living in the community while his or her case is being determined. This is a serious departure.

The reality is that the bill, despite all the bravado about it, would really not do much about human smuggling. More Canadian laws are not going to catch human smugglers, the people who organize the kinds of things that the government is apparently concerned about.

Mandatory minimum sentences are ineffectual in most criminal situations and I cannot imagine how in this circumstance there is even any hope of them being any kind of deterrence. The only reason we would have a mandatory minimum sentence is for the deterrent value. I think they are almost useless. I doubt that any of the criminal organizations that the government says are out there organizing and switching from arms shipments to human shipments are writing memos to the people they work with saying, “Beware. Canada has just introduced a mandatory minimum sentence for human smuggling”. Mandatory minimums are not going to stop any of those people. They are not even an issue. They are not even a consideration in those circumstances. In this case, a mandatory minimum sentence would be completely ineffectual. This is one of the places where it would be least effective anywhere in criminal law.

Overwhelmingly, mandatory minimum sentences are ineffective throughout most aspects of criminal law. It is a government fantasy to think that they would somehow address the human smuggling situation.

Refugees are usually people who are in desperate circumstances. One of the criteria for determining whether people are refugees is if they fear for their life in their country of origin, if they have been persecuted and are seeking safety. It is our duty to receive those people and make a determination about their case.

In Bill C-11, we made decisions about how to expedite that process. It was taking too long in some cases. The Conservatives did not help the speed of the refugee determination process by their actions when they became government, by the fact that they would not reappoint anybody to the immigration and refugee appeal boards. The backlog increased because of their refusal to reappoint anybody that the previous Liberal government had appointed. They were slow making their own appointment. The Conservatives are directly responsible for the backlog that exists in refugee determination in Canada right now.

But we did take some extra measures to make sure that it was a more effective process in Bill C-11. We did take measures to ensure that when someone is determined not to be a refugee that they are removed from Canada. I have always said that a key aspect of our immigration and refugee policy had to be an effective removals policy as well. If we are going to have any respect for our refugee and immigration regime, that has to be an effective part. There has been a real experience that it is one place where we have fallen down in terms of enforcing immigration law in the past.

I want to talk about some of the specific aspects of this legislation.

I really believe that Bill C-49 punishes refugees. My remarks are drawing fairly heavily on the work of the Canadian Council for Refugees, in whom I have incredible confidence. This is an umbrella organization of almost every refugee- and immigrant-serving organization in Canada. It does excellent and detailed work on immigration and refugee policy and speaks loud and clear for the people it serves from coast to coast to coast in Canada. Whenever I speak on immigration and refugee matters, I draw heavily on its work.

Bill C-49 has been presented as legislation that would target smugglers, but in fact most of the legislation would not target smugglers but refugees and changes the circumstance for refugees. I think the previous Liberal member did a count and said there are 12 sections of the bill that deal with refugees and only five sections that deal with smugglers. So it really is an unbalanced piece of legislation in that sense.

Refugees, in this bill, including refugee children, would be mandatorily detained for a year without the possibility of an independent review and denied family reunification and the right to travel for over five years under the terms of this legislation. These are very serious restrictions. Mandatory detention is something that we have not used extensively in Canada and I think it would be a real departure from the success of our refugee legislation.

Many people believe that under Bill C-49 refugees could easily be victimized three times: first, by the people who were persecuting them in their country of origin; second, by smugglers who are often the unscrupulous people they have to use to escape their persecution; and finally, by an unfair process here in Canada. This is totally contrary to what we should be doing. We should be seeking to reduce the victimization of refugees and of people who have been persecuted and who fear for their lives in their countries of origin. The bill would only add to that victimization, unfortunately.

As I mentioned earlier, this legislation seems to violate Canada's commitments under international law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is another one that is in play here and is of great concern. The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the refugee convention, is another important international commitment that Canada has made. I think under all of those international agreements and also under the charter there will be challenges to this legislation, because in one way or another it is problematic. When we look at the Convention on the Rights of the Child, for instance, a delay in family reunification is an incredible violation of the rights of a refugee child. If a parent is here in Canada making a refugee claim, if the possibility of reunification for that child is delayed by five years, it is a very serious problem for that child and I think a very serious violation of that child's rights.

