Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on second reading of Bill , and to reiterate the government's commitment to protecting our children.
Evolving communication technologies like the World Wide Web have proven to be of clear benefit to Canadians.
Sadly, these same technologies have also provided new and easier means for offenders to make, view and distribute child pornography. As a result, there has been a significant increase in the availability and volume of child pornography. The web has also enabled criminals to coordinate and plan a wide range of other crimes.
Unfortunately, despite its undeniable benefits, today's advanced technology not only makes these crimes easier to commit but also harder to investigate. While technology has advanced rapidly, it is a challenge for law enforcement to keep pace with new technologies when it comes to investigating crimes.
There are also reports of an increased demand for material with violent content and/or material showing children who are very young. This increased demand is being met with increased supply.
Child pornography constitutes a very serious form of child victimization. Not only are children sexually abused and exploited, but the continuing demand for production and use of child pornography also objectifies all children as sexual objects for the sexual gratification of adult predators.
According to the recent report by the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, “Every Image, Every Child”, the number of images of serious child abuse quadrupled between 2003 and 2007. As I mentioned, these images are becoming more violent and feature younger children.
I was appalled to discover that 39% of those individuals accessing child pornography were viewing images of children between the ages of three and five, and 19% were viewing images of infants under three years old. I am sure that most law-abiding Canadians would be just as horrified by these statistics.
In addition, Cybertip.ca, Canada's national tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children, receives more than 800,000 hits and more than 700 reports to its website each month.
To help achieve our goal of putting a stop to the growing problem of sexual exploitation of children, the recently introduced legislation that would create a more uniform mandatory reporting regime across Canada. It would require persons who provide Internet services to the public to report certain information about Internet child pornography. Failure to comply with these duties would constitute an offence punishable by fines and, in some cases, imprisonment, or both.
Our efforts are focused on the Internet and on suppliers of Internet services, because the Internet has largely been responsible for the growth of child pornography crimes over the last 10 years or so.
This legislation covers more than just Internet service provides, or ISPs, as they are known. This term, of course, is commonly used in relation to those who provide access to the Internet. The legislation applies to all persons who provide an Internet service to the public, including Internet access, electronic mail services, Internet content hosting services and social networking sites.
This new reporting regime would complement the actions this government has already taken earlier this year. Our government introduced legislation that proposed to update certain existing offences and to create new investigative powers to help law enforcement officials deal with crime in today's technological environment. It also introduced legislation regarding investigative tools for enforcement agencies to quickly respond to crimes such as child pornography. These pieces of legislation acknowledge that the same communications technologies that benefit our day-to-day lives also provide easier ways of committing crimes, as well as shielding perpetrators from investigation.
Bill , a new act, complements well the measures already in place in the Criminal Code. The code's existing child pornography provisions prohibit all forms of making, distributing, making available, accessing and possessing child pornography, including through the use of the Internet.
At the same time, I also applaud the efforts of provincial and territorial governments that have already enacted, or are contemplating, legislation on mandatory reporting of child pornography. Children are also protected from sexual exploitation by provincial and territorial child welfare legislation, which permits the voluntary reporting of child pornography and makes that reporting mandatory in three provinces. In fact, the approaches adopted in Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia require all citizens to report all forms of child pornography.
Bill is new federal criminal legislation that is narrower in scope than the legislation in those three provinces. Nevertheless, it will provide for uniform mandatory reporting regimes across the country, which will complement provincial and territorial efforts under their child welfare legislation.
I am also encouraged by the actions of the many suppliers of Internet services who have been good corporate citizens in voluntarily reporting child pornography. The reports to Cybertip.ca have resulted in a number of arrests, as well as numerous children being removed from abusive environments.
Our government takes the safety of our citizens, particularly children, very seriously, whether in cyberspace or out in our communities. The creation and distribution of child pornography is an appalling and odious crime in which children are brutalized over and over again.
A mandatory reporting regime across Canada will improve law enforcement's ability to detect potential child pornography offences, help reduce the availability of online child pornography, facilitate the rescue of victims and help identify and apprehend offenders.
Through this legislation our government is continuing its progress in protecting Canadians, improving our justice system and ensuring that it keeps pace with modern technologies. At the same time, we are reiterating our commitment to protect children from sexual exploitation.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill . It is important to summarize again what the bill is about.
This bill would impose reporting duties on Internet service providers, ISPs, and on those who offer Internet services to the public when child pornography appears in accounts provided to their subscribers, or if they have reasonable grounds to believe that their service is being or has been used to commit a child pornography offence. That basically summarizes the bill. As a party, Liberal members support the bill at second reading and sending it to committee.
It is important to look at some of the history.
The governing party tries to leave the impression that it is the only party that believes in law and order. However, this has been on the agenda for a long time. We looked at it when we were in government, when I was the solicitor general. We were very worried about child pornography.
Although the Internet is a wonderful tool in terms of providing information to citizens, it is also a tool that others can use to exploit children and exploit people in many other ways.
Although the government tries to indicate that it is the only party that believes in law and order, it is not. I think all of us in this House believe in law and order.
When we pass laws in this place we have to ensure that they are balanced laws and that they will do what they are intended to do without creating unseen consequences and complications for others in society.
As with all legislation that mandates a third party to report online dealings to the police, a balance needs to be struck between policing and privacy concerns to protect Internet neutrality. We intend to examine these questions at committee.
That is why it is extremely important that we send the bill to committee and allow the proper witnesses to come forward, people who work on the Internet system and understand the technicalities and the difficulties of imposing this new burden on providers, albeit for all the right reasons. We need to understand the implications of that in terms of the laws that we make as well.
I might point out another reality, which the member for mentioned yesterday in a somewhat similar tone. The reality is that in 2005 the mandatory minimum sentence of one year for an offence of possessing and creating child pornography was instituted by a Liberal government. The definition of child pornography was broadened by a Liberal government to include depictions, digital or otherwise, in order to trap more perpetrators of the crime. That took us up to late 2005. Then we take the canvas over to January 23, 2006. The hon. member for said:
I have sat through the justice committee meetings and read the literature since that time without interruption. I have not attended every meeting, but I have been there for the whole agenda. There has been nothing on child pornography in that time. If we are all united in Parliament to try to do some good and combat the ill effects of the web and child pornography exploitation in particular, we ought to say to each other that this is not good enough.
The key point the member is making, with which I agree, is that we have to come together quickly. As I said, this was an issue when I was solicitor general in 2003. Each and every day the Internet system is used for the exploitation of others, so we have to get this bill to committee and deal with this issue. It has taken the government a considerable amount of time to bring this bill forward.
As well, I would point out that all attorneys general across Canada, based on the attorney general meetings with the provinces, basically support the move in this direction. Because of the slowness of the federal government in terms of moving forward, some of those governments are taking action on their own.
If we are going to have good laws in Canada, there has to be coordination across the board. That is why it is so important that the federal government take the lead in terms of the implementation of these laws. It is important that we get Bill to committee, have our hearings and get it acted upon.
While I am on my feet talking about law and order issues, and I have mentioned this before in the House of Commons, there is an area that I am really concerned about and it fits into this debate in some fashion. That is the whole way the is undermining the rehabilitation aspect of inmates by abolishing the prison farms.
I have said before that this is an extremely important issue. We have a government that is talking about law and order, but its law and order agenda seems to be to go out there and build super-jails and put more people in prison. If we are going to have a justice system that works, it has to be one that rehabilitates people. One of the best rehabilitative aspects of that system in fact is for those inmates to work on farms.
There are six of those farms across the country. One of the most productive farms is in the Kingston area. I have been there. In fact, it is in the Speaker's home riding. There are six institutions in that area. Frontenac Pen Farm is in that area. It has one of the best and most productive dairy herds in Canada, and the government is talking about closing it down. It is a farm in which inmates get out there and work with cattle and produce crops and supply other institutions in the Kingston area and across the country to Laval, Quebec, with food. This is productivity in which they take pride.
Contrary to what the states, that skills of farmers are no longer worthy, they are in fact worthy. The inmates do not just learn how to be mechanics or how to milk a cow. They learn teamwork. They learn management. They learn computer skills. They learn how to relate through the use of feeding and working with cattle and livestock.
I want to take the opportunity, while I am on this bill, to emphasize this point again. The government, with no supporting data, has decided to close those prison farms across the country and lose that productivity, lose the rehabilitative aspects of inmates working on farms. That is a terrible decision. It is a wrong decision. I would encourage the minister to come to his senses and recognize that those farms are an important part of our corrections system and should remain.
I will admit that I got a wee bit off track from Bill , but my point in expressing the seriousness of the decision of the government on prison farms is that while it talks about law and order, while it is great on messaging, its actions are not always in the same direction in which it is leaving the impression it is moving forward.
Bill is important. It stems from an agreement reached at the 2008 meeting of federal, provincial and territorial justice ministers to enact mandatory requirements for ISPs and online content providers to report cases of child pornography.
