moved that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the and the House, for time to discuss this important bill at second reading, Bill , protecting Canadians from online crime.
This is very important legislation, but it is well-recognized that it will require a holistic approach when it comes to the subject of cyberbullying. It will require efforts within the education system. It will certainly require very direct and mature discussions with young people and others in the country when it comes to the awareness and understanding of the effects of bullying and cyberbullying.
I want to indicate immediately that all elements of this bill to assist police with investigations online require a warrant. I emphasize that judicial authorization is deeply entrenched in Bill . The bill and the government's long-standing commitment to help keep our streets and communities safe is very much in keeping with efforts of judicial oversight and focusing on all programs and all instances of having young people come to understand the terrible phenomenon of online bullying and its far-reaching effects.
The bill is very timely and significant legislation. As all would know, it is aimed at improving the safety of Canadians, not only in their homes and neighbourhoods but also online, where so many spend an incredible amount of time. All of the sections of the bill deal with electronic communications. This is our generation's preferred mode of correspondence. We now have to bring some of the elements of investigation also into the 21st century when it comes to electronic communications.
The necessity for security with respect to online activities is becoming more apparent as our use of social media and other technologies continue to grow. Consider that, according to StatsCan, in 2010 roughly 80% of Canadian households had access to the Internet. Maclean's magazine reports that more than 19 million Canadians, more than half the population, are now users of Facebook.
In the 1990s, there were hundreds of websites. Now the numbers have swelled to billions. These numbers will only continue to increase and the technology involved will become more sophisticated, making it even more essential to develop a legal framework that will support the online safety of Canadians and will give our security forces commensurate tools to ensure safety
Bill is comprised of two related but distinct parts. The first addresses the particularly vile and invasive form of cyberbullying involving the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. The second aims to ensure that the Criminal Code and other federal legislation is keeping pace with technological changes. Both involve electronic communications and improving public safety. I am delighted that I am joined by my colleague, the , for this debate.
The bill proposes updates to offences and to the powers of police to investigate crimes committed using electronic networks or that use electronic evidence.
I would like to address both of these parts in turn, beginning with the key elements of the bill that address cyberbullying.
We are all aware of the issues of bullying and cyberbullying and how they have become priorities for many governments around the world. Cyberbullying is the use of the Internet to perpetrate what is commonly known as bullying, but it is of particular interest and concern of late. This interest is due in no small part to the number of teen suicides over the past few years in which cyberbullying was alleged to have played a part.
We have heard of cases involving Rehtaeh Parsons in my province of Nova Scotia, Amanda Todd on the west coast, a young man named Todd Loik in Saskatchewan recently, and countless others. It is clearly a case of the worst form of harassment, intimidation and humiliation of young people, which resulted in a feeling of hopelessness, that there was no other way out, and they took their lives.
Having met with the parents of many of these young people and spoken to many young people within my own circle of friends and family, it becomes clear that there is a clarion call for Parliament and for our criminal justice system to respond. This is truly an issue in which I would hope the House would come together around our efforts to improve things. As I said, it goes well beyond this legislation and this Hill. It will require a very fulsome discussion of the implications and the understanding of what it means to post images and to use the Internet for the purposes of harassing another individual.
There appears to be a greater need and profound understanding of the impact that this form of bullying has on young people and its pervasiveness in the schools.
Online bullying increases the speed and the scope in which statements and images can be made and shared with many others, as we know. Once something is posted online, it is very difficult to control its further use or dissemination. Most times, it is from a cowardly, anonymous, malicious individual, whose identity is very hard to track.
Cyberbullying victims also report that is it very difficult to retreat or escape from the cyberbullying activity. It is pervasive in the way in which telecommunications play such an important part in young people's lives these days.
Canadians want to know what we can do to deal with cyberbullying. Questions have been raised about whether the Criminal Code deals adequately with this type of behaviour and recent technological advances.
Currently, the Criminal Code can in fact address most of the serious forms of cyberbullying through, for example, existing offences of criminal harassment per section 264, uttering threats per section 264.1 or identity fraud, found in section 403. However, there is no offence in the Criminal Code that specifically addresses the contemptible form of cyberbullying that has emerged, involving the distribution of sexual images without the consent of the person depicted in that image.
Addressing this gap in the Criminal Code is one of the goals of Bill . The bill proposes a new Criminal Code offence prohibiting the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. Essentially, this offence would prohibit the sharing of sexual or nude images without the consent of the person depicted.
It may be useful to better understand how this behaviour typically comes about. It usually begins, in some sense, with a non-criminal context of perfectly lawful, consensual recording of intimate images in a private setting. I specifically set aside any images depicting an underage youth. These images may be subsequently transmitted electronically to a partner, a practice commonly known as “sexting”. Upon the breakdown of the relationship, however, one of the known partners may distribute these images to third parties without the consent of the person depicted in the image. It is now commonly known as “revenge porn”.
It is important to note that this offence is not intended to criminalize sexting when it is done with consent. Rather it is the unauthorized, non-consensual distribution of these images that is targeted in this new offence.
I would like to take a moment to fully describe the specific aspects of the proposed offence.
The proposed new offence will prohibit all manner of distributing, sharing or making available of an intimate image without the consent of the person depicted in that image. This is intended to capture all the ways in which intimate images are shared, including posting an image on a website, sharing via social media, email or in person, but will not capture the consensual recording or the private use of these images.
The main element of the offence is that the sharing of the distribution would be done without the consent of the person depicted. The accused would not have to know that the person depicted in the image did not consent to the distribution or be reckless as to whether or not the person depicted consented to the distribution.
Bill also contains a three part definition of intimate images to help guide the courts in determining whether or not a particular image would be subject to the offence. There is clarity there in the determination and specific wording of what classifies as an intimate image. The definition is similar to those found in existing voyeurism and child pornography offences.
Second, the image must be one which, at the time it was taken, was done in circumstances that gave rise to the reasonable expectation of privacy. This would ensure that the offence did not capture the distribution of images in which the person depicted could not have easily have asserted privacy interests. For example, it may be difficult for people to assert a privacy interest if, in fact, the photo were taken while they were publicly displaying nudity. If they walked down the street without clothes and someone took a picture, there would be no expectation of privacy.
