The House resumed from November 27 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and finish my intervention on Bill which is an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act, and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.
I want to talk for a couple of moments about some of what I said yesterday.
Bill was introduced with some considerable fanfare. Provisions in it would close the gap in the Criminal Code to make the non-consensual distribution of intimate images an offence and would deal with the definition of malicious intent.
This is a topic that the official opposition tried to deal with when we brought in a private member's bill, Bill , in the spring, and subsequently encouraged the government at every opportunity to recognize the tragedies that were taking place out there as people of all ages, mostly women, had acts of violence being committed upon them. Whether it is called revenge porn or otherwise, people—sometimes partners, sometimes others—with malicious intent and with violent intent were distributing intimate images of those individuals.
I spoke to a situation in my riding involving 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons, who took her own life as a result of the situation she was involved in. She was allegedly raped, and the images of that were subsequently transmitted widely on the Internet.
I want to speak to that for a second. That young woman took her life because she believed that the worldwide distribution of those intimate images of her by her friends, by members of her community, and by others had sufficiently destroyed her reputation that she felt she had no way out.
Frankly, it is intolerable that the system was unable to support her. Her community, her schools, and the institutions and support services of the greater community of the Halifax regional municipality were unable to support her. As a result of that, the Province of Nova Scotia moved to make some changes, and I will speak to that in a moment.
Suffice it to say that the bill is extremely important for what it does in this regard. As I said yesterday, it is my belief and the belief of many on this side that had the government done what we tried to do with Bill , which was to bring in a piece of legislation that was directly targeted toward the act of cyberbullying, then it would be unanimously approved by members of the House. We would move it to committee. We would hear from families, from people affected, and from experts, and we would deal with the matter and change the law. We would get it enacted and change it.
What the government has decided to do is to tie questions about the extension of its powers of surveillance to the bill. Many people, both in this country and beyond, have indicated that they have some concerns with that, and likely it will result in extensive discussion and conversation.
I want to add that dealing with bullying and cyberbullying means much more than just changing the law. We need to engage in national strategies. We need to provide supports. Whether through education or through health services, mental health and otherwise, we need to make sure that there is a plan, that there is a strategy for educating and supporting people to make sure not only that people realize that bullying and cyberbullying are wrong but that the supports are there for the victim.
We will be supporting this bill moving forward to second reading, but I urge the government to consider our motion to split the bill.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill , the protecting Canadians from online crime act.
The legislation would make Canada a safer place by closing the gaps in criminal law by providing police officers with the tools they need to properly investigate crimes in the age of Internet communications. If I may, I would like to spend my time today talking about the elements of Bill , which deal with the new and updated investigative tools that the legislation would provide to the police.
I would like to emphasize that nothing in the bill creates authority for warrantless access to personal information. This is my first point because I want to make it clear that proposals for access to subscriber information from former Bill C-30 the protecting children from Internet predators act, which were so controversial and so very unpopular, are not included in this legislation.
Bill and its proposals to modernize investigative tools for police, represent a giant leap forward for Canadian police by giving them tools for modern technology and investigations. These are the same tools our international partners have been using for years. These new investigative powers not only provide police with the judicially authorized tools they need to collect evidence in a modern telecommunications environment, they also take into account advances in technology and the potential impacts they have on the privacy of Canadians. In other words, they give police the tools they need to effectively investigate today's crimes, while ensuring the privacy of Canadians is properly considered.
I do not think it is an overstatement to say that technology has fundamentally changed the way we communicate with each other. The possibilities and opportunities that new technologies open up for us are nothing short of incredible. However, with the great potential comes great risk. The Internet and other new technologies allow criminals to commit identity theft in Switzerland, while sitting in a cafe in Halifax. It has also facilitated the explosive growth of sexual exploitation offences, such as the distribution of child pornography. As we have recently seen, it can provide an online forum for criminal harassment and extortion two criminal forms of cyberbullying.
An important consideration for the legislation before us is that technology has changed the type of evidence left behind after a crime has been committed. Scotland Yard estimates that over 80% of all crimes, whether a fraud committed over the Internet or an assault in a bar, have some form of telecommunications evidence associated with them.
The legislative proposals in the bill will not only assist police in investigating online crime, but also all crimes that involve electronic devices.