The major components of the bill that we support are: the mandatory reporting of all website addresses that ISPs are aware may contain child pornography; mandatory reporting to police when ISPs believe that a child pornography offence is or has been committed using their services; and that the provider must also preserve the relevant computer data for 21 days after notifying police, unless required by judicial order that the data is to be destroyed after the 21 day period.
Those are valid reasons and our party is willing to give support to this legislation, to send it to committee to be studied further and to be implemented, I hope quickly, so that this terrible issue of child pornography and the exploitation of children on the Internet can be dealt with.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to stand in the House of Commons with parliamentarians from all parties to talk about Bill . In this Parliament probably one of the most important things we are doing is addressing the protection of our most vulnerable citizens, our children.
Bill would provide a level of certainty for all those who supply an Internet service to the public that they would be held to the same reporting standard with regard to child pornography. We have heard in the House that child pornography is on the increase. The images that are displayed are becoming more and more violent. Our government recognizes the efforts of major Internet service providers in voluntarily reporting this type of material.
However, creating a uniform mandatory reporting requirement with respect to Internet child pornography on all who supply Internet services to the public across Canada will strengthen our ability to protect children from sexual exploitation.
As I have listened to the speeches, there has been a thread throughout and this thread has been that all members feel that this is a horrendous crime against children. Mr. Speaker, you have small children and I know that it must touch your heart because our children are our most precious gift.
The bill would improve the law and improve law enforcement's ability to detect potential child pornography offences and help reduce the availability of online child pornography. It would also facilitate the identification of victims so they may be rescued and help identify and apprehend offenders. This is a very important piece of legislation. We have heard in the speeches that there are 1,400 police reported child pornography incidents of which 440 resulted in charges, and that is not even up to date. There are more today in the year 2009 going into 2010.
Many good people across this nation are watching and putting the lens on what Parliament is doing in terms of protecting our children. Traditionally speaking, Parliament is a place that sometimes can go wonky. Even though a good bill is presented, sometimes it does not get passed. We have a lot of unnamed people making a lot of unnamed speeches that sound good, but in the end the laws sometimes do not get passed.
As we know, after we deal with the laws here in the House of Commons, they then go into the Senate where they must be examined before they can receive passage.
I want to talk about people across the country who have made a big difference and who are watching what our government is doing in terms of child pornography. I am proud that our government also introduced related bills that have supported Bill . So there is a concerted effort with our government to address our most vulnerable citizens and to protect our children.
Our government recently produced three hard-hitting related bills and one is Bill which was brought forward on June 18. That bill would require Internet service providers to provide police with email and ISP addresses of those viewing child pornography. It also would require ISPs to freeze child pornographic data for 21 days. It also would require cell phone companies to assist police in tracking child porn on cell phones and BlackBerries.
Again, Bill , which was passed on June 18, was a bill that permitted police to obtain information about clients from ISPs and requires companies to acquire the technical ability to allow police to intercept information. Bill is just another building block on this foundation that helps protect our children.
In my travels over the past decade, I have met many of the people working on this issue of human trafficking and child porn in our country. As a mother of six children and the mother of an RCMP officer who used to be in the integrated child exploitation unit, I have seen first-hand the cost that a lot of these police officer have paid. They sat there and viewed those images. They went out and tried to get the bad guys. I pay honour and respect to all the police officers who have done that.
Many of the projects across the country outside of Parliament Hill have really put pressure on all of us as members of Parliament to stop this horrific crime. When we talk about child porn over the Internet, it brings to mind Mr. Brian McConaghy who was the founding director of the Ratanak Foundation. He is a forensic scientist with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and has served with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for 22 years. He worked tirelessly to help build the case against Donald Baker. For 19 of those 22 years, he performed his duties with the RCMP while setting up and running this foundation. After that, he continued on.
I was talking to Mr. McConaghy yesterday. He and I work on different things.
When we are talking about the Olympics, human trafficking or child porn, they are all connected. What makes these police officers and front line workers who work with the victims of Internet child porn so special is their heart.
The Baker file has been forgotten in some cases but other files keep coming up. They come and go. They are horrendous and yet they are forgotten. I know everybody remembers the Willie Pickton file in B.C., which was a horrendous case that hit the front pages. The RCMP officers and the police vice officers who were working on Internet child porn and on these cases were deeply touched by the victims of this crime.
When we have people watching these images on the Internet and when they go across the ocean and act on those images and fantasies, they come back and continue that appetite for acting on the fantasies because they have allowed themselves to go into that dark place that human beings often have with child pornography.
We talk about the front line officers and we talk about the victims but I want to talk about one victim just to impact our Parliament today so that we understand.
Serena Abbotsway was killed by Willie Pickton. She was a kind young girl who was on the streets helping young people who were victims of human trafficking and child pornography. She underwent many beatings in trying to rescue people because she herself was a street person.
Mr. McConaghy is off to Cambodia right now but when I was talking to him the day before yesterday, he was telling me, as a forensic scientist, how he became attached not only to the cases but also attached to the victims.
He told me what it felt like to look at the skull of Ms. Serena Abbotsway and to look at the picture he had of her. She was baptized at a church on the east side. She worked on the streets and was involved in all kinds of different things. There, before him, was her remains.
He treated her remains with respect as he went through her particular case. When he finished doing his forensic science work, he put her skull away and said goodbye to her. He told her that he would never forget her and that he would do the best he could to ensure that other victims were not hurt.
We can talk about people like Matt Logan. In Parliament the public needs to know about these unsung heroes who work so hard every day. Matt Logan is a recently retired RCMP officer. He has penetrated the psyches of countless psychopaths, pedophiles and hostage-takers. He has spent time in the jail system assessing predatory sex offenders. He is one of only seventeen people in North America who are both police officers and qualified psychologists, and one of even fewer who specialize in the criminal mind.
The member opposite mentioned the toll it took on the police officers. I know many police officers who have taken that toll because of their work. Matt Logan knows an awful lot about pedophiles and about their minds. He knows how to get into those minds and how to rescue the victims.
Staff Sergeant Logan has done so much to bring this issue to the forefront on our national scene. He said that he had a hard time believing that, given an opportunity, the child predators, when after watching victims, would not act on their fantasies. He said, “Child pornography exists primarily for the consumption of predatory child molesters”.
It is the beginning of something that can grow. Logan, who is a criminal psychologist in the RCMP's behavioural science group, has done extensive work with sex offenders. He has been called on more and more to consult on child exploitation cases.
RCMP Matt Logan describes two types of child molesters, the situational and the preferential. He says that most molesters fit into the situational category. He says that means most are male and are indiscriminate with victims, committing sexual assault based on accessibility to a victim. If they have a pornography collection, child porn is usually a small portion of it. He says that the preferential child molester can be of any age, driven by fantasies centred on a specific age, gender or even the look of a child. Most gravitate to prepubescent. Is that not shocking?
RCMP Logan said that although he had worked with some whose fetish was newborns, preferential child molesters also had a long-term pattern of behaviour and almost certainly collect child porn. He says, “The images and erotic stories fuel the fantasies that “drive the bus” to hunting and molesting a child”. This is a statement from a seasoned 22-year RCMP officer who worked in this area.
Bill is extremely important.
Talking about close to home, my son is an RCMP officer and is in the ICE unit. On his days off, he goes all over the country, talking to associations and groups about how to protect their children against child molesters. In fact, next Friday night he and I will do a joint presentation at one of those locations.
There are other people, like Lianna McDonald, who is the head of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. She does so much to try to get the cybertip lines up and running. She works hand-in-hand with Beyond Borders, with Roz Prober.
For the first time, businesses across the country are putting money toward organizations that are fighting child trafficking and child porn. One of those organizations is The Body Shop. It has recently launched a huge initiative about hand cream. My Christmas baskets are going to be filled with its hand cream because of its support for the protection of child victims from human trafficking and from child porn.
I want to talk about Paul Gillespie. Paul Gillespie was on the streets protecting children, victims of child abuse. He worked on the ground with many of these young women. I have met some of the young women whom he has rescued. Now he is with KINSA, the Kids Internet Safety Alliance. He works with Canadian law enforcement and other partners to deliver training and build capacity among the police of developing nations to help them find and rescue victims of child abuse, whose images are shared on the Internet. Once rescued, he helps the victims and their families receive support to help them heal through the Mothers Online Movement, MOM. It is a powerful community network. These are the unsung heroes who are listening today to what is going on in Parliament.
Paul Gillespie, a former police officer, built and led the child exploitation section of the Toronto Police Service Sex Crimes Unit. He has become widely known as a world leader on this issue. I consider him a very good friend of mine and someone who is one of those unsung heroes. He has never been brought to the forefront for his work. Today I want to do that and to thank him.
Then we have the small groups that are springing up all over our nation, those groups that do not receive any money from anyone, but they find out about human trafficking and child porn. They go out and educate people. I have always said that education is our greatest tool.
We can talk about Naomi Baker from Canada Fights Human Trafficking. She has brought so many people together and educated many of them on how to protect their children.
