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View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
moved that Bill S-222, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am happy and proud to rise in the House this morning to begin debate on a bill from the other place, Bill S-222. This is a small but mighty bill that would create beautiful, safe federal buildings, support our forestry sector during difficult times, spur innovation in the cement and steel industries and help us reach our climate targets.
What would this bill do? It simply states that when building federal infrastructure, the Minister of Public Works “shall consider any potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits and may allow the use of wood or any other thing — including a material, product or sustainable resource — that achieves such benefits.”
I mentioned the bill came from the Senate, but, in fact, this bill started its life in the House of Commons, first as a Bloc bill more than a decade ago. I took up the bill in the 42nd Parliament where, as Bill C-354, it passed in the House of Commons, but died in the Senate when that Parliament ended.
I would like to take a moment to thank my friend, Senator Diane Griffin. Senator Griffin guided the bill through the Senate in 2018 and 2019 and when the bill stalled there, through no fault of her own, she reintroduced the bill in the 43rd Parliament. As many here remember, that Parliament ended prematurely due to an election, so Senator Griffin introduced it once again last year in this Parliament. It is through her persistence that we are seeing it again.
Senator Griffin retired last spring, so she passed the torch to Senator Jim Quinn, who saw it through its passage in the Senate earlier this fall.
The initial form of the bill over a decade ago was a direct ask of the minister to consider wood in the construction of federal infrastructure. It was modelled on the Charte du bois in Quebec and the wood-first bill in British Columbia. It was designed then to ensure that the federal government actually considered wood when building large infrastructure. Until recently, the construction industry had been totally geared to cement and steel when doing that.
My version of the bill was amended in committee to remove the overt preference for wood and replace that with preference for materials that had environmental benefits, in particular regarding the greenhouse gas footprints of the building materials. This amendment allayed a couple of concerns around the trade implications of potentially favouring one sector over another and also recognized the emerging work on making concrete and steel more environmentally friendly. I will speak more on that later.
I was initially inspired to take up this bill in 2016 because of a company in my riding, in my home town of Penticton. That company is Structurlam, and it has been at the leading edge of mass timber engineered wood construction in North America.
While Structurlam leads that sector, it still faces some of the hurdles that confront all innovative companies. It needs help to scale-up its production, and the easiest way for a government to help a company in that situation is to provide business through government procurement. That is one of the core benefits of this bill. It would help Canadian companies scale-up to maintain our dominant position in the engineered wood sector in North America.
Forest products, with their sequestered carbon, are obvious candidates for decisions under this policy. If we can use more wood in government infrastructure and grow the mass timber market in Canada, it will obviously benefit the forest sector overall.
These are benefits to a forest industry beset by challenges on all sides. Beetle infestations, catastrophic wildfires and a long history of harvests have all reduced access to fibre. To top it off, the softwood lumber dispute has brought illegal tariffs from our biggest trading partner, the United States.
Reduced fibre access means we have to get more jobs and more money for every log we cut, and that is what mass timber provides.
To make glulam beams or cross-laminated timber panels, mass timber plants use lumber sourced from local mills. That gives those mills a new domestic market for their products and it reduces their reliance on the United States. On top of that, we can sell those mass timber products to the United States tariff-free, so it is a win-win.
Just to reiterate, the bill and a rejuvenated domestic market for lumber would not mean increased forest harvest, as that is limited by other factors, but it will mean getting more value added out of the trees we do cut. There are benefits to using mass timber, benefits for the construction industry and benefits for the users of that infrastructure.
First, I will mention the construction process itself. Engineered wood is produced indoors in plant facilities. The building can be literally constructed indoors with no weather delays or complications, while the site is being prepared for construction. Then the building components can be put together quickly and delivered to the site exactly when needed.
Brock Commons, an 18-storey residence complex at the University of British Columbia, the tallest wood building in the world, was built in 57 days, two storeys per week. It is now home to over 400 UBC students. Because the component parts are built indoors, they can be constructed to very fine tolerances, within millimetres, and that means a lot when one is constructing the buildings of the future that will have to be built to passive energy specifications.
The buildings constructed in this way are beautiful. The exposed wood components are like furniture. Structurlam has an entire finishing plant devoted to smoothing and treating every exposed beam and wall panel as if it were a piece of massive furniture.
It is not surprising many of the early examples of mass timber construction were civic buildings meant to look good as well as be functional, buildings such as the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the Olympic speed skating oval in Richmond, B.C. and the Rocky Ridge recreation centre in Calgary. The Rocky Ridge facility has over 2,000 glulam beams forming its huge roof, and no two are the same.
I would like to also mention that Canada leads the way in engineered wood construction in North America. Structurlam has projects all across the continent and has recently opened up a branch plant in Arkansas. Nordic Structures in Chibougamau, Quebec was another pioneer of this technology.
Another major mass timber plant has recently opened in my riding just outside Castlegar. It was opened up by Kalesnikoff Lumber. I would like to give a shout-out to Ken Kalesnikoff and his son Chris and daughter Krystle for making this major investment that will pay off for the future of the West Kootenay and the forest sector in British Columbia.
One issue that often comes up when talking about tall wood buildings is fire safety. I hear from firefighters who just simply do not like the concept of wood buildings of any size. We heard testimony of that nature in both House of Commons and Senate committees. However, I need to reiterate that large infrastructure projects under this legislation would be constructed with mass timber. Firefighters I talked to are concerned about buildings constructed with traditional wood frame construction such as two-by-fours and two-by-sixes.
Mass timber is another thing entirely. When we have glulam beams a metre thick or cross laminated timber panels nine inches thick, those materials react to open flame in a completely different way. They simply slowly char instead of bursting into flame. Think of trying to light a log on fire with a match.
The National Research Council has conducted fire safety trials with mass timber and has found it is just as safe, or safer, than traditional concrete or steel construction.
More detailed studies are under way, including those at the University of British Columbia with Felix Wiesner. Dr. Wiesner has found, perhaps not surprisingly, that thicker components, say panels made with five layers of lumber versus those made with three layers, burn more slowly and that the type of adhesive that binds those layers also has an impact.
Suffice it to say, large buildings made with mass timber provide both occupants and firefighters ample time to exit the building in case of a fire and, as I said earlier, are just as safe or safer than traditionally designed buildings.
I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the other materials that might compete successfully in the government's analysis of environmental benefit. We have been hearing a lot about green steel production, and there are new cement products that sequester carbon dioxide to reduce some of that material's carbon footprint.
When I first put forward this bill, I heard concerns from the cement industry that the direct mention of wood might be unfair to the cement sector, which has made impressive advances in sustainability over the past few years. Those concerns were largely met by the amendments that were made in the committee in the 42nd Parliament and carried through to this version of the bill. I just talked to the cement industry last week, and it is supportive. It pointed out it is working with the federal government to provide data for life-cycle analysis of greenhouse gas footprints of building materials.
These analyses will be critical to the use of the legislation before us, as it will provide decision-makers with all the details they need. We will need similar full life-cycle data for steel and wood products, of course.
In recent conversations I have had with members of all parties around Bill S-222, I am heartened by the support I am hearing. Members of all parties know that this is the right way forward; that this bill will set us in the right direction when it comes to meeting our climate targets; that this bill will support the forest industry, a sector that has been beset with challenges from all sides in recent years; and that this bill will not discriminate against other building material sectors, such as cement and steel, that are working hard to innovate new solutions to make their products truly sustainable.
I hope that every member here will support Bill S-222 at second reading. I look forward to discussing it at committee to ensure that it will truly have the beneficial impacts that it promises. With this legislation in place, we can literally build a better Canada.
