|| That Bill C-13 be amended by deleting Clause 23.
|| That Bill C-13 be amended by deleting Clause 26.
|| That Bill C-13 be amended by deleting Clause 47.
She said: Mr. Speaker, this morning we debated the bill on prostitution. This afternoon, we turn to the bill on cyberbullying. I am almost tempted to start out the same way. This bill also garnered a lot of attention and caused quite a stir. I received many comments from my constituents in Gatineau about this. These people had the same concerns I did. That told me that I was on the right track when it came to the position that the NDP and I took on this file.
I believe it is important to reiterate that many people take the government at its word and believe that it can have a positive impact on the lives of the young people who have suffered all kinds of bullying, their parents and everyone who has been affected by bullying.
As we all know, Bill was created in the wake of tragic situations involving certain Canadians. Young people committed suicide. Suicide can happen anywhere, in the armed forces and in the general population. Bullying is not a new concept. It has existed for many a moon. I think that we need to find real solutions to offer help instead of playing politics.
From the outset, our approach was not to hold up Bill , but to allow it to take its course. We wanted to be sure that there was an in-depth study in committee and that various witnesses would be able to share their point of view on the bill.
The bill is known as the protecting Canadians from online crime act. It contains 47 clauses and is 53 pages long, but it does not even touch on cyberbullying or online crime. Rather, Bill C-13 addresses the distribution of images, one very small part of bullying. The rest of the bill addresses issues as varied as immunity for Internet service providers, the concept of peace officers and public officers, telecommunications theft and so on. Bill C-13 covers a lot of ground.
We shared these concerns with the minister, the Attorney General of Canada. We thought it would be wiser to split the bill in two so that we could tackle the image distribution issue head-on since it was not as controversial. As for the touchier violation of privacy issue, there are tools that the minister makes a point of talking about regularly, saying that we cannot do one without doing the other. He would have us believe that there are currently no tools available, but there are. We wanted to make sure that what we were doing on that score was completely reasonable. However, the government turned a deaf ear.
Naturally, witnesses told us exactly the same thing and said they were very concerned. Many aspects of Bill resemble Bill C-30, even though the government agreed to some changes and realized it could not go any further with that particular vision. It did make some minor concessions. The government tried to address cyberbullying via image distribution and the highly publicized cases of Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd and others who did the worst thing imaginable. Seeing no way out of the problems they faced, they saw that as the only solution. That really breaks my heart.
Everyone will agree that there is nothing worse than thinking that suicide is the only way to solve a problem or the only way out. As a society, we are failing miserably. In my opinion, claiming that Bill will save young lives is laying it on rather thick.
I do not want to dwell on the issue, but even Amanda Todd's mother told the committee that she did not want people's privacy to be invaded in order to keep others safe. That was not necessarily the objective. Once again, the government is failing to be transparent. Like Sophia Petrillo-Weinstock in the television show Golden Girls, I am tempted to say, “Picture it.”
Thursday, June 12 was the last day set aside for the clause-by-clause examination of Bill . On Friday, June 13, the Supreme Court of Canada was scheduled to render its decision in Spencer v. The Queen. This case dealt with the matter of police access to personal information. Several witnesses who appeared before the committee said that this case would definitely have an impact. At the very least, the government should have exercised caution and waited for the Supreme Court ruling.
Some believe that the committee merely conducted a concept study, but that was not the case. The government was producing legislation. The government bill is 53 pages long and we examined it. Then, the committee heard from witnesses with regard to the various aspects of the bill that they were concerned with. For some, it was the distribution of images. For others, it was the violation of privacy and technology. We heard from a whole slew of witnesses who were concerned about very different aspects of the bill.
The people who were dealing with the part related to the interception of data and the gathering of information without a warrant or court authorization felt it was important to wait for the Spencer ruling. After it was tabled, some experts indicated that the June 13 ruling contradicted certain aspects of the government's bill. That is what we were trying to avoid. We had therefore asked the government to wait.
Time and time again in committee, I asked whether we should not wait until June 13. Should we not read the ruling? Should we not seek advice from staff at the Department of Justice who could explain the ruling to us and tell us whether or not it would have an impact?
In law, if you put five lawyers in a room, they would not all say the same thing. In the House, not everyone is a lawyer. Furthermore, even amongst those of us who are lawyers, not everyone is a specialist in every subject. That is why we study things in greater depth in committee, come back to the House with our recommendations, and then vote with full knowledge of the facts.
At this very moment, regardless of my personal opinion and the fact that several specialists said that the ruling in R. v. Spencer goes against many aspects of the bill, I am quite worried. If there is one area in which I do not want to see any glaring errors, that is justice. Justice must be applied correctly and equally across the board.
All that explains why we changed our position. We supported the bill at second reading, but all of our fears regarding this government bill were confirmed in committee.
It seems that the government is using this bill to try to score political points rather than make any meaningful changes. The evidence is quite clear. The fact is, the government voted against the motion moved by my hon. colleague from , M-385, regarding cyberbullying. Furthermore, it also voted against the bill introduced by my hon. colleague from , Bill .
Basically, if you ask me, everything is crystal clear.
There is also Bill , introduced by my hon. colleague who delivered a speech on it this morning.
This all tells me that this bill is more about politics than anything of real substance.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate very much the comments of my friend opposite.
I particularly appreciate her expressions of condolences and compassion for the victims of cyberbullying. She was right to say those things. At the same time, she said she was taking a non-partisan approach to the bill.
Much of what my friend says is undeniably true. This is a complex bill. It does go very much beyond simply the issue of cyberbullying and the government's efforts to respond to this very real problem that has affected the lives of so many people in Canada, particularly young people.
However, in her reading of Spencer, she somehow would leave the House, and Canadians, with the impression that this creates new police powers or this is somehow going to lead to further breaches of privacy. Nothing could be further from the truth. What Spencer did in fact was confirm the fact that no new powers were going to be bestowed upon the police. What we are attempting to do is to very much ensure that the police do have, with lawful access, the ability to protect people online, to protect seniors, to protect young people, to protect businesses from flagrant abuses or breaches of privacy that allow criminality to happen online. The bill is very much an attempt to modernize those practices and also to ensure that people's privacy is protected.