The guiding principle for the bill was to ensure that the Internet and other new communications technologies did not create a safe haven for activities that were otherwise unlawful. To prevent this from happening, Bill proposes to amend a number of existing offences in the Criminal Code to ensure that the Internet and other modes of communications are covered. For example, proposed amendments to subsection 372.3 of the Criminal Code with respect to harassing telephone calls will not only modernize the language of that provision, but also make it applicable in some cyberbullying situations.
Because so many of today's crimes are being committed online and using Internet-based technologies, we must ensure that our investigative tools are designed with this technological environment in mind.
Another important element of Bill is the proposal to update the existing production order scheme. A production order is a judicially authorized order that requires a third party to provide police with documents containing information connected to an investigation. There are currently two types of production orders in the Criminal Code: those relating to financial information and those relating to any other type of data that might be needed to conduct an investigation.
Often the requirements of an investigation are quite targeted. In those cases it makes sense to create specific tools that are designed to obtain specific types of data that also reflects the expectation of privacy associated with that kind of data.
As such, the bill proposes to retain the two existing production orders already found in the Criminal Code, but it also proposes three more to deal with the specific types of data associated with modern technology. These would include judicially authorized production orders for the following: first, data related to the dialing, routing, addressing or signalling of telecommunications, which would be known as transmission data; two, data relating to the whereabouts of a person, transaction or thing, which would be called tracking data; and third, data relating to the tracing of specified communications.
This last type of production order is particularly important, as it would allow police, for example, to trace the origin of an email, which would be extremely useful for identifying someone who is engaging in cyberbullying, specifically criminally harassing an individual, but has used several IP addresses to conceal his or her identity.
As I mentioned earlier, some of the proposals reflect the impact on personal privacy that advances in technology have brought. Police have been able to get judicial warrants to track individuals or things for 20 years now. As we can imagine, technology has changed a lot in that time. Where we were once able to track people with only limited accuracy, there are now technologies, like GPS, that can track the location of a person with much greater precision.
To take account of this, the bill proposes to increase the threshold necessary to get a tracking warrant in order to track an individual. Specifically, the police would now need to demonstrate that they have reasonable grounds to believe, as opposed to reasonable grounds to suspect, that an individual has or will be committed and that tracking an individual's movement will assist in the investigation of that offence.
The existing lower threshold warrant will still be retained for tracking things such as vehicles. We believe the new amendment regarding individuals is a significant privacy enhancement. This dual approach will allow police to retain the efficiency of the lower threshold warrant for tracking things, while increasing the privacy protection in situations of tracking individuals where there are greater privacy interests at play. This is an example of what we call privacy with precision.
The bill proposes to create some new tools designed to respond to the special demands of the digital environment, the preservation demand and the preservation order. These new tools would provide for a quick freeze of data. They would ensure that a person or business preserves a specific set of data long enough for a police officer to get a judicial warrant or order to obtain that data. Let me be clear, that preservation would not be confused with the types of data retention schemes we see in other places around the globe.
The bill does not ask a company to collect everyone's information and keep it on hand indefinitely or for a certain length of time. That is data retention and the bill is not proposing data retention. Rather, this proposed amendment addresses the highly perishable nature of digital information.
For example, a company might be required to preserve data related to a specific transaction that it would normally keep in order to further an investigation of identity theft. This data would be preserved only for a limited amount of time in relation to a specific investigation.
This kind of tool is essential to our ability to conduct effective investigations in an era where crucial evidence can be deleted in the blink of an eye. The preservation demand and preservation order will give police enough time to go to a judge and get the warrants or orders they need to subsequently obtain this highly volatile evidence.
Before I conclude my remarks, I would like to point out that one of the common myths I have heard opposition members and media alike talk about is that Bill would make it illegal to steal a cable signal. The fact is, it is already illegal to steal cable signals. This behaviour is prohibited by sections 326 and 327 of the Criminal Code. It is a type of theft.
The amendments proposed in Bill to these long-standing offences will update the telecommunication language to expand the conduct that it covers making it consistent with other offences. For example, it will add imports or “makes available” to the prohibited content in section 327.
The bill would also make section 327 a hybrid dual procedure offence, which would give prosecutors more discretion in their charging practices depending on the seriousness of the offence.
Further, the amendments proposed to repeal the definition of telecommunications found in section 326 and the criminal law will rely instead on the statutory definition of telecommunications in the Interpretation Act. This is not a substantive change.
In conclusion, I would like to add that the government undertook extensive consultations with stakeholders from industry, police and privacy advocates across the country in developing these amendments. With their input, this bill achieves the right balance between promoting safety and security and protecting the rights of all Canadians.
