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View Jeremy Patzer Profile
Madam Speaker, I share my colleague's concern about the lack of due diligence on the artificial intelligence aspect of the bill. I wonder if the member wants to elaborate on that point a bit more, because artificial intelligence could be anywhere from national defence all the way to something as simple as products people have in their homes. I wonder if the member wants to talk a bit more about the importance of separating that part of the bill.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2022-11-28 13:55 [p.10072]
Madam Speaker, for the average citizen in the digital age, we have entered uncertain times. To almost everyone, at face value, the convenience of our time is remarkable. Access to any piece of information is available at our fingertips. Any item imaginable can seamlessly be ordered and delivered to our doors. Many government services can be processed online instead of in person. Canadians have taken these conveniences for granted for many years now.
The pandemic accelerated our ascent, or descent, depending on who you ask, into the digital age. The inability to leave our homes and the necessity to maintain some rhythm of everyday life played a significant part in that, but around the world, we saw governments taking advantage of the plight of their citizens. Public health was used as a catalyst for implementing methods of tracking and control, and social media platforms, which have been putting a friendly face on exploiting our likes, dislikes and movements for years, continue to develop and implement that technology with little input or say from their millions of users.
Canadians no longer can be sure that their personal information will not be outed, or doxed, to the public if doing so would achieve some certain political objective. We saw that unfold earlier this year with the users of the GiveSendGo platform.
The long-term ramifications of our relationship with the digital economy is something Canadians are beginning to understand. They are now alert to the fact that organizations, companies and government departments operating in Canada today do not face notable consequences for breaking our privacy laws. As lawmakers, it is our responsibility to ensure that Canadians’ privacy is protected and that this protection continues to evolve as threats to our information and anonymity as consumers unrelentingly expands both within and beyond our borders.
That brings me to the bill we are discussing today, Bill C-27. It is another attempt to introduce a digital charter after the previous iteration of the bill, Bill C-11, died on the Order Paper in the last Parliament. My colleagues and I believe that striking the right balance is at the core of the debate on this bill. On the one hand, it seeks to update privacy laws and regulations that have not been modernized since the year 2000 and implemented in 2005. It would be hard to describe the scale of expansion in the digital world over the last 22-year period in a mere 20-minute speech. It is therefore appropriate that a bill in any form, particularly one as long-awaited as Bill C-27, is considered by Parliament to fill the privacy gaps we see in Canada’s modern-day digital economy.
Parliament must also balance the need for modernization of privacy protection with the imperative that our small and medium-sized businesses remain competitive. Many of these businesses sustain themselves through the hard work of two or three employees, or perhaps even just a sole proprietor. We must be sensitive to their concerns, as Canada improves its image as a friendly destination for technology, data and innovation. This is especially true as our economic growth continues to recover from the damaging impact of pandemic lockdowns, crippling taxes that continue to rise and ever-increasing red tape.
That extra layer of red tape may very well be the catalyst for many small businesses to close their operations. No one in the House would like to see a further consolidation of Canadians’ purchasing power in big players such as Amazon and Walmart, which have the infrastructure already in place for these new privacy requirements.
In a digital age, Canadians expect businesses to operate online and invest a certain amount of trust in the receiving end of a transaction to protect their personal information. They expect that it will be used only in ways that are necessary for a transaction to be completed, and nothing more.
In exchange for convenience and expediency, consumers have been willing to compromise their anonymity to a degree, but they expect their government and businesses to match this free flow of information with appropriate safeguards. This is why Bill C-27, and every other bill similar to it, must be carefully scrutinized.
As many of my colleagues have already indicated, this is a large and complex bill, and we believe that its individual components are too important for them to be considered as one part of an omnibus bill.
There are three—
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2022-11-28 15:39 [p.10091]
Mr. Speaker, as many of my colleagues already indicated, this is a large and complex bill, and we believe that its individual components are too important for them to be considered as one part of an omnibus bill. I am pleased with the ruling of the Speaker.
There are three separate pieces of legislation to this bill. In part 1, the consumer privacy protection act would repeal and replace decades-old measures concerning personal information protection. In part 2, the personal information and data protection tribunal act would strike a tribunal to administer penalties for violations of the CPPA. In part 3, the artificial intelligence and data act is brand new to the bill and sets up a framework for design and use of AI in Canada, which is almost entirely unregulated.
Long before the widespread use of the Internet, our Supreme Court was clear that privacy is at the heart of liberty in a modern state. The government should be taking every opportunity possible to enshrine privacy in our laws as essential to the exercise of our rights and freedoms in Canada. As Daniel Therrien stated in the Toronto Star earlier this month, “democracies must adopt robust solutions anchored in values, not laws that pretend to protect citizens but preserve the conditions that created the digital Wild West.”
The value of privacy should anchor the bill. Instead, the bill fails right out of the gate. The preamble states:
the protection of the privacy interests of individuals with respect to their personal information is essential to individual autonomy and dignity and to the full enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms in Canada
Placing this value in the preamble of the bill where it has no teeth raises distrust rather than confidence that the government truly respects Canadians' privacy rights. The CPPA would require organizations, companies or government departments affected by the bill to develop their own codes of practice for the protection of personal information. While these codes must be approved and certified by the Privacy Commissioner, one can only imagine the variation of protection that would result. This requirement would add significant red tape and would be yet another onerous task borne on the backs of small and medium-sized businesses, which employ most Canadians. It would also create more work for the Privacy Commissioner in parsing through complicated codes created by larger, wealthier, powerful corporations, companies or government departments that have legal teams whose sole purpose is to find creative ways to perhaps game the system.