View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I liked what my colleague had to say.
To begin, I want to say that I worked in the forestry sector and forestry industry for a decade. It is 2022 and, even back in the early 2000s, I was telling insurers in Laurentides—Labelle about the positives of carbon capture, its use and benefits in terms of fire reduction. Given that is is now 2022, it was high time this bill was introduced.
I see this as just the tip of the iceberg. My colleague who spoke before me mentioned that, in Quebec, this is already happening. The province is already in the process of adapting training programs to provide access to this basic information.
My question is this: Does my colleague agree that we can fight for the forestry industry to have its fair share once this bill is passed?
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague is correct. We need to move forward.
She mentioned education. A lot of what the bill will promote will need the education of architects, engineers and construction workers across Canada to change their mindset about the construction of large buildings.
There is a wonderful program in Okanagan College, in my home town of Penticton, that is on sustainable building methods. We need that kind of program across the country so that not just governments but people building large facilities will think about wood when they make those decisions.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2022-11-28 11:14 [p.10049]
Madam Speaker, I really do appreciate the member's insights as to the materials we are using when it comes to building. I know that constituents in the riding of Waterloo are really concerned about the way we are building, what we are building with and with the environment.
I would like to hear from the member on the benefits for the forestry sector. What are the added benefits of using wood when constructing or maintaining rural properties? I also appreciate the fact that he has consulted with firefighters and those who would recognize some of the challenges that come with that. I appreciate his efforts on this.
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I mentioned some of the benefits. The main benefit for the forest sector would be increasing the domestic demand for wood products. Mass timber does exactly that. Mills all across the country are making two-by-fours and two-by-sixes. Mass timber plants use those pieces of lumber to make their own products. That would really boost the domestic demand for wood. We will get that value added. We will have plants creating jobs and value all across the country. That will benefit the forest industry and, at the same time, create beautiful buildings.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
View Pat Kelly Profile
2022-11-28 11:16 [p.10049]
Madam Speaker, I note that this bill is an improvement on some of the earlier iterations that have come around and that it is not quite as prescriptive as others we have seen in the past.
I wonder if the member could comment on PSPC, as this bill creates a new piece for PSPC to consider. PSPC has been a broken department. It is broken under the government. I will say, though, that successive governments have allowed PSPC to become the disaster it is today.
Can he comment on any concerns about giving PSPC one more thing to bungle in its process of procuring buildings?
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I have met with PSPC. There might have been concerns if this had been presented to it and it was completely unprepared. It is not. It has been preparing for this for the last few years. It has processes in place, like life-cycle analyses that are under way now with cement and steel, and will be under way later with wood products.
I am confident that this bill will not add to any other problems PSPC might or might not have. We are headed in the right direction.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2022-11-28 11:17 [p.10049]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my friend from South Okanagan—West Kootenay for his sponsorship of the bill, for his advocacy and for his hard work on this. I really appreciate it. I think he has done a yeoman's job on this file, including through his meetings with firefighters and others. I thank him. I think this is a very good bill, and I am pleased to speak about how we can make our government operations greener through smart investments in public infrastructure.
The efforts of this government to be more sustainable in how it operates, what it buys and what it builds are more important than ever right now. After a summer of unprecedented heat waves, wildfires, floods and storm surges around the world and right here at home, it is well past time to seriously accelerate our action against greenhouse gas emissions.
This past March, the government introduced its 2030 emissions reduction plan. This plan is our path to meeting our target under the Paris Agreement to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan maps out how we will reduce our emissions from 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, with clear milestones. It is consistent with the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
In Canada, we must lead the way. Indeed, as the Prime Minister has said, “climate change is an existential threat. Building a cleaner, greener future will require a sustained and collaborative effort from all of us.” He has mandated his ministers to seek opportunities within their portfolio to “support our whole-of-government effort to reduce emissions, create clean jobs and address the climate-related challenges communities are already facing.”
As we work toward solutions to ease and mitigate the environmental damage, we are positioning ourselves to bring about real reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
Bill S‑222 will encourage the government to use wood, a sustainable, renewable material, in the construction and renovation of federal buildings and infrastructure projects.
One department is particularly well positioned to help the government achieve its greening government strategy objectives. That department is Public Services and Procurement Canada, or PSPC. As the government's primary procurement body and manager of its real property, the department can prioritize purchasing and using materials that reduce our carbon footprint.
Today I would like to talk to you about how PSPC can play a unique and important role in reducing our GHG emissions and how wood products are essential to achieving that.
I would like to start with a brief explanation of what PSPC does. First, the department is the government's central purchasing agency, responsible for about 24 billion dollars' worth of procurement activity annually on behalf of most government departments and agencies. Second, PSPC is also the property manager for a vast portfolio of buildings it owns or rents across the country. In addition to office buildings, that portfolio includes heritage properties, such as the parliamentary precinct, and numerous bridges, wharves and dams across the country.
These two sectors offer a significant opportunity to achieve greener outcomes, and advance the goals of sustainable development and a carbon neutral portfolio for Canada.
By prioritizing green procurement, PSPC can help protect the environment in several different ways. Beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions from government operations, green procurement will also have the same effect on our supply chains. Moreover, it cuts down on the use of hazardous and toxic substances, pollution and plastic waste. It also supports the Canadian economy by creating new markets for innovative products and services. In this context, green procurement includes assessing the life cycles of goods that are purchased, and adopting clean technologies and green products and services.
The government’s policy on green procurement also stipulates the criteria for sustainable goods and services to guide procurement operations. These criteria require potential suppliers to demonstrate that their products can reduce emissions, are sustainable or have other environmental benefits.
Given that it purchases nearly $24 billion on behalf of the majority of departments and agencies, PSPC has substantial leverage to create markets for sustainable goods. This can act like a virtuous circle and inspire other manufacturers and businesses to up their game and offer greener alternatives to the greater consumer market, which will benefit all of us.
The greening government strategy also commits the government to maintaining a plan to reach net zero for its real property portfolio by 2050. That plan also has to show that its buildings and infrastructure are resilient to climate change and cost-effective. For example, PSPC is transforming the iconic Centre Block from one of the highest-emitting PSPC assets to a near net-zero carbon facility. It is also using low-carbon construction materials where possible in the new Parliament Welcome Centre. In addition, during the rehabilitation of West Block—
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
The hon. member for Jonquière on a point of order.
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2022-11-28 11:22 [p.10050]
Madam Speaker, there is a problem with the interpretation.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
We will check on that.
The problem has been fixed.
The hon. parliamentary secretary may continue his speech.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2022-11-28 11:23 [p.10050]
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
In addition, during the rehabilitation of West Block and the Senate of Canada building, more than 90% of construction waste was diverted from landfills, and a number of environmentally innovative measures were incorporated to save energy and reduce water use. We are also committing that starting in 2030, 75% of new lease and lease renewal floor space will be in net-zero climate-resilient buildings.
To ensure we move forward with reducing the carbon footprint of governmental operations, all departments are subject to various legal instruments. Indeed, the greening government strategy flows from the Federal Sustainable Development Act.
With Bill S-222, we have an opportunity to encourage the use of wood by PSPC and, by extension, the whole of government to meet our climate change objectives. Indeed, wood represents a green approach to building and renovation. It is a renewable resource that is widely available across most of this country. The forest sector is a key source of economic prosperity for people and communities across the country, including many rural, remote and indigenous communities.