Third, at the time of the offence, the image must be one in which respect the person depicted retains a privacy interest. In other words, if someone posted a nude picture on a website and someone else then subsequently shared the image, it would be unlikely that the person would retain an expectation of privacy.
In addition, the bill contains a number of amendments that would complement this proposed new offence. I stress again that judges must look at these facts and interpret how the law would apply in the collection of evidence and in determining whether a warrant was warranted.
As a means of prevention, the courts would be able to authorize and order a peace bond against a person who had intimate images in his or her possession, where there were reasonable grounds to fear that the person could then play into a new offence. That is, the person could post the offence or share those images.
As part of the sentence for the new offence, the court would be permitted to make a prohibition order, which would limit access by a convicted offender to the Internet or other digital networks unless the access was exercised in accordance with conditions set out by the court. There would be a very specific penalty that could attach with respect to limiting use to go back online.
The court would also be authorized to order non-consensual posted images removed from the Internet. The existing provision allows the court to order the removal of child pornography and voyeuristic recordings. That would be amended to include intimate images. I stress here that we have already made a number of Criminal Code amendments and have brought forward legislation requiring Internet service providers, for example, to report these images when they appear online.
Additionally, the court could be authorized to order any tools used in the commission of the proposed offence, such as cell phones or computers, to be forfeited to the Crown. This is in keeping with other criminal acts we have seen, where vehicles and tools used in the commission of an offence can be seized by the Crown.
At the end of the process, the court would also be authorized to order the convicted offender to pay restitution to permit the victim to recoup expenses incurred to secure the removal from the Internet of these non-consensually posted intimate images.
Finally, the Canada Evidence Act would also be amended to ensure that the spouse of a person accused of distributing intimate images could be eligible to testify for the Crown. That is, spousal immunity would be waived. We have done this, as well, in sections pertaining to protecting children.
The bill also proposes updating existing offences that are relevant to cyberbullying. For example, the offence of false messages and harassing phone calls, in section 372, refers to behaviour conducted by letter or telegram, among other methods, but does not include more modern methods, as though the Internet or smart phones do not exist.
I point out that many of the sections we are trying to update were enacted during the time of rotary dial phones and telegrams, well in advance of the arrival of the Internet. We are modernizing and bringing those sections into the 21st century. This offence is relevant and is an applicable offence in the cyberbullying context. However, as it is currently drafted, it would not apply to conduct committed via modern technology. The bill is all about updating offences to make sure that any prohibited conduct done through any form of telecommunication would be captured.
I also want to move on to the part of the bill that involves elements related to modernization of the Criminal Code and other federal legislation, some of which has caused some consternation. There has been some significant misinformation disseminated.
Specifically, the bill contains amendments to the Criminal Code, the Competition Act, and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act to ensure that our laws are suitable for the technologically advanced world in which we live. They are meant to modernize both offences and investigative powers to make the Criminal Code more responsive to current criminal behaviour, which, as we know, is becoming more and more sophisticated. Organized crime, in particular, and those who prey on children very often use the Internet as the means to carry out these nefarious acts.
There is a common thread in these amendments. They all have as their primary objective providing law enforcement agencies with the tools they need in the 21st century to continue to respect their roles as protectors of the public while at the same time respecting the civil liberties of Canadians. They all require judicial authorization to carry out their duties.
Let me begin by stressing that the purpose of the legislative and investigative power amendments is not to give extensive new authority to the state to intrude into the privacy of Canadians. On the contrary, the new powers in this bill are carefully and narrowly constructed to respond to the investigative challenges posed by the advances that have occurred in technology over the past few decades and also to maintain the privacy protections and expectations of Canadians.
Modernizing investigative tools is especially important in investigations into these proposed new offences of non-consensual distribution of intimate images, which may be implicated in serious cases of cyberbullying. These updated tools would also, as they should, assist police in the investigation of all online crimes, and any crimes that involve digital evidence, such as fraud, the distribution of child pornography, and various forms of cyberattacks.
What are these amendments? First, Bill proposes to create a new data-preservation scheme. These tools would allow police to safeguard computer data while they apply to the court for a proper court order to acquire the data. Simply put, it is a do-not-delete order until such time as the police require the warrant.
Next, Bill proposes to update the existing judicially supervised production orders. These amendments would result in a comprehensive toolkit involving a general production order, which is comparable to a search warrant, and four specific production orders for information with little or no privacy impact. They would help police commence investigations.
The production orders could only be used to obtain historical information before the specific production orders contemplated by Bill would allow police to do the following: determine where individuals were or what they were doing at a specific moment in time, meaning tracking information; obtain transmission data, such as an email address the communication was sent to; trace the path of the telecommunication to determine the identity of a suspect; and, finally, collect basic financial information. It should be noted that police already have the ability to apply to the court for the same type of information in other areas.
This bill also proposes to modernize two existing judicial warrant powers: the tracking warrant and the number-recording warrant. These warrants are unique in that they allow police to collect this type of information in real time.
Finally, the bill also proposes some efficiencies with regard to wiretap applications. These amendments basically are a codification of the practices of many of our courts, but the amendments would ensure that Canadian courts, as in all jurisdictions, would use the same process. The proposed amendments would create a single application for all judicial warrants and orders related to the execution of the wiretap authorization. This new process would make it clear that the judge who issued the wiretap authorization could also issue all the other supporting warrants or orders without requiring a separate application. It is a streamlining process whereby the court would have a full picture of all the interventions.
I apologize for some of the minute detail, but it is important that we are again emphasizing here that judicial authorization would be required in all instances in aspects of this bill. Data preservation and the sophistication and proliferation of information are what we are trying to get at while, at the same time, balancing this with Canadians' reasonable expectations of privacy.
What is envisioned in this bill are not massive scoops of information, or mega-data, as it is sometimes called, as is the case in other jurisdictions in European countries. This bill would not ask Internet service providers to collect anyone's information and keep it indefinitely. Like other warrants, these would be for a set, specified period of time. As I mentioned, this could be done as of a do-not-delete order for a period of up to 21 days, or in cases of foreign preservation information, up to 90 days. However, again, judicial authorization would be required.