Although it would take more time and investment up front, the better option, in my mind, would be to create a standard code of practice that all entities have to follow. This could certainly be taken on as one of the first responsibilities of the expanded Office of the Privacy Commissioner in defining the universal code of practices, where confidence in the process would be greatest and where the greatest level of concern for individual privacy actually exists.
This bill states that personal information can be transferred without Canadians' consent for purposes ranging from research to analysis to business purposes, but it must be de-identified before this can take place. At first glance, this is a positive measure until it is compared with anonymization as an alternative. According to the bill, de-identify means “to modify personal information so that an individual cannot be directly identified from it, though a risk of the individual being identified remains.” That leaves much to be desired when compared to the anonymization of personal information. In the bill, anonymize means “to irreversibly and permanently modify personal information, in accordance with generally accepted best practices, to ensure that no individual can be identified from the information, whether directly or indirectly, by any means.”
Any attempt to identify individuals from de-identified information is prohibited, except in approved circumstances. While many of these approved circumstances relate to the ability of an entity to test the effectiveness of its de-identification system, the potential for abuse still exists. This bill would be improved by eliminating those chances for abuse. We should examine replacing de-identification with anonymization wherever possible.
In comparing Bill C-27 to the EU regulations, we see there are several ways in which the CPPA does not live up to what is widely considered to be the international gold standard of privacy protection, which is the European Union's 2016 General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. There is a glaring example of Bill C-27's inferior protections: The GDPR processes personal data in such a manner that it can no longer be attributed to a specific individual without the use of additional information kept separately, subject to technical and organizational measures. This is a security and privacy-by-design measure of the GDPR.
Regarding what Bill C-27 considers to be sensitive information, there is nothing to indicate what sensitive information actually entails. It is also limited in its application. Only the personal information of minors is considered to be sensitive. All information Canadians surrender to any entity should be considered sensitive. On the other hand, the GDPR possesses a particular regime for special categories of personal data, including racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, genetic data, biometric data and data concerning health, sex life and sexual orientation.
We are happy to see that consent is better defined in Bill C-27. However, exceptions for activities not requiring consent would remain in place. Some of them are so broad that an entity could interpret them as never requiring consent. These are loopholes that Canadians should not have to endure when they are required to check the box that they have read and accept terms before they are able to interact with a digital site.
For example, legitimate interests in a given situation may be used by companies to disregard consent. There is a danger that these interests will outweigh potential adverse effects on the individual. Attempting to define legitimate interests allows for too much interpretation, and interpretation is not something that lends itself to privacy laws. The use of personal information could also be exempt from consent if a reasonable person would expect the use of their information for business activities. There is no definition as to what a reasonable person is.
The bottom line is that there are far too many loopholes and vague terms. For the savvy, wealthy or well-lawyered, the potential for abuse exists. The GDPR, conversely, is unequivocal on consent. It must be freely given, specific, informed, unambiguous and in an intelligible and accessible form, and is only valid for specific purposes. Canada should have followed that example. Canadians cannot help but wonder why Bill C-27 does not.
Under the proposed CPPA, there is no minimum age for minor consent, nor is “minor” defined. In the EU, the GDPR sets out a minimum age for a minor's consent at 16 years of age. Member states also have the flexibility to allow for a lower age, provided the age is not below 13 years.
If a breach of personal information does take place, Bill C-27 would make Canada slower to respond than its international counterparts. This bill mandates that a notification be made to the Privacy Commissioner of any breach that creates a real risk of significant harm as soon as it is feasible. The individual affected would also need to be informed, but, again, as soon as feasible.
The GDPR sets out that a mandatory notification must be made to the supervisory authority without undue delay, or 72 hours after having become aware of the incident in certain circumstances. Prior to the introduction of this bill, Canada was lagging behind internationally, and it still is, even after. The GDPR is already six years old. That is six years of extra time during which the Liberals have failed to develop this legislation to meet the robust international standard.
In Bill C-27, the Privacy Commissioner would be empowered to investigate any certified organization for contravening the act. The commissioner has been rightly asking for increased powers and responsibilities for some time, and this goes beyond a mere recommendation to violators to stop their actions. The commissioner would be able to recommend greater penalties of no more than $20 million or 4% gross global revenue for a summary offence, and no more than $25 million or 5% gross global revenue for an indictable offence.
These penalties should add more bite to what the Privacy Commissioner can do and impact how Canadians’ personal information will ultimately be treated. The penalties would also apply to a greater number of provisions, such as actions that contravene the establishment and implementation of a privacy management program and failure to ensure equivalent protection for personal information transferred to a service provider.
However, these new powers for the Privacy Commissioner hit a dead end when taken in context with the second part of this bill, which establishes a tribunal. The personal information and data protection tribunal would consist of no more than six members, and only half of those members must have experience in information and privacy law. The Privacy Commissioner would have order-making authority and the ability to make recommendations to this tribunal regarding penalties. However, the tribunal would have the power to apply its own decision instead, which would be final and binding. Except for judicial review under the Federal Courts Act, the tribunal's decisions would not be subject to appeal or to review by any court. These are powers equivalent to a superior court of record.