We, of course, will respect the Spencer decision. We believe that the bill does meet the balance that is called for in the effort to give police powers to investigate, but at the same time to protect privacy rights. We believe, as well, that there is still ample opportunity to examine the bill in a meaningful way.
I do appreciate the fact that we have had a debate in the House of Commons now and that there will be debate in the other place. However, it is important that we continue to move forward and make progress in this critical area where people's lives are literally at stake.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak today to Bill . It is a sad moment because this bill contains all the flaws it had at first reading.
I want to also put on the record that I regret the Speaker's decision. I understand the Speaker's reasoning, but I would have fully supported the request by the hon. member for for that amendment to be selected. That is an important issue of gender identity and ending discrimination, and I think it is a shame that we missed the opportunity today to have that amendment before the House of Commons.
The point was well made just moments ago by my hon. colleague from that it is a terrible shame that the bill was not divided. There is no doubt that easy passage would have created a bill that genuinely dealt with cyberbullying and did not, once again, resurface efforts at what is called “lawful access” but which is generally known in common parlance as Internet snooping by the state into the private lives of Canadians.
There are many troubling aspects on the Internet snooping or lawful access part of the bill that has bedevilled the part that we all would want to support to genuinely deal with cyberbullying. Therefore, my comments will be in relation to those portions that should have been split out, dealt with separately, and not brought forward as though there is nothing wrong with them. Those are the sections that relate to so-called lawful access.
Those sections that deal with the release of private information and private communications of Canadians under much less stringent circumstances than in the past, contrary to what the said just moments ago, is very worrying. Had it not been worrying, we would not have seen such strong statements from various of our privacy commissioners, our former federal privacy commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, and the Ontario privacy commissioner, Commissioner Cavoukian.
Many privacy experts have spoken out and said the bill would, as have so many other bills that have been put forward by the Conservative administration, violate our charter rights, certainly violate our privacy rights. The Canadian Bar Association and the Criminal Lawyers' Association have spoken out strongly, saying sections of the bill, with modest changes, could be made acceptable. However, those changes were all shot down in committee.
This is a case where, as the member of Parliament for Saanich—Gulf Islands and as leader of the Green Party, I was invited—I suppose that is the right term, “coerced” might be the one that comes to mind more often—by the new process that applies to members in my position, those with fewer than 12 members in the party in the House or independents, with 48 hours notice to come before various different committees. I brought forward a dozen or so amendments on Bill to the committee on this issue to try to deal with those sections where we would now ask for deletions. We would like to see the bill improved even now at report stage. Unfortunately, all my arguments were shot down and all the amendments were defeated.
In short form, I will cover the basic themes of what we find. Of course, some of themes have been well touched on by the hon. member for in her quite strong explanation of what is wrong with the bill.
The provisions that allow for the telecom companies' voluntary disclosure of private information to be held harmless against any subsequent prosecutions are unnecessary. In fact, we now have the Spencer decision, which has been referenced as well this afternoon, that makes it clear that the bill is out of step with the Supreme Court. We do not need to make it easier for telecom companies to voluntarily turn information over without a warrant and without some of the protections that we used to see in other descriptions of when such information could be turned over.
The fact that we can see various levels of public officials asking for such information is worrying, in and of itself. The fact that they can do it voluntarily and be immune from prosecution is a further worry that we will have significantly more invasions of privacy in the guise of doing something about cyberbullying.
The second area of concern is the lack of accountability and oversight. We used to require that the police have reason to suspect. Now it is a watered-down provision.
We need to have more oversight when we are dealing with issues of privacy. In this Internet age, we are more aware than ever that the private information of Canadians, the kinds of things that we used to keep in our homes under lock and key, that a stranger would have to knock down the doors and rifle through our cabinets to get, now through technological breakthroughs and the Internet is easily accessible by the state through the simple process of pressuring a telecom to release the information to us. This is a significant threat to privacy rights in Canada.
Should this bill pass as currently before us? If it does, it would be a significant violation. It would inevitably lead to violations of the privacy rights of Canadians.
The other piece that has been widely criticized in this bill is the scope of public officers who can have access to this information. It has become too broad.
Justin Ling, who has a good sense of humour, had an opinion piece in the National Post on May 4, 2014. I know it was something of a spoof, but it was certainly a telling way to make the point that the list of public officers who would have unprecedented access to the private information of Canadians would extend to the current mayor of Toronto. Now, while he certainly is dealing with a personal tragedy in his life, and we hope nothing but the best for his health and recovery, the point was made that we do not want to have the private information of Canadians so widely accessible to such a broad group of individuals. Of course, it would also include CSEC, the Communications Security Establishment Canada. It would also include CSIS, as well as public officers of all kinds, including mayors.
This is not the kind of oversight, accountability, and control Canadians would come to expect when the apparatus of the state decides to reduce the tests and lower the threshold for having access to the private information of Canadians.
We will certainly have debate on this. In know that the hon. member who is now the will have defences and will say that it absolutely does not reduce privacy rights. Why then do so many privacy commissioners think it does? If it does not intrude on civil liberties, then why do the major law organizations and legal scholars in this country say that it does?
There are a lot of members of Parliament on the other side of this place who describe themselves, in their own conversations, as libertarians. They distrust the state. They distrust government reaching into their private lives. I ask them this: How have they gotten so far from a distrust of the state to a cult of Big Brother? I am wondering how it happened that we have moved from a nanny state to a Big Brother state. If the government wants this information about Canadians, those of us on this side of the House who want to defend privacy rights, as a former minister, Vic Toews, said in this place, somehow “...stand with us or with the child pornographers”. Are we to continue to hear that when we stand for the privacy rights of Canadians, we do not care enough about ending cyberbullying?
It is not too late, still, to split this bill and allow us on the opposition benches to strongly support the measures that will protect the vulnerable from cyberbullying, but please, let us draw the line at letting Big Brother have more access to private information. This bill goes too far, and they know it.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise at report stage of Bill .