The most serious aspect of Bill C-49 is that it would create in our refugee legislation two classes of refugees: one class that is designated by the minister based on their mode of arrival, who would have different treatment compared to other refugees who land on our shores in Canada, who arrive in Canada by some other means. I think this is a clearly discriminatory provision.

In fact, it goes back on the commitments that we thought we had received from the government when the negotiation happened around Bill C-11, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act. In that legislation, there was also an attempt to establish two classes of refugees and to have a designation system. It was based on the country of origin, on what were considered safe countries that could produce refugees and countries that were not considered safe, and we know that it is almost an impossible designation to make.

So in negotiations with the government we got that changed and we did away with that classification of refugees that was a key part of the previous bill, Bill C-11.

Now the government, in this bill, is trying to reintroduce that kind of designation system. This time, it is not based on the country of origin of the refugee but on how that refugee got to Canada, on his or her mode of arrival. I think that is just trying to get it back in when we thought we had dealt with that issue very clearly in the previous negotiations, in the previous legislation.

I think, too, the discretion that is afforded the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in making these designations would be way off the scale. It would be too much. It would go way too far in allowing an individual minister the ability to make these decisions about who would be this designated refugee who loses some of the rights established under Canadian law for refugee determination. I think if there is any reason to have serious questions about this legislation, it is because of the establishment of these two classes of refugees and because of the incredible amount of discretion that it would afford the minister.

There are places for discretion for ministers of citizenship and immigration around humanitarian and compassionate considerations, for instance, because refugee and immigration cases are often reflections of people's very complex lives and that is a place where there needs to be some discretion for a minister, especially in this portfolio. However, I do not believe that allowing a minister to designate who is a first-class refugee and who is a second-class refugee or a no-class refugee is an appropriate addition to our immigration and refugee law in Canada. It is a very serious problem.

This bill, as we has mentioned, talks about mandatory detention of people who are designated by the minister as second-class refugees. There is mandatory detention without independent review. This kind of arbitrary detention is likely contrary to the charter and international law. Children will also be detained under this proposal. Unless they are accepted as refugees or released on discretionary grounds by the minister based upon exceptional circumstances, designated persons will remain in detention for a minimum of one year before having access to a review of their decisions. There are examples in Canadian law where that kind of process has been shown to be in contradiction of the charter.

The bill also talks about mandatory conditions being imposed upon release and for persons to be indefinitely detained beyond 12 months without the possibility of release if the minister is of the opinion that their identities have not been established. These measures seriously deprive people of liberty, without the opportunity for an independent tribunal to review whether they are necessary to their particular situations or to their particular cases.

The bill also denies refugee claimants in the designated class the right to appeal a negative refugee decision to the Immigration and Refugee Board's Refugee Appeal Division. It is frustrating to no end to have to be debating the need for a Refugee Appeal Division yet again in the House of Commons. The Refugee Appeal Division, an appeal of the decision of the Immigration and Refugee Appeal Board on a specific refugee case, was part of the new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that came into effect in 2001. In fact, with the Liberal government of the day, the establishment of the Refugee Appeal Division was a compromise, worked out with all the parties in the House, that garnered support for that legislation.

Sadly, even though we won the Refugee Appeal Division in an important appeal in the refugee process, the Liberal government of the day and subsequent Conservative governments never put it in place. It was passed and was part of the law but was never implemented. This was a serious problem. We even had private members' legislation, committee reports and other motions that called upon the government to actually implement the established law of the land but to no avail.

Recently, in the debate on Bill C-11, again we thought we had won a victory where finally the Refugee Appeal Division, this important appeal of a negative refugee decision, would be implemented. However, now we see that the government is proposing, in Bill C-49, to remove that again. We think we have it but we do not implement it. We think we have it again and now we are going to limit it.

Every organization has said that this is an important aspect of refugee law and that it needs to be here in Canada. International organizations have commented that Canada needed to have this level of appeal, that Canada needed to uphold its existing refugee act, and that this was a crucial piece of what we should be about in our refugee laws. I am really disappointed that the government has again moved to limit the Refugee Appeal Division.