The existence of this tribunal would dull the new teeth given to the Privacy Commissioner. While the commissioner could recommend that a penalty be levied for violations of the CPPA, it is the tribunal that would have the power to set the amount owed by these organizations.
The cost associated with striking this tribunal is also a concern. Despite the fact that its work would likely be limited to a handful of times per year to determine penalties, it would apparently require a full-time and permanent staff of 20. I am deeply concerned as the government also has a bad habit of striking advisory councils, or so-called arm's-length regulatory bodies, in advance of bills being debated and passed in the House, long before the ink on the legislation is dry.
My memory is drawn to when a bill was being debated in the House, and I inquired about the details of the proposed environmental council. I was told with great zeal that it had already been established, and the members had been appointed before the bill was even debated in the House.
Can the current Prime Minister tell us if this tribunal would be struck only after Parliament has dealt fully with this bill? Will the Liberals be transparent with Canadians on how the appointment process would be undertaken? Can they assure Canadians that a full-time and permanent staff of 20 has not already been determined? After seven years of Liberal power, the level of patronage in this place run deep.
Part 2, which is the personal information and data protection tribunal act, should be removed as it is a bureaucratic middleman with power that would conflict and create redundancy with the Privacy Commissioner's new powers. The new powers would mean little if they were not coupled with quick and effective consequences for violators. It would prolong decisions on fines and harm Canada's reputation of holding violators accountable.
It would also not align with our friends in the EU, U.K., New Zealand and Australia that do not use a tribunal system for issuing fines. It goes to show Canadians that when it comes to making big government needlessly bigger, the Liberals do it well.
The third and final part of this bill is the only entirely new component. The artificial intelligence and data act seeks to regulate an entity, artificial intelligence, that has not been regulated before in this country.
It would set standards for the creation and use of AI systems in Canada by both domestic and international entities. More specifically, international and interprovincial trade and commerce in artificial intelligence systems would be regulated through common requirements for the design and use of those systems.
It would prohibit certain conduct pertaining to AI systems that could lead to harmful results for individuals and their personal data. There is that mention of personal data. This is a massive undertaking, attempting to regulate something that, up to this point, has been almost entirely unregulated.
I also understand that consultations on this were only initiated in June. Logic would dictate that such a bill requires careful scrutiny and time to get it right.
Requiring record keeping and human oversight are positive developments. What we find difficulty with is getting a clear picture of what the final framework would look like, as the minister alone would be empowered to establish these regulations. The minister would be able to act independently of Parliament in making rulings and imposing fines. In an age of uncertainty and new horizons for our relationship with AI, this is unacceptable. Parliament, at the very least, and independent experts and watchdogs should be central to the creation and enforcement of these rules.
It appears that once again the government has chosen to simply tack on a crucial area of concern to Canadians to an already complicated bill, and it wishes to again entrust sweeping powers to a minister to act independently of parliamentary oversight.
My final thoughts today on Bill C-27 are as follows. The Conservatives are considering this bill through a reasoned approach, and appreciate that stakeholders who have been calling for this legislation for years are watching today's debate closely.
It is absolutely clear that modern-day protection for the personal information of Canadians is required. They must have the ability to access and control its collection, use, monitoring and disclosure, and the right to delete it or the right to vanish.
How can we ensure that data is protected through watertight regulations and strict fines for abuse while also realizing that not every business affected by this bill would have the resources of Walmart or Amazon? Small and medium-sized businesses should be shielded from onerous regulation that stifles their growth. This is not to say that business interests should weigh equally with personal privacy, but there is a balance to be had, and I believe the Liberals do not have it right here.
Furthermore, in a cynical attempt to move their legislative agenda forward, the Liberals have bundled changes to privacy laws with a first-of-its-kind framework for artificial intelligence that once again intends to govern through top-down regulation and not through legislation.
The Liberals should commit today to splitting this bill up to allow Canadians a clear view of its intended impact. With that commitment, the Conservatives will be looking to do the hard work at committee to improve the long-awaited but flawed elements of this legislation. Even in an age of convenience, the world in which we live grows even more complicated by the day. Canadians deserve privacy protection worthy of 2022 realities and beyond.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2022-11-28 15:56 [p.10094]
Madam Speaker, I do not know if, throughout my speech, members heard my concerns around the fact that this falls short of what our international colleagues have created. It is so much stronger in the European Union's 2016 general data protection regulation, or GDPR.
Obviously, we have indicated on this side of the House that we have a lot of concerns, especially with the lack of definition of so many terms that are included in this legislation. They need to be clarified. Otherwise, it is going to create all kinds of additional problems. What we need more than anything is clarity so that Canadians can have confidence that their privacy is being protected.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2022-11-28 15:58 [p.10094]
Madam Speaker, I agree that this is an area in which Canada is way behind. It is absolutely crucial that we get started on creating that framework. However, what disturbs me is the fact that it was tossed into this bill that also deals with other issues, which are significant on their own. Consultation on this did not even begin until June. It is very rash of us to consider it in this legislation. I am thankful that it is going to be voted on separately.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2022-11-28 15:59 [p.10095]
Madam Speaker, there are many areas where Canada is on the short end of the stick. I think of our ability to have Wi-Fi and cellphones at a reasonable price compared with other countries. In this case, it is really important that we do the due diligence needed. Canadians need to have the same level of ability to have their privacy protected that any other nation has. I would encourage members to look at the EU version of this and do a far better job of incorporating in this what is needed to function internationally with our allies.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2022-11-28 16:01 [p.10095]
Madam Speaker, that is my deepest concern as well. We have seen the government, in other pieces of legislation, give itself the authority to create a situation that is out of the hands of Parliament and into the hands of a minister as to how things will be developed or implemented.