Bill does three things. It responds to a need to protect victims from the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. That is something on which I think we all agree. However, it is an omnibus bill that also expands police powers.
The third thing it does, in furtherance of the expansion of police powers, is provide immunity to telephone companies and Internet service providers for the non-consensual, secret, warrantless, but lawful, disclosure of subscriber information.
What I will do today is talk about each of those three aspects of the bill and also about the Spencer decision, which has very much changed the landscape, and where we ought to go as a result of the Spencer decision.
The first aspect of the bill is truly non-controversial, and it is somewhat troubling that we are still here talking about it, and that is the parts of the bill that are there to protect the Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todds of the world. It is the part of the bill that is there to criminalize the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
The opposition parties have offered to fast-track these provisions by splitting the bill, and it is somewhat troubling that we are here today, ten months after the bill was introduced, and that these measures have not been brought into law. There is a willingness within the House to bring them into law forthwith.
The reason for that is that we have an omnibus bill that has bundled in an expansion of police powers. We have an omnibus bill that has revived the Vic Toews e-snooping provisions, and it is troubling that these provisions have been included and wrapped in the flag of the victims of some terrible crimes.
I would like, for the benefit of the House, to share the testimony of Carol Todd, the mother of Amanda Todd, on May 13, to give a sense of how she feels about this omnibus legislation. She testified before our committee:
|| Bill C-13's cyberbullying provisions are needed for my wish to come true as a mother of a cyberbullying victim. While I applaud the efforts of all of you in crafting the sextortion, revenge porn, and cyberbullying sections of Bill C-13, I am concerned about some of the other unrelated provisions that have been added to the bill in the name of Amanda, Rehtaeh, and all the children lost to cyberbullying attacks.
|| I don't want to see our children victimized again by losing privacy rights. I am troubled by some of these provisions condoning the sharing of privacy information of Canadians without proper legal process. We are Canadians with strong civil rights and values. A warrant should be required before any Canadian's personal information is turned over to anyone, including government authorities.
|| We should be holding our telecommunications companies and Internet providers responsible for mishandling our private and personal information. We should not have to choose between our privacy and our safety. We should not have to sacrifice our children's privacy rights to make them safe from cyberbullying, sextortion, and revenge pornography.
Later in her testimony she said:
|| On my own behalf, I have one request. If there is any way we can separate these controversial provisions from the law designed to help other Canadians avoid the pain experienced by Rehtaeh and my Amanda, I would support that process. This would allow the bill to be free of controversy and to permit a thoughtful and careful review of the privacy-related provisions that have received broad opposition.
|| I do not want my privacy invaded. I do not want young people's privacy compromised. I do not want personal information being exploited without a protection order that would support individuals. I do not want any Canadian hurt in my daughter's name. I want her legacy to continue to promote hope, celebrate our differences, and give strength to other young people everywhere.
That is Carol Todd, the mother of Amanda Todd, urging us to do the right thing, expedite the passage of those provisions that deal specifically with cyberbullying and take our time to get it right on the others.
With respect to the online surveillance provisions in the bill, this is the latest installment of a prolonged and concerted campaign by the Conservatives to play big brother.
In 2007, Stockwell Day launched an online consultation process with respect to the mandatory disclosure of customers' names and information. After it was exposed, he promised not to authorize warrantless access. That promise was broken in 2009, when the Conservative government brought in a bill, the first bill that was introduced. It had 13 identifiers that mandated warrantless disclosure of subscriber information. An election derailed that effort. At that time the was the present government House leader.
The Vic Toews' version was then introduced, and it narrowed the identifiers from 13 down to six. We know what happened to the Vic Toews' version after the outburst against the member for that one is either with us or with the child pornographers. Due to the outrage around the e-snooping provisions in the ' bill, there was a promise by the next justice minister to not reintroduce those provisions. However, 37 of the 47 provisions of the Vic Toews' bill are in this bill.
What the government has done, however, in the bill is that it has kept out the most offensive aspects of the ' bill dealing with warrantless disclosure, but it has come at it through the back door. Instead of mandating warrantless disclosure, what it has done is made voluntary disclosure easier by giving immunity to those who co-operate with police. Another bill that is going through the other place takes this one step further. It expands the audience. It expands the circumstances and the parties who may receive this voluntary warrantless disclosure.
The testimony on May 6 before the committee was quite telling. We had an expert in privacy law from Halifax, a fellow by the name of David Fraser, comment on this immunity that is being offered to telephone companies.
||...I would touch very briefly on the issue of service provider immunity that's touched on within this statute. I find this to be gravely problematic. I think it's a very cleverly crafted provision. We're told that this is simply for greater certainty, but it goes beyond that. Everything we know suggests otherwise.
|| It says that you will not be liable for handing over any data that you're not prohibited by law from handing over, and if you do so you're civilly immune. Now, only the criminal law and other regulations create prohibitions against handing over information, but you can hand over information when you're not legally prohibited and still incur civil liability. Civil liability is there for a reason. I may not be legally prohibited from accidentally driving my car into yours, but if I do that, you're entitled to damages from that. I should be paying for the harm that is caused.
The immunity provisions are very problematic because the government is trying to do indirectly what it cannot do directly. This was pronounced upon by the Supreme Court of Canada in the recent Spencer decision. Here is what the government argued to the Supreme Court of Canada:
||...does a person enjoy a reasonable expectation of privacy in subscriber information? Put another way, should the police have to get judicial authorization to determine the physical address of an internet connection and the subscriber's name before they apply for judicial authorization to search that physical address?
|| The answer to those questions must be “no”....
That is what the government said. The court rejected that argument. The court found a privacy interest in that information and that the charter had been breached in the circumstances. That changes the landscape. That changes the debate. We need to split the bill.
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to participate in today's very important debate on Bill , the protecting Canadians from online crime act.
Bill would provide a strong criminal justice response to the problem of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying, much like bullying in general, is a very complex social phenomenon that requires the attention of all segments of society. Most bullying behaviour is not a criminal behaviour and should be dealt with outside of the criminal justice system. However, we know that the reach of the Internet, the speed at which information can be shared, and the ability to act anonymously have made cyberbullying a serious concern.