Family reunification is an issue. I mentioned the issue of blocking families from being reunited for five years and the issue of refugee integration into the community. This slows that process down, and that has been one of the successes of Canadian immigration law. We have moved new immigrants and refugees into positions of participation in society, of feeling that they belong in Canada, that they are valued members of the community, better than any other country, and yet here again in this legislation we are putting forward barriers to doing that, and we do that at our peril. We are turning our backs on what we have proven works and what other countries agree have worked.

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act October 28th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the debate today on Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act. In the tradition of the government, it has given it a nickname, the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act.

Once again, as has been the case with all of the nicknames that it has come up with, it is a very misleading nickname because this bill really affects refugees far more than it will ever affect those who engage in human smuggling.

It is unfortunate with this bill that we have seen a real setback in the kind of progress we have made in this Parliament on immigration and refugee issues. We had a great example of co-operation, of cross-party co-operation, and government and opposition co-operation, with Bill C-11, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, which passed unanimously in this House back in June. That was a place where the government introduced a bill to address issues it saw with the refugee determination process in Canada, in an attempt to make it more efficient, to speed it up and to address some of the problems existing in that process.

The opposition had trouble with that bill, but because there was an openness to dealing with the questions that the opposition had, a better bill was created. Unanimity was found, a rare thing in this minority Parliament, and I was hopeful about that kind of process. We saw, in one of the few occasions since it has come to power in the last two Parliaments, the government's willingness to actually work with others to craft a better bill, and that is what we ended up with.

Now we are set back with Bill C-49, which takes us back and tries to reopen some of the issues that the government apparently resolved back in Bill C-11. It is trying to reopen some of the issues on which it forged a compromise with the opposition parties back in the spring in this place.

That is very troubling. It seems that when we do the job that Canadians sent us here to do, to talk to each other, to do the things that are best for Canadians, when we finally have that opportunity, the government wants to turn its back on that development in a very dramatic way by reintroducing another bill that reforms a piece of legislation we just dealt with in June.

Safeguarding Canadians' Personal Information Act October 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will try again with another angle because I suspect there are things that we can learn from the experience of Quebec when it comes to passing legislation in this area and administering that legislation.

I know the member is not supporting Bill C-29 and that she sees it as an intrusion into the jurisdiction of Quebec, but the bill exempts business contact information from the provisions of PIPEDA, which means that any information an organization or business collects, uses or discloses solely for the purposes of communicating or facilitating communication with the individual in relation to their employment, business or profession is exempt.

I am just wondering if there is a similar exemption for business contact information in the Quebec legislation, which is now being contemplated in the bill that we have before us today here in the House.

Safeguarding Canadians' Personal Information Act October 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I know my colleague has difficulty with this legislation and has made a very strong case for its intrusion into the jurisdiction of Quebec.

I have a couple of questions for her about how the Quebec legislation deals with some of the issues that are dealt with in Bill C-29, particularly the situation around a material breech. When a material breech of personal information has occurred, what sorts of notification requirements does the legislation in Quebec require?

This is one of the areas where this bill that is before the House today is seen as failing by a number of newspaper commentators and by people who follow the questions of protection of personal information in Canada. The question of what corporations are required to do when personal information has been breeched is an important one and maybe she could tell us what the legislation in Quebec requires in those kinds of instances.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act October 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where the proof is. I certainly have not heard it in the debate so far on this legislation and I certainly have not heard it from the government.

The member is quite right to point out that we would probably have already intercepted the bad guys before we shared the information with the United States about a flight flying over its airspace with no intention of stopping in the United States.

He is right to raise the shipping concerns, because that may very well be the weak spot in our security system.

The member talked about reciprocity, whether we should be getting the information about the thousands of U.S. flights that go over Canada. I am not sure that is really the issue. We need to ask ourselves, do we need that information? Is it just to collect that information? Why would we want to have that kind of information about American citizens, American airline passengers? What would Canada do with all of that information? Why should we be collecting that information? Do we really have any interest in that information, or are we just collecting it because the U.S. is collecting it?

That might be the way to draw attention to this issue. That might be the way to get American citizens who are concerned about their privacy and the integrity of their own personal information interested in this issue. However, I am not sure that it is the kind of principle on which we would want to base this kind of legislation.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act October 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I do think it is a really serious issue that there is too broad an exemption in this bill from the provisions and principles of PIPEDA, and when we combine that with the fact that in the Aeronautics Act there is broad discretion for the minister of transport, it is a very problematic combination that will lead to a situation where Canadians really do not know what is happening with our information.