The benefits of wood in construction have been evident for hundreds of years. Many of the wood buildings that were constructed at the beginning of the 20th century are still standing and being used today. Moreover, newer wood waste products, such as mass timber, are less carbon-intensive than other materials and could be used more extensively in Canadian construction to remove the carbon emissions equivalent of taking 125,000 internal combustion engine cars off the road every year.
Promoting the use of wood in the construction of federal buildings would be meaningless if this country's forests were poorly managed. As it happens, Canada's forest laws are among the strictest in the world. They protect our forests and ensure that sustainable forest management practices are applied across the country.
This should reassure consumers and all Canadians that Canadian wood and forest products have been harvested under a robust system of sustainable forest management.
To conclude, I would like to go back to the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development and draw attention to goal 9 of that agenda, which states that signatory countries are to “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.” This agenda commits Canada to “upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable” by 2030 and to increase “resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes”.
Time is of the essence. CO27 has just called on the world to take urgent action. Canada will need to accelerate its climate action, and Bill S-222 can enhance the role that greener government operations are already playing to meet our obligations to this country and around the world.
I want to thank the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for his work on this file.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2022-11-28 11:26 [p.10051]
Madam Speaker, it is my honour to rise today to speak to Bill S-222. I want to recognize the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for introducing this bill.
Back in 1951, when my grandfather was 21 years old, he came across the ocean from the Netherlands with $200 in his pockets, which was a lot of money back then. He bought a chainsaw and proceeded to make a fortune cutting down trees in northern British Columbia. That was a lifelong passion of his. He was very much an admirer of Canadian forests and Canadian trees.
Having bought a chainsaw, that was his means to earn a living here in Canada, and it was a good living. He noted that by 1956, he bought a brand new Chevrolet pickup for $1,600, and that in one particular month he made $2,200. He made more money in one month than it cost to buy a brand new pickup. In today's dollars, that is probably $40,000 or $50,000 in one month, which is incredible.
The forestry industry across Canada is one of the reasons Canada exists. There were many interests coming across the ocean early on, starting in about year 1,000. There was the fishing industry that came across the ocean, with people fishing off the Grand Banks, but also the lumber industry. When folks came from Europe to Canada for the first time, they noted the large trees, and for shipbuilding they used the trees here. One of the reasons that people came to Canada was to develop our forest industry and use the giant trees we have here to build things. That is definitely part of our heritage and part of the reason that Canada exists, and it is good to recognize that.
If members are ever in Calgary, they should check out the ATCO Commercial Centre. It is a big new building in the middle of Calgary. I had the opportunity to speak at an anti-human trafficking event that was hosted there just a couple of weeks ago, and I was impressed and blown away by the grandeur of the building and all of the beam work inside of it. I bet the ceiling is nearly 100 feet tall. It is as tall as the ceiling in here or maybe taller, and whereas here we see the beams are made out of steels, there they are made out of wood. It is an impressive structure and is really neat to see, and it is something we can enjoy as a Canadian society.
I will get back to my grandfather coming across the ocean to become a logger in northern British Columbia. While this bill is very much supportive of the forestry industry and the lumber industry, the challenge we have today is that many people are fighting against the harvesting of our forests. Most of those in the forestry industry whom I deal with in my area have a 100-year plan on how they are going to harvest the trees. They harvest some trees in one area, move to another area and harvest some trees and then move to another area. Within 100 years, they anticipate harvesting about 70% of all trees on the landscape, but by the time they are done that, they can go back to where they started and start harvesting the trees all over again. In the area where I live, the average tree is probably 40 or 50 years old before the wind blows it over, it dies or a forest fire comes along and takes care of it, so a 100-year plan on harvesting the forest is a good idea.
There is a huge amount of value that lives in the forest, but there is an increasing number of voices in this country of people who want to shut down the forestry industry and want to shut down logging. For full disclosure, I have many family members who work in the forestry industry. My brother works in the forestry industry building roads and working on a processor. My brother-in-law is a heavy-duty mechanic who works on forestry equipment, so it is a big part of my family's life. Increasingly, they are frustrated with the inability of the government to get organized around managing and developing the industry.
This is a good bill, in that it recognizes the potential and the benefits of the forestry industry. Particularly, I would note that in British Columbia there is more and more difficulty in getting access to the wood fibre. In Alberta, it is not a great deal better. The rest of the country I am not as familiar with, so I cannot say. However, it is an increasing challenge all the time to get access to the wood fibre. While Bill S-222 would indicate we should be using wood to build buildings, if we are unable to harvest the trees in the forest in order to make the lumber, this bill would not necessarily go places.
We have to ensure that this is a country that can build things again, that can develop its natural resources and that lives up to the heritage it was given by the first peoples who developed our forestry industry. Wood has been used to build dwellings and buildings forever. There are wood structures around the world that are over 1,000 years old. It is a good building product, but we need to ensure that we can develop this resource across the country.
I would note that there are voices across this country that are working very hard to minimize and to stop the development of our forestry industry. Particularly, British Columbia is where I note this to be a challenge, and I hope we can see governments coming around to promoting this. I would note that the New Democrats have been a government in power in British Columbia for a long time, and were historically very much champions of development of the forestry industry. However, today it seems to be a challenge to develop the forestry industry.
We are seeing a reduction in allowable cuts. We are seeing a reduction in the land that is available for managing it. It is ironic, to some degree, that most of British Columbia is covered by forests. It is one of the areas where forestry is probably the most valuable resource they have. The northern half of Alberta is covered with forests, and forestry is a big deal up there as well, but I note that it is definitely something we have to be concerned about.
Interestingly, we have had a few discussions with folks around fire concerns and wood buildings. It is an interesting discussion to have regarding fire ratings. Let us think about it a little and get back to that ATCO building in Calgary. The same building could be built with steel girders.
Typically, steel girders are an I-beam configuration. What is really fascinating about a steel girder in an I-beam configuration versus a wooden glulam beam, which is made from multiple laminated pieces of wood, is that the wood actually has a much better fire rating.
This is interesting, because we think that fire would consume the wood. The wood is consumed in a fire, but it actually maintains its structural integrity for a very long time, even if it is burning. However, a steel beam, because of the two layers, will actually twist and buckle if one side of it is heated. We had a bridge in Edmonton that buckled just because of the heat of the sunshine, so it is interesting to think about some of these things.
I am looking forward to supporting this bill. I hope this country can get back to developing our natural resources and harvesting the trees.
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2022-11-28 11:36 [p.10052]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak about Bill S­222.
If we want to trace the origins of the discussions that led to an act that would benefit forest products, we need to go back to the proposals of the Bloc Québécois. As early as March 2010, Bill C‑429, which dealt with something very similar and was sponsored by the member for Manicouagan at the time, was being studied. The same thing happened a few years later, in 2014. The member for my former riding, Jonquière-Alma, which is now called Jonquière, had also tabled a similar bill. What we realized then was that the House's interest in supporting the forestry sector was not very high.
I would remind the House that, at the time, in 2010, the NDP voted in favour of the bill. However, in 2014, they changed their stance a bit. Half of their caucus was against the bill because it might be detrimental to the steel beam industry. I say that because I feel that there has never been the appropriate balance of power to bring the interests of the forestry industry to the House. It is no coincidence that the province where the forestry industry is largest is Quebec. Unfortunately, here, the Conservatives, among others, have never voted in favour of such measures.
Bill S‑222 certainly has potential, but there is no denying that it will need to be amended if it is referred to committee. The major difference in Bill S‑222 is that it is devoid of any means of enforcement. The bill feels like wishful thinking: It simply hopes that more wood will be used. However, if we are to achieve this, there must be some means of enforcement. This is the case with the Quebec law.