This problem cannot be fixed simply by enacting a new law that would adequately cover all instances of this behaviour, but that does not mean that the criminal law cannot be strengthened in this area. This is why Bill provides a targeted response within the government's broader commitment to address the issue of bullying and cyberbullying.
If passed into the law, the proposed Criminal Code amendments would create a new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images with accompanying complementary amendments. The second main purpose of Bill is to provide the police with tools to give them the ability to address all crimes committed via the Internet or that involve electronic evidence.
Let me state the obvious here. All of the elements of Bill logically go together. Police will be able to more effectively and efficiently investigate the proposed new offence and other crimes committed via the Internet or that involve electronic evidence with the proposed legally authorized tools.
Absent the new production and preservation orders proposed in Bill , there would be no tool in the Criminal Code to enable the preservation and ensure that important evidence is not deleted. There would be no tool designed for production of specific subsets of tracking data and transmission data, nor would there be a tool to assist in tracing a communication by using one order with multiple providers. Without these tools, law enforcement's ability to protect Canadians from online crime and cyberbullying would be seriously hampered.
I would like to focus my remarks today on a specific provision included in Bill , proposed subsection 487.0195(2) of the Criminal Code, which would provide immunity from civil and criminal liability to persons who voluntarily assist police. In a nutshell, proposed subsection 487.0195(2) would amend existing subsection 487.014(2) of the Criminal Code, which was enacted in 2004 with the creation of production orders in the Criminal Code. Subsection 487.014(2) was designed to clarify that the new production orders were not intended to preclude ongoing voluntary assistance where such assistance was not precluded by law and to reconfirm existing legal principles that such assistance would not create any liability, either civil or criminal.
When new authorities such as production orders are created in law, the result can be that common law authorities are displaced. This was not the intent when production orders were introduced into the Criminal Code in 2004, nor is it the intent with respect to the updates to production orders and the new preservation authorities proposed in Bill .
The ability of the public to voluntarily assist police is essential to effective policing and a core component of ensuring public safety. Police may request information on a voluntary basis in many situations, including general policing duties that may not relate directly to investigating a crime, such as requesting information so they can contact family members when there is an accident.
However, I want to be clear. Bill would not create a new authority for voluntary assistance. It would simply clarify that any existing authority for voluntary assistance continues to be in place where not prohibited by law. It would also not create a new protection from civil or criminal liability but reconfirms the existing protection. This provision simply reconfirms existing legal principles that if an entity is legally permitted to turn over data to the police, then that entity will not be subject to civil or criminal liability for doing so. If an entity is prohibited by law from disclosing information, for example, by legislation or by contract, then immunity will not be available.
The minor revisions to existing subsection 487.014(2) that are proposed in Bill are primarily to make the provision more transparent and understandable by specifying that the protections from civil and criminal liability that are currently provided in section 25 of the Criminal Code, which deals with the protection of persons acting under authority, apply not only in the context of the current production orders but also in the context of the new production orders proposed in Bill . The proposed amendments would also reflect the addition of preservation demands and orders to the Criminal Code.
This existing provision, which did not receive any attention when it was first enacted in 2004, attracted considerable criticism in the media and during committee hearings on Bill . Indeed, this provision was wrongly reported as providing police with warrantless access to personal information and has been inaccurately described as a means of opening the floodgates of data between the private sector and the police.
In addition, some have also called for the deletion of this provision as a result of their interpretation of the June 2014 unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Spencer.
I wish first to confirm what the government has stated all along, a view supported by the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R. v. Spencer: that proposed subsection 487.0195(2) does not create any new search and seizure powers. Second, the proposed section continues to be required for those who continue to voluntarily assist the police where not prohibited by law. Those words are very specifically spelled out in the proposed legislation.
Specifically, the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Spencer said in paragraph 73 of the decision that the existing voluntary disclosure and immunity provision is “...a declaratory provision that confirms the existing common law powers of police officers to make enquiries”, as indicated by the fact that the section begins with the phrase “for greater certainty”. The decision makes it clear that Bill does not, and never did, create new police powers to access telecommunications data without a judicial warrant.
In R. v. Spencer, the court expanded the privacy protections afforded to information related to an Internet protocol, or IP, address in certain circumstances, thereby taking this information out of the realm of information that can be provided voluntarily. However, the court did not suggest that voluntary disclosures were now impermissible. Rather, it held that voluntary assistance could still be provided in exigent circumstances, or pursuant to a reasonable law, or where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. This clearly leaves scope for permissible voluntary assistance and provision of information without judicial pre-authorization.
Since the R. v. Spencer decision still allows for voluntary assistance to police in those circumstances, the clarification and the protection from immunity contained an existing subsection 487.014(2) and proposed subsection 487.0195(2) are still needed.
Bill was thoroughly examined by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The committee amended the bill to require a parliamentary review of proposed sections 487.011 to 487.02 of the Criminal Code—i.e., the new preservation demands and orders, the updated production order scheme, and the assistance order provision—seven years after these provisions come into force.
I agree with this amendment and said so at the justice committee. Given the highly technical nature of these reforms, I believe that a parliamentary review would be helpful to assess if the reforms have achieved their intended impacts. This amendment may also serve to alleviate some concerns expressed by privacy advocates, as it provides a future opportunity for inquiry into the privacy impacts of the legislation.
In summary. Bill was strengthened at committee and deserves to be passed into law in the form in which it was reported back to the House. I urge all hon. members to make this possible by ensuring the swift passage of the bill.
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to rise and speak on a motion that I believe to be critical, so it saddens me that I will have to speak against it. It is Bill .
Let me give a bit of perspective. In that regard, I want to congratulate my colleague from , who introduced Bill in 2013, following the tragic death of Amanda Todd and other victims of cyberbullying, including Rehtaeh Parsons. These deaths moved the nation. I would say that the feelings across the country were palpable. It did not matter whether one lived on the west coast, on the Prairies, or on the east coast; families right across Canada lived the pain that those families went through.