The power, I suggest, would facilitate the investigation of offences where much of the evidence is in an electronic form and would be used, as I said, to go after the non-consensual distribution of intimate images in an era when crucial evidence can be deleted, sometimes even inadvertently, in the blink of an eye.
As I mentioned earlier, in addition to proposing new investigative powers, the bill would modernize existing powers, bringing into the 21st century what the police are trying to do and protecting our communities.
I would note that this is a bill that has tremendous support from the provinces. We have had the Privacy Commissioner consulted on aspects of this bill. We look forward to further debate throughout this process as we move forward on what I believe is an important step to protect Canadians and protect information and at the same time respect the fact that this is the new way of communicating among Canadians and around the world.
Mr. Speaker, further to the exchanges that took place after the speech given by the , if people are worried about poison pills, perhaps it is because that is what the Conservatives so often have to offer. Thus, it is not surprising that people are worried about this long-awaited bill.
I think it is worth reiterating the fact that my colleague from had introduced Bill , which addressed the issue of cyberbullying and, more specifically, the distribution of intimate images, following the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons. We even offered to fast-track this process.
All members of this House agreed on these provisions. The government replied that it was working on the issue, and I do acknowledge that some federal-provincial-territorial meetings took place. I was very pleased to hear the say that he believed in a more comprehensive approach than simply claiming that Bill would solve the problem of cyberbullying, as the bill's fancy title would suggest. Let us hope so, because the bill's title certainly promises more than it can deliver. In fact, I am sure the Conservatives have hired someone just to come up with fancy titles, such as the “protecting Canadians from online crime act”.
Still, I acknowledge that the provinces and territories were involved. There were meetings and discussions because they were the ones who raised the problems. We know we need a more holistic and comprehensive approach. The motion moved by my colleague from , Motion No. 485, offers a comprehensive approach to bullying, but the Conservatives voted against it. There is no reason to believe that Bill will put an end to situations that have been around for a long time.
The Conservatives introduced a bill whose first seven clauses are exactly what everyone expected the to introduce with respect to cyberbullying and the distribution of images. However, clauses eight and up must have come as a surprise to many. Forty-seven is a lot of clauses.
Experts on privacy and the Internet, as well as journalists, jumped at the chance to ask questions during the minister's press conference. No doubt the minister was expecting something other than those questions, all of them on the same subject, and for good reason. After what happened with the former public safety minister, people got worried about what was around the corner. I will be kind, but it was not funny when he introduced Bill C-30.
It was to be expected that people would think Bill C-30 had risen from the ashes when they saw clauses eight and up of Bill . The former justice minister, the one immediately preceding our colleague opposite, promised that those clauses would not be seen again.
Journalists, who know a thing or two about the situation, did not wait one second to ask the questions that demanded to be asked of the minister, questions about cyberbullying. When he announced the introduction of his bill just last week, the minister said that everything related to cyberbullying and that there were no surprises in that regard.
Whether this is seen as a poison pill or not, the questions make it clear that this bill touches on some complicated concepts, especially from clause 8 on.
The is right to say that the most serious irritants in Bill C-30 are not in the current bill. Yes, this will require warrants. However, we must still ask ourselves some serious questions about what kind of warrant will be needed and what evidence will be necessary to obtain it. Some are even saying that this lowers the threshold. Instead of talking about reasonable and probable grounds to believe something, the bill talks about suspicion. They are introducing different terms.
I think that the minister wants as many members as possible to support his bill. I therefore hope that he will be open to allowing us to study this aspect carefully. We will have some serious arguments to make in committee about these aspects of the bill. I hope that we will not be criticized or accused of supporting cyberbullies or anything like that, simply because we are doing our jobs. There are some serious questions and we do not have any definite answers to some of them today. For example, did the minister make sure that this bill is in line with the charter, since this is one of his duties?
I hope he will be referring to studies when he speaks about the bill before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. I hope he will tell us that, indeed, he and the people in his department tested the constitutionality and compliance of his bill under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically in terms of privacy and the interception of personal information.
I heard my colleague from ask a question about an issue that is worrying some experts, and that is the warrant for voluntary disclosure of information. In his reply, the minister stressed that this was on condition that no legal prohibition existed against preserving or communicating this information. This type of provision is greatly disturbing. This is not as simple as making a request and getting a positive answer on the spot. There are some rules, but they may not be sufficient in terms of protecting privacy.
Ultimately, we are all trying to create a safe environment for our children and youth. However, in doing so, we must be careful not to create legislative monsters that allow some to slip through our fingers while ensnaring others who should have nothing to fear in a free and democratic society. On this side of the House, we have always been concerned about that.
Obviously, my heart bleeds for the parents who have gone through such terrible situations. Is there anything worse than having a child commit suicide? I cannot imagine the hell that families must go through in those circumstances.
I will tell a story that I told my colleagues this morning, as I was discussing my recommendation on Bill . On the day Bill C-13 was introduced, I ran into one of my colleagues opposite in the elevator in Parliament. He was with some people who had came to see this historic tabling. This was important to them because it had to do with something they had gone through. When I was introduced as the justice critic for the NDP, Mrs. Todd looked at me and said she hoped we would support the bill.
I am always happy to support good legislation. However, sometimes my heart bleeds when I have to tell my colleagues that I cannot, in good conscience, support a bill. I often give it a chance, because I always have hope.
This is the message I have for the . We must be allowed to conduct a thorough study.
I presume that the minister truly believes in what he is doing today and that he wants to help victims, parents, children, young people and adults, because adults can also be caught up in this situation.
I hope that he truly believes in what he is doing today and that the other provisions are well-founded. I hope that he has had the opportunity to study them extensively. However, the other members of the House have not had the opportunity to do so, because we were told by his predecessor that he would not bring back these kinds of provisions. Consequently, I hope he will not be surprised if we have some minor questions about this. We definitely will have some.
A number of legal organizations are asking questions. In fact, we have to compare the provisions. We have to understand what they mean. The wording used with respect to obtaining a warrant has changed. The bill says “suspect” instead of “reasonable and probable grounds to believe”. The legislator does not talk for nothing and, therefore, this must mean something.
It is not unusual to want to carefully analyze these types of provisions. The bill is very important for Canadians of all ages and races who are interested in the serious problem of cyberbullying. It is definitely a priority for all parliamentarians in the House. We will definitely not reject it out of hand at the outset.