In Quebec, the wood charter assumes that, for all buildings under six storeys, a wood solution must be considered. It is mandatory. Perhaps it is something that can be corrected in the bill. We may be able to do that work in committee, but it would be essential. The Bloc Québécois will support this bill, but I believe that it should go a little further and make consideration of wood for federal government infrastructure mandatory.
I will take this opportunity to address another aspect. As I said at the beginning of my speech, I find that the forestry sector tends to be overlooked when it comes to federal government support. I would like to demonstrate that. As I have repeated around 3,000 times in the House, Canada has an economy that is based on two major industries: the oil and gas sector and the automobile sector. Support for the forestry sector has consistently been anemic.
I will share some figures from a study that I commissioned along with every other member of the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc Québécois is a caucus that is focused on the issue of softwood lumber. I will share the figures from the nine key federal programs that help the forestry sector.
From 2017 to 2020, we can say that roughly $317 million was redirected to the forestry sector. Keep in mind that 75% of the money that was distributed throughout Canada was in the form of guaranteed loans and 25% of that money was in the form of real subsidies. Earlier, the comparison was made with the oil and gas sector, but I think that is a bit of a stretch.
Quebec represents 22.5% of the federation, but the volume of Quebec's forestry sector represents a bit more than 30% of the sector Canada-wide. Canada pays Quebec $71 million a year. If we apply that same calculation, that means that 75% of that amount is in the form of loans. Quebec is therefore paid $53.5 million a year in the form of loans and $17 billion is paid in the form of subsidies. My region of Quebec, Saguenay‑Lac‑Saint‑Jean, provides more to the federal government than the entirety of the subsidies that are offered to Quebec's forestry sector. The $71 million paid by the federal government to the forestry industry does not even represent 0.3% of the sector's $20 billion in annual sales.
I checked and found that the federal government provides the least amount of support to these sectors. I see the disparity when I examine the fossil fuel sector. I say that because, on my initiative, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources is doing a comparative study of all the different natural resources sectors.
If I look at the fossil fuel sector, the cost of the Trans Mountain pipeline alone is $21 billion. Then, there are the $18 billion a year over 2020-22. Canada Economic Development, or CED, will be providing $5.4 billion, which will be redirected only to the oil and gas sector. That does not include $2.5 billion in the last budget for carbon capture strategies. As I am not meanspirited, I am not going to talk about everything to do with the cleanup of orphan wells and lines of credit that we have seen since 2019. I just want to say that it is appalling.
There really is a double standard. I do not see why this legislation would not pass. It would not cost the federal government very much to consider promoting the use of lumber in its contracts. It is simply a regulatory measure that does not necessarily involve funding.
We know that the federal government is allergic to supporting the forestry industry. If a small sawmill asks for help from CED, it will not get it. Instead, the sawmill will be immediately referred to Global Affairs Canada. No small sawmill in Quebec or Canada can get support from the economic arm of the federal government alone for fear of violating American softwood lumber laws. That is a big problem. It means that companies that do not even do business with the United States are not entitled to support from CED.
I want to quickly come back to what the Bloc Québécois has been doing to support the forestry industry. In September 2020, we presented a green recovery plan to get out of the COVID‑19 pandemic. One of the main focuses of this recovery plan is the development of natural resources, including the forestry sector.
In October 2020, on my initiative, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources was studying the renewal of the forestry sector. There were some very interesting proposals, one being that the federal government start using the concept of carbon footprint in its tenders.
Perhaps this could be worked into Bill S‑222. It goes much further than just using wood in construction. If we go with the idea of a carbon footprint, then all derivatives from the bioeconomy—that is, products derived from the forest biomass—would qualify. Think of packaging products, for one. We can replace single-use plastics right now. It would provide a much broader scope for supporting the forestry sector, and we could reduce our carbon footprint.
Unfortunately, even though these recommendations were made in a committee study, the government never acted on them. In fact, last week we had people from the forestry sector come before us. They came to tell us that the time for committee studies has passed, and we must now take action. We are still waiting for that action.
In April 2021, the Bloc Québécois hosted a forum on forests and climate change. Participants included experts from academia and the forestry sector, producers and people involved in research and development. At the end of the forum, participants reached a unanimous conclusion. From an economic perspective, our best weapon in the battle against climate change is the forestry sector. Forests are carbon sinks. The more carbon we sequester by building with wood, the better our GHG performance.
I recently toured Chantiers Chibougamau with my party leader. I would actually encourage all members to go see what is happening at Chantiers Chibougamau. They are superstars. They use pulpwood, the little bits from treetops, to make glued-laminated I-joists of astounding size.
I see my time is up. I will be happy to vote in favour of this bill, but it needs improvement. I hope that, going forward, the government will pay closer attention when it comes to the forestry sector.
View Taylor Bachrach Profile
NDP (BC)
View Taylor Bachrach Profile
2022-11-28 11:47 [p.10054]
Madam Speaker, like a lot of my colleagues in this place, I spend a lot of time in airports. Yesterday afternoon I had a chance to spend a few minutes in my home airport, the Smithers Regional Airport. I was sitting in the departure lounge watching the sun set behind Hudson Bay Mountain and looking around the room, marvelling at what a beautiful space the community has created there. I know there are not many airports one could describe as beautiful, but it is certainly one of them.
It has personal significance for me because, during my time in local government as the mayor of Smithers, we undertook a major renovation of the Smithers Regional Airport. It was a building dating back to the 1950s and was in much need of renovation and renewal. Part of that was a brand new departure lounge. In undertaking this major project, with help from the provincial and federal governments, we had a number of objectives. We obviously wanted to make it a functional, modern space, but we also wanted to use it as an opportunity to tackle our community's greenhouse gas emissions and take responsibility for our role in this huge challenge we face.
We did that in a number of ways. We installed a geoexchange system for heating and cooling the building, which takes energy out of the ground and does so mostly without the use of fossil fuels. The other area where we really tried to drive sustainability was the use of wood.
I know there has been a lot of discussion about some of the more technical aspects, but what I was struck by yesterday, sitting in this room looking at the beautiful glulam beams and expanses of cross-laminated timber, is just the beauty of wood as a building product. In addition to all its other benefits, it is truly a spectacular product to be building with. This is important not only because the forest industry is a big part of our economy and always has been in British Columbia, but also, in the context of this bill, because wood is a lower-carbon building material than many other options.
I am pleased to rise and speak to Bill S-222. I believe this bill originally was intended to promote the use of wood in the construction of public infrastructure in Canada. I want to take a moment to recognize Senator Griffin, the bill's sponsor in the other place, but mostly my colleague, the brilliant MP for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, who has been a tireless champion for the role wood can play in addressing climate change.
This bill calls for amending the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act by adding the following wording to the clause laying out the minister’s powers and responsibilities:
In developing requirements with respect to the construction, maintenance and repair of public works, federal real property and federal immovables, the Minister shall consider any potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits and may allow the use of wood or any other thing—including a material, product or sustainable resource—that achieves such benefits.
I understand that was amended to recognize some of the improvements in the steel industry and in the manufacturing of concrete, etc.
I hope colleagues will forgive me if my comments about this bill speak directly to the benefits of wood as a building product. This is a topic that has personal significance for me. My father worked for over 30 years in the forest industry. He was a buckerman, which, for folks who are less familiar with forestry, is the person who works in the bush and cuts the logs to length before they are loaded onto the trucks headed for the mill.