The bill put forward by my colleague was a fairly reasonable one. As members know, at that time the Conservatives introduced legislation as well, Bill . Bill C-30 was from the minister of the day, who is no longer in the House. There was a huge, almost unprecedented reaction to that bill, especially through social media. Just to remind us all, Bill C-30 was called the “protecting children from Internet predators act”. That bill was rejected not only by the NDP, based on what was included in it, but also by privacy advocates and the public. That reaction forced the Conservative Party to back away from it.
I can remember some of the rhetoric from that time when it backed away from that legislation, which was ill thought out and an absolute invasion of privacy. At that time, I can remember hearing commitment from the government side that any attempts to modernize the Criminal Code would not contain the measures contained in Bill . Now here we are on Bill .
There are parts of this legislation that the official opposition heartily and happily supports. On more than one occasion we have suggested to the government that if it is serious about taking action on cyberbullying, it should separate the bill. We offered to expedite it through the House. It would have been law already.
However, once again I find the party sitting across from this side playing games with a very sensitive issue, producing a bill that has some good parts to it that we want to support but then throwing in parts that it knows will make it difficult for us to support the bill.
The NDP is never scared of hard work, whether it comes to standing up to speak on issues in the House and taking up allocated time spots, and normally filling in even for the government side because it does not take up all its speaking slots, or when it comes to committee work. In order to make this bill palatable and make it go through the House, the opposition put forward 37 amendments. They were all reasonable amendments that would have added some balance to the bill.
What is shocking is that the government did the same as it has done on bill after bill. It was its way or no way. It rejected every single one of those amendments.
The Canadian Bar Association came to present as well. I am not talking about a radical group here. I am talking about lawyers. The Canadian Bar Association expressed the same concerns as the NDP and other witnesses. It put forward 19 possible amendments to the bill, but not one of those amendments was taken into consideration.
Once again, the Conservatives are trying to bury things in a bill so they can get their agenda through, but at the same time they are trying to bury some legislation that is absolutely needed.
I have been a teacher all of my life. I am also a mother and a grandmother. The world has changed for our children. They are spending more time on the Internet or attached to their cellphones, although many of us are guilty of that too. They are socializing differently as well.
We have to look at modernizing the way we see bullying. It is no longer just about bullying in the playground, where a child is bullied physically or verbally, face-to-face. Cyberbullying allows for a certain amount of anonymity. We have seen the tragic results of that kind of bullying. We have seen its impact on young people.
It is upsetting for me today to speak against a bill that contains a component that I support. I would urge my colleagues across the way to take a second and consider that we could have the cyberbullying component in the bill turned into legislation quickly. We need to get off the ideological idea that we cannot have a simple bill that deals with one issue. We have to get off the ideological idea that other stuff has to be thrown in to get the ideological agenda done. It also gives those members an opportunity to stand up later and say that the NDP voted against this.
It is true.
Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims: Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is true. I have heard my colleagues say that. I wonder if that is what drives members across the way when legislation is put together. Instead of tackling an issue like cyberbullying and the protection of our children, they mire legislation with other stuff just so they can have political talking points at a later date.
Once again, right in this legislation, the Conservatives are trying to hide controversial aspects of their failed Internet snooping bill, and they are slowing down the passage of an important bill that would protect our children. It is time for the games to stop. Let us just deal with what is real.
This is not just something that I am saying. It is quite moving for me. I would like to quote, for the record, Amanda Todd's mother, Carol Todd, who said:
|| I do not want my privacy invaded. I don't want young people's privacy compromised. I don't want personal information being exploited, without a protection order that would support individuals. I do not want any Canadian hurt in my daughter's name. I want her legacy to continue to promote hope, celebrate our differences, and give strength to other young people everywhere.
I plead with my colleagues across the way to do the right thing, separate the bill, and let us get it done.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House for the second time to speak to Bill , which addresses cyberbullying.
When the government announced Bill to combat cyberbullying, everyone thought it was a good idea. Perhaps the government had finally come up with a good idea. Everyone here knows that cyberbullying is taking a heavy toll on our youth. The people who work on the front lines—psychoeducators who work in high schools, street outreach workers and everyone else who works with youth—know how bullying can destroy lives, individuals and families. Some cases have made headlines, including the case of young Rehtaeh Parsons. Unfortunately, we know just how far cyberbullying can go. It can lead to suicide. No one in the House would say that we can remain indifferent about an issue as important as cyberbullying.
In the first speech I gave on Bill , I emphasized the need to take action on the ground. I could even draw a parallel with the speech I just gave this morning on Bill . The Conservatives often think they can use justice to solve all the problems inherent in a given situation. In the case of prostitution, for instance, inherent problems include poverty, exclusion and mental illness. The same is true when it comes to bullying. Some of the factors involved in bullying cannot be addressed through criminalization.
The provisions of Bill , which makes it an offence to distribute intimate images, are a good start. In fact, the bill fits in with the bill introduced by my colleague from , which aims to prevent the kinds of situations that unfortunately led to the suicides of several young Canadians over the past few years.
Upon closer examination of the bill, one can see that it refers to various subjects ranging from cyberbullying to terrorism, banking information, telemarketing and theft of a telecommunication service.
Most of the provisions have very little if anything to do with cyberbullying. This bill is similar to the Conservatives' previous Bill , which allowed access to Canadians' personal information.
The parliamentary secretary said that it was debated extensively and thoroughly examined in committee. That is all wonderful, except that all the experts agree that the study should have been even more thorough when it comes to the provisions regarding access to information. That is why we asked that the bill be split. Unfortunately, because we ran out of time, the provisions on cyberbullying were not examined much, if at all. We focused on the access to information provisions.
This issue is very important for our young people, and I find it extremely unfortunate that the debate is centred around access to information. That has nothing to do with our young students or the young girl who is being bullied by her classmates or receiving hateful messages on Facebook.
Access to information will have no impact on this girl, or perhaps it will, unfortunately, if the government wants access to her private information, which would be too bad. This is not going to help young people who need their government to work for them and do something about this.
A number of experts said that Bill , together with Bill , might have extremely significant repercussions on access to our private information, including access without a warrant.