We can talk about Natasha Falle. She is my hero because she was a victim of trafficking and was the daughter of a cop. She is off the streets now. She has helped so many people. She now runs Youth Unlimited. We will never find a more articulate, more beautiful, more grounded person than Natasha Falle. She is the poster girl for getting programs in place that will protect and help these victims because they can be rehabilitated.
We can talk about the beautiful Temple Committee Against Human Trafficking in Montreal, started by Rabbi Lerner.
Many people are working so hard to ensure that this horrendous crime is suppressed. Even today in the other chamber, Bill is awaiting the passage by the Senate. We look forward to all senators supporting that bill.
Over and over we hear in Parliament that this issue has to be a non-partisan one. When it comes to the protection of our children, parliamentarians have to work together. It is so important.
The Olympics are coming upon us in a very short time. I happen to know the bad guys now are getting all the girls together. I know some towns from where they have taken some of these girls.
We cannot sit and wait. This is Canada's hidden secret. This is one of our darkest spots in history when child sex slavery is allowed and when child porn has become something of a joke to some of the people in our country. We have to take this seriously. We have to speak out. As parliamentarians, we cannot afford the luxury of in house bickering. We can only afford the luxury of the privilege of putting laws forward that will protect our most vulnerable victims.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to Bill on mandatory reporting of child pornography sites, which requires Internet service providers to report child pornography activities they are aware of.
I will start by saying that the Bloc Québécois supports this bill in principle. We will vote in favour of the bill at this stage so that it can be analyzed in depth in committee.
It is always necessary to examine Conservative bills individually, because of the Conservatives' approach to tackling crime. We have to be extremely vigilant. It is important that the men and women who are watching are aware of this. The government may want to crack down on crime, but it has decided to replace the judiciary with minimum sentences—that is its approach—instead of addressing the issue of judicial appointments. The government sees that people are very much opposed to this. In any case, should judges be replaced or brought into line with the right-wing Conservative philosophy? Yet the government has decided to introduce minimum sentences in bill after bill. Its goal is to increase sentences and fill the prisons with criminals, and yet it wants to abolish the gun registry.
What does this mean? It means that everyone could have hunting rifles at home, yet the government is going to try to fill the prisons with criminals and to increase sentences. I have a lot of trouble following the government's logic when it comes to issues like the gun registry. I just renewed my licence, because I used to be a hunter. I say that I used to be, because I do not have time to hunt now. I have other demands on my time. In politics, you often have to give things up. I do not have time to hunt now, but I still have my hunting rifles. I had to ask my wife to sign my licence form, but I did not have a problem with that. She was very proud to sign it, because she knew I did not have a history of violence or anything. She signed. I think that this is a good way to ensure that couples continue getting along and also that people who might be violent think twice about getting a licence. Obviously, if I had been violent, I never would have dared ask my wife to sign my form. I would have known she would refuse.
I cannot understand how anyone could be against the gun registry when one of its purposes is to prevent violence against women. I have difficulty understanding the Conservative philosophy. But again, only the Conservatives and their republican way of seeing things can answer my questions. Nonetheless, it is only logical that a spouse's signature be required on forms or applications for obtaining a firearms licence for owning a gun or maintaining ownership of a gun. I am having a hard time understanding the Conservatives' philosophy behind this.
Meanwhile, next week they will be all worked up in the days leading up to the national day of action on violence against women. Once again, they will get all dramatic and say that we must do something about violence against women. However, they are against the idea of getting the spouse of a prospective gun owner to give permission by signing a form.
That is why, every time the Conservatives introduce a justice bill, we have to ask questions. That is what the Bloc Québécois has done. We will not rely on the Conservatives' conclusions to support Bill , but on statistics and studies conducted by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
We have to wonder how it is that today, in 2009, Internet service providers can allow themselves not to have a policy to prevent child pornography from ending up on their sites. It is scary, but that is what it boils down to.
I have had many discussions with my teenage son. He is an adult now. He is part of the Internet generation.
For this generation, all information should be available and accessible. The Internet is a global meeting place where anything goes. I have had some serious discussions with my son and I told him that even though all information is accessible, illegal information should not be on Internet sites, no matter their origin.
Even though it should not have happened, it has. I will give some statistics from the analyses and surveys prepared by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. That way we will have some benchmarks.
The following statement is found on the centre's website: “Parents list abduction and sexual exploitation as 2 of the top 3 concerns facing Canadian children.” Naturally, every good parent wants their children to be protected against exploitation or abduction. It also states that: “Most Canadian parents are using outdated and ineffective information to teach their children about personal safety.”
It is difficult for parents to be told by an organization such as the Canadian Centre for Child Protection that we are using outdated and ineffective information to teach our children. However, that is the reality. But why is that?
For one thing, I did not grow up with the Internet but my children did. Inevitably, parents of my age, in their early fifties, are not accustomed to this new technology. Because of my work I have had to learn quickly. But it has not been easy for some of my friends. Our children have learned to use this technology much more quickly.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is right: parents are using ineffective and outdated means to teach their children about safety, especially on the Internet. The following statistics are from its website.
Children account for 61% of all victims of sexual assault reported to the police and 21% of all victims of physical assault.
Thus, children are involved in many sexual assaults.
I will continue.
72% of Canadians feel that if someone wanted to access child pornography online, it would be very easy to do so.
92% of Canadians are concerned about child pornography being distributed on the Internet and 96% feel it is important to have a place to report child pornography online.
Cybertip.ca processes over 600 reports per month relating to the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet and receives over 800,000 website hits per month from people seeking educational information.
In homes without rules about Internet use, 74% of children report that an adult is never present when they use the Internet
Cybertip.ca is a tip line operated by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
According to a study conducted by the centre, parents are using outdated and ineffective information to teach their children about the Internet. Some 74% of children say that they are not supervised at home. Parents need to understand how important it is to supervise their children's Internet usage.
There is software that prevents certain kinds of data from downloading. Computers look harmless. They are just machines that we turn on, nothing more. But there is all kinds of information out there on the Internet, and more and more abusers. We have to take control of the situation.
Why does the House have to discuss Bill ? Because this is 2009, and website owners are still allowing child pornography on their websites. That is unbelievable, but it all comes down to money. Where there is money, there are humans, and where there are humans, there is human nature. People will do anything to make more money, so they allow child pornography on their websites, or they do not take necessary measures or spend money to keep it off their websites.
The purpose of this bill is to make the operators of these sites responsible. They will have to pay the fines because they were not vigilant and did not do their best to prevent this. Legislators are often accused of passing laws, putting up obstacles and going in circles. I am sorry, but these website operators have gone too far; it is over.
The Bloc Québécois wants this bill to be passed as quickly as possible. However, it must be carefully examined in committee, because this bill deals with parts of Canada's and Quebec's charters of rights and freedoms. We must ensure that human freedoms are being respected. But when we are talking about child pornography, rights and freedoms will have to take a back seat. We must carefully protect our children. Once again, we must hold those who run these sites responsible.
According to statistics from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, 21% of children report having met someone in person they met first online. That is very worrisome. This study was conducted in 2005. This means that one out of every five children reports having met someone in person they first met online. Since we know that there are predators online, we cannot ignore this statistic.
My teenager would not like to hear me say this, but children are often naive. That is the truth. They think they are the best at everything. We must try to understand them and try to remember how we were at their age. They must all have their own experiences, but when we know that 21% of children report having met someone in person they met first online, that is worrisome. Good for them if they are meeting people their own age. But the problem with the Internet is that people lie about their ages and claim to be teenagers when they are really adults.
We know this, and we know that 74% of children use the Internet at home without an adult present, because as parents, we think that the computer on the desk is not that important or dangerous. We think all they do is play games on it. But that is not true; they do more than play games. They chat and talk, and can fall victim to online predators. More and more pedophiles are showing up on the Internet, to the point that now, we need to protect our children from sexual exploitation. That is what Bill would do.
I would also like to read part of a press release issued on November 18, 2009 by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. I hope everyone is listening, because this is important. It says the following:
“What makes this particularly concerning is the very young age of the children in the images [the child pornography sites were analyzed]. These children are most likely being accessed and sexually abused by someone they know. Not only is it devastating for a child to be abused, but to have the abuse recorded and distributed on the Internet adds another layer of trauma,” said Lianna McDonald, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “This is a call to action to all Canadians to learn to recognize the signs of abuse, and to report their suspicions of abuse. We need to disrupt and hopefully stop child sexual abuse and prevent it from being memorialized and traded on the Internet.”
This is important because it has become a money maker. That is what I was saying earlier. We might still wonder why, in 2009, the operators of these Internet sites have not resolved this problem. The answer is because there is money to be made.
I am not accusing them. I do not want to make any accusations, but the fact remains that technology certainly must allow them to block these images on their sites, to track down these people wanting to send them links to a website or images of child pornography, and report them themselves.
That is what should have happened. We should not have to legislate this issue. However, because of business and money, certain situations arise, and of course I mean exploitation. Any time there are images of young men and young women on the Internet, this generally implies sexual exploitation. We must track down all these exploiters, these abusers and these criminals, because exploiting children is a horrible offence. That is why the Bloc Québécois supports this bill.