I remember how frustrated my dad was by some of the waste that occurred in the forest industry at the time. There were trees and logs that were too big to be used by the sawmills and were left in the bush and eventually burned. I remember his chainsaw mill, a little portable mill that attached to his chainsaw. He would take it out on the weekends and mill these logs into slabs, bring them home and build beautiful things from them. He was also the person who instilled in me a love for forests and a recognition of the need to do forestry responsibly and sustainably, an area I believe we continue to make progress in today. Of course, he built many beautiful things out of wood.
As I speak to this bill today, I am thinking of my dad and those values he instilled in me.
Bill S-222 speaks to public procurement as an opportunity for addressing greenhouse gas emissions through the choice of building materials, and this is indeed a huge opportunity. Much of the debate around tackling climate change has focused on emissions from the operation of buildings and transportation and such. However, the embodied carbon in building materials represents a significant challenge and opportunity when it comes to tackling the climate crisis. Given the billions of dollars spent on public procurement every year, and my colleague across the way mentioned the figure of, I believe, $27 billion per year, this represents a significant opportunity for Canada.
When we dig into the role of embodied carbon in Canada's overall emissions, it is a surprisingly complex picture. At a high level, the advantage of wood rests on the fact that trees grow back and that the carbon stored in wood is stored for as long as the buildings it is used in are still standing. One source I found cited softwood timber as having an embodied carbon footprint of 110 kilograms per cubic metre, compared to 635 kilograms per cubic metre for reinforced concrete.
Admittedly, when we look for figures on the carbon footprint of building materials, we will find a huge range. Therein lies some of the complexity in evaluating different building materials and their climate impacts. However, the benefits of wood as a renewable resource are quite obvious.
Much of the life cycle climate carbon implications hinge on our management of forests. It is a popular idea to think of Canada's forests as climate-fighting machines that suck carbon out of the atmosphere, but the actual numbers, I think, would surprise people. A couple of years ago it came out that Canada's forests, since 2001, have actually been sources of carbon emissions and have emitted more carbon than they have sucked out of the air. This points to the need to consider the big picture when it comes to the climate implications of forest products.
Jim Pojar, a renowned ecologist based in Smithers, has expressed some caution regarding the notion that forestry is carbon neutral. He writes:
It should be emphasized that the underlying carbon budget calculations are complex and depend on assumptions about a future with much uncertainty around carbon dynamics in a rapidly changing environment.
The approach he advocates is one he calls “smart harvest and...substitution”, which couples forest management improvements with the substitution of wood in the place of more carbon-intensive building materials. Despite the complexity in evaluating the carbon emissions from different building materials, there does seem to be broad agreement that using wood products in buildings is an important tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
I mentioned the beauty of wood, which admittedly is a subjective benefit. Less subjective is the economic impact of manufacturing wood products in regions like the one I live in. So many people I speak with are alarmed by the volume of raw logs we continue to export. They understand intuitively that the more we can add value to our raw resources, the more we can manufacture things, the more people in our communities are going to have jobs and the more benefits we can accrue.
In our region, there are thousands of people employed in forestry: loggers, truck drivers, mill workers, tree planters, foresters and so many more. As we grapple with mid-term timber supply constraints and managing a landscape for multiple values, it becomes ever more important to maximize the number of jobs and the economic benefits from every cubic metre of timber harvested. If we can use public procurement to increase demand for manufactured Canadian wood products, we can spur investment in new manufacturing facilities, new technology and new applications for wood.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, which is home to UNBC's master of engineering in integrated wood design program. It is one example of how, in British Columbia, we are seeking to do more with wood, to innovate and to create models that can be applied around the world.
I am thankful for the time today to talk about this important topic and I hope this bill passes into law very soon.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-11-28 11:57 [p.10055]
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill S-222. I too, as other speakers have, support this legislation.
One thing I have not heard much of today that I would like to talk about in the short period of time I have is why it makes sense to transition to using more wood products. If we look at the residential buildings built in Ontario recently, we are seeing many more being built taller out of wood. Obviously Ontario has its own building code, but it is informed to a large degree by the national building code. Until recently, within the last decade or so, wood buildings could only be four storeys as the maximum, but now we are seeing that increase quite a bit. Six, seven, eight storeys in different parts of Ontario are permitted to be built out of wood.
We are seeing this shift back towards more wood-based construction not just because of the environmental impacts associated with that and how environmentally unfriendly concrete can be, even though concrete has come a long way in the last couple of decades in terms of its carbon footprint. One of the other things we are seeing is the manner in which we can protect people from fires. Quite frankly, decades ago, when wood was being used a lot, there were not a lot of mitigating measures in place to prevent fires from spreading in structures that had an incredible amount of wood. That is probably why most building codes moved away from using wood towards concrete, particularly in large residential and commercial applications.
However, now there are more fire-suppression tools being used, better ways of suppressing a fire by using certain types of drywall, installing different measures to ensure there is proper egress from buildings in the event of a fire, as well as ensuring that if a fire does occur, there is an opportunity to allow people a certain amount of time to escape before being impacted by—
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
Unfortunately, I have to interrupt the member.
The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.
View Brian Masse Profile
NDP (ON)
View Brian Masse Profile
2022-11-28 12:00 [p.10056]
Madam Speaker, I am happy to start this week by speaking to Bill C-27. It is quite an extensive bill at over 140 pages in length. It would amend several acts and the most consequential are three of them in particular, as it is an act to enact the consumer privacy protection act, the personal information and data protection tribunal act and the artificial intelligence and data act and to make consequential and related amendments to other acts.
I should start by saying that this is really three pieces of legislation that have been bundled up into one. As New Democrats, we have called for different voting for the third and final part of this act.
The first two parts of the act, concerning the consumer privacy protection act and the personal information and data protection tribunal act, do have enough common themes running through them to be put together into one piece of legislation. I still think, for these issues, that they would have been better as two separate pieces of legislation because one of them is brand new and the first one, the consumer privacy protection act, is the former Bill C-11, which was highly controversial in the previous Parliament.
When we had an unnecessary election called by the Prime Minister, that bill died, along with all of the work from Parliament, which was not concluded, despite extensive lobbying and consultation going, particularly, through the ethics committee at that time. This has now been bundled with some other legislation to go through the industry committee, which is fine.
The personal information and data protection tribunal act is a new component of this legislation. I have some concerns about that element of it, but it does have a common theme, which is worthwhile, and at least it has the potential to be put together and bundled. Although, again, it is extensive, it is a bundling that we can accept.
We have called for a Speaker's ruling with regard to the artificial intelligence and data act, as this is brand new legislation as well, but it does not have the same connections as the previous two pieces, which are bundled together, in the way that one could could argue for them. We want a separate vote on the second part of this because the legislation would be studied at committee together.
There will be a high degree of interest in this legislation, since Bill C-11 had that in the past. The new bill changes position from Bill C-11 significantly, and I expect that this in itself will garner a lot of chatter, as well as review and interest, from a number of organizations, many of whom we have already heard from as of now.
The other part, with the tribunal, would be another important aspect, because it is a divergence from our traditional way of enforcement and creates another bureaucratic arm. Again, I would like to see more on this, and I am open to considering the idea, but it is certainly different from our traditional private right of law for dispute settlements about data breaches and other types of corporate malfeasance, that actually have to deal with the types of laws that are necessary to bring compliance among people.
This goes to the heart of, really, where a political party resides in their expectations of companies and their use of data, information and algorithms. For New Democrats, we fall very much in line with something I have tabled before, several years ago, which is a digital bill of rights, so that one's personal rights online are consistent with that of our physical rights, where one is expected to be properly treated in a physical world and in the digital format world. That includes one's right to privacy, right to the expectation of proper behaviour conducted toward oneself and right to not be abused. It also includes significant penalties to those who do those abuses, especially when we are looking at the corporate world.