I also asked a number of questions about an oversight mechanism. I would like to point out that the Conservatives refused to adopt such a mechanism. My colleague from proposed an amendment requiring the department to report to Parliament on the use of this type of power. I would like to note that section 184.4 of the Criminal Code has already been struck down by the Supreme Court, not because the mechanism allowed information obtained without a warrant to be shared, but because application of that section did not include any oversight mechanism or notification mechanism. According to the Supreme Court, the rights of people being wiretapped were intrinsically violated because they did not know they were being tapped. At the end of the day, without an oversight mechanism, we are giving the police and the government power without accountability. We can agree that we are giving nearly absolute power to the minister and police officers to access Canadians' information.
The Supreme Court was clear. I have not even touched on the Supreme Court's recent decision in Spencer, which reiterates that telecommunications companies do not have the right to turn Canadians' private information over without a warrant. It is a violation and it is unconstitutional because there is no oversight mechanism.
I made a comparison with section 188, which was not struck down by the Supreme Court. That section allows for warrantless wiretaps, but it includes an oversight mechanism. The department is therefore obliged to report to Parliament on warrantless wiretapping.
According to the Supreme Court, this is clearly unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the Conservatives refused to adopt our amendments on creating such a reporting mechanism, which is too bad. We can already see that part of the bill will likely be challenged in court or even deemed unconstitutional.
Who will be the main victims of that challenge? My colleague from told us several times. The main victims of the Conservatives' incompetence at drafting bills and studying issues thoroughly are the victims of bullying. The main victims will not be parliamentarians, lawyers or judges. No, the main victims will be victims of bullying, who unfortunately will have to wait for a legal challenge—which could take years and could go all the way to the Supreme Court—before justice is served.
I would like to underline the fact that when the held his press conference, he said that Bill only legislated on a specific issue, namely cyberbullying. I know of several articles that quoted him as saying that this was not an omnibus bill and that its only purpose was to legislate on cyberbullying.
However, this bill contains a clause that gives not only peace officers, but also public officers access to these powers. Several experts wondered who would have access to these powers. Who would have access to Canadians' information? Would it be only the police, and only in specific situations, or would it be public officers from Revenue Canada in other situations?
This bill is so badly written that, unfortunately, the main victims who will be denied justice will be victims of bullying. Is that really what the Conservative government wants?
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill , which has already been debated for three hours today and has just come back from the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
A lot of hard work has been done on this bill. I am thinking, in particular, of the many witnesses who appeared before the committee. I am happy to hear that good work was done in committee.
However, the results of that work are perhaps not quite what we on this side of the House expected. Unfortunately, the amendments that were made to this bill were not sufficient for us to be able to support it at report stage.
I must first say that this bill may be a rather sensitive subject for some people. It may hit close to home and be a sensitive subject for some people because it involves bullying and there is often mention of the unfortunate incidents that were reported in the media. It is vital that we remember the importance of the work we are doing as parliamentarians to try to address this issue, which sometimes has tragic consequences. Bullying is a problem in our society that has evolved over the past few decades. Obviously, the Internet is one of the elements that has changed the problem of bullying. It is becoming easier to bully someone online today because we can easily access the Internet with our cellphones and computers.
This problem has evolved and has become quite a significant issue for our youth and also for adults. As parliamentarians, we must discuss this problem and try to solve it, even though there is no magic solution. We have to consider the underlying causes. My colleague from often talks about the underlying causes. Furthermore, we must not believe that the solution to the problem is to create a Criminal Code offence and that all of a sudden there will be no more bullying. It is never that simple. It is therefore important to discuss this problem and other ways of dealing with it.
We were also somewhat disappointed with the process that led to the drafting of this bill. Members will remember that Bill was also introduced in the first session of the 41st Parliament and that there was significant opposition to that bill from civil society and the different political parties. It is unfortunate that Bill contains some of what was widely rejected in Bill C-30. I am talking about the provisions concerning the electronic surveillance of Canadians.
My impression is that the government is taking Bill and the issue of bullying—which is a very important and sensitive issue—and integrating certain parts of Bill , which was very controversial, as I said. It was abandoned by the Conservatives after the uproar that followed its introduction. It is sad that they are using this tactic and are trying to do indirectly what they said they would not do. It was abandoned. It is disappointing to see that it is now being included in Bill .
This issue could have been settled quickly, or at least more quickly. I do not think that we are going to solve the problem of bullying overnight. However, we could have at least moved in the right direction.
The hon. member for introduced a worthwhile bill. Unfortunately, it did not receive the Conservatives' support. However, one part of his bill did find its way into the Conservatives' current bill. I find that somewhat curious.
If I understand correctly, the seems to have an explanation. He says that it is all well and good to add an offence to the Criminal Code, but it is also important to grant investigative powers to the police.
I do not remember when exactly during the process of studying the bill this happened—it may have been the day after it was introduced—but the Spencer decision provided some clarification. Unfortunately, the bill did not change, even in light of the decision, which defined the limits that can be placed on electronic surveillance and the amount of personal information Internet service providers can share about Canadians.
I believe that the government should have complied with the Spencer decision, but that is not the case, unfortunately. That is the main reason we are opposing this bill.
I would like to clarify the court's decision in Spencer, which had to do with providers sharing information. The decision clearly established that Canadians had the right to online anonymity and that the police had to get a warrant to find out Internet users' identity.
However, Bill creates a new policy that allows access to personal information with or without a warrant. This opens the door to obtaining personal information without a warrant even though the Spencer decision said the opposite. It said that a warrant was absolutely necessary to get personal information about a Canadian citizen on the Internet.
Internet service providers have access to that information. They can find that information and share it with law enforcement to investigate bullying cases, for example. The Spencer decision set boundaries for getting information by requiring a warrant. However, Bill opens the door to getting personal information without a warrant.
All of this is unfolding in an era when people have growing concerns about electronic surveillance because the government is monitoring our actions more and more. Not long ago, groups met peacefully to talk about issues or met in the streets to demonstrate. We know that the government, which has thousands of employees who monitor Canadians, would watch what such groups were doing during those completely peaceful meetings and demonstrations that could not have given anyone any reason to believe there was a threat to Canada's security.