I wanted to come back to the study done by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which issued 12 recommendations in the areas of education and public awareness, technical and policy development, and research opportunities. This goes well beyond simply saying, fine, we will pass legislation in order to find the perpetrators of those horrendous crimes or we will impose specific fines on the operators of the sites that break the law. The fact remains that we all need to be more socially aware.
I would like to talk first about the importance of the bill, because it addresses situations that need to be addressed. First, under the bill, providers of Internet services—Internet access, email, hosting and social networking sites—will now be required to report to a designated organization any information they receive about websites or child pornography that may be available to the public. They will be required to do so once the bill is passed, because the bill still has to go through a few readings and needs some work, and it has to go to the Senate. I will not talk about how useless the Senate is, but once again, because the Senate has not been abolished, we will have to waste two or three months talking with the senators, when they spend half their time sleeping.
Now, operators who provide Internet access, email and hosting and networking sites will be required to report to a designated organization any information they receive about websites or child pornography that may be available to the public.
Second, they will be required to notify the police and preserve the evidence if they believe that their Internet service has been used to commit a child pornography offence.
Again, we should not have to pass this bill. They should be dealing with this themselves. But no, we will force them into it because they have taken this a bit too far.
Failure to comply with the duties under this act would constitute an offence punishable by graduated fines of up to $1,000 for a first offence, $5,000 for a second offence, and $10,000 for a third offence. Obviously, there is something in place for sole proprietors and corporations. For a corporation, the graduated fine scheme would be up to $10,000, $50,000 and $100,000. This legislation covers more than just Internet service providers, a term that is commonly used in relation to those who provide access to the Internet. The legislation would apply to all persons who provide an Internet service to the public.
Since I have just one minute remaining, I would also like those who are watching us to know that the Canadian Centre for Child Protection issues very important recommendations to all members of the community. Parents, families and friends have to take charge and educators and the entire system have to do whatever it takes to make sure these pedophiles who use cyberspace to commit their crimes are reported. The sexual exploitation of children is a horrible crime. Rest assured that the Bloc Québécois will support this bill.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate at second reading of Bill , the latest bill the government has brought forward.
It struck me as peculiar that the bill was just tabled and, all of a sudden, it is before the House for debate without briefing notes from the minister, without a legislative summary, and without consultation or somehow engaging the members to consider the issue before us.
The issue is not really about Internet laws, but about the protection of children. That is what the bill is about. If we put it in that context, we will understand that this specific bill relating to child protection is a very small piece of the discussion. That concerns me, and I think that concern is slowly emerging.
We are at second reading of this bill. The reason I wanted to rise is that I would like to encourage members to put on the table as many recommendations as possible for committee to consider, not just this very narrow bill as it stands. We need to examine how this bill could have been part of a comprehensive approach to child protection beyond simply dealing with those who happen to detect child pornography on a computer, whether they be individuals or organizations.
When I saw the penalties for a first offence, in this particular case a $1,000, I thought, “My goodness, child pornography probably generates millions of dollars, so the $1,000 just does not seem to be in the ball park”. My premise is that if one is not part of the solution, then one must be part of the problem.
The previous speaker from the Bloc raised for members' consideration the issue of prevention and, of course, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection raised the need for us to do much more.
Whenever a criminal justice bill is before the House, not being a lawyer, I can enjoy the luxury of asking, what do I know about and how do I feel about this bill and what does it do to address the problem before us? I look at the issue that we are talking about and why we are doing what we propose and the elements of penalties and incarceration that are included. I also ask what are the issues with regard to rehabilitation, if possible, and what are the issues with regard to prevention?
I say this because when we talk about criminal justice issues, we have to deal with them before and after we have the problem. We know from all of the work that has ever been done on health and justice issues and from wherever we have social problems that understanding and admitting that we have a problem is the first step. The next step has to be, how do we prevent some of these problems?
I should say at the outset that the bill, in its narrow way, is worthwhile sending to committee and, I suspect, supporting to become law. But it is so narrow in its approach, it is tinkering. How many times have we asked why does the government not come forward with comprehensive legislation that actually addresses the issue? The issue is child protection, and we have problems there.
When I looked at the speech by the , who gave the government's position, I am pretty sure that somebody wrote it for her. Nonetheless, at least two or three times it mentions that Canada has “one of the most comprehensive frameworks in the world to combat child pornography” and that “we can and must do better”. A little later in the speech, the minister continued that “Canadian criminal laws against child pornography are among the most comprehensive in the world and apply to representations involving real and imaginary children”. That point is later repeated.
We can say that is the truth, but if Canadians look at the statistics, they should know that 39% of those accessing child pornography are viewing images of children between the ages of three and five years of age, and 19% are viewing images of infants under three years old. The public does not really know that, but we should consider that we are talking about a significant problem of children five years of age or younger. The vast majority of this problem is among children five years of age or younger.
Why does the government not ask itself how is it that a child five years or under could actually be a victim of child pornography? Can we imagine our own children being involved in this? If so, why? If not, why not? From our knowledge and experience, we know collectively the conditions that are fertile for bad or wrong things happening. We understand those things, but we are tinkering here. We have a serious problem. The minister of state admits it, but also says that we have the most comprehensive framework to deal with it. Well, we do not.
When we have a problem as pervasive as this, we can look back at some of the history of it and recall that we had a joint Commons-Senate report entitled “For the Sake of the Children”. It dealt with issues of family breakdown and recommended, for example, that if there were a custody dispute in an acrimonious divorce, there must be a parenting plan in place before a divorce can be granted by the courts. That was a joint Commons-Senate report done years ago.
It never happened. I have spent a fair bit of time working on children's issues. I wrote a book called The Child Poverty Solution dealing with the causes of child poverty. Child poverty is one of those things that tugs on the heart. Who could be against dealing with child poverty? However, it is family poverty, because every child in a poor family is poor. Why are families poor? On a scale divided into quartiles, no matter how much anybody makes, somebody will be in the fourth quartile.
Under the definition we have right now, if one is in the fourth quartile, one is basically counted as being among Canada's poor. Poverty needs a definition, but I am not going to get into that because the bill is not about child poverty other than the fact that such poverty is a contributing factor to a child being accessible and vulnerable to being a victim of child pornography.
I wrote another book called Divorce—The Bold Facts, which also dealt with family breakdown and the impact on children. The research that I did was just amazing. The implications for children of family breakdown are enormous. Where those children end up and the quality of care they get and the circumstances they have to live in, tell me that these are fertile areas for bad things to happen.
I wrote another book called Strong Families... Make a Strong Country dealing with the same thing. It showed statistically that the intact family, a child with a biological mother and biological father, had the least incidence of bad outcomes for children. The statistics show this out; it is not a subjective opinion. It is subjectively determinative, and this has been shown so many times. Another related book I wrote was called TRAGIC TOLERANCE... of Domestic Violence.
I am wearing my white ribbon because we are talking right now about an area that is extremely important. Domestic violence and violence against women are still rampant in our country. I spent five years on the board of my shelter for battered women, called Interim Place, and helped them get a second shelter built. However, I am hoping that these shelters will go out of business. In a perfect world, we would not need shelters for women and children who are abused.
We just considered Bill , the bill dealing with the faint hope clause. Here, four out of the six women who applied for the faint hope clause were abused women who had killed their husbands and been convicted of first degree murder. All of them had children. Four of the six who applied actually were granted early parole, and while they still have a life sentence, they were granted early parole because of the compassionate understanding that bad things happen. In a couple of those cases, the husband was having an affair on the side and there were other consequential things, but there was a first degree murder. It is terrible that murder occurs, but Bill eliminates the opportunity for parole after 15 years. It says that if someone commits first degree murder, that person is going to serve 25 years before he or she gets the first opportunity for parole. Can we imagine what that does to a family with children? I do not understand why repeal of the faint hope clause is going to happen. I do not support the elimination of faint hope, but that is not before us right now.
I have said so many times in this place that public education—
You did not vote against it.
Mr. Paul Szabo: I did.
Public education is always part of the solution for all of our problems. When there are social problems, we have to look at them and understand them. Canada cannot pretend to be the creator of all good ideas; those ideas do come from other places. Other countries have done a lot of work on this, and yet the bill was so hastily put together that it actually is anemic in its approach to the issue of child protection. While it is okay to do what the bill proposes, and it will not harm things, I do not think the bill is going to help as much as people think it is.
We even have a question with regard to how we should police this and how we should make this happen. When we pass laws in this place, by and large, the federal police, the RCMP, will not be responsible for enforcing the laws we pass, but the provincial and regional police forces across the country. They are the ones. Ask them today. Ask them province-by-province, region-by-region, territory-by-territory, what is the shape of their budgets with regard to policing.
Why pass laws that we cannot enforce or whose potential we cannot actualize? If we cannot support the policing, is it there? Have we talked concurrently of a special fund being set up, or special task forces or special policing forces, because when one finds a “little nest”, that nest may be part of a whole colony. It is going to take time, but if we are serious about dealing with child protection in the context of child pornography, there has to be a strategy. The strategy should not be a matter of our tinkering with this and that. Then we cannot boast that we have the most comprehensive strategy and are the best in the world. It is misleading Canadians.
