Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today on behalf of my constituents from Surrey North to speak on Bill S-4, an act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act. I rise today because I oppose the bill in its current form.
Members from three parties proposed amendments to the bill so that it would stay within constitutional boundaries. However, the Conservatives rejected every single one of those amendments, even the amendments that were drafted according to the comments and suggestions from the witnesses.
As the official opposition, it is essential that we carefully review the legislation and voice dissenting opinions in order to ensure that each bill is thoroughly examined. In this case, as in most cases that I have experienced in the past four years, it is evident that the Conservatives are determined to push through their own agenda on their own timeline.
I feel strongly that it is important for Canadians to know that their privacy is being protected, especially in the digital age that we live in. However, just because the Conservatives have not conducted the mandatory five-year review of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, PIPEDA, does not mean that we should rush through an unbalanced bill.
I feel very strongly that the bill before us was not well studied and needs to be fixed before it is passed through the House. In fact, the Conservatives did not support or submit any amendments to the bill because they did not think that would allow enough time to pass the bill before the election. This sounds politically expedient to me. Canadians deserve better than what the Conservatives are giving them.
The issues surrounding online privacy and safety are not new problems. Rather, they are existing problems that have become increasingly harder to protect against as technology continues to advance. Therefore, given the changing nature of the problem, it is important that the legislation that we create also evolves.
I am glad that after so many years of inaction, we are finally considering legislation to address online privacy issues. My colleague, the member for Terrebonne—Blainville, tried to take action to protect Canadians' privacy back in 2012 with Bill C-475. Unfortunately, that bill, which was stricter and more effective than the bill before us although very similar to it, was voted down by the Conservatives.
The Conservatives have become very good at pretending they know how to do their jobs and protect Canadians. They are actually able to stand up in this House and lie through their teeth in saying that this is a balanced bill, and they believe that.
Online privacy and security breaches have the potential to significantly harm an individual. Protecting these rights is important for all Canadians so that we do not put anyone potentially in harm's way.
Some Canadians may feel that the bill does not affect them in their daily lives, but I can assure them that Bill S-4 would affect every single Canadian.
One part of the bill that I am very concerned about pertains to the sharing of our personal information. The bill contains a provision that would make it easier for companies to share our information without our knowledge or consent, without a warrant, and with zero oversight. It is troubling to me that there is no mechanism in place for oversight.
Do the Conservatives remember the ruling in Regina v. Spencer? I do. In this decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canadians have a reasonable expectation of privacy online. More specifically, the Supreme Court stipulated that spyware data cannot be disclosed to a third party without a warrant.
In light of this decision, it is questionable whether certain provisions in Bill S-4 are even constitutional. There are limits on what the government can do, but the Conservatives seem to have forgotten that.
We are demanding that every clause pertaining to the warrantless disclosure of information be withdrawn out of respect for the Supreme Court ruling and the privacy of Canadians.
There is no doubt that the Conservatives have a dark past when it comes to protecting personal information, and this bill would only add to that darkness. The lack of oversight and the allowance of warrantless disclosure has led to 1.2 million secret requests from Conservative government agencies for personal information from telecommunications companies in one year alone. Under the current Prime Minister, staggering numbers like this show that something needs to change, and it starts with this bill.
The Conservatives' hesitation to accept amendments to this bill makes me question whose interests they are truly protecting. Are they protecting the interests of Canadians, who deserve to trust that their personal information will be protected, or are the Conservatives protecting their own self-serving interests?
We would like to see this bill contain a mandatory data loss or data breach reporting mechanism. However, the bill in its current form would most likely result in fewer breaches being reported. It would be up to the organization that suffered the breach to determine if the breach posed a real and significant risk of harm. Companies want to save their reputation and money, so why would they inconvenience themselves by reporting a potentially embarrassing breach of privacy that could cause consumers to lose trust in them when they could just hide it instead?
There would be no incentive to report a breach and no advantage to doing so. This is a conflict of interest that would deprive Canadians of the information that they need to make informed choices about which companies they decide to share their personal information with.
Furthermore, because of the Conservatives' inaction, PIPEDA, which is supposed to be updated every five years, is falling far behind international standards. Since the first statutory review in 2007, subsequent attempts to amend PIPEDA have died on the order paper. After this long wait to update PIPEDA, the bill would simply not go far enough to protect Canadians in this digital era. We as Canadians are getting the message that the government does not take the protection of personal information seriously.
I, along with my fellow NDP members, truly do not ask for much when it comes to this bill. We have long called for the modernization of Canadian privacy laws. They are not up to date. Instead of making it easy for companies to share our information, the government should put deterrent penalties put in place that would require or encourage these private companies to respect and follow Canadian laws. Following that, we insist that the provisions in Bill S-4 to allow organizations to share personal information without consent or a warrant be removed and that the loopholes in PIPEDA, which do the same thing, be closed.
The point of the Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is to protect the very rights and freedoms contained within them. Warrantless access to our subscriber data and personal information most definitely poses a risk to Canadian privacy.
Modernizing the laws that govern the protection of personal protection is an important issue in the digital age. However, ramming through a bill that has huge holes, such as this bill, is not a fix that can make up for years of inaction by the current government. I urge the Conservatives to accept the amendments to this bill so that we can work collaboratively to ensure that all Canadians can trust that their personal information is being protected to the best of the government's ability.
One of the other things that was very troubling was seeing time allocation moved for the 97th time. Time allocation basically puts closure on this bill. It does not allow for all of the members to bring the views of their constituents into the House, which is one of our primary jobs.
This is the 97th time the Conservatives have done it and I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, they are not going to get the chance after October 19, because Canadians are tired. They have seen democracy and the workings of democracy crumble. These guys are going to be out.