We remember the situations that cropped up when the no-fly list was implemented and the number of people who were delayed at airports or subject to questioning, who missed their flights, who were detained for hours when they were trying to travel and the problems they had clarifying the information, correcting information, and whether they ever really knew if that was done, why that was done or who to approach about it. There were all kinds of problems that arose with the implementation of the passenger protect program.

We should learn something from the implementation of the no-fly list or the specified persons list. There were real problems that came up there, and there will be real problems that come from this proposal to share more personal information of Canadians with countries such as the United States, just because a Canadian is flying to a holiday in Mexico or the Caribbean and the flight happens to go over the United States.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act October 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak in the debate on Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act or, the short title as suggested by the government, the strengthening aviation security act.

We know the government has been very creative in selecting short titles or nicknames for some of its legislation. This is one of the least creative it has come up with. There are probably some other possibilities that should have been considered, certainly from a New Democratic perspective. We might have called this the compromising Canadians' privacy act, or the caving in to U.S. security interests act or the dumping Canadians' personal information into an American black hole act. There are a number of other possibilities. Given those suggestions, it is very clear that New Democrats have very serious concerns about the legislation and that we do oppose the bill.

The bill would amend the Aeronautics Act to exempt airlines from the obligations set out in the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, or PIPEDA, to allow information in the airlines' control about passengers to be shared with a foreign state.

Currently this information is only shared when a Canadian plane is scheduled to land in a foreign country. However, the bill would expand that to cover any Canadian plane that is due to fly over a foreign country. We are primarily talking about Canadian flights to the United States and over the United States, and certainly over the United States, and it is the United States that is driving these changes.

It is also done in the context where we know that the United States has not always appropriately or justly used the information it has received. I think for all of us the case of Maher Arar comes immediately to mind in that circumstance.

We know there have very serious problems. The situation that Mr. Arar found himself in was a horrible situation and it arose from this kind of transfer of passenger information to a foreign authority.

The bill does not currently cover flights of Canadian aircraft between Canadian destinations that fly over another country. When I fly back and forth from Vancouver to Ottawa, often the flight will go over the United States. Right now, information about the passengers on those flights is not shared with the Americans. However, one wonders when that will happen. I suspect that is the next ask from the Americans when it comes to sharing passenger information. I expect it is not far down the list of demands that the Americans will make of us in this regard. I think that will be a huge concern to Canadians, not that the current proposal is not a real concern to them, because it is.

By proposing to exempt Canadian airlines from the obligations they must currently meet under PIPEDA, the government is throwing out the key operative principles of PIPEDA, which were established to protect the privacy of Canadians, principles such as accountability, identifying purposes, consent, limiting collection, limiting use disclosure and retention, accuracy, safeguards, openness, individual access and challenging compliance. There are 10 principles and they are outlined in great detail in schedule 1 of PIPEDA.

For instance, the first principle is “Accountability” and is described as:

An organization is responsible for personal information under its control and shall designate an individual or individuals who are accountable for the organization’s compliance with the following principles.

It goes on to outline four subsidiary principles from that one on accountability, relating to how an organization handles the information under its control.

The second principle in schedule 1 of PIPEDA is “Identifying Purposes”, which is explained as

The purposes for which personal information is collected shall be identified by the organization at or before the time the information is collected.

Therefore, there is a requirement around clarity of what is around the sharing of that information.

The third principle in schedule 1 attached to PIPEDA is “Consent”. It says:

The knowledge and consent of the individual are required for the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information, except where inappropriate.

The fourth principle is “Limiting Collection” of information. It says:

The collection of personal information shall be limited to that which is necessary for the purposes identified by the organization. Information shall be collected by fair and lawful means.

This one goes on to be elucidated with further sub-principles.

The fifth principle, “Limiting Use, Disclosure, and Retention”, is described as:

Personal information shall not be used or disclosed for purposes other than those for which it was collected, except with the consent of the individual or as required by law. Personal information shall be retained only as long as necessary for the fulfilment of those purposes.

There are some pretty particular requirements in PIPEDA around that principle.