The previous member from the Bloc who spoke said that we have to make people aware. We all have to be part of the solution. We all have to be aware. We need the tools and the information, but here we are as parliamentarians and what we have is: a bill. Here is the bill. After one rips out all of the boilerplate pages that have nothing to do with the law, the document comes down to four items: Situations where there may be an offence by individuals or persons, and then there are the offences and the punishments for them.
For the first offence, an individual who has knowledge of but does not disclose that there is child pornography on a particular site can be fined not more than $1,000. When I read that, I thought we are not serious. We cannot be serious.
If we think that maybe the ISPs just did not realize what their legal obligation was, and that probably will be the case, that in itself is a reason for us to launch a major national public education and awareness campaign about this problem and about the tools we have and we should ask Canadians to be part of it. However, that is not in this bill.
Somebody decided that we ought to do this just because of what is happening in the world regarding domestic violence and crimes involving children and because we should get tough on crime. This is about punishing people after problems occur or after people get sick.
When I was elected to Parliament, the first committee I wanted to be on was the health committee. I remember that at the very first meeting I attended, officials appeared to give us the state of the union of the health care system in Canada. They told members of the committee that 75% of what we spend on health care deals with curing people after they have a problem, and 25% is spent on prevention. Their conclusion at the time was that the model of 25% prevention and 75% remediation after the problem occurs was not sustainable.
They built on it to say that the benefit of $1 spent on prevention was worth three times more than the benefit of $1 spent on cures and remediation. In other words, the value of prevention has a multiplier effect in terms of good and better outcomes. The same principle applies to criminal justice.
It is not good enough to say that if people do the crime, they will do the time, that we will throw people in jail and throw away the key because they are bad people. If we could reduce the number of people who are in jail or who have to be fined, that would be a good outcome.
We know statistics bear that out for things like conditional sentencing. They say that people who qualify for conditional sentencing, house arrest or whatever actually have a lower recidivism rate than do those who have to serve all of their time in jail. That is not just my opinion. Those are the facts, that there is lower recidivism if fewer people go to jail and more get conditional sentencing or early parole.
It makes some sense, but we do not make sense when we come forward with bills that are so narrow. They are almost political documents as opposed to justice documents. This is a political advertisement.
We will support the bill, but why not come forward with notes and information for members of Parliament so they can discuss it and make recommendations to the House, so that when the committee receives this bill it will be able to address some of the items that we addressed? That is what we should be doing at second reading, telling the committee what we are concerned about and asking it to look at our concerns. It has the opportunity to do it. I know the members on the justice committee will look at it.
We have to stop bringing bills forward that are not our best work. They could be much better. I hope that hon. members will get engaged, start debating this bill, and instruct the committee on the kinds of approaches we should take to make this legislation better, and, further, recommend to the House that there are other areas in which we should consider bringing forward legislation for the protection of children.
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to this bill today, Bill .
It is our second day of debate and I would expect that we will be moving this bill to committee in very short order because it seems to me that all of the parties are onside.
There are certainly some criticisms as to the government's role, how it promulgated the legislation, and how it presented the legislation in the House, because as the member for has just said, there has been no legislative summary, no briefing notes, no nothing. As a matter of fact, the first we heard of it was from CTV's 24-hour news coverage from Monday morning on and we never got a copy of the bill until yesterday.
Nevertheless, it is a bill that is going to be supported and hopefully will be improved in committee. Certainly, when the minister announced it yesterday, she said that $42.1 million would be provided over five years to provide law enforcement more resources, so I asked her about that because it seemed to me that that had to be the focus.
We have a very effective law enforcement system in this country. As a matter of fact, the police tend to be the ones who do catch the guilty people, up to this point anyway. Our concern is that they do have proper resources, so I really wanted to know whether this was another $42 million on top of what they are already getting or simply previously announced money that they were dealing with, and she was not aware.
As the member for said, one would think that on a basic information piece like this, the government would have that answer available.
Best practices is another area that we should always look at when looking at legislation. I have made the argument that while the Conservatives claim to be tough on crime, we on this side of the House want to be smart on crime. We are prepared and we have examples where jurisdictions have used best practices, have looked around the world and picked examples of where a certain action worked, and simply adopted that, as opposed to the Conservatives who simply rely upon old, outmoded crime initiatives from Ronald Reagan's days in California, which have proven not to work.
They seem to be very still in their ideological approach to government. I know that it is dissipating over time. They are moving slowly but surely to the middle, and I think we are going to see more of that in the future.
I want to give a brief history of this problem, how it developed in regard to dealing with the web.
It was not until 1995 that email became prevalent. It had been used in universities for a few years before that, but email became prevalent right around 1995 and the web started after that, but at that point, most people still had monochrome screens. The frame rate was very low. It started at 15 frames a second and then they got it up to 30 frames a second.
I recall the Rolling Stones, just about the time they were appearing in Winnipeg a number of years ago, claiming to be the very first rock band to put one of their songs on the web. I looked at it and it was very slow. People here will remember when the first webcams came out. People were trying to talk to their relatives in other parts of the world and the voice did not match with the picture, and the picture was very choppy.
There was a period there where this really was not a problem. In fact, bandwidth became a problem around the mid-nineties.
Once again, to make this system work successfully they had to get faster speeds and they had to have better bandwidth. The ISPs had to do that in order to be able to transfer the material that we are talking about right now.
As other members have alluded to, we have had a virtual explosion of child pornography on the web just in the last five years. Once again, clearly the horse is out of the barn. As usual, the government is in a reactive position. Governments rarely lead. They usually are found to be following. In Canada, over the last few years, we have had a lot of instability with a change of government and an election every two years, starting back from scratch again on legislation and a fairly substantial slowdown.
The development of peer-to-peer computing was mentioned yesterday. That was a very big development that basically exploded overnight. We have all heard of Napster. It is out of business right now, but that was basically the beginning of peer-to-peer computing and making file sharing easy.
Therefore, logically when the technology developed the way it did and as fast as it did over time, it was just common sense that organized crime would be getting involved in the system. The police forces are aware that it is not only child pornography but it is also organized gambling rings who set up their servers outside of U.S. jurisdiction because they did not want to be prosecuted and put in jail by United States laws. Clearly, laws have had some effect.
There was a Bloc member yesterday who pointed to the bill and was touting the fact that these offences are going to slow these people down. However, as mentioned by the member for today and others, the fact of the matter is the penalities are not that large at all considering the money that is involved.
When we are dealing with organized crime and drug dealers, fines of $100,000 are probably just part of the cost of doing business for these people. These are not particularly strong fines in any sense.
We have the organized crime syndicates involved, so a system of penalties, fines and imprisonment and so on will deter some people for sure, but I think at the end of the day, if we pass this legislation and we find after a couple of years, and hopefully we will monitor its results, that the legislation is not working and the fines are not high enough, we will have to increase them. If we find that child pornography is still be produced at an increasing rate, then we are going to have to look at something more drastic.
I asked one of the government members of the government today whether the government had looked at best practices in other jurisdictions and the member said no, that he was not aware that the government had looked at other jurisdictions at all. Yet, yesterday the member for was very clear in his presentation on the bill when he pointed out that there are other jurisdictions that have taken action and have dealt with the problem. These are his words and his claims. I would assume that he is correct in making these assessments and it should be easy to check. For example, the member drew our attention to Brazil where he said that the ISPs in Brazil have to follow a set of ethical rules that govern what they accept on their sites
He mentioned Sweden. It had a policy of blocking child porn. He mentioned Germany and the European Union as the best examples. Once again, he said that Germany was blocking access to the sites.
So, who are we trying kid here? If the answer is to simply block the sites, and if it works in Germany, then why are we getting ourselves tied up in knots here, spending huge amounts of money on police forces, $42 million over five years? That is probably on top of what we are already spending. Police forces are doing great work, and there is no doubt about it, to basically play a hide-and-seek game with these perpetrators over the Internet.
To me, a far more decisive, a far more effective, certainly cost effective, way of dealing with this would be to simply block the sites completely, and it is being done. I do not know what the rules are in Cuba, but I believe there is no Internet porn there either. It is certainly technically possible.
I know members may not agree with that and that is fine. The fact of the matter is, when the United States set up its penalties, people simply went offshore. To get around the American penalties, they simply took the path of least resistance and moved to a country that does not have penalties, that does not have these laws.
Another member, yesterday, pointed out that Canada is very high up in terms of not only sales of child pornography but also the production of it. This country is either number two or number three in not only the production but the distribution, the selling and the possession of child porn. So, it is certainly a major problem in this country and it is certainly growing.
Another fact to mention is that local computer repair depots have been reporting child pornography on laptops and computers brought in for repair. Recently, the customs people have been finding it on laptops. They have been checking laptops routinely for the last three or four years now at airports and customs sites, especially when people come from Thailand and places whether there is a lot of sex tourism. This is just basically, I think, making a small dent in the problem. As a matter of fact, the statistic I picked up on in the conversations over the last couple of days is that Canada is second in the world for hosting these sites.