However, I would like to say something to the families, both the Todd family and Rehtaeh Parsons' family.
I read Mrs. Todd's blog, and I was extremely moved. She asked the following question:
“Could the Cyberbullying Bill Have Saved Amanda?” She says yes.
The fact that a parent said that and is investing so much hope in a bill should strike a chord with all members.
That being said, we cannot abdicate our duty as legislators to exercise due diligence.
Today, I am urging the to tell his colleagues who belong to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to take as much time as they need to study this bill, which is about a very important, very human issue that affects too many people. We have to stop thinking that this is a race against time, because it is not.
Obviously, we need solid, unassailable provisions that will eliminate this scourge, and we need them soon. However, they have to come with other provisions that are equally solid from a legal standpoint, and they have to be in line with existing laws so that, in a year or two, they will not be swept aside.
Families believe in the work we are doing. They have so much hope. We have to take the time we need to do a good job. We have to hear from experts on cybercrime and cyberbullying, on the Internet and on privacy law. We have to hear from all of those people so that we can evaluate this bill.
There are much easier ways though. I took note of what my colleague from said earlier when he asked the a question. He asked him whether there might be a way to study the bill from two perspectives. First of all, it would have to be evaluated more quickly. I think that members of the House already support the cyberbullying and distribution of intimate images provisions in the bill.
That is why there might be a way, if everyone in the House agrees, to split the bill in two without changing or amending any of the clauses. I am not even suggesting any amendments, simply because that work will be done in committee.
Of course we want to do this work in committee. However, we want to work both on cyberbullying and the distribution of intimate images, and on the other aspect, which is the powers to be granted to police officers.
I was reading the submission of an association of criminal experts, which indicates that some provisions are cause for concern. One has to wonder what the government means by “some provisions”.
In light of this, I would like to remind the Conservatives that they have to take these concerns into account. It is important to remember what happened with Bill C-30. After an absolutely unbelievable campaign of a sort rarely seen in the House, the Conservative government backtracked, which is not something that happens very often. The Conservatives have a tendency to always push forward, even if they are hitting a brick wall. They do not often make a strategic retreat to show that they heard what the public had to say. However, that is what happened in the case of Bill C-30.
The Conservatives backtracked because Canadians felt that Bill C-30 violated their privacy and gave some people unrestricted tools. Those people may have good intentions, but once again, the devil is in the details. This made the minister backtrack, which is a good thing.
We do not want to go through all that again with Bill . I will not say that Bill C-30 caused mass hysteria, because that is not true. However, people were extremely concerned, and it made us wonder exactly what the government was trying to achieve. We are asking ourselves the same thing in this case, where people expect a bill on cyberbullying and the distribution of images.
Yes, the ministers of justice and public safety from across the country examined these issues and talked about how this sort of evidence could be collected; however, they did not come up with a plan as detailed as the one set out in Bill .
On one hand, there are the parents of victims who want something positive to come out of all this, and rightly so. On the other hand, there are also privacy guardians.
I do not think there is anyone in the House, including the Conservatives, who does not think this is important. They obviously talk about it less on their side, but I think that they also believe this is very important. I have never heard anyone on the Conservative side say that they do not believe in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in the right to a personal life, to a private life, to their own image, to do what they want in their own home.
There is an extremely simple way to address all of these serious concerns about Bill . We would simply have to divide Bill C-13, and I would like to move that we do so.
I would like to seek the unanimous consent of the House to move the following motion: That notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, clauses 2 to 7 and 27 related to cyberbullying, be removed from Bill , and do compose Bill C-15; that Bill C-15 be entitled "An Act to amend the Criminal Code (non-consensual making or distributing of intimate images)"; that Bill C-15 be deemed read a first time and printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights; that Bill C-13 retain the status on the Order Paper that it had prior to the adoption of this Order; that Bill C-13 be reprinted as amended; and that the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel be authorized to make any technical changes or corrections as may be necessary to give effect to this motion.
This would make it possible to pass Bill C-15 quickly. Then, we could more carefully study Bill as amended.
Mr. Speaker, the events over the past year have impacted all Canadians. The emergence of cyberbullying in society is troubling.
We agree with the government and victims that measures are needed to prevent and address cyberbullying. We, on this side, agree that we need action to properly provide a strong and fair response to those who perpetrate such hurtful acts against others online. It really is a tragedy to hear media reports of young people with their whole lives ahead of them believing that they have no other option than to take their lives. That is how deep and cruel cyberbullying can be. We should tackle this issue in a firm and focused manner.
Just last week, we marked Bullying Awareness Week. Indeed, there was a large summit held in my riding, an international summit, with social media companies and with young people from both sides of the border, which was organized by a well-known expert in this field Parry Aftab. Anti-bullying week and the summit to which I just referred provide us with an opportunity to reflect upon how our words and actions can sometimes have such a devastating impact upon others. This, I submit, holds true, not only for our youth but also the not so young.
As I have said in the House on a number of occasions, bullying is the reality for many people. Words do matter. Often, those words inflict great devastation upon young people. We know that what was once the sole domain of the schoolyard has now moved to the online world. The traditional bully, who typically sought out a victim at school, is now able to extend his reach online. The victim of bullying at school could, at one time, get some relief when he or she would go home, perhaps finding some respite in the confines of his or her room, a place where it was safe and away from the bullies. Not any more. The bullies can now extend that reach into that bedroom, using the Internet as a virtual schoolyard.
We know that some young people say terrible things to each other online. We can only imagine how hurtful it would be to arrive home, perhaps having an already rough day, only to go online and read something about oneself that is likely untrue or perhaps embarrassing. We can only imagine how hurtful and distressing it would be to read an online post or comment calling someone a “fag” or a “dyke” or suggesting that an individual is “weird”, “fat”, “ugly” or any number of hurtful and devastating comments.
We can only imagine how this would pierce the soul of a young person, many of whom are already vulnerable with the all too common challenges of growing up. This is the reality of Canadian youth, day in and day out. This is the ruthless side of technology and the use of the Internet.
That is why we sought to address this issue through legislation last year with a cyberbullying bill from the Liberal member for , which I will address again later.