“Accuracy” is the sixth principle. It says:

Personal information shall be as accurate, complete, and up-to-date as is necessary for the purposes for which it is to be used.

Again, it is further elucidated in the schedule.

“Safeguards” is the seventh principle in PIPEDA. It says:

Personal information shall be protected by security safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the information.

Therefore, organizations are required to safeguard and make appropriate arrangements for the protection of that information.

The eighth principle is “Openness”. It says:

An organization shall make readily available to individuals specific information about its policies and practices relating to the management of personal information.

The ninth principle is “Individual Access”. It says:

Upon request, an individual shall be informed of the existence, use and disclosure of his or her personal information and shall be given access to that information. An individual shall be able to challenge the accuracy and completeness of the information and have it amended as appropriate.

The tenth principle is “Challenging Compliance”. It says:

An individual shall be able to address a challenge concerning compliance with the above principles to the designated individual or individuals accountable for the organization's compliance.

PIPEDA has a very detailed outline of the kinds of principles that should be part of any process of sharing the personal information of Canadians by organizations in the private sector, which airlines are required to comply with currently. What this law seeks to do is grant an exemption to that schedule for airlines with regard to passenger information.

Instead of developing an agreement with the United States that addresses these principles and complies with PIPEDA and showing where security requirements might require some change or safety might require a compromise, what we are presented with in the legislation is a blanket override of PIPEDA. There is no subtlety to this. It gives the government the ability to negotiate something with the United States or another country that completely ignores the requirements of PIPEDA around the sharing of the personal information of Canadians, and I do not think that is appropriate.

PIPEDA outlines some important principles that should be considered and struggled with. It may well be that there is an appropriate compromise to be had in a case of national security, but we will not that out of the process that is elucidated in Bill C-42.

When we look at the current Aeronautics Act, there are a lot of places in the act where the minister has discretion in the name of national security. In that circumstance, where there is a combination of an override of the principles established in our law about the personal information and privacy of Canadians and it is combined with an override by the minister, which is hugely discretionary, there is a huge potential for problems and one that goes much too far, especially when we look at the record of the current government.

The government has shown on many occasions that it is always ready to compromise the rights of Canadians in the name of the fight against terrorism. It seems like we just have to say the “T” word and all kinds of other things are expected to fall away, things that we hold dear. Rather than a careful reasoned approach to coming up with policy around national security and safety sometimes, the government goes to an extreme. We have to look at the situation of the security certificate cases. A provision in the Canadian Immigration Act, which was intended to allow for expedited deportation of non-citizens and non-permanent residents, has been used in some cases for indefinite detention, not the purpose for which it was intended.

When we look at some of the specific cases that have been argued and taken to court, we can see that, even when the government extended and re-issued security certificates in the name of national security and the concerns it had about individuals' attachment or participation in terrorist organizations or terrorist activity, the government did not follow the process very appropriately. It did not review all of the information at hand. It did not make available all of the information that was available. In one particular case it did not update its files on the individual involved.

The concern for security allowed all kinds of other sloppiness to happen in that process. I think it was pretty damning of the former minister of public safety and his actions in regard to the re-issuance of security certificates in the court judgment to which I am referring.

There are problems with how the government has approached the use of information in the situations where it has determined it believes there is a question of national security. We have to make sure that all information is taken into consideration in those cases.

Another example might be the use of full-body scanning at Canadian airports, and more intrusive forms of full-body scanning are on the way. We know that backscatter technology, which has been developed and which is being implemented in some American airports, gives a sharper, more defined image than the very basic image the current technology that is in use here in Canada. It is already available and being deployed in some places in the United States.

Canada jumped on that band wagon, probably at the urging of our American neighbours. We have invested heavily in full-body scanning equipment; I think it is millions of dollars. Probably if they had their choice, Canadians would have preferred the kind of scanners that go into hospitals rather than these airport full-body scanners. That is a question about how we use the technology and how we make decisions around security.

It is interesting to look at the example of Israel. An Israeli airline security expert appeared before a parliamentary committee to say that he had great doubts about the value of this kind of technology and did not see Israel moving to adopt that technology. He said Israel thought there were more effective means of ensuring passenger safety and airline safety that did not go down that road.