In September 2008, the federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for justice agreed that Canada's response to child pornography could be enhanced by federal legislation requiring any agency whose services could be used to facilitate the commission of online pornography offences to report suspected material.
I know this was an initiative of the provinces, and I do give the provinces top marks. Yesterday we had a couple of Liberal speakers pontificating about how it was their party who started the ball rolling in this whole area and how the irresponsible Conservatives in government did not do anything for four years, and here we are today. That is fine for parties to pick their own little victories here and there, and try to embarrass the other side.
However, there has been activity at both the federal level and the provincial level over the years. My home province of Manitoba is one of three provinces that has rules stating that all people must report child pornography. I believe Nova Scotia and Ontario also have laws in place right now. Manitoba was an early mover in this area.
The Government of Canada's proposed legislation would enhance Canada's capacity to better protect children against sexual exploitation by making it mandatory for those who supply an Internet service to the public to report online child pornography. This legislation would help safeguard children by improving law enforcement's ability to detect offences and reduce the availability of child pornography on the Internet. This is a requirement in the bill but providers would not be obligated to search for it. If they happen to notice it, then they are obligated to report it.
There also is a 21 day rule in the bill but I do not know if that is a long enough timeframe. I am looking at a lawyer here in the House who could probably tell me whether that would be long enough or not. However, when the bill goes to committee it might look at making that a longer period of time because 21 days might be too short.
Under the proposed legislation, suppliers of Internet services to the public would be required to report to a designated agency tips that they might receive regarding websites where child pornography may be available to the public. They are required to notify police and safeguard evidence if they believe that a child pornography offence has been committed using their Internet service.
I am told that the well-known large ISPs are fairly cooperative in this area and that it is the smaller ISPs that are evidently less inclined to want to report, so they are the ones that will need to be given a bit of extra attention.
The legislation was carefully tailored to achieve its objectives while minimizing the impact on privacy. We will want to deal with that issue at committee because members of our caucus are concerned about that aspect.
Suppliers of Internet services would not be required to send personal subscriber information under this bill and that would be helpful as well.
Failure to comply with the duties under the bill would constitute an offence punishable by graduated fines of up to $1,000 for the first offence. The member for , among others, has taken exception to that as being too low. We might be looking at making an improvement there in committee, maybe a higher limit.
The bill also indicates that for a second offence the penalty would be $5,000 and for subsequent offences the possibility of a fine up to $10,000 or six months imprisonment, or both for sole proprietorships.
If it is a corporation, I would suspect there may be some sort of organized crime involved in it, but I may be wrong in that. However, if a corporation fails to comply with its duties under this act, the graduated fine fee would be $10,000, $50,000 and $100,000. Once again, I do not have a comment about whether that is a high amount or a low amount but it seems to be awfully low. If a criminal organization is producing child pornography and making a huge amount of money, although I have no idea how much money it would make on something like this, but $10,000 might be nothing more than the cost of doing business.
Again I find that I am short of time and once again only about halfway through my comments. I am used to those 40 minute speech slots that we had in Manitoba for many years. It is a hard habit to break. As a matter of fact, in the House of Commons just 30 years ago members had longer periods for their speeches. However, I do like the current time allotment as well.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to a bill that has been a long time coming. This bill is important for all members and for all Canadians. It is absolutely crucial that Parliament take a closer look at this bill and address an extremely important issue, that is, the protection of our children.
This is not a new issue for me as a member of Parliament. It is not a new issue for some of my colleagues who were here with me in 1999-2000 when a decision was made in British Columbia by Justice Duncan Shaw with respect to the Sharpe decision. That decision created a panic throughout Canada. The protections that had been passed by Parliament in the past were then subject to judicial review and many provisions meant to protect children were knocked out.
It became very clear to parliamentarians, many of us who took these issues very seriously on a bipartisan basis, I might add, that what we were witnessing at the time was a lack of understanding and appreciation of those who were excited, those who would offend and those who would continue to use any means at their disposal, including technology, which I will come to in a moment, the purpose for which this bill has been created, to feed their addiction of exploitation of children.
It appeared at the time that there seemed to be a lot of misunderstanding, if not innocent ignorance, as to what was behind it. Many people thought this was a matter of expression, that we could not ban some of this information, particularly if it was written, because it might be analogous to banning the book Lolita.
No one wanted to put those two imperatives of protection of children against the right of privacy, one against the other. Rather, what we have seen in the past eight or nine years from parliamentarians, Canadians, psychiatrists, police forces and coordination through our crowns and judges is a better understanding of the pernicious nature of child exploitation and child pornography.
I want to give a message of a much stronger Parliament. I know there has been some discussion about where Canada falls short, but in my experience of working with the Toronto police force, going back to 2001, with the Ontario Provincial Police, under Project P, and with the RCMP, we are further ahead than we give us ourselves credit for. I am not here simply to toot our horn, but we are teaching other countries how to coordinate and build capacity to combat child exploitation, particularly through cyberspace exploitation or exploitation through the Internet.
Part of what is being addressed here today is about obligations. Many colleagues have spoken about how Internet service providers are in fact responding to the call and helping our law enforcement agencies trap, monitor and detect those who are engaging in the distribution of this information. This no doubt leads at one end to exploitation and at the other end to deal with providing people the medical and other kinds of interventions and help they need. What we have before us today is a very important first step in terms of ensuring and compelling Internet service providers to do what is necessary.
Some of this did not just happen in a vacuum. We will recall in April of 2002, I convened a meeting in which about 40 or 50 colleagues from all parties joined in a film or demonstration or depiction of the seriousness of the problem. I recall full well Paul Gillespie, who is now with the Kids' Internet Safety Alliance, a pre-eminent advocate, as well as Detective Sergeant Gary Ellis, who later became inspector before his retirement, along with Sergeant Bob Matthews from Project P, Roz Probert from Winnipeg and others attended a conference organized very quickly by members of Parliament.
After that 30-minute presentation, we got it. Not only did we get it, but within about two months our good and capable parliamentary secretary at the time, Paul Macklin, former member for Northumberland, was able to convince the government to provide the initial fund and first tranche of some $50 million to create a cyberspace network to help and facilitate so in smaller communities across Canada police could get the kind of training they needed to detect, share and arrest the behaviour.
We have done a lot over a period of time dealing with Internet service providers. We have also encountered some very unsavoury examples of where there has been reluctance by carriers not to provide information for whatever reason, such as privacy, cost, et cetera. We got around some of those.
However, I suspect the biggest stumbling block we faced then continues today. When a police officer is confronted with all these images, perhaps in the thousands at any given time, and a charge is brought against the individual, in order for the process of the charge to be laid and to be heard in a court, the evidence has to be sworn through each and every image. Because of a decision in the R. v. Stinchcombe case, it makes the job of our police forces practically impossible.
We are at a stage now, although there is better understanding of how to help police do a better job, where we need to do more. Certainly the bill goes in that direction.
I want to talk about something that is far more important to where we go. The minister was asked by several reporters what would be done once the domain of someone who was distributing child pornography was identified. We have no way of breaking down or knowing how to combat or how to address this issue. It is great to have a database and to be able to provide and get this information, but can we go after each and every one? I am not sure. We need to look at whether we have the ability and the resources to tackle the great numbers that we see out there.
This leads me to a bigger point, which I hope the committee will be able to address. I would ask the indulgence of all colleagues in the House to understand that it is more than just Internet service providers and people downloading information. It is really the peer-to-peer expression or the peer-to-peer sharing of files that is the most pernicious part of this. I am not sure if the legislation will be able to cover this, let alone if we can get our minds around the more modern way of distributing this information, which is undermining the integrity of young children and destroying their futures.
Short of going to the Orwellian perspective of big government watching everything people are doing, we need to come up with a better solution, not just for Canada but around the world. I salute those many organizations, including our RCMP, the Toronto police force and the OPP in my province, that have done yeoman's work of training the rest of the world.
However, we need to begin to look more fundamentally, more specifically, at the underlying new way in which information is shared, file to file. How we get around that will require a bit of dexterity in looking at these networks. We will have to find ways to train them. We will need to have the best practices, but we will also have to avail ourselves of the greatest technology out there.
Yes, questions will be raised about privacy. I suggest, as the RCMP has done in the past, that the number of people who may be sharing this information is not 65,000. There was some information a while ago from the RCMP that there may be as many as 65,000 people in the country who are in receipt of this information and share it. However, this number could easily exceed one million.
I am not one who is given to the notion of throwing numbers around, but the committee that looks into this legislation will need to know and be comfortable with the size, the dimension and the seriousness of this issue. While we have a number of solutions, there is no point in talking about solutions if there is not a better understanding of the problem.
As we look at not only trying to provide practices and building capacity in other countries and recognizing the mandate of Parliament, I hope we are prepared to give a very strong and important blank cheque to our law enforcement officials, to those on the front end, the smart people, those who understand how the Internet works.