We know that school can be tough, but bullying is not the exclusive domain of young people. I submit to my colleagues that we find bullying here, in this chamber. We often attack one another. We often do so for having a different opinion on such and such a matter. We exaggerate that which is often not worth exaggerating. We do not do a very good job of listening to each other and engaging in real debate. We seem to ignore or exclude the possibility that someone else might have a helpful solution or a proposal worthy of at least a hearing. It is possible to learn from one another.
Instead, as I have experienced in my short time here, having a different opinion is sometimes tantamount to siding with the criminals, and then we use the pretext of democracy to legitimize such behaviour. This is, frankly, the poor example we sometimes give to the public and to young people.
Earlier in my remarks, I indicated that there was an international summit held in Charlottetown on bullying. The organizers of that summit were actually invited into the House of Commons last week on the day of the announcement of this introduction of this legislation. I can say that on that day we did not exactly do our best job. When these constituents, who were here at the invitation of the , had a chance to observe the antics on the floor of the House of Commons, it is safe to say that as advocates against bullying, they were not impressed.
Today we are debating a bill that was supposed to address bullying and the emergence of cyberbullying specifically. However, for some reason, much of this bill has little to do with cyberbullying. I was surprised by this. I actually assumed that the Conservatives would have played this one straight and up front.
Bill , we were told, was to address cyberbullying. It would appear, however, that the Conservative government knowingly used this highly emotional issue as a cover to include legislative measures that have nothing to do with cyberbullying. Conflating, for example, terrorism with cyberbullying does not make any sense. Furthermore, using the scourge of cyberbullying in order to resurrect elements of the infamous Bill , a piece of legislative work wholly rejected because it was in effect an e-snooping bill, is wrong.
Members will remember that bill. It was a bill proposed just last year by Vic Toews, the former Conservative public safety minister. We are also given to understand that the former minister of justice and the current sought to meet with victims of cyberbullying and their families as they prepared to introduce cyberbully legislation. I commend them for reaching out.
However, much of this bill has little to do with cyberbullying, and that is why we agree with the motion that was put forward by my colleague from to split the bill at committee. We do so because all of us on this side had genuinely hoped that it was to be a stand-alone issue; instead, we have a bill before us full of content unrelated to cyberbullying.
We know the minister consulted victims of bullying and their families. I suggest that there will not be one member of the Conservative caucus able to coherently tell Canadians why providing, for example, big telecom companies with immunity to share private information of any Canadian to the government without a warrant has much to do with cyberbullying. There will not be one Conservative MP who could say with any sense of reliability that allowing telecom companies free range to divulge to Canada's security services anything they want at any time without any exposure to civil litigation or criminal charges is in any way tackling cyberbullying. As we heard earlier in the debate, that, in my submission, is the poison pill in this legislation.
The government seems to be using victims of cyberbullying for political and partisan reasons. That is why we agree with the proposal to split this bill at committee and deal with the cyberbullying aspects of it as a stand-alone bill.
When Vic Toews introduced his odious and unconstitutional e-snooping bill last year, a bill that would have allowed widespread government invasion into the privacy of Canadians without a warrant, he did so, to his credit, up front. He did not try to hide it—well, not too much. Faced with fierce opposition to such a massive assault on the privacy of Canadians, he famously said of the member for , “He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers.”
At least Vic Toews was up front in his effort to attack the privacy of Canadians.
Again the minister has a bill before the House, the vast majority of which has nothing to do with cyberbullying. I am not sure that I got an answer to my question, but I hope the will do the right thing and allow the Conservative members of the justice committee the option to split this bill so that we can deal with cyberbullying as a stand-alone bill. Numerous measures from the old Vic Toews' e-snooping bill have no place in this bill.
I know that the minister will resist the temptation to suggest that we are on the side of the bullies when we seek to split the bill to deal with the cyberbullying as a stand-alone bill. To that point, let me be very clear: there is not one person in this House of Commons who does not want to combat cyberbullying.
As mentioned earlier, my colleague from , a person of great distinction and someone who has worked with victims of bullying and their families over the years, proposed a bill just last year on the very issue of cyberbullying. When it came time to vote on her bill, the Conservatives voted against it.
Since there was no discernible reason for the Conservatives to vote against her cyberbullying bill, we are left to speculate that they did so because the bill emanated from an opposition party, in this case the Liberal Party of Canada. Now here we are today, dealing with a bill we hoped would not be politicized. Unfortunately, it contains just five pages on cyberbullying, with the remaining 50-plus pages containing unrelated measures.
I earlier commended the for reaching out to victims of bullying as he prepared this legislation. As the minister was consulting victims of bullying and their families this summer, I contend that not one of those Canadians would have asked the minister to give telecoms and Internet service providers the right to share online data with Canadians without a warrant and to make it a criminal offence to steal cable signals or WiFi. I would challenge the minister to produce evidence if he could suggest otherwise.
Why, then, did the not simply do the right thing and introduce a stand-alone bill that tackled cyberbullying and only cyberbullying? Why did the minister include matters so disconnected to the issue of cyberbullying?
There are measures in the bill that seek to address cyberbullying. That much is not in dispute. As my colleague from Gatineau pointed out, they are in clauses 1 through 7.
The relevant section is the one that deals with the non-consensual exchange of intimate images. It belongs there. It is an issue that needed to be addressed, and we do not take issue with it. In light of the recent tragedies involving cyberbullying, we should support the creation of an offence to deter the non-consensual transfer of intimate images. This new offence would criminalize this kind of malicious photo sharing that specifically contributed to the tragic circumstances in which Rehtaeh Parsons decided to take her own life.
We know that cyberbullying is all too common among children and teenagers. As we proceed with addressing this issue, we must acknowledge that, given the immaturity of children, we should support preventative and restorative measures and not just punitive measures. We do not wish to see the imprisonment of Canadian children and teenagers in large numbers, so while supporting the intention of the creation of this offence, we should be careful to emphasize the importance of including a summary conviction option to allow for sufficient prosecutorial discretion, as is currently the case. I believe and hope the government will be open to that.
We should also assess and be open to addressing cyberbullying through restorative justice and non-legislative methods, and we should do so in conjunction with the provinces.
I mentioned earlier that most of this bill has little to do with cyberbullying. The measures that actually relate to cyberbullying amount to about five pages out of a bill that is more than 50 pages in length.