This is unfolding in an era when people feel that the government is collecting more and more information about Canadians. We also have to set clearer boundaries about how this information is obtained and about Canadians' right to privacy.
I would be pleased to answer my colleagues' questions.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to some extent to participate in the debate at this particular time, at the report stage.
I want to start by commending my colleagues, our justice critic and other members of the justice and human rights committee, who have worked so hard on Bill and introduced 37 amendments at the committee stage to try to take away some of the more onerous portions of this particular bill so that it would not, for example, spend the rest of its life in court being challenged constitutionally. It has taken a fair bit of effort and energy, I know, and patience on their part to do what they have done. I want them to know how much I appreciate it.
I want to, also, remind members that back on October 17, 11 months ago almost, I rose on a point of order to say that I was concerned about the issue that had been raised in my private member's bill, Bill , making it a criminal offence to distribute non-consensual intimate images. While I had heard from the government in the throne speech and from utterances of the then minister of justice that he supported this in principle, I was concerned that the issue would get bundled up in a major piece of legislation, a controversial piece of legislation, and that it may get delayed or lost.
I sought unanimous consent at that particular time to consider Bill deemed read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. I did so because everyone in the House, of all parties, to a person, said that they supported the idea of holding people to account, changing the Criminal Code to ensure that the non-consensual distribution of intimate images was a crime and that people were going to be held accountable. I then moved a motion to say, let us move this to committee right now. This is a serious situation. It's affecting families. It is affecting lives across the country. Let us deal with it now. There is a will here. Let us find the way.
Unfortunately, that was turned down by the government.
It is interesting. The government then brought in Bill , the initial portions of which dealt with the same issue that my private member's bill did, a little more thoroughly, of course, but it dealt with it. However, then the government did exactly what I and many of us were afraid of. It tacked on a great deal of what was in the former bill, Bill , which it had to yank off the table two years ago because it was so soundly repudiated by privacy experts and others from across the country. The government attached it to the back of the cyberbullying bill.
When it introduced the bill, it did so in the company of the parents of people who had committed suicide, who had taken their lives as a result of cyberbullying, and it said, “We're here to deal with this”. It did not talk about the other parts of it.
Of course, there was great hope in those families and by advocates across the country that the government was going to move forward on this. Lo and behold, as is too often the case with the Conservatives, we got involved in a very controversial debate. We began to learn more about what was really in the bill, and advocates and privacy experts from across the country began to raise concerns.
Even one of the parents, who stood with the minister when the bill was introduced, said at committee that even though she wanted the Criminal Code to be changed to make the non-consensual distribution of intimate images a crime and that there should be consequences, she could not abide what else was in the bill, the outrageous and invasive parts of the bills that would allow for information on the Internet to be more accessible to authorities.
As was talked about in the recent Spencer case, the Supreme Court said it was about barring Internet service providers from disclosing names and addresses. It said that Canadians have the right to be anonymous on the Internet.
Here we have a bill that has been cloaked as an attempt to deal with the heartbreak and anguish experienced by families across the country as a result of their loved ones being bullied mercilessly through the Internet. It is a bill that has been identified as being meant to deal with that, yet in fact it is much more.
I had the opportunity to talk today with another parent. I explained to that parent what had happened, how things have progressed, the concerns that we have with the bill. I explained that the NDP would not be supporting this legislation.
He knew this anyway, because of work we had done in the past, the support I have provided, and the things we were doing together with other people to build awareness and to try to deal with this scourge of teen suicide. He understands my commitment. He, too, is shaken by the infringement on privacy provisions that are part of this bill. I am not going to tell the House that he gave me a pass, but he understands my concerns. He appreciates that I have tried to work, and will continue to work, with him and others to deal with this problem.
The point is that we are here. It has been a year and a half since I introduced the private member's bill, and it is another year and a half into this serious problem. We have still not dealt with it.
I get discouraged sometimes in this House when it seems that we cannot get from one point to the other without creating all kinds of controversy and hard feelings, bitterness and division.
Right now, as we speak, there are people in communities who are helping to build awareness of why cyberbullying is wrong. They are coming up with strategies to identify when teenagers and others are beginning to experience feelings of depression and suicide.
One of the parents I spoke to said that the most gratifying thing that happens as he goes across the country talking to junior and high school students is when the 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds come up to him. They are saying there is a problem and that this is what they are doing about it. The students are telling him what they are doing because they recognize it.
This is what is happening in communities across the country. People are recognizing that they have to step up and do something, because unfortunately governments are not up to the task.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in opposition to Bill , and I think that is unfortunate.
Like many MPs, I had high hopes when the issue of cyberbullying first came before the House. I had high hopes that we would recognize the urgency with which we needed to respond to cyberbullying and the risk of suicides, especially when we were faced with the unfortunate examples of Rehtaeh Parsons in Nova Scotia and Amanda Todd in B.C. taking their own lives.
In fact, we did respond relatively quickly. The member for introduced a private member's bill in June 2013. It was a simple bill that did not include a lot of extraneous material. It was a simple bill that would have made it an offence to produce or distribute intimate images of an individual without that person's consent.
Unfortunately, despite attempts to get unanimous consent to move the bill forward, the government said that it had to do a lot more study and think a lot more about what it wanted to present in a government bill. When that bill finally got before us in November 2013, nearly a year ago, as usual with the Conservative government we found a far broader bill than was necessary. It is a bill that includes many issues that have little or nothing to do with cyberbullying, including restrictions on telemarketing, theft of telecommunication services, provisions on terrorist financing, and bank financial disclosures.
What we have before us now is a bill with a much broader scope and one that includes bringing back many aspects of the Conservatives' previous Bill C-30, which was widely rejected by public opinion and especially by privacy advocates.
As someone who worked closely with the criminal justice system for more than two decades before coming here, I have some very serious concerns about the government's attempt to expand access to personal information, both with and without a warrant, that remains in Bill
I am very concerned about the new and low bar for grounds for getting a warrant to get personal information. I see no justification for lowering the grounds for a warrant from “reasonable grounds to believe”, to this new category of reasonable suspicion. For that reason, of course, we proposed an amendment to delete this clause entirely from the bill.