We need a forum and focus to match what the private sector does. I think of the Kids' Internet Safety Alliance that is going it alone. It does not have support from the government. We have nice words coming from the government about how it is going to do this and it is going to set up a facility here and there. Frankly, this is taking off. Canadians understand this. Agencies involved in good will recognize the ability for us to use our collective strengths, the brains that we have out there, the technological wherewithal to understand the complexities by which child pornographers try to hide and disguise their craft and their evil.
I suggest for all members and colleagues that each and every one of us can talk about this issue, but we do ourselves a service as members of Parliament if we anticipate the road ahead, not just for the purpose of protecting our children but to help other countries that do not have the technological capacity yet alone the resources.
On the road of goodwill, we have lost a few things along the way. Frankly, we are going down a road and we do not know where it is taking us. It is very clear to us that if we are not prepared to recognize that the bill, which is several years late, and I will not get into the politics of it, is really to address an issue that took place some time ago, the next big challenge for Parliament will be to deal with new technologies in the digital age that are used to circumvent, to get ahead and to continue exploitation.
Canada does not play a minor role in this regard. We have heard stats provided by a number of colleagues in the House of Commons as to the number of Canadians who may be involved with it and where we are in terms of protection of children. On the surface, the statistics look grim, but there is no doubt there is a will within Parliament. There are other very good statistics that demonstrate that our front line men and women, psychiatrists, police officers and those in the judicial system, are doing yeoman's work and are trying to find what is the best way to approach this ever-changing challenge.
Someone said that it was a little like trying to tack jello on to a wall. However, the frank reality is we have to continue to be aware of where the emerging problems lie in order to provide the kind of solutions that we owe our next generation.
Behind the technology are broken individuals who exploit. These are individuals who, short of legislation, also need therapy. These people cannot help themselves. These individuals need the state, they need society and they need rehabilitation. We can talk about penalties, but we also have to talk about prevention, as my good colleague from alluded to a little earlier. I cannot think of a better example of where we have to get it right for the benefit of all the children out there who might otherwise be exploited.
These are not comments that we simply take as members of Parliament wanting to do good. We recognize in our country and around the world that the issue of child exploitation is a greater threat than most, perhaps, against the next generation. We have to marshal the collective forces in our country and around the world to work co-operatively. I do not see that in the bill. I see we will do our own job from the ISPs' perspective, and this is only ISPs that exist within Canada, because we have no international reach. I suggest that is the way we ought to go.
I want to point out something we did in 2002, with a number of colleagues present. I recall one colleague, who was also very big on this, and I miss him a lot, Myron Thompson, the member for Wild Rose, who, with myself, made it abundantly clear that on both sides of the House we would work very hard to see this legislation would someday be a reality. Though he is not here today, I am sure he is very pleased to see we have moved down this road.
In 2002, to be specific, we suggested that there ought to be some changes on retention of information by Internet service providers. I will read what all colleagues at the time, or their predecessors would have known and were participating in legislation required or an amendment to the existing legislation at the time with Bill C-15, said concerning the retention of client information, records by Internet service providers. They said that ISPs must be able to furnish police with data, records on suspected child pornographers. We also urged, at the time, to make it mandatory for ISPs to keep client logs for at least one year, following the U.S. model in subjecting ISPs to substantial fines for non-compliance.
Those were some of the ideas that flowed from a very quick meeting that members of Parliament had. There is no doubt that the intention of Parliament has been focused on that ever since. Yes, there have been several elections in between, but thank heavens we have continued in the belief that we can stand up for those who have no voice and who would otherwise see their lives destroyed by those who truly need our help.
I am also convinced of the proliferation, the sophistication, the pervasiveness of technology. I had my BlackBerry here a few minutes ago. When I was elected as a member of Parliament in 1993, such devices did not exist. The ability to communicate, good and bad, is ever present and, as I suggested earlier, pervasive.
This requires parliamentarians of all parties to recognize that the changes that are taking place are challenges that we can overcome, particularly if they are used for nefarious and heinous ends, such as exploiting children, not just in Canada but around the world. We have an obligation to listen to those who can demonstrate a better way.
There is only so much bandwidth. I will not get into the issue of telecommunications; I will leave that for a consumer story at some point down the road. We have the ability to monitor the traffic. We cannot be seen as intrusive but at the same time we have to be ever vigilant. If we know something is taking place and it is being done by certain modalities such as, file sharing, network to network, or computer to computer, the government has an obligation to look and to test judicial chill, or Cartesian charter chill, with a view to saying that what must be done here is in the higher and best interests of Canadian citizens.
It is not good enough to say that we will adopt best practices from other countries or that we are going to look around the world and vicariously get some form of child protection in Canada. We have to be at the table. We have to recognize the changes that are taking place. In none of the speeches that I have heard today have members been focused on the next concern, which is the existing means by which child pornographers are disseminating their material.
I am asking parliamentarians, as they go through the committee process and as they ponder and consider this, to be more focused on what are some very obvious challenges to us, but ones which I think we can overcome.
I would also like to take a moment to thank the former members of this House who helped develop this bill and to point out some of the measures previously taken by our Liberal government.
I was proud to be here to see the changes and to see the amount of money invested to ensure that our agents, our police officers and Crown officials are not only aware of the scope of the problem of the exploitation of youth, but also that they can continue to promote and ensure best practices for other police forces around the world.
Last month, I attended a conference in Durham, in my region, at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. A KINSA agency was giving training to representatives of police forces from Indonesia, Chile and Brazil. Other countries may know what to do, but we also have practices that are the envy of the world. However, we still need to make some improvements and recognize the people who work with us.
My hope and experience leads me to believe that the committee will bring forth the experts that I am referring to, the psychiatrists, those who understand technology, the software program writers, those who know how the devices used to exploit are being used against us and against the next generation. These are the people we should be hearing from.
If we really want to protect and stand up for the next generation, for posterity, I suggest we get with the program, that we understand the technology and bring in the bright lights. In that way we will guarantee for the next generation a much safer future and at the same time, keep Canada where it ought to be, defending the interests of those who have no voice.
Madam Speaker, I am proud to rise to debate an initiative that is extremely imperative to anyone who is a parent.
Child pornography has been with us in many forms for many years, but it is extremely despicable on the Internet because a lot of it goes underground.
I want to congratulate a former colleague, a long-term member of Parliament, a former attorney general of Saskatchewan, Mr. Chris Axworthy. In early 1994, Mr. Axworthy introduced a child Internet pornography bill that was supported by many police organizations across the country. When he left the House of Commons, I resumed his bill and I have re-introduced it on four separate occasions. Every time I have done that, I have handed the bill over to justice ministers to get them to do something about the scourge of child pornography on the Internet.
I am pleased to see today that the Conservatives, under their justice minister, have tabled a bill that mentions child pornography and what may or may not be done.
We have to ensure that this is simply not window dressing. We cannot just say that we are going to do something about Internet pornography and then not give the people who operate under these confines the resources they need to do it. This cannot just be about political opportunities.
I want to tell the House about an event that happened a few years ago that was told to us by an officer of the Ontario Provincial Police. This particular officer worked eight hours a day sniffing out child pornography on the Internet. His job was to find the scourge of our society and bring them to justice. For over three hours he explained how quickly young children can be trapped by professionals who lure them on the Internet. They entice young children to do acts beyond their comprehension.
He told us that he posed as a father with an eight year old child who were both willing to swing in this regard. That information is put out on the Internet to try to get people to latch on to it. He put that information on the Internet, and by the time he was finished talking to us he had over 50 hits, 20 of them from Ontario alone. In those three hours, 50 people wanted to partake in that type of activity.
I do not know how sick we have become as a society, but the reality is that something needs to be done and it needs to be done quickly. The NDP had a similar bill in the House over many years. We have given it to various justice ministers, asking them to carefully look at it to see what parts they wanted to use in their own bill.
Nothing will come of this if the government does not put the financial and human resources and the tools that are required to allow our police forces, the RCMP, the OPP, the Sûreté du Québec, municipal and regional police forces across the country to do their job effectively, the end goal of which is protecting our children.
Child abuse and child pornography have been with us for a long time. We have heard about the Christian brothers in Newfoundland, the residential school abuse. I just cannot imagine what it would have been like to have been ripped out of my parent's arms, put into a residential school, and then abused for many years.
I am glad to hear that a truth and reconciliation commission will be coming forward in order to help first nations, Inuit and Métis people deal with what happened at that time. I only pray to God that they find some solace and peace when they get their stories out.
It is rather quite ironic that a guy like myself would stand up and talk about the Internet because I do not use a computer. I do not have a Blackberry. I still wish that Blackberries were banned because I find them a lazy way to communicate.
The reality is that the Internet can be a wonderful tool for information, but it can also be a dangerous place for unsuspecting individuals. What we need to do at the end of the day is make ISP providers, large and small, partially responsible for assisting and monitoring their sites. They do not have to do it all on their own.