I certainly agree with the member. We need to do a lot more work and make sure that Canadians are truly protected, and not by just one individual at a certain point in time who has a great deal of power. In some cases in that situation, I would say too much power. We need to ensure that it is done properly with Canadians in mind.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2022-11-28 16:03 [p.10095]
Madam Speaker, this is an example of circumstances where Canadians are having trouble trusting the government to do the right thing and to truly have their backs in this area. We have already seen circumstances in the past year or two where the banks have had an unbelievable impact on Canadians' lives by having the powers entrusted to them to do things that are out of line and out of step with truly protecting the privacy of Canadians.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2022-11-28 16:04 [p.10095]
Madam Speaker, it is deeply disturbing to me when I see that, among the European Union, U.K., New Zealand and Australia, none of our allies has chosen to use a tribunal. The power is there for their commissioners to make sure that the various entities are being held accountable with regard to an individual's privacy.
Their rules are far more specific than ours are in this bill thus far, and it just shows that we are weaker in truly protecting Canadians' privacy rights compared to our allies. It is a sign that we are doing things with an ulterior motive. That disturbs me, because it would again give power to a different organization within the system, which the government is creating to basically give different organizations, perhaps government departments, an out—
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2022-11-28 18:04 [p.10113]
Mr. Speaker, I have concerns around the fact that we are expecting the government to do a good job.
The member mentioned CERB, which was, in many ways, abused. We are aware that the government, in an effort to roll it out quickly, removed all the checks and balances on the system. How does that build confidence for him and other Canadians to put their trust in its ability to do this correctly?
View Kevin Waugh Profile
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 11:07 [p.10023]
Mr. Speaker, tomorrow marks the 57th Vanier Cup, the Canadian university football championship, and it is a dream match-up that will occur in London, Ontario: the University of Saskatchewan Huskies against Laval's Rouge et Or. Both teams finished seven and one during the regular season, and both teams won in playoffs last weekend, setting up the third time they will meet in Vanier Cup history.
Saskatchewan are led by Scott Flory, their head coach. He has the Huskies back for a second straight time trying to win the national championship. I think we can expect a high-scoring game tomorrow. Saskatchewan led the country with 348 yards per game, thanks to fifth-year quarterback, Mason Nyhus. Rouge et Or are led by HEC Crighton Award winner, Kevin Mital, who led the country this past year in receptions and yards.
These are the stars of the future. I wish good luck to both teams tomorrow in the 57th annual Vanier Cup.
View Brad Redekopp Profile
View Brad Redekopp Profile
2022-11-25 11:19 [p.10025]
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are hurting. They look around at what has happened to this country of ours over the past seven years and realize that everything seems broken.
Canada is caught in a broken experiment of woke NDP-Liberal policies that remove prison sentences from violent offenders, flood our streets with illegal drugs and increase homelessness, crime, overdoses and death. Downtown in our city, I see the hopelessness on the faces of people every day as they take their next hit. They know that they are broken, but they have no place to go.
One in five families are skipping meals, there were 1.5 million visits to foods banks in Canada in just one month, and there are over 30,000 overdose deaths since 2016. When will it get better? Who is here to fix everything that is broken?
I know a guy who is here for Canadians. The leader of the Conservative Party has a plan to put Canadians back in charge of their lives. It is time for Canadians to let our strong Conservative team fix everything the Liberals have broken.
View Gary Vidal Profile
Mr. Speaker, not a single climate target has been met, not one. The Liberal tax plan disguised as a climate plan unfairly targets rural and remote communities.
In northern Saskatchewan, driving is absolutely necessary. People travel great distances for groceries and medical appointments. Freight costs are significant on every item on every shelf everywhere. Heating our homes at -30°C is not a luxury.
Will the Liberals finally cancel their failed carbon tax, which is crippling Canadians?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals break everything they touch. Darryl is a small business owner in Saskatchewan. He has waited 11 months to hire a foreign worker, but he is stuck in limbo waiting for final approval. He is not alone. Fifty-seven per cent of the files in the system are beyond the acceptable processing timeline set by the government. Now it wants to add another 500,000 applicants to the existing backlog of 2.4 million people.
When will the Liberals quit breaking everything they touch, so that Darryl can finally get the help that he needs?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise at the end of this debate on my private member's bill, Bill C-294. I would like to thank all of my colleagues who have expressed interest in speaking to this bill, in particular the members from all of the other parties of the House and the great ideas that they spoke about on this bill. I think of the planned obsolescence issue that the Bloc Québécois raised in both of their hours of debate. I definitely appreciate what they had to say about that issue.
At the start of our discussion, I provided the background for the issue of interoperability. I spoke about what it is and how it is important for the life of communities across Canada. It will allow them to survive and to keep on doing the good work that they have been doing for decades. That is what leads me to raise this issue and bring this bill forward.
While I focused on the familiar examples of farming equipment in rural areas, I will repeat that interoperability is something much larger than just a single sector. We are really talking about something that lays a foundation for stronger competition and innovation in the workplace.
It is not anything new. Before digital technology was a factor, there were always innovators creating new equipment or devices, which customers could freely use with the products from established brands. It happened in an open market where all of the players, as well as their customers, could benefit. One such example is a simple USB connection. That is one of the easiest ways to describe interoperability. One simply plugs it into one's computer and the brand does not matter; it will work. That is what copyright is supposed to encourage and protect.