I hope all members appreciate the importance of this bill. Our police need modern tools for modern times. Bill would provide them with just that.
I have heard encouraging words from all sides of the House on this important debate and I urge all hon. members to give the bill their full support.
Mr. Speaker, it is very important for me to rise today in the House to speak to Bill .
Before I begin my argument, I think it essential to show the government how ready the NDP is to work with it. I will simply lay the foundation for my argument, so that it is not misinterpreted by some people in the House who unfortunately tend to turn our words around and throw them back at us.
I am very disappointed. I think of myself as still being young. I hope that I am still young. Not so long ago, I too was in school and was a victim of bullying. I think it is extremely important to demonstrate that a parliament wants to help people. As I have said many times, the role of a parliament and a government is to give a voice to people who are too weak to defend themselves or who unfortunately have not had the same opportunities as others to be able to feel equal and face difficult times in their life. All of us have gone through adolescence. Some adults are also sometimes victims of bullying.
First of all, we were all on the same wavelength when my colleague from introduced his Bill , because we had learned of a number of young teenagers who unfortunately had decided to take their own lives. Perhaps they were thinking they had no other way out. Today it is our role to reach out a hand to young people and to provide the resources needed by those who can help these young people see the light at the end of the tunnel, get through a difficult period and become accomplished and fulfilled adults, like all of us.
As some members have mentioned in their speeches, it is a great pity, because the government decided to vote against our bill, which had exactly the same purpose and objectives as the cyberbullying provisions in Bill , which the government now wants to pass.
Why did they stand in opposition to our bill? We will probably never have an answer, but that is okay. The government has its prerogatives. What is more, this is a majority government. It wanted the privilege of introducing this sort of legislation. I understand. It has its prerogatives.
However, given the fact that this is such an important issue that affects so many people, it is regrettable that the Conservatives decided, as usual, to present us with a bill at least 50 pages in length, where only the first five talk about cyberbullying—and that is a considerably rounded figure so as to give them a little leeway—while the other 50 talk about totally different things that have no tangible connection to cyberbullying. That is why the government chose to move from a bill on cyberbullying to a bill whose title contains the words “from online crime”.
As I said, and this is precisely why I wanted to make the basis of my argument clear right from the beginning, cyberbullying is a problem, and we as legislators have a duty to pass laws to protect young Canadians.
Notwithstanding the respect I owe the government, my argument will unfortunately have to identify certain shortcomings and certain problems in this bill that the government says is intended to address cyberbullying. I would like the people watching today to know that we have asked the government to divide the bill so that the provisions on cyberbullying can be given expeditious examination. Indeed, as many of my colleagues have said, we are all in agreement. That way, we could demonstrate to Canadians that we are prepared, as parliamentarians, to work together to pass positive legislation that will have a tangible impact on the lives of young Canadians.
With the other 50 pages of this bill, which deal with subjects as broad as terrorism, banking services, telecommunications services and so on, we could make a second bill. We could study it in depth, with the experts and the institutions, to know exactly where we are going. In this way we could amend and modernize Canada’s criminal legislation, but—and I emphasize this—still respect our institutions, Parliament and, above all, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Unfortunately, the Conservatives always try to use wedge issues to force their bills down the opposition's throat. They use extremely sensitive issues in order to usher in by the back door bills that would require us to put on our legislator's hat and address these provisions in a logical and informed manner, in committee of course.
I would like to drawn the hon. members’ attention to three little points before beginning to address the government’s shortcomings and missteps in this matter. For example, on cyberbullying, the Criminal Code has to be modernized. We have to ensure that future victims will be protected. As my colleague from was saying, the parents of certain victims have said that, yes, this bill might have helped or even saved their child. No one in the House will say otherwise. The cyberbullying provisions need to be passed as quickly as possible.
On the other hand, it is important to remember that the government stated in its throne speech that it intended to invest in addressing bullying. Bill was probably part of the first step in that direction, but here we are talking about long-term prevention. However the government voted against our motion to have Parliament consider the issue of bullying in order to adopt a national strategy for helping the people on the ground who must be able to support young people going through a difficult period. Unfortunately, as I have said, the government voted against that motion.
Bill is a step in the right direction, and we thank the government for having taken the demands of Canadians and Canadian families seriously. However, why did the government vote against a motion that did not require it to do anything, not even to pass a bill? That motion called on Parliament to consider ways of preventing bullying.