Where this legislation really becomes highly complicated is the emergence of artificial intelligence, which has taken place over the last decade and will be significantly ramped up in the years to come. That is why the European Union and others have advanced on this, as well as the United States.
Our concern is that this bill tries to split both worlds. We all know that the industries of Google and other web giants have conducted significant lobbying efforts over the last number of years. In fact, they have tripled their efforts since this administration has come into place and have had a direct line of correspondence about their lobbying, which is fine to some degree, but the expectation among people that it would be balanced does not seem to be being met.
I want to bring into the discussion the impact on people before I get into the technical aspects of the bill, as well as the data breaches that remind us of the need for protection among our citizens and other companies as well. One of the things that is often forgotten is other SMEs, and others can be compromised quite significantly from this, so protecting people individually is just as important for our economy, especially when we have the emergence of new industries. If they are behaviours that are hampered, manipulated or streamed, they can become significant issues.
I want to remind people that some of the data breaches we have had with Yahoo, Marriott, the Desjardins group and Facebook, among others, have demonstrated significant differences in the regulatory system between Canada and the United States and how they treat their victims. A good example is a settlement in the U.S. from 2009 with the Equifax data breach, where Equifax agreed to pay $700 million to settle lawsuits over the breach in agreement with the U.S. authorities, and that included $425 million in monetary relief to consumers. We have not had the same type of treatment here in Canada.
This is similar to the work I have done in the past with the auto industry and the fact that our Competition Bureau and our reimbursement systems are not up to date. We have been treated basically as a colony by many of the industries when it comes to consumer and retail accountability.
We can look at the example of Toyota and the data software issue, where the car pedal was blamed for the cars going out of control. It turned out this was not the case. It was actually a data issue. In the U.S., this resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of investment into safety procedures. We received zero for that. Also, consumers received better treatment, where their vehicles were towed back to different dealerships to be fixed. In Canada, consumers did not receive any of that.
The same could be said with Volkswagen, another situation that took place with emissions. Not only did we not receive compensation similar to that of the United States, we actually imported a lot of the used Volkswagen vehicles from Europe. However, that was of our own accord and time frame when those vehicles were being sunsetted in those countries because of emissions.
In the case of Facebook, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission was able to impose a $5-billion fine for the company's violation, while the Privacy Commissioner's office was forced to take the company to federal court here in Canada. One of the things I would like to point out is that our Privacy Commissioner has stood up for the needs of Canadians, and one of the concerns with this bill would be the erosion of the Privacy Commissioner's capabilities in dealing with these bills and legislation.
The Privacy Commissioner has made some significant points on how to amend the bill and actually balance it, but they have not all been taken into account. One of the strong points we will be looking to is to see whether there are necessary amendments from our Privacy Commissioner on this.
One of the big distinctions between Canada and the United States, which is to our benefit and to Canada's credit, is the office of the Privacy Commissioner. Where we do not have some of the teeth necessary for dealing with these companies, we do have the independent Privacy Commissioner, who is able to investigate and follow through at least with bringing things to a formal process in the legal system. It is very labourious and difficult, but at the same time, it is independent, which is one of the strengths of the system we have.
If the government proceeds, we will see the bill go to committee, which we are agreeing to do. However, we do want to see separate voting. Before I get into more of the bill, I will explain that we want to see separate voting because we really distinguish that this is inappropriate. The artificial intelligence act is the first time we have even dealt with this topic in the House of Commons, and it should be done differently.
We will be looking for amendments for this, and big corporate data privacy breaches are becoming quite an issue. Some of these privacy breaches get highly complicated to deal with. There have been cases with cybersecurity and even extortion. The University of Calgary is one that was well noted, and there have been others.
We need some of these things brought together. The bill does include some important fixes that we have been calling for, such as stronger enforcement of privacy rights, tough new fines, transparency in corporate decisions made by algorithms.
I have pointed out a lot of the concerns that we have about the bill going forward because of its serious nature. However, we are glad this is happening, albeit with the caveat that we feel the bill should be separate legislation. The minister does deserve credit for bringing the bill forward for debate in the House of Commons.
Bill C-11 should have been passed in the last Parliament, but here we are again dealing with it. The new tribunal is the concern that we have. It could actually weaken existing content rules, and we will study and look at the new tribunal.
The tribunal itself is going to be interesting because it would be an appointment process. There is always a concern when we have a government appointment process. There is a concern that there could be complications setting up the tribunal, such as who gets to go there, what their background is, what their profession is and whether there will be enough support.
One of the things that gives me trouble is that the CRTC, for example, takes so long to make a decision. It is so labourious to go through and it has not always acted, most recently, in the best interest of Canadians when it comes to consumer protection and individual rights. It gives me concern that having another tribunal to act as a referee instead of the court system could delay things.
Some testimony has been provided already, some analysis, that suggests the tribunal might end up with lawsuits anyway, so we could potentially be back to square one after that. The time duration, funding, the ability to investigate and all these different things are very good issues to look at to find out whether we will have the proper supports for a new measure being brought in.
Another government resource for this is key. At the end of the day, if it is a tribunal system that is not supportive of protecting Canadians' privacy and rights, then we will weaken the entire legislation. That is a big concern because that would be outside Parliament. The way that some of the amendments are written, it could be coming through more regulatory means and less parliamentary oversight.
Who is going to be on the tribunal? How will it be consistent? How will it be regulated? I would point to the minister providing the CRTC with a mandate letter, which is supposed to emphasize the public policy direction it should be going. In my assessment, the CRTC, over the last number of years, has not taken the consumer protection steps that New Democrats would like to see.
When it comes to modernizing this law, we do know that this will be important to address because there are issues regarding the data ownership, which is really at the heart of some of the challenges we face. There is algorithmic abuse and also areas related to compensation, enforcement, data ownership and control, and a number of things that are necessary to ensure the protection of people.
We can look at an area where I have done a fair amount of work related to my riding, which is automobile production. There has been the production of the car and the value there, but there will also be the data collection. The use of that data collection can actually influence not only one's individual behaviour, but also that of society. That is a significant economic resource for some of these companies.
It is one of the reasons I have tabled an update to my bill on the right to repair. The right to repair is a person's ability to have their vehicle fixed at an auto shop of their choice in the aftermarket. The OEMs, the original manufacturers, have at times resisted this. There have been examples. Tesla, for example, is not even part of what is called the voluntary agreement, but we still do not have an update with regard to the use of data and how one actually goes about the process of fixing the vehicle.
It also creates issues related to ownership of the vehicle, as well as insurance and liability. These could become highly complicated issues related to the use of data and the rules around it. If these types of things are not clear with regard to the process of rights for people, expectations by those who are using the data, and protection for people, then it could create a real, significant issue, not only for individuals but for our economy.
Therefore, dealing with this issue in the bill is paramount. A lot of this has come about by looking at what the GDPR, the general data protection regulation, did in European law. Europe was one of the first jurisdictions to bring forth this type of an issue, and it has provided an adequate level of protection, which is one of the things Europe stands by with regard to protection of privacy. There have been some on the side over here in North America who have pushed back against the GDPR, and even though this landmark legislation has created a path forward, there still is a need for transparency and to understand what the monetary penalties for abuse are going to be, which are also very important in terms of what we expect in the legislation.