Again, it seems as if we jumped on a band wagon to appease our American neighbours and their concerns about safety and security. Why would we do this? That is a good question, why we continue to adopt the American agenda, why we do not take our own particular course and why we do not try to negotiate something different with the Americans.

I think there is a concern with regard to the transfer of data to Americans, that the Americans might prevent Canadian airlines from flying over the United States on the way to another destination and that this would increase the cost and be very inconvenient for the airlines and for Canadian airline passengers. There has been some suggestion that they are holding that out as a possibility if we do not comply with this demand for passenger info for Canadian airline flights that are not planning on stopping in the United States, that are not destined there.

I hope that is not the case. Certainly that idea has been floated. The reality is, as my colleague has pointed out, that there are far more U.S. flights flying over Canada to other destinations without stopping in Canada than Canadian flights flying over the United States to other destinations. In fact it is something like 2,000 U.S. flights flying over Canada when only 100 Canadian flights fly over the United States. That is the proportion.

So it is a bigger issue, in some sense, for Americans. What is the reciprocity? Are we demanding similar information from the Americans, or do we see any need to do that? Why would we ask for that personal information about American airline passengers? I think that is the real question. If it is something we do not see the need for, why are we kowtowing to the Americans' demand for it?

The European Commission is also looking at this issue, and last month it released proposals for negotiating an agreement with the Americans and other countries regarding the limits on the transfer of passenger name record data, which is the basic information that we are talking about here. It is the information that airlines collect about us when we fly.

We have to wonder why it would be necessary for airlines to share, for instance, what kind of meal we ordered on the plane, and if we are ordering a special meal of some kind, how this is appropriate or is any kind of information that is necessary to national security or a national security arrangement.

Canada also has an agreement with Europe on the passenger name record issue, but apparently it has to be renegotiated due to the expiration of certain legal commitments. That is something that is either being engaged in or will be engaged in soon.

As I mentioned, last month the European Commission outlined some principles that any PNR, passenger name record, agreement should observe.

I want to go over them so we can see what the Europeans are demanding in their agreement with the United States and other countries. The first principle they are looking to enshrine in any agreement is the protection of personal data, aiming to protect the rights of passengers. They are saying that this data should be used exclusively to fight terrorism; that categories of this information that are exchanged should be limited to what is necessary for that purpose and be clearly listed in the agreement; and that passengers should be given clear information about the exchange of their PNR data and have the right to see their PNR data and the right to effective administrative and judicial redress. This is to help ensure full respect for privacy, that any violation of privacy will be remedied.

They are pointing out that decisions having adverse effects on passengers must never be based on an automated processing of passenger name record data. A human being must be involved before a passenger is denied boarding. This is their attempt to avoid racial and religious profiling of passengers.

I think that is a very crucial one, that this just cannot be some computer generated process but that actual real people must be involved when there is a negative decision involved.

The Europeans are also seeking to have in the agreement that third countries must ensure a high level of data security and an effective independent oversight of the authorities that use PNR data. They are also saying that PNR data cannot be stored longer than necessary to fight terrorism and third countries should limit who has access to the data gradually during the period of retention.

They are also saying that PNR data may be shared by the third country with other countries, in a process called onward transfer, only if those countries respect the standards laid down in the PNR agreement between the European Union and the third country and only on a case-by-case basis.

I think this is a really crucial aspect of this. What happens with the information about Canadians that is provided to, say, the United States? Is that information then available to be transferred to another country, which may not meet the standards that Canadians want to ensure and may not even meet the standards that Americans have agreed to for the treatment of the personal data of Canadians? I think that is a very crucial consideration that we should be insisting on as well.

The second principle that the Europeans are using in terms of negotiating these agreements is the modalities of transfer of the PNR data, which aim to provide legal certainty to air carriers and keep costs at an acceptable level. We have to worry about what costs are involved for airlines.

They are also talking about standards on monitoring the correct implementation of the PNR agreement. And reciprocity is another principle, which I have already mentioned.

We can see that the Europeans are making some very clear demands. Yet here in Canada we are debating legislation and we have no idea what demands our own government is making. The government is asking for a blank cheque to make these changes, to negotiate this agreement, and we have no idea where it is going with it.