I would really like to put the emphasis on prevention. I have a report that was produced by a youth round table. These are young people between the ages of 12 and 17 in Pointe-aux-Trembles, in east Montreal, in my riding.
This round table considered the issue of youth felt to be at risk of joining street gangs or criminal organizations.
The report says that 50% of youth at risk of joining a street gang or a criminal organization said they had been victims of violence. It also says that bullying is the form of violence most cited in the open question asked of the group of young people most at risk, followed by physical violence and verbal abuse. Bullying is therefore the main source of violence among these young people. The report also cites feelings of depression.
It is important to mention that the government's bill includes clauses on cyberbullying. However those clauses cover only offences of a sexual nature. They refer to the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
I do not want my remarks to be misinterpreted. This is a good thing, except that certain cases, such as situations where people receive repeated hate messages, are not covered in the bill’s clauses on cyberbullying.
I understand that this is a step in the right direction, but if the government truly intends to prevent bullying and to help workers on the ground prevent bullying among young people, these things have to be considered here. A national anti-bullying strategy is extremely important. That is what the people on the ground are saying.
I have a report that concerns only my riding of La Pointe-de-l'Île. However I am fairly certain that the situation is the same in every riding. The people on the ground need a strategy, money and assistance. Therefore, if the government truly intends to help victims of bullying, I hope that Bill is just a first step in the right direction. This is extremely important.
With regard to the example I was giving of a person receiving text messages, emails and so on, I hope that all of these elements will be considered by the government in the context of an even more general approach to the prevention of bullying.
The minister has rightly expressed his interest in this type of case. He is concerned about the problem of bullying. I sincerely hope that he is listening to my speech today and taking note of what I have said.
It is very important to mention that we really would have liked to see the minister decide to split the bill in two.
We always have to put on our legislator's hat in opposition because the Conservatives unfortunately decide to disregard their responsibilities and we have to point out to them certain deficiencies in their bills.
I really find that unfortunate because we know that several bills have been, or will be, challenged in the courts. It is important for the Conservatives to realize that we must listen to Canadians and to victims.
I want no one to misinterpret my comments, but at same time we have to tell ourselves that the legislation we pass here has an impact on everyone across Canada. It is important to debate here and to have experts testify in committee so that we can pass the best legislation for our fellow citizens.
I would like to mention that my colleague from British Columbia introduced Bill . It is very important and I hope the minister will take note of it. That bill is currently before the Senate.
Clause 12 of Bill amends the list of groups in the Criminal Code section on hate crimes.
It is important to understand that gender identity is not included in Bill . Consequently, there may be a contradiction between two acts. Bill has been passed by Parliament and is currently before the Senate. That is why the bill must be divided. Some problems absolutely must be examined in depth. It is unfortunate that the victims of bullying and their families have to wait longer than they should for us to legislate on cyberbullying. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have decided to use this problem as a way to pass an omnibus bill.
Now I will talk about the bad aspects of the bill. We must put on our legislator's hat and clearly assess the problems the committee will have to face. Clause 20 of the bill concerns new procedures for obtaining warrants. As the minister said, the provisions are subject to the judge's interpretation. A warrant is therefore needed. However, it targets metadata. Based on the language the minister uses in the bill, the threshold for obtaining warrants that target metadata is lower. We are talking here about “reasonable grounds to suspect”, not “reasonable and probable grounds”. This will have to be examined with the bar associations and with the experts to determine the language that should be used in the bill so that all warrants are subject to the same burden of proof in the courts.
The bill encourages telecommunications businesses and Internet service providers to respond, without a court order, to requests for information concerning their customers and grants them criminal and civil immunity should they decide to grant those requests. It is extremely important to say that most people agree that the first part of the bill, which concerns cyberbullying, is good. It is really unfortunate that the Conservatives decided to include all kinds of different provisions.
I spoke about terrorism in particular. Why does the bill concern terrorism when we are talking about cyberbullying? Several questions have been raised about companies and the provision of user data to police. I think we really need to ask the experts, such as the Privacy Commissioner, to write a report on the bill. We really must put the necessary tools in place so that authorities are able to enforce the law since the framework of the bill calls for that. It is very important to do that based on expertise specific to the various acts, such as the Competition Act, for example.
I am really pleased to have had a chance to speak to the bill. I can hardly wait for my colleagues' questions.