All we need to do is to update and clarify the law to uphold this principle under changing circumstances. It should never be discouraged by a technicality found in the Copyright Act. Digital locks and TPMs have a legitimate function and the law will continue to enforce them as such, but the force of law should never be used by larger companies to discourage or shut down competitors and innovators. For this sole purpose, Bill C-294 would provide a clear, limited exemption to enable interoperability.
I would like to go back to what brought attention to this issue in Parliament. A short-line manufacturer from my riding provided witness testimony while the industry committee studied the CUSMA trade agreement. Considering our trade relationship, they said this:
It's a challenge for us to achieve the ability to continue to legally manufacture our product and sell it onto these platforms. The copyright act in the United States has provision for circumventing for the purpose of interoperation. The Canadian Copyright Act does not have this same term in the agreement.
They explained that they do not want to have an uneven footing with the U.S. if they are facing a barrier in Canada that does not exist south of the border. Even if a short-line manufacturer operates outside of a small town or rural Saskatchewan, they are still selling their equipment internationally, whether it goes to the States or down to Australia. Both of these countries, by the way, are moving in this direction with interoperability. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has studied the situation with agricultural machinery and recommended data standards to promote interoperability between brands of machinery.
Similarly, our own Competition Bureau has discussed barriers for interoperability and has signalled some support for updating the Copyright Act. The U.S. Copyright Office, with the Library of Congress, regularly reviews the application of TPMs and provides exemptions. Their ruling, in 2018, allowed for circumvention in different areas, which included agricultural equipment, vehicles and phones, to name a few. This worked well enough for them to renew the exemptions in 2021 for another three-year term.
While the process might work differently in their system, Bill C-294 is seeking to provide an equivalent exemption here in Canada, as requested by our own industry. We have industry associations, manufacturers and dealers from many provinces, including Ontario, who see the growing need for us to do this so that they can stay in business and remain competitive.
As I said earlier, the process that led to this bill began with studying CUSMA. Our international agreements are an important factor for our policy decisions. Canada has made certain commitments with respect to intellectual property and what our own copyright laws will look like. I want to reassure my colleagues that I have kept this in mind while researching and discussing the issue with policy analysts from the Library of Parliament. It has shaped the drafting of this bill from early on.
With the support of my fellow members at this stage, I am hopeful that Bill C-294 will be studied at committee and we can continue to have a constructive discussion throughout the legislative process. As always, I am happy to talk with my colleagues further about this as we go forward.
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
Mr. Speaker, I would like to request a recorded division.
View Corey Tochor Profile
View Corey Tochor Profile
2022-11-24 10:54 [p.9946]
Madam Speaker, I was listening to the great speech here, and my question is about timing. We have Canadians who have been waiting to access justice for too long, and now the Liberals, after so many years in government, have moved on this. It is unfair to expect families waiting for justice to wait until 2022, or the late stages of 2022, to access justice.
I would like the member to expand a bit on the view of these individuals and what it is like to be waiting that long to get justice.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-24 12:34 [p.9960]
Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to speak to Bill S-4. I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Tobique—Mactaquac. We are looking forward to hearing his comments as well.
As we all know, the goal of this bill is to increase the efficiency, the effectiveness and the accessibility of the criminal justice system in response to the challenges that we had with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has contributed to the enormous backlog that we have in the criminal justice system today.
The Conservatives have been raising concerns about delays and potential for criminals to simply walk free due to the Supreme Court's decision on Jordan. That decision said that no more than 18 months could pass between laying a charge and the end of a trial case in provincial courts or 30 months for cases in superior courts. We have seen a number of cases throughout Canada, provincially, certainly exceeding the 18 months over the last couple of years.
In the interest of serving justice, why would we not implement all the modern tools and resources at our disposal today to maximize productivity?
The resources being considered include amending the process for peace officers to apply and obtain a warrant using telecommunication rather than appear in person and expanding the ability to conduct fingerprinting of the accused at a later date, in exceptional circumstances, should fingerprinting not previously have been taken. The justice would have the discretion to determine what would be considered necessary in these circumstances.
Also being considered is expanding the power of courts to make case management rules permitting court personnel to deal with administrative matters for accused who are not presented by counsel. We currently have a case in Saskatoon to which this certainly applies. Currently, this only applies to those represented by counsel.
Also being considered is expanding the ability for the accused and offenders to appear remotely by audio conference or even video conference in certain circumstances and the allowing of the participation of prospective jurors in the jury selection process by video conference if deemed appropriate and if the prosecutor and the accused consent, as well as using electronic and automatic means to select jurors.
Some of these modernizations are beneficial from both a safety and a financial perspective. For example, participating virtually would cut down on the transportation time and the cost and the resources needed to transport and protect the accused.
As we know, transportation costs are skyrocketing, it seems like every day. We all know that. It is not an insignificant consideration, considering the price of diesel and gas, especially in remote and northern communities.
The federal ombudsman for victims of crime has also raised a number of concerns regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the justice system, which must be carefully weighed in the consideration of Bill S-4.
The ombudsman pointed out that accessing justice in remote areas of the country, where bandwidth and Internet access remain an issue, could have a negative impact on the delivery of justice. We would not want to see that.