Erosion of content rights is one of the things we are worried about in this bill. Under Bill C-27 individuals would have significantly diminished control over the collection, use and disclosure of their personal data, even less than in Bill C-11. The new consent provisions ask the public to install an exemplary amount of trust to businesses to keep them accountable, as the bill's exceptions to content allow organizations to conduct many types of activities without any knowledge of the individuals. The flexibility under Bill C-27 allows organizations to state the scope not only of legitimate interests but also of what is reasonable, necessary and socially beneficial, thus modelling their practices in a way that maximizes the value derived from the personal information.
What we have there is that the actors are setting some of the rules. That is one of the clearer things that we need through the discussion that would take place at committee, but also from the testimony that we will hear, because if we are letting those who use and manage the data make the decision about what consent is and how it is used, then it is going to create a system that could really lead to abuse.
There is also the issue or danger of de-identification. Witnesses, artificial intelligence and people being able to scrub much of their data when they want and how they want is one of the things we are concerned about. There is not enough acknowledgement of the risk that is available in this. That includes for young people. We believe this bill is a bit lopsided towards the business sector at the moment, and we want to propose amendments that would lead to better protection of individual rights and ensure informed consent as to what people want to do with their data and how they want it to be exercised as a benefit to them and their family, versus people being accidentally or wilfully brought into exposure they have not consented to.
As I wrap up, I just want to say that we have a number of different issues with this bill. Again, we believe there should be a separate vote for the second part of this bill, being the third piece of it. It is very ambitious legislation. It is as large as the budget bill. That should say enough with regard to the type of content we have. I thank the members who have debated this bill already. It is going to be interesting to get all perspectives. I look forward to the work that comes at committee. It will be one that requires extensive consultation with Canadians.
View Dan Mazier Profile
CPC (MB)
Madam Speaker, the member touched a little on children's personal rights and protection. I wonder if he could comment on seniors and what kind of an impact it would have on them if they were exposed to this legislation. How could the legislation in fact harm seniors, especially if it was made more bureaucratic?
View Brian Masse Profile
NDP (ON)
View Brian Masse Profile
2022-11-28 12:21 [p.10059]
Madam Speaker, I did not touch on the issue of seniors, and I really appreciate the member's raising it.
We do not even have consistency right now in the decision-making process about privacy. People currently agree to a number of different things by clicking boxes, and there is no standardization. For seniors, we have seen, for example with the ArriveCAN app, the confusion as they have complex technology thrust at them during times of stress and times of highly important decisions.
As we move toward this, the member raises a good point in the sense that seniors and other people will need some type of support, education and coaching that go along with this, and shown in plain language. We are dealing with a highly technical bill here that we have had to scrub through the system several times, and the complications it has are unbelievable.
We know we have a very good, educated population, but this is a big change, and I hope that there will be a program of education as part of this. It is a good point that seniors have been left out of this debate, and I am glad the member raised that.
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
2022-11-28 12:22 [p.10059]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the speech from the member for Windsor West, especially around the issue of artificial intelligence. This is a brand new area. How does the member feel about the importance of this, and does he feel we are ready to legislate in this area? I know it is an area of concern for my constituents, and I would like to hear the member's thoughts on that.
View Brian Masse Profile
NDP (ON)
View Brian Masse Profile
2022-11-28 12:23 [p.10059]
Madam Speaker, I applaud the minister for bringing the issue forward to Parliament. Again, I want to exercise some caution that the first two pieces of the legislation are much easier to deal with, because at least there was some discussion on those with Bill C-11. It is a bit different in this one, and the tribunal is an issue, but I am open to looking at it. I just have concerns about that. However, the artificial intelligence part of it is critical. I am glad it is in front of us, but it is going to require much more extensive debate and care, and that is why it should be entirely separate.
We in the NDP have proposed a fairly reasonable compromise, and the Speaker will rule on it. The proposed compromise is that there would be a separate vote for that particular part of the bill. The reason is that perhaps the first two parts could lead to a decision that might be different from the decision on the last part, just to ensure that we get enough testimony and time in committee for it.
I am looking forward to all perspectives in the House on this. It is time for us to look at that. It is a reasonable position, and I am glad it is in front of us. I do not like the way it is in front of us, but we will deal with that.
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2022-11-28 12:24 [p.10059]
Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech.
This is a very important moment in time. The subject before us is sensitive and extremely complex. As has been mentioned several times, we are wading into areas that have not been regulated until now. It is very important to take the time to get it right. Certain conditions are obviously needed. For example, all legislation must be adapted to legislation that already exists in the provinces and in Quebec. As we know, orders in council issued during the previous Parliament guaranteed that there would be no encroachment on provincial jurisdictions if equivalent legislation exists in those provinces.
I wonder if my colleague could confirm whether his party is committed to not encroaching on provincial jurisdictions. Unfortunately, his party usually has a hard time respecting what happens in the provinces and wants to centralize everything at the federal level. I want him to understand that things might be more efficient if we can avoid duplicate structures. That is the first part of my question, which is fundamental. Furthermore, his political party has a tendency to pass legislation very quickly using gag orders, which are supported by the party. It concerns me that such an important piece of legislation is being voted on after limited debate.
Will the member commit to respecting the time allotted for debate on this bill and to respecting Quebec's jurisdictions?
View Brian Masse Profile
NDP (ON)
View Brian Masse Profile
2022-11-28 12:25 [p.10059]
Madam Speaker, I have extensive notes here, more than I could even go through, with regard to this bill being the number of pages that it is.
My party has an exemplary record of respecting Quebec and using, including in this bill, some of the practices in Quebec that are solid for all of us. Therefore, I disagree with the member on that.
Also, I have also seen the member's party close debate many times during the years I have been here. I have been here just over 20 years, and the Bloc has limited debate on different bills at different times for different circumstances and so forth. I want to have a robust discussion about this, and we are committed to it. I have expressed that to the minister and to other parties, including anyone who wants to talk about this bill to try to make sure it gets its due course. Those are the things that are quite strong.
I will conclude by saying again that we have shown that some of the best practices from Quebec are part of our strategy. That is flattery, and it is not at odds with Quebec.
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2022-11-28 12:26 [p.10059]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the complexity with which the bill has been introduced and that it presents to my hon. colleague, and the work involved in going through it. He mentioned the problems in terms of the tribunal process. I know the Privacy Commissioner has raised a lot of concerns.
Could the member perhaps go into a little more detail about the insistence, which our party certainly has, that the Privacy Commissioner has raised, in terms of ensuring that consumers have far more access to fairness within the legislation than organizations typically would have, because they have more monetary resources to pursue things under legal precedence?
View Brian Masse Profile
NDP (ON)
View Brian Masse Profile
2022-11-28 12:27 [p.10060]
Madam Speaker, the member for London—Fanshawe's question is something I did not touch on. Again, there is so much in the bill. She is quite right with regard to the fact that if an individual wants to take a legal right of action against an abuse, it is going to be more cumbersome for them, and a company would have a better chance at that.
The tribunal and the division of power with the Privacy Commissioner are going to be very interesting. What I do not want to do is anything that would undermine the Privacy Commissioner. I suppose I am biased in the sense that from my experience, the Privacy Commission has been an excellent model, has done some excellent work and needs more support. That is the other thing we have to do. If we are going to give it more responsibilities, it will need more support. What is worrisome to me is that the tribunal would be a bit disenfranchised from that consistency, and that is one of the reasons we want to see this legislation debated thoroughly.
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
2022-11-28 12:28 [p.10060]
Madam Speaker, we know that businesses and companies find data to be very useful for many purposes, including offering consumers the goods and services they prefer.
However, data can also be used to reduce competition, charge certain selected individuals higher prices for a good, or increase delivery charges for food in locations where there is less competition. Data can therefore be used to stifle competition. It seems to me that Canada's regime is very outdated.