The government wonders why Canadians do not trust it to be up front and transparent with respect to its real agenda. If those provisions I just outlined had been placed in a separate bill, we could have proceeded. We could have sent a stand-alone bill immediately to the justice committee for review and provided the much-needed opportunity for victims to lend voice to the merits of such a bill. We could have then agreed to pass the bill at all remaining stages, and I would suggest that we could have it passed by Christmas.
Instead we have a government bill that reintroduces odious and unconstitutional measures that Canadians rejected last year. Here are just some of the measures currently in the bill that have absolutely nothing to do with cyberbullying. These measures are recycled from the bill put forward by the former minister of public safety, Vic Toews. We were told this would not happen again in light of the reaction of Canadians. The former justice minister, now occupying the national defence portfolio, said:
We will not be proceeding with Bill C-30 and any attempts that we will continue to have to modernize the Criminal Code will not contain the measures contained in C-30.
The new bill proposed today contradicts that promise in 37 of the 47 clauses contained in the bill. That is why we wish to have the bill separated and to place those provisions related to cyberbullying in a stand-alone bill.
Let me outline the elements contained in the old Vic Toews bill that we were promised would never rear its head again. These measures are now in the bill before us.
They include updates to technology-related offences such as theft of telecom signals and unauthorized use of computers, which has nothing to do with cyberbullying; the power to make preservation demands and orders to compel the preservation of electronic evidence, which has nothing to do with cyberbullying; new production orders to compel the production of data relating to the transmission of communications and the location of transactions, individuals, or things, which has nothing to do with cyberbullying; a warrant that will extend the current investigative power for data associated with telephones to all means of communication, which has nothing to do with cyberbullying; warrants that will enable the tracking of transactions, individuals, and things that are subject to legal thresholds appropriate to the interests at stake, including time extensions for warrants relating to organized crime and terrorism, which has nothing to do with cyberbullying; a so-called streamlined process of obtaining warrants and orders related to authorizations to intercept private communications, which has nothing to do with cyberbullying.
We reject using victims of bullying as a way to bring back the ghost of Vic Toews and his e-snooping bill. This was supposed to be a good day for young people and others who have been the subject of bullying online. This was supposed to be a day when this whole House, all of us, could stand in solidarity with victims of cyberbullying and support legislation that would help address its prevalence in Canada. Instead, we have politics as usual.
It is unfortunate that members who have a sincere interest and desire to address cyberbullying are being used as cover for the introduction of multiple items that have little or nothing to do with cyberbullying. The bill capitalizes on the tragic passing of teens victimized by cyberbullying to reinstate elements of legislation the government had previously withdrawn and had sworn not to reintroduce.
The current bill deprives members of a chance to stand in solidarity in addressing one of the problems affecting Canada's young people, namely cyberbullying, as a distinct and stand-alone bill. It includes provisions unrelated to cyberbullying that may infringe on civil liberties. It raises privacy concerns that ought to be referred to the Privacy Commissioner and legal experts, or perhaps be dealt with at committee prior to deliberation and debate in the House. The bill encourages telecommunications companies and Internet service providers to co-operate with the government in surveillance matters in a way that Canadians would find objectionable.
That is why we wish to have the bill split at the justice committee so that those measures, and those measures alone, that seek to address cyberbullying could be captured in their own legislation, free from the politics and division that this issue should avoid.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate today in the second reading debate on the protecting Canadians from online crime bill.
The government committed to bringing this legislation forward in the recent Speech from the Throne and has quickly delivered on this promise. This bill is a central part of the government's contribution to addressing the issue of cyberbullying and is a key element of the government's agenda to support victims and punish criminals.
It will not come as a surprise to most people to learn that Canadians have fully embraced the Internet and other mobile communication technologies, such as smart phones and social media, for communicating with friends and family, making new social connections, seeking information and creating websites and blogs.
While most people use the Internet in a constructive manner, there have been an increasing number of heartbreaking stories where young people, in particular, are using the Internet or other electronic media to engage in malicious conduct that leads to serious repercussions for the victim.
Although the issue of bullying itself is an age-old problem, technology has irrevocably changed the nature and scope of bullying. For example, bullying conducted by electronic means is easier, faster and more malicious than ever before. It also has the potential to remain in cyberspace permanently and can be done anonymously.
Over the past few years, cyberbullying is alleged to have played a part in the decision of some young people to take their own lives. These stories are heartbreaking, and I am sure I speak for all Canadians when I express our collective sorrow for these tragic events.
However, these incidents also prompt us as lawmakers to ask what we can do. What can the federal government do to prevent similar tragedies or at least ensure that we can effectively respond to these events if they occur again?
This was the exact question considered this past spring by a federal, provincial and territorial working group on cybercrime. The working group studied and considered whether or not cyberbullying was adequately addressed by the Criminal Code and whether or not there are any gaps that need to be filled.
In July, the Department of Justice, on behalf of all federal, provincial and territorial partners, publicly released the report on cyberbullying and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
This working group made nine unanimous recommendations with respect to the criminal law response to cyberbullying. I think it is significant to note that the very first recommendation in the report calls for a multi-pronged and multi-sectoral approach to the issue of cyberbullying and calls for all levels of government to continue to build on their initiatives to address cyberbullying in a comprehensive manner.
I wholeheartedly support this recommendation as it recognizes that cyberbullying cannot be adequately addressed by one initiative, by one level of government. In fact, most experts agree that bullying and cyberbullying are most effectively addressed through education, awareness and prevention activities. Criminal law reform represents a small but key part in this multi-sectoral approach.
Returning to the bill that is currently before us today, I am pleased to note that all of the proposals contained in the bill were recommended by the federal, provincial and territorial working group and are supported by provincial and territorial attorneys general.
The bill has two main goals: to create the new Criminal Code offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images, and to modernize the investigative powers in the Criminal Code to enable the police to effectively and efficiently investigate cyberbullying and other crimes committed via the Internet or that involve electronic evidence.
I ask all the members who have intervened so far and those who will speak following me to consider actually how the police would be able to investigate some of these cyberbullying offences, including the situation that happened in the Amanda Todd case, if we did not have these investigative powers, if the police were not able to preserve the evidence, if the police were not able to track the location of the individual who sent the bullying messages. We all know that Amanda Todd's tormentor is still at large. Would it not be nice if we could locate that person and bring him or her to justice?