She also flagged the issue of ensuring that jurors remain anonymous and the potential to compromise their privacy with facial recognition software. For some victims and their families, it is an important part of their healing process to see the accused and the offenders in person or by video conference. In these situations, the use of a telephone would certainly deprive them of this opportunity.
The needs of the victim must, and I repeat, must always be weighed when considering an amendment to the Criminal Code.
Access to the Internet for rural Canadians has been a long issue in our country. The current government has promised for years to improve access to the Internet, and we know that this is a big issue in rural Saskatchewan, where I live, and certainly in remote and northern spots in Canada. It is blotchy at best, as it cuts in and out, and it has been an issue for the last seven years that the government has been in office.
Not everyone has access to the Internet. We saw this during COVID where schools tried to participate in classrooms and some did not even have access to a computer. There are issues with the Internet, which is a concern for prospective jurors to appear by video conference during the jury selection.
A jury summons, as we all know, is a very serious responsibility. However, I think many Canadians simply cannot take time off, particularly if one is a small business owner. It is near impossible for many to be compensated properly. As we all know, time is money and for the majority in our country, the two are certainly hard to fit in when someone does open that letter up and has been selected for jury duty.
Our legal system, without question, and we have talked about it for the last two days in this place, needs to improve. Bill S-4 aims to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and accessibility of the criminal justice system in response to the challenges that we have heard of over the last two years with the pandemic. The bill would also clarify and somewhat broaden the circumstances under which accused individuals, the offenders and others involved in criminal proceedings, may appear by audio conference or video conference.
I want to step back and have members think about the horrible incident we had at the James Smith reserve in my province of Saskatchewan, where, unfortunately, 11 people lost their lives over a warrant that had been out for months for Myles Sanderson.
If members recall, Sanderson became one of the worst mass murders in Canadian history. That day was September 4. Sanderson murdered 11 and injured 18 others during an early morning killing spree. In total, when Sanderson did die, he had been charged with 125 crimes. James Smith is a small community, roughly about 1,900, in northeast Saskatchewan. Therefore, when we see tragedies like this occur, we often have to ask ourselves if we could have prevented this. The warning signals were there for months, if not years.
It is not a coincidence that, since 2015, the violent crime rate in Canada has gone up 32%. This is a staggering statistic that for which the government must answer.
The community of James Smith is now left to pick up the pieces of this senseless act. The community has been victimized. Victims should be given at least as much consideration as offenders, but in Bill S-4, they are not even mentioned once. This soft-on-crime agenda by the Liberal government is not serving justice in our country.
The bill follows other pre-pandemic efforts to modernize the criminal justice system and reduce the delays in court proceedings. Delays in the criminal justice were already a serious issue before the pandemic. The measures contained in Bill S-4 would both modernize and make it more efficient, hopefully, for certain aspects of the delivery of justice.
Several family members have come forward in recent weeks with traumatic stories from the James Smith Cree Nation tragedy. Their stories are a crucial part in the healing process in the delivery of justice on that reserve. These are people we must be mindful of when crafting, carefully, this legislation. If we get the bill right, it will balance the need to improve efficiency with the rights of the people it serves, and always consider the victims and their families as a cornerstone of any justice legislation.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-24 12:46 [p.9961]
Mr. Speaker, I brought up the victims, because they are not mentioned in Bill S-4. The tragedy in James Smith Cree Nation in Saskatchewan happened on September 4. Now we are at the end of November. Many families and relatives have been victimized more than ever over the last three months. We have not spoken to that.
Every day, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix or other news organizations in Saskatchewan talk about the healing process. It might take months, if not years, if ever to forget what happened when Myles Sanderson took the lives of 11 people.
There is no question that we need to modernize the justice system. If we had the time, we probably should modernize the House of Commons. We get stuck in our ways over the years and the decades, but this is one thing on which we can all agree. The justice system needs to end the backlog and get people in front of the courts sooner rather than later.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-24 12:48 [p.9961]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member makes a very good point. Today, we are on screens. Sometimes when they zoom in, someone is fidgeting. We do not see that.
I think of the court case and jury selection in a very controversial court case about Colton Boushie in North Battleford, Saskatchewan a few years ago. There was a lot of finger pointing and questions about who was on the jury and who had been declined. We will have to work through this. There is no perfect answer. The member is right. We often see in the House of Commons that the video or the sound is not as good.
There will be challenges, certainly, going forward when we do video conferencing or even audio conferencing.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-24 12:50 [p.9962]
Mr. Speaker, I think all provincial jurisdictions are looking at justice right now. Whether in Saskatchewan or the member's province of Alberta, these are questions that are being spoken about every day. Whether in Regina or Edmonton, there are changes that have to be made, and provincial governments are looking at this, just as we are in Ottawa.
View Warren Steinley Profile
View Warren Steinley Profile
2022-11-24 15:10 [p.9986]
Mr. Speaker, talking about just the facts, here are some facts. For seven years, taxes have gone up on all Canadians. For seven years, emissions have gone up. We had a better record on emissions than the Liberal government ever has had. Those are the facts.
Here are some more facts. Some 1.5 million Canadians rely on food banks to put food on their tables. Universities are sending out fundraising letters so that kids at our universities in Canada can eat before they go to bed.
This is the Canada these Liberals have made, so when will they get it together and stop forcing their failed carbon tax on all Canadians?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is the best part of Thursday. It is the Thursday question. I just want to ask the government House leader if he can inform the members as to the business for the rest of this week and for next week as well.