In fact, I believe, despite the speeches we have heard from the , that the Spencer case this summer brings into question the constitutionality of many provisions of Bill . This was an important ruling banning Internet service providers from disclosing names, addresses, and phone numbers of customers voluntarily to the authorities.
The bill would also create a worrying new category of those entitled to our personal information. It has expanded from the well-defined, in law, concept of peace officers, and we know who they are, to this unclear new concept of “public officers”. Does this mean tax officials? Who does this mean are public officers?
In committee we proposed 37 different amendments to try to narrow the scope of the bill. As my colleague for so eloquently put it a few moments ago, we were trying to make sure that this bill did not spend the rest of its life being challenged in court. Unfortunately, we did not see any of those amendments adopted, and I do not think we will see our amendments adopted at report stage.
I want to return to one surprising inclusion in Bill that I was happy to see there. For whatever reason, the government decided to reopen the hate crime section of the Criminal Code in clause 12 of Bill C-13. There is some connection there with cyberbullying and cyberbullying's relation to an escalation into hate crimes.
I think perhaps there was a justification, but I was very surprised to see that when the government listed the new identifiable groups to receive protection, it added national origin, sex, age, and mental or physical disability, while what was left out was gender identity.
The House of Commons had already agreed, in a vote on my private member's bill, Bill , on March 20, 2013, by a margin of 149 to 137, with support from all parties, to include protection on the basis of gender identity. Therefore, there was a deliberate omission from this list of new protected grounds of something that we had already decided in the full House.
This is why earlier today I proposed an amendment to clause 12, which I had already placed in the justice committee. I was optimistic that we would be allowed to debate this bill again. I proposed this amendment in committee to try to correct what I felt was an error in the drafting of Bill . It should have included gender identity, precisely for the reason I cited: we had already voted on this provision here in the full House of Commons.
I was very optimistic in committee. After all, two of the five government members in the justice committee had voted for my private member's bill. Therefore, I expected when I proposed the amendment it would pass in committee by a vote of 6 to 3 in favour, because that is how those members had previously voted on the very same provision in Bill . However, at the last minute, one Conservative changed his vote and one member was substituted out of committee. Hence, my amendment was defeated 5 to 4.
This is why I placed my amendment on the order paper again and asked the Speaker to take the unusual step of allowing it to be put before the full House again. The Speaker ruled that my amendment did not meet the test set out in our rules, which would have allowed it to come before the House today as part of this debate.
The problem, of course, is not the Speaker's ruling. It is instead that the government, which always posed as neutral on the provisions of my private member's bill, has found a way of using a government bill to undo the decision that had already been taken in the House on Bill to provide protection against hate crimes to transgender Canadians. This shows a fundamental disrespect for the will of the majority as already expressed in the House. Therefore, when it comes to respecting the rights of transgender Canadians, it turns out the government is not as neutral as it was pretending to be. This perhaps explains what has happened to the same provision we could have been talking about today, over in the Senate in Bill C-279.
The second problem we have in achieving protection against hate crimes for transgender Canadians is, of course, the Senate. The bill has been before the Senate two different times. The first time was in the spring of 2011. It was approved by the House of Commons and sent to the Senate, which failed to act at all before the election was called. Therefore, that provision died before the Senate.
As I mentioned earlier, Bill passed the House of Commons on March 20, 2013, a year and a half ago. It has been in the Senate for a year and a half. I know they only meet three days a week, but there are still plenty of sitting days for them to deal with this. In fact, in 2013, it did pass second reading. In other words, it received approval in principle. Now we have the House of Commons saying that what we were supposed to be dealing with in the bill to be true and the Senate, in principle, agreeing. It was sent to the human rights committee, which held hearings and approved Bill C-279 without amendment and returned it to the full floor of the Senate, where a third reading and final vote was not called. The House prorogued and that bill started over.
Here again is where the supposed neutrality of the government on protecting transgender Canadians against hate crimes comes into question. The bill could have been expedited through the Senate, as it had already been through all the stages there. Even simpler, the bill could have been sent back to the human rights committee, and since it had already held hearings and dealt with the bill, it could have been returned quickly to the floor of the Senate. Instead, the government leadership in the Senate sent the bill to a different committee, the legal and constitutional affairs committee. This is an interesting choice. This not only meant that the committee would have to hold new hearings, but it is the busiest committee in the Senate, with the government's crime agenda. It means this committee will have to deal with bills like the one we have before us today, Bill ; Bill , dealing with sex work; and Bill , dealing with safe injection sites. It will have to deal with all of those before it ever gets to a private member's bill.
Again, the fig leaf of neutrality claimed by the government is looking a little withered, since decisions on where the bill is going and its timing are made by the government leadership in the Senate. It is beginning to look a lot like the government intends to let Bill die in the Senate once again.
The final obstacle to achieving protection for transgender Canadians against hate crimes, and I think the real reason gender identity was omitted from the new groups protected in the hate crimes section 12 of Bill , is the failure to recognize not just the fundamental justice of providing equal rights to transgender Canadians, but the failure to recognize both the urgency and the inevitability of doing so.
Transgender Canadians remain the group most discriminated against in Canada. They remain the group most likely to be subject to hate crimes and most disturbingly, they remain the group most likely to be subject to violence when it comes to hate crimes. All transgender Canadians are looking for is the recognition of the same rights that other Canadians already enjoy. We are missing a chance here in Bill to provide equal protection against hate crimes to transgender Canadians.
There was a time when other Canadians did not enjoy the equality they do today. There were provisions in our law that seem incredible now. There was a time when Asian Canadians could not vote or practise the professions. There was a time when I, as a gay man, could have been jailed for my sexual orientation, fired from my job, or evicted from my housing. Now, fortunately, that time has passed.
I am disappointed, then, that we are missing a chance today to move forward to the time when we look back and cannot imagine that transgendered Canadians did not enjoy the same rights and protections as all other Canadians. I know that day will come, and I will continue to work to make sure it is sooner rather than later.