This is where the federal government has to be proactive and ensure they get the additional resources, so that they can monitor their sites and with judicial oversight, we can protect the privacy of all individuals and ensure that they have legal rights. We must ensure that if the ISPs suspect something is happening that they are able to forward that information to the police. That is enough of what we should be doing.
As a father of two young girls, and I know many of us here are parents, it would be just a horrendous feeling to know that possibly one's child was sexually abused because of something on the Internet. I do not understand that for the life of me. I have tried to comprehend the thinking of an adult who thinks it is pleasurable to have sex with infants or very young children, but I just do not understand that type of thinking. I do not know if there is any type of rehabilitation for those types of individuals, but what is most important is that the government has recognized this as a scourge on our society, and we are please with that. I remind everyone that the number one goal of any government is the protection and security of its citizens including those who are most vulnerable, our children.
We will work with the government through the committee process. I know my colleague, the justice critic for the NDP, from is one of the most knowledgeable people in the country and in the House when it comes to justice issues. I am sure he will be offering recommendations and amendments to make the bill even stronger, so that at the end of the day what the government purports to do, which is to rid or as best as possible eliminate child pornography on the Internet, we will ensure that the gets the help that he needs.
Most importantly, the justice minister in turn must provide those financial and human resources to all the police agencies across the country. They need the technology. They need the human element and they also need the financial commitment to ensure that they have the tools to do the very really dirty job that we ask them to do, which is to protect our children from child pornographers.
If we do that it will not only compliment the minister but it will compliment the House, and at the end of the day maybe one less child will be subjected to child pornographers on the Internet.
Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill today with mixed emotions. We have been dealing with this issue in the justice committee since late 2006 or early 2007. It has been better than three years now. We actually had some consideration of it in Parliament in 2004 and 2006 as well, so it is going on five years.
I rise with mixed emotions because I am concerned. We are supportive of this legislation as far as it goes. Our major concern with Bill is that there are a number of other issues that should have been addressed long before this. Some of them have now been addressed in this bill, but there is a number that have not been addressed.
Addressing those issues and building a framework so that our police, prosecutors and judges would have greater ability to try to stamp out child porn on the Internet and the technological transmission of it would be a major step forward. We have not gone far enough on this and I am going to address at least some of those points.
I do want to set this in its historical context. When we were dealing with the legislation that dealt with the luring of children over the Internet, what came forward at that time was a good deal of evidence from various police forces, particularly from the Ontario Provincial Police and the Toronto Police Service. I do not want to disparage other forces, but at that period of time they were probably the most advanced forces in trying to combat child porn on the Internet.
The problem that we are now addressing came forward three to five years ago. We are addressing it to some lesser degree in Bill and Bill , which are now before the public safety committee. The problem is getting at the service providers, which are in most cases the methodology, mechanism and technology by which the producers and traders of child porn are using to trade and sell this child porn.
What came out in the course of those hearings was that a number of service providers were refusing to co-operate with police forces both here in Canada and internationally. As a result of a number of fairly strong comments that came from members of that committee at the period of time when we had to deal with this, we have seen an increase in co-operation from the service providers in terms of giving police officers information, putting them on notice when they identify child porn on their service technology, and co-operating as fully as they can with the police.
That is not universally true to this day and that is why we are seeing this legislation. We really should have seen this legislation at least three years ago because it was very clear at that point that we had a problem. It was only because of some of the threats that came out of the justice committee at that time that we got greater co-operation from the service providers here in Canada.
It is still a major problem when we try to deal internationally. There are certain countries who are very co-operative with us and are actively engaged in trying to shut these sites down and to prosecute those who they trace the child pornography back to. However, there are other countries in the world that have no mechanisms at all to deal with this.
In that regard, I think it is worthwhile to note the assistance we got from Bill Gates and Microsoft. They assisted the police forces in developing a technology at quite a substantial expense to that corporation. It was in the range of about $10 million in human resources to develop the technology and the actual expenditure of funds to produce it.
It is important to note, both with regard to this bill and just generally, how child pornographers work. They put the information on one service provider and then skip it through a number of service providers. We have been told in some cases this material will go through up to as many as 50 service providers around the globe.
Through this technology, which was developed by Microsoft, through the Toronto police force's initiative, and funded by Mr. Gates, we are generally able to trace the material back to the source. So we may skip through a whole bunch of service providers, but we can eventually get back to the source and get the site shut down. We have seen at least several major busts in Canada as a result of this technology being deployed. A number of people were charged and in some cases convicted. Other cases are still working their way through the courts.
The technology was crucial and it was the first time it had been developed in the world. We are now sharing that technology with other countries with whom we are cooperating so they can use it to track things back to the child pornographers.
That was a major step forward. It was interesting to see in the media this week that some of the other technology that we have been working on in order to be able to register sites has not been developed. We had a five-year program that I think was initiated in the 2004-06 Parliament. We are close to the end of that. Under that program, people identify the site and advise the police, and then we have a registry of that.
That registry is still not up and running, because of technological problems. According to the article in the Chronicle Herald on November 25, as much as 40% of the budget that was allocated over that five-year period has not been spent because we do not have enough police officers actually working on this, and we do not seem to have been able to put enough resources into fully developing that technology.
That five-year period is just about up. I have no idea what the government is going to be doing in terms of continuing that funding until the service is up and running effectively. It is quite clear from the article that more police officers should have been specifically trained and designated to work in this area, and that has not happened.
With regard to the bill itself, one of the concerns I have is that, as is typical with the government, the government is out front, promulgating the notion that this is the be-all and the end-all. I am being a bit too harsh on them and I will admit that, but the reality is that the real work that needs to be done by government is to fund our police forces.
There are very few large police forces in this country that do not have at least one or two police officers specifically designated to deal with child pornography, mostly on the Internet but in print as well. We need more of those officers. We need a lot more of those officers in order to be able to deal with this problem.
This is a growth industry. It continues to grow because of the Internet. We have always had child pornography in print and even in paintings. We can go back hundreds and hundreds of years, maybe even millenniums. The explosion occurred with the Internet, which provided for easy transmission of this pornography, and it tapped into a substantial market that was unavailable before, crossing international boundaries and making it very difficult for national police forces to be able to deal with it.
I have to say this, and it is not just about the current government but also about the previous Liberal government and also about a lot of other countries. There are very few countries we can point to, England may be one of the exceptions, that have in fact dealt with this problem in an efficient manner, that is by moving enough human resources into combatting this.
We know that the province of Manitoba was one of the provinces that moved on this by establishing a snitch line. England has done the same thing and has funded it. It seems to be fairly effective in getting the public, when they are scanning various websites, to identify child pornography and to get that information to the police. The police can then deal with it in an efficient and rapid fashion, to shut the sites down and to try to track the producers of the sites.
It is working in that regard, in that we have a methodology, but we do not have enough resources. It is really a shame that our police forces are still struggling with that, because they have nowhere near the capacity to combat the sheer volume of what they have to deal with on the Internet.
In that respect, I urge the government in this coming budget to take another look at this area in particular. If we are really serious about protecting our children, we need to put more resources into doing that.
This legislation will help a little. I do not want to deny that completely, but it is a very small step in comparison with how much more effective we would be in combatting this scourge if there were more police officers working on it and also on developing technology. Police officers need training and they need companies like Microsoft to come into the field and cooperate with them to try to develop better technology to track this right back to its source. That is the only way we can effectively shut it down.
With regard to the bill itself, I have some concerns. There was a lot of debate before the bill got to the House over whether service providers would have a legislatively mandated responsibility to monitor their sites.
Going back to the bill on child Internet luring, the committee heard some evidence to the effect that it was going to be difficult for the smaller service providers to do that. On the other hand, it might, quite frankly, be possible to develop technology so that the computer would do the monitoring.
There are any number of other technologies and services that we use on computers that can do the search on a random basis. That technology needs to be developed and deployed. Maybe that is something we have to impose on the industry.
However, we have just given up. This bill does nothing to require the service providers to do any monitoring at all. All it requires is that if somebody tells them there is a site on their technology, the ISPs have to report it to the locator and a police force. They are under no affirmative obligation to monitor the websites using their technology.
I think the government backed down too much. At the very least, we should be looking at imposing some responsibility on them. It appears obvious that this bill is going to go to committee, and I am hoping that the committee can look at this again and perhaps strengthen the bill in a meaningful way to impose some responsibility.
I want to make a point about the penalties in the bill. The penalties assume that service providers are all corporate, so there are only fines in the bill. We need to take a look at that and see whether we should be pulling back the corporate veil.
I know the test will not be easy from a legal standpoint, but where we have been able to identify service providers that are abusing their responsibility to protect children, we should be pulling back the corporate veil, and police and prosecutors should have the ability to prosecute individual members, whether they are part of the executive or the board of directors, of those companies for these crimes.
We have been able to identify that in some cases it was quite clear that the corporate entity knew about the sites and did nothing about them, simply allowed them to continue on. If we have that kind of a scenario or that kind of conduct, then we in fact should be going after individuals and not just the corporations.