I would like to take the opportunity to make a couple of suggestions for government business. We had the Bank of Canada governor admit at committee that deficits fuel inflation, so I was wondering if there would be an opportunity for the government to introduce another fall economic update where it would lower its deficits.
Also, I was wondering if the government might schedule a take-note debate at some point next week so that the House can really study the Parliamentary Budget Officer's report that concludes, based on numbers that the government has provided, that the vast majority of Canadians pay far more in the carbon tax than anything they hope to receive in the form of a rebate.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we trust our excellent table officers. We have clerks at the table, vote-callers and the Speaker in the chair observing things.
As much as the help from the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands may be appreciated by members on the other side of House, we do not believe that anybody at the table in the House of Commons needs help from him.
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise once again in the House and to be able to speak to what I think is a fantastic bill by my colleague from Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa in Manitoba. As a result, we are continuing the conversation about reliable Internet access.
There have been many speeches and questions in the House on this issue, and there are many members from different parties all across the country who care about the issue. The government has made announcements and promises over the years, but progress has been slow.
Bill C-288, however, is doing something more than talking about a problem; it is taking some practical steps forward that will make a real difference for Canadians.
To begin this debate at second reading, the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa did a great job of laying out the three pillars of this legislation.
The first is a requirement for Internet service providers to provide Canadians the typical download and upload speeds they offer, not just the maximum theoretical speeds.
The second is a requirement to provide Canadians with the quality metrics they can expect during the peak periods, when people are most likely to use the service. For people at home who wonder why that is so important, the first reason in particular is that it deals with mostly what people would think of with their cellphone. A lot of the cellphone companies will talk about how their LTE speed on their cellphone could be up to 80 megabytes per second, or it could be 100 megabytes per second. The reality is that people are going to realize those speeds only if they are standing within 100 metres of the tower, with nobody else connected to the tower. That is the only time they are going to theoretically get that 100 megabyte speed. As technology has advanced and moved along, we are slowly getting to the point at which more people might be able to realize speeds closer to that, but it does not change the fact that for years people have been told that they could theoretically get that, without ever actually coming close to getting it.
The second metric that I mentioned is especially important when we think about companies that are providing service via satellite, or maybe via a wireless-to-the-home connection. They are told they are going to get x amount of speed, but the reality is that as more users are utilizing the system, it is going to drag that speed down to a point at which it almost becomes unusable. As we all saw over the last couple of years with people doing school from home and people working from home, it has become almost impossible for a lot of people, particularly people in rural Canada, to be able to participate in the economy and to be able to participate in school. That is why I think these are a really good first couple of steps with this bill.
The third pillar is to begin a consultation process with the CRTC and develop a framework that can work in the public's best interest.
These are three simple things that are meant to work together so customers can have accurate and transparent information about the services they are paying for. It sounds like this should be something basic to the experience of buying anything, but in this case it is not, and certainly not for millions of Canadians.
I want to make sure everyone understands the situation with Internet service in our country, which this bill is trying to improve. Let us start with some data that will help to put it in perspective.
Last year, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, or CIRA, released a report called “Canadians Deserve a Better Internet”. Here is what it had to say about the performance of quality experienced by customers. It states:
ISPs market their service tiers as “up to” certain speeds, but when asked how often they feel they receive those speeds, only one-third of Canadians said it was most of the time or all of the time.
If only one-third consistently reach those advertised speeds, what does that say about the remaining two-thirds of Canadians? That would make for a strong majority of customers who do not believe they receive the quality of service they are paying for. With a number like that, it is clear something is not working for members of the public, and this creates a lack of trust, which weakens the industry itself. This is the problem Bill C-288 has in mind. A key part of the solution is transparency and, more importantly, accuracy. That is exactly what the first two points of this legislation would provide.
As the report noted, Internet providers market their service packages in a given area by saying they go “up to” a certain speed. This is called the maximum theoretical speed. It is a positive spin that sounds good to the potential customer and helps with making sales, but many do not realize the actual speed they are going to get does not match up with what they were told.
For some people, it is obviously annoying and inconvenient, but they can still get by, and that is bad enough, because they still feel like they are not getting what they paid for. For others, however, depending on where they live, it could make a more significant difference. They might be paying for Internet in theory, but it almost does not exist in practice. That is something that is a common occurrence in rural areas and that many members of this House have brought up, either in this debate or in other debates when we talk about broadband access. Either way, those people are likely to get a different impression as a customer if they are told about the typical speed on average and what the speed is during peak periods. It is a better reflection of the quality they will get when they are using the Internet, and it could affect the decision they might otherwise make when purchasing the product. Without having this information for more context, it is misleading in too many cases.
I proudly represent a rural riding myself. Over the years, I have heard from many people who have this problem with their Internet, and I actually saw it first-hand in my career prior to being a parliamentarian, when I worked as an Internet service provider technician. It was my job to not only install but also repair and fix people’s Internet services.
As someone who had to deal with people who were told that they were getting one thing, but the reality was that they could only possibly get a fraction of that, I saw that it caused a lot of confusion and headache. I can tell members that, for an installer, this legislation would make life a lot simpler, knowing that customers have the accurate and appropriate information prior to either signing a contract for service or purchasing equipment for their services.
For a lot of these paying customers, as well as for those of us working in the field, but especially for those customers, it would have been easier for everyone involved if there had been realistic information from the start, which, again, is what this bill would be doing. Bill C-288 would require that to be made available to Canadian consumers.