I think there are very serious problems. Canada's privacy commissioners in the past have called for written agreements that can be examined, and that was a very serious question when they were looking at the passenger protect program in 2007. We need to make sure we have the detailed and specific agreements and the detailed and specific legislative authority for the provisions of those agreements.

I think we compromise the principles of PIPEDA at our peril. That is what this legislation seeks to do.

October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, while I appreciate hearing from the parliamentary secretary the statistics and the analysis, it would be nice to know what the government was prepared to do. Maybe he could get to that.

There are a number of things we could be doing. We should ensure that we collect the right statistics and that we have consistency so that all of our police forces are doing the same kind of reporting with the same understanding. If we have good statistics, we can understand what is going on and make good policy and determine the effectiveness of policy.

We also have to make sure that the police, prosecutors, and judges understand the sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code and understand its usefulness in dealing with the whole question of hate crimes. This is a sentencing tool that is available to them in the criminal justice system and can be used effectively.

We need to make the sentencing provisions more explicit, especially around transgender and transsexual Canadians so that they are explicitly included in this law and have this recourse.

October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to again raise in the House the issue that I addressed back in June in question period when I put some questions to the Minister of Justice about a Statistics Canada report that had just been released which showed that hate crimes in Canada were up by 35% between 2007 and 2008. I will just go over what the report indicated at that time.

Fifty-five per cent of those hate crime incidents were based on race or ethnicity, with folks from the black community and the South Asian community being the victims of those crimes most often. Twenty-eight per cent were based in religion, and the members of the Jewish community were most prominently affected in that case. Sixteen per cent were hate crimes based on sexual orientation.

Of all of the hate crimes, those based on sexual orientation were by far the most violent. Seventy-five per cent of hate crimes based on sexual orientation that Statistics Canada looked at in that survey were violent crimes, as compared to 38% of hate crimes based on race being violent and 25% of those based on religion being violent.

It was a very serious situation that was being described. We know that many hate crimes also go unreported in Canada, unfortunately, because of the extra issues involved. There may be a violent assault but there is also this extra component of someone being targeted because of his or her membership in a minority group or in a minority, and the extra problems that causes and the extra emotional content of that kind of attack.

It is troubling to see these increases, troubling to see the level of violence associated with them and it is something that we need to be addressing in our society as a whole.

The first question I put back in June to the minister was what the government was planning to do to increase the confidence of victims of hate crimes in the police and in the criminal justice system so that the reporting of these crimes might be increased. The minister, in his response, said something about the Canadian Human Rights Commission looking into this issue and then went on to talk about other issues.

I believe the Canadian Human Rights Commission is looking at the whole question of hate speech but it is a different issue than the kind of extra component of a criminal act, especially for assault where there is someone being targeted because of his or her membership in a minority organization.

The second question was around specifically the gay and lesbian, bisexual, transgender and transsexual community and the fact that the violence of those hate-based crimes was rising faster. I asked what the government might do to address that, what education programs might be in the works and what data there was. We know that hate crimes data, especially related to the GLBTT community, is very inconsistent and that the statistics are very inconsistent across the country. Therefore, I was asking what the government would do to address those issues. The minister did not address that question at all. In fact, he went off on a completely different tangent on something else.

The issue is still there. What is the government prepared to do to address the violent hate crimes that face the GLBTT community in Canada? What is it prepared to do in terms of ensuring that there is consistency in how our police report and record hate crimes? Those questions still need to be answered.

Imam Zijad Delic October 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I want to pay tribute to a great Canadian leader, Imam Zijad Delic.

Imam Delic is the former imam of the Masjid al-Salaam and Education Centre in Burnaby. He has taught at the B.C. Muslim School and earned a doctorate in education at Simon Fraser University. I was honoured to be present at his convocation. He has worked for the B.C. Muslim Association and currently works for the Canadian Islamic Congress.

Imam Delic is known here at home and internationally for his commitment to interfaith dialogue and peaceful conflict resolution. Like many people in Burnaby, I attended his Islam 101 lectures at the Burnaby mosque. Imam Delic has encouraged women and men, young people and recent immigrants in the Muslim community to take their place in Canadian society.

This week, the Minister of National Defence and the government tarnished the reputation of this good man. The minister must offer a full apology.

Imam Delic is known as “the people's imam”. I am proud to know him, to work with him and to call him “my imam”.