I would like to focus the remainder of my remarks on the proposed new offence. The proposed offence would fill a gap related to a form of serious cyberbullying behaviour with respect to the sharing or distribution of nude or sexual images that are later used without the consent of the person depicted.
I think it is important to emphasize that the goal of this offence is not to criminalize the making of these images or even the consensual sharing of these images, such as between intimate partners or friends. Rather, this offence would focus on the behaviour that is more often becoming associated with these images, the distribution of them without the consent of the person depicted.
Quite often, the perpetrator of this behaviour is the ex-partner or ex-spouse of the person depicted in the images who is seeking revenge or looking to humiliate or harass him or her. Specifically, this new offence would prohibit all forms of distribution of these types of images without the consent of the person depicted. To secure a conviction for this offence, a prosecutor would be required to prove that the accused knowingly distributed the images and that the accused distributed the images either knowing the person depicted did not consent to this distribution or being reckless as to whether the person consented.
A key element of the proposed offence is the nature of the image itself. The bill proposes a three part definition of “intimate image” to guide the court in determining whether a particular image is one that could be a subject of the proposed offence. An intimate image is one in which the person depicted was nude or exposing his or her sexual organs or anal region or engaged in explicit sexual activity. The Criminal Code uses similar definitions in the voyeurism section, which is section 162, and the child pornography section, which is section 163.
However, the content of the image on its own would not be enough to qualify the image as an intimate image. The court would also need to be satisfied that the image was one that was taken in circumstances that gave rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy and that the person depicted in that image still retained a reasonable expectation of privacy in the image.
These two elements are key to ensuring that the proposed offence is not cast too broadly and does not capture images in which there could be no reasonable privacy interest. For example, if a person took sexual images of him or herself in the privacy of his or her own home for the individual's own personal use, the image would likely be found to be an intimate image. However, if that same person then posted those images on a public website, it is less likely that the court would find that the individual would retain a reasonable expectation of privacy, despite the fact that the initial recording of the image was privately done.
The proposed offence would be supported by several complementary amendments in the Criminal Code to provide protection to victims of this particularly contemptible form of cyberbullying. These complementary amendments would permit the court to order the removal of intimate images from the Internet and other digital networks, as well as make an order for restitution to cover some of the expenses incurred in having those images removed.
Further, the court would be empowered to order the forfeiture of tools or property used in the commission of the offence, such as a Smartphone or computer, as well as a prohibition order to restrict the use of a computer or the Internet by a convicted offender. This prohibition order would be essentially useful in cases of repeat offenders.
The legislation also proposes to permit the court to issue a peace bond against a person who has intimate images in his or her possession where there are reasonable grounds to fear that the new offence would be committed by that person. The proposed new offence and complementary amendments fill an existing gap in the criminal law and aim to provide broad protection to victims of this behaviour.
The point I just mentioned about getting a prohibition order against the use of these images when we know the person already has the images is very important. Now we will be able to intervene in a situation where we know these images exist and we suspect that a person might be about to use them for a bullying purpose and therefore we will be able to get them before they go out on the Internet, and that is very important.
I would like to refer to a couple of comments that Canadians have made about this bill since its introduction a couple of weeks ago. On November 20, Carol Todd, the mother of Amanda Todd, said:
It's a step in the right direction. The only thing that was going through my mind was that if this was in place three years ago when I first started reporting the things that were happening to Amanda…I think my daughter would be here.
Lianna McDonald of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection said that Bill C-13 “will assist in stopping the misuse of technology and help numerous young people impacted and devastated by this type of victimization”.
David Butt, counsel to the Kids' Internet Safety Alliance, said in The Globe and Mail on November 21, “the new bill is a great improvement over trying to fit the round peg of this particular problem into the square hole of our existing child pornography laws”.
On November 21 on CTV News, Allan Hubley, Ottawa city councillor and father of an unfortunate bullied teen who took his own life, said:
When we were younger, you always knew who your bully was, you could do something about it. Now, up until the time this legislation gets enacted, they can hide behind that.
I want to point out he was talking about the timing of the passing of this legislation. He further said, “Not only does it start to take the mask off of them, through this legislation there is serious consequences for their actions”.
In addition, on November 21 in The Huffington Post, Mr. Glen Canning, the father of Rehtaeh Parsons, said:
I am very grateful to hear that [Minister of Justice] and Public Safety Minister...have announced new legislation that will address this disgusting crime that devastated our daughter Rehtaeh.
In addition, the editorial in The Province newspaper on November 22 read as follows:
Changes in the law proposed in the bill will allow the police to drag the predators behind these awful crimes out from the shadows and into the blazing light of justice in courtrooms. Many will go to jail, which is right.
Finally, I would like to note that Mr. Gil Zvulony, a well-known Toronto Internet lawyer, said, “there is a logical theme to all of this, in the sense that it’s trying to modernize [the code] for the digital age”.
While this legislation is not a complete answer to the broad social phenomenon that is cyberbullying, it is a key piece of the broader response to address this complex issue. I strongly urge all members of the House to support it.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to rise for what time I have to speak to Bill .
Bill was introduced by the government to deal with the issue of cyberbullying. That is how it was lauded in the foyer of this chamber last week. That is primarily how it has been discussed by the minister and by the parliamentary secretary. They would suggest that it is focused entirely on dealing with the problem of cyberbullying.
My colleague, our justice critic, the member for , has pointed out that the bill would deal with two very serious issues. It would deal with cyberbullying, but then it would also deal with the whole question of the invasive interception of signals and the power given to authorities, which it may in fact overreach. There have been concerns raised by privacy experts, by digital experts, that the government is being too cute by half, frankly, by trying to hide changes under the auspices of modernizing the Criminal Code and as changes to the Criminal Code simply to deal with the issue of cyberbullying.
We are very concerned about this. My colleague brought forward a very sensible motion, asking the government and other members of the House to split the bill. We have almost unanimous agreement in the House that the matter of cyberbullying needs to be addressed, and it needs to be addressed now. We all recognize the fact that there is a gap in the Criminal Code that needs to be closed. We need to focus on that. We need to target that. We can deal with it in a manner that is expeditious. We can have some debate in the House. We can send it to committee. We can hear from affected families and hear from experts, and undoubtedly come to some agreement to ensure that piece of legislation gets through and gets enacted into law. That can be done, as I said, very expeditiously.