This is in line with what the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology recommended in a report last year. I know that the member who spoke before me already mentioned this recommendation, but I am going to say it again for the context of my speech. It recommends:
That the [CRTC] require Internet service providers to make information available to consumers on the usual download and upload speeds they can expect during peak periods so they can make more informed purchasing decisions based on accurate and transparent information, thereby improving the industry’s competitiveness overall.
It would be simple enough to do it, and I think all parties can see the benefit. After this recommendation was put forward, the government side has tried to say that it announced a proposed policy directive to the CRTC earlier this year. In reality, it is not the same thing. Its proposal is vague, and it does not mention the issue with typical speeds or peak periods.
That is what we need to see happen, and the sooner, the better. We do not need to wait around for the lagging speed of government to catch up. It is good to see the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa bring forward a bill trying to get it done. We need to act on this like it is a real priority.
As of last week, we have seen progress from the FCC in the United States. It will require broadband providers to display easy-to-understand labels with key information. This will include typical upload and download speeds, as well as typical latency.
For years now, Australia has had standards for advertising for typical speeds during peak periods. As a result, going back to 2018, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has found benefits for consumers. It has also improved the industry by strengthening market competition. We can learn from them and do the same thing. We can encourage more innovation.
This is something that will benefit all Canadians, not just those in rural areas. I want to make sure that this point is clear to everyone. Part of the problem we sometimes have in this place is that there are different ideas of what “rural” actually means.
For one of the government's programs for rural connectivity, I once asked for a definition, and I was told that communities of 30,000 people or less were eligible. The largest community in my riding, for example, is only 18,000, so it is interesting to see how that fits in. We are dealing with the population of a city, at least, as I have mentioned to members, it is where I am from.
Another example we had was that the definition of “rural” could be described as any community that uses oil and gas or agriculture as its main economic driver. I think of some of the cities that we have out west, such as Edmonton and Calgary, which would be more than happy to say that those are some of the driving forces of their economies. I think that we would also agree that Calgary and Edmonton are not rural communities.
When it comes to Internet access, there was a recent news article published online with this headline: “Internet services in rural GTA ‘like living in the dark ages’: Oshawa residents”. People who live near urban areas of the GTA are describing problems similar to what I hear from my constituents back in rural Saskatchewan. One of the residents said, “We are within minutes of a shopping center and yet no internet”. That does not sound like someone living in the middle of nowhere.
Another person spoke about paying “an exorbitant amount of money for service that is less than adequate.” She continued, “We’ve tried almost every service provider available, and the end result is the same – spotty at best internet connection.”
My plea would be for everyone to consider supporting Bill C-288 because it would get the job done for getting accurate reporting for Canadians.
View Warren Steinley Profile
View Warren Steinley Profile
2022-11-22 14:18 [p.9843]
Mr. Speaker, do you feel like everything in Canada is broken? You are not alone.
Whether it is the record-high 1.5 million Canadians who now rely on food banks to put food on their tables each month or the Liberal-made inflation disaster that is causing people to choose between heating and eating, or the housing crunch that is forcing 30-year-olds to live in their parents' basements, or the opioid crisis that is taking the lives of the people we love way too soon, the Liberal government cannot get anything right.
We are the breadbasket of the world, yet universities are sending out fundraising letters asking for money to feed hungry students. In Canada, 56.8% of university students are going to bed hungry. The campaign is called “Knowledge Not Hunger”. The tired Liberal government has failed Canadians, especially young Canadians.
Instead of trying to build back better, why do you not put it back to the way you found it?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, the real question is when the Liberals will have an environment plan, because they have not hit a single target they have set for themselves. That is not our opinion; that is the finding of their own departmental reports, and it was the Parliamentary Budget Officer, whom the Prime Minister appointed, who came to the conclusion that the vast majority of Canadians pay more in the carbon tax than they hope to receive in any rebate. Now, a report shows that Canada has come in 58th out of 63 when it comes to climate action, falling behind China and Indonesia.
When will the Liberals finally accept the science and admit they have a tax plan, not an environment plan?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, their entire premise is based on falsehoods.
The Liberals said the carbon tax would reduce emissions. They have gone up. The Liberals said it would be revenue neutral. Canadians pay more in carbon tax than they get back. The Liberals said the carbon tax would never go up. They plan to triple it.
Now, just in time for Canada Day, on a day when Canadians are supposed to come together and celebrate all that we have in common, the Liberals are going to make the carbon tax apply in three new Atlantic Canadian provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia. Is that a part of some bizarre national unity strategy, to bring Canadians together by making sure Canadians in every region hate the carbon tax?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals break everything that they touch. In 2015, there were 15 LNG projects proposed for Canada. Zero have been built. Energy east and Keystone XL could have provided paycheques for Canadians rather than dollars for dictators. Neither project was built. In 2015, they inherited a balanced budget, only to spend their way to an inflationary crisis not seen in decades.
When will the Liberals quit breaking everything that they touch and, instead, let Canadians have back control of their lives?
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
Mr. Speaker, the NDP-Liberal coalition is breaking records. Inflation is at a 40-year high, food prices are rising at the fastest pace in 40 years and we are seeing the highest usage of food banks on record. Canadians want to take back control of their lives, but the NDP-Liberal government keeps fuelling the cost of living crisis.
Will the Prime Minister quite making things harder for Canadians who just want to put food on the table?
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