However, the government has decided to be, I would say, less than transparent. It would not be a surprise for anyone to hear me accuse the government of being less than straightforward. It is introducing amendments that would simply complicate the matter and would create some problems.
I would suggest there is no question and it concerns me that the minister and the government have been extraordinarily disingenuous with this. It concerns me considerably, as a member of Parliament, as a politician, that the current government is frankly playing on the emotions of the families involved, of individuals in this country who want to see this matter addressed. Frankly, that is shameful. Even though I have been around the House for a while and this game for a while, nonetheless, it shocks me when I see acts of this kind.
Let me take members back to why it is that we are dealing with the question of cyberbullying and its problems.
It certainly came to my attention very quickly and very starkly last spring when 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons took her life. Her parents found her hanging in the bathroom of their house. This young woman was being bullied, was being harassed, was being cyberbullied as a result of an incident that had happened two years previously, where intimate images of her were being transmitted on the Internet without her consent and with malicious intent.
The evidence would suggest that those actions and the subsequent ganging up and piling on of individuals and the distribution of those images had the effect of that young woman feeling that she was completely without hope, and she took her own life.
The Government of Nova Scotia responded quickly, I would suggest. Back in 2011 there had been a cyberbullying task force chaired by Wayne MacKay. It had done some impressive work and made some important recommendations about cyberbullying. The task force had consulted with young people in all sectors throughout the province and had come up with a set of recommendations that were clearly there, at hand. The government immediately moved to put some of those into place and to develop a response to this tragedy. It was not just Rehtaeh and Amanda Todd. There was Jamie Hubley and there was Pam Murchison's young daughter in Nova Scotia who was bullied online and took her life.
This is far too often, and it is a situation that clearly has reached a stage where we finally recognize as a society that this is behaviour that has to stop. The government of this land has to bring forward changes to the Criminal Code, to the laws of the land, to ensure that people are held accountable, that people understand that there are consequences to these violent acts and that they will be held accountable.
Changing the laws is not all that needs to be done. There is much more that needs to be done and I will talk more about that later on or perhaps tomorrow, depending on how much time I have.
Last spring in late April or early May, Rehtaeh's mom came to Ottawa with her husband and met with the Minister of Justice and the to talk to them about the issue, about the fact that they wanted to see some action. Not only was the Minister of Justice there but the premier was also with her, supporting the family. They wanted to talk to the Prime Minister and government about what was being done and what they thought the Government of Canada could do to help in the response, because it has to be a collaborative response at all different levels.
The same day, Rehtaeh's mom came and visited with the , my colleague, the member for , and me. We listened to them and to their anguish and their cry for action on behalf of the government to try to ensure that the tragic circumstances that led to the death of their daughter did not continue, and the Government of Canada did what it could.
We asked the justice minister of Nova Scotia and the Parsons what they felt needed to be done. They talked about a gap in the Criminal Code. The minister of justice specifically referred to section 162 and some changes that needed to occur in order to ensure the gap was closed. They also told us that the government had given some commitment to act and to move forward on some of these things. We made a commitment. We said to Leah, “What can we do, as the official opposition?” She told us that we could help push the government and asked us to do what we could to get the government to move forward to act on this, as they indicated they would. We all made that commitment to them that we would hold the government's feet to the fire and move it forward.
From that, we came up with a private member's bill, which was later tabled and I was very proud to sponsor, but it was from the official opposition. It was from our leader, our justice critic and other members who are concerned about this issue, all members of our caucus.
I tabled Bill on our behalf, which was a piece of legislation specifically targeted toward the issue of the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. It laid out penalties. It was targeted. It was not 60 pages. It was one, maybe two pages.
The reason I raise that is that we introduced it in the spring before the session ended and said to the government, “Here you go. This is what we think. We have consulted with experts on this issue and this is the best advice that we have received to deal with this issue. This is our recommendation on how to close that gap. We can do it and we can do it quickly.” We asked the government to move. That was before the House adjourned. We hoped that we would see some action in early September.
It did not matter to me if the government passed Bill , sponsored by Robert Chisholm. That did not matter. I wanted the government to move forward on this issue. I was excited, even though the government decided to prorogue the House and delay everything and not come back until the middle of October rather than the middle of September, further delaying dealing with this issue. Nonetheless, it indicated in the throne speech that it was going to move forward on the issue. Again, I was encouraged by that.
Here we are another month later and the government, while it has moved forward with changes to the Criminal Code to deal with cyberbullying, could not help itself. It had to shove some more stuff into it. It had to try to hide some other things in behind those important provisions. It had to muck it up by dealing with issues that were contentious, coming from a piece of legislation that got driven out of the House last year, Bill C-30. It brought those provisions in through the back door and tried to hide them behind the cyberbullying provisions, thinking nobody would notice.
I can tell members that I am focused like a laser on trying to get these changes to the Criminal Code on cyberbullying through on behalf of not only Rehtaeh's family, the Todds and other families across this country, but anybody, any adult who has had violence committed upon them as a result of the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, sometimes known as revenge porn. I am focused like a laser to make sure that we get these changes through the House. However, I cannot tell members how much it sickens me that the government is bringing forward other changes that are making the bill extremely complicated. There will be people coming forward at committee who will be raising serious concerns about what else the bill does, other than with respect to cyberbullying.
If the government was serious it would have paid attention to the motion introduced by my colleague, the member for , to split the bill, to separate sections 1 to 7 and section 26, I believe it was, into a bill on cyberbullying so we could deal with that and get it done. The remainder would be an issue the justice committee would deal with at some length.
It is an important and complicated issue. It is a matter that must be dealt with. It must be dealt with in a number of ways. I will talk about that tomorrow.
My time is almost up. I want to talk a bit about the whole question of bullying and how we need a national strategy like the one introduced by my colleague, the member for . We need that kind of commitment to deal with bullying and cyberbullying.
I hope that we can deal with this once and for all on behalf of the government. I look forward to continuing my remarks tomorrow.