I would like my colleague to comment on whether this bill will provide some sort of justice for Quebec and Canadian consumers, who are presently likely to be taken advantage of by companies that use their personal data without their knowledge and against their own interests.
View Brian Masse Profile
NDP (ON)
View Brian Masse Profile
2022-11-28 12:29 [p.10060]
Madam Speaker, that is going to be where we really want to steer, as New Democrats, toward more empowerment for consumers and watching that abuse be eroded. The problem we have is that some of the companies and the lack of competition we have in Canada right now could even lead to greater abuse, potentially, because the information and sharing of data can be done behind closed doors and behind the system of accountability. That will be one of the things to watch for, and that really is the objective of parliamentarians.
I am glad the member has raised that, because I think it is one of the things we do not want to lose sight of. A good example is that we see outright abuse of competition right now. When we had the Loblaws bread scandal, those involved were also putting their money offshore, and on top of that they all ended their pandemic hero pay at the same time, so these are good questions.
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
2022-11-28 12:30 [p.10060]
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for York Centre.
I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the digital charter implementation act, 2022, in particular the aspect on the consumer privacy protection act. If I have time, I will also discuss the artificial intelligence and data act.
I am very proud to speak to these two pieces of legislation that introduce a regime that seeks to not only support the technological transformation, but also help Canadians safely navigate this new digital world with confidence. These past few years, Canadians have witnessed these technological shifts take place. They have taken advantage of new technologies like never before. In 2021, more than 72.5% of Canadians used e-commerce services, a trend that is expected to grow to 77.6% by 2025.
According to TECHNATION, a 10% increase in digitalization can create close to a 1% drop in the unemployment rate. What is more, every 1% increase in digitalization can add $8.7 billion to Canada's GDP. In order to take advantage of those major benefits for our economy, we must ensure that consumers continue to have confidence in the digital marketplace.
Technology is clearly an intrinsic part of our lives, and Canadians have growing expectations regarding the digital economy. It is absolutely essential that the Government of Canada be able to meet those expectations.
With this bill, the government is putting forward a regime that gives Canadians the protection they deserve. First, as stated in the preamble of the digital charter implementation act, 2022, Canada recognizes the importance of protecting Canadians' privacy rights. Similarly, the 2022 consumer privacy protection act also provides important protections for Canadians.
That said, our government has listened to the input of various stakeholders, and we have made changes to improve this bill. I was on the committee in the last Parliament, and there was a lot of discussion about the previous bill, Bill C‑11. I am very pleased to be able to speak to Bill C-27, so that we can get all that work done in this Parliament.
One of the most important changes we have made is enhancing protection for minors. Some stakeholders felt that the previous legislation did not go far enough to protect children's privacy. I agree. Consequently, the bill was amended to define minors' information as sensitive by default. This means that organizations subject to the law will have to adhere to higher standards of protection for that information. The legislation also provides minors with a more direct route to delete their personal information. This will make it easier for them to manage their online reputation. I think this is a really important change, because we know that young people are very aware and very capable of using all types of digital platforms, but at the same time, we need to make sure that they are able to protect their reputation.
In addition to protections for minors, we also made changes to the concept of de-identification of personal information. According to many stakeholders, the definitions in the old bill were confusing. We recognize that having well-defined terms helps ensure compliance with the act and provides more effective protection of consumers' information. In that regard, I understand that, because we are talking about new technologies and an evolving industry, it is important for all members to share their expertise, since that will help us develop a better piece of legislation.
The difference, then, between anonymous information and de-identified information needs to be clarified because, clearly, if information is de-identified but an organization or company is able to reidentify it, that does not serve the purpose of having anonymous information.
Data-based innovation offers many benefits for Canadians. These changes contribute to appropriate safeguards to prevent unauthorized reidentification of this information, while offering greater flexibility in the use of de-identified information.
The new law also maintains the emphasis on controlling the use of their personal information by individuals. That remains a foundation of the law, namely that individuals must be able to fully understand the purpose for which information will be used and consent to that purpose in the most important circumstances.
However, the modern economy must also have flexible tools to accommodate situations that are beneficial but that may not require consent if the organization respects certain limits and takes steps to protect individuals.
The approach advocated here continues to be based on the concept of individual control, but proposes a new exception to consent to resolve these gaps as a tool for safeguarding privacy. The new provisions propose a general exception to cover situations in which organizations could use personal information without obtaining consent, provided that they can justify their legitimate interest in its use for circumstances in which the individual expects the information to be used.
In addition, to prevent abuse, the exception is subject to a requirement that the organization mitigate the risk. For example, digital mapping applications that take photos of every street and that we use to view them, particularly to help with navigation, are widely accepted as being beneficial. However, obtaining individual consent from every resident of the city is impossible.
I believe that everyone in the House will agree that it is hard to imagine how we managed before we had access to those navigation applications. Last evening, I had a visit with a family member in Ottawa and was very happy to have my mapping application to find my destination.
The presence of an exception, combined with a mitigation requirement, therefore allows individuals to take advantage of a beneficial service while safeguarding personal information. The example shows another key aspect for building trust and transparency. Digital mapping technology presents a certain level of transparency. The vehicles equipped with cameras can be seen on our streets and the results can also be seen posted and available online.
However, there are some technologies or aspects thereof that are more difficult to see and understand. That is why the bill continues granting individuals the right to ask organizations for an explanation regarding any prediction, recommendation or decision made in their regard by an automated decision-making system.
What is more, these explanations must be provided in plain language that the individual can understand. These provisions also support the proposed new artificial intelligence act. However, I do not think that I have time to get into that, so I will end there.
View Rick Perkins Profile
CPC (NS)
Madam Speaker, the member spoke about the protection of minors. I have a simple question. I cannot find anywhere in the bill where it defines a minor or a reference to “sensitive information”. Could the hon. member please inform the House how the bill defines a minor and sensitive information?
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
2022-11-28 12:41 [p.10061]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the concern the member brings with that question.
We have many definitions of “minor”, but it is generally understood that it is the different provinces that would legally establish who a minor is. We can understand it being youth using the Internet, and we need to make the extra effort to protect them and ensure they have the tools to protect themselves.
View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague. I sat with her on the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics for a few months.
We had concerns about privacy. Several recommendations were made, and that is why Bill C‑11 became Bill C‑27. I acknowledge that the bill has been improved. That being said, I wonder about two things.
First, in 2022, I do not think it is right that banking institutions are taking the lead on showing us how important it is to protect privacy. Second, this bill is important, but I would like to know if we should refer it to a committee to study it properly because it is really two bills in one. The first is on artificial intelligence, and the second is on privacy protection. What does the member think?
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
2022-11-28 12:42 [p.10062]
Madam Speaker, I know that my colleague opposite is very interested in this matter because our personal information was leaked by a Quebec financial institution. That was very worrisome.
I believe that it is in the business interests of financial institutions to protect their customers and not to lose them. They have really taken the lead in this area. The provinces have followed suit, but I believe it is also the federal government's role to enhance these protections and ensure that standards exist across the country.
View Taylor Bachrach Profile
NDP (BC)
View Taylor Bachrach Profile
2022-11-28 12:43 [p.10062]
Madam Speaker, it is notable that Bill C-27 does not explicitly apply to political parties. Given the potential for privacy breaches and other issues to exist in the political arena, I wonder if my colleague across the way could comment on the potential for amending it to explicitly reference and include political parties in the scope of the bill.
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
2022-11-28 12:44 [p.10062]
Madam Speaker, that is a very interesting question, which I believe has come up at different times in this Parliament and previous Parliaments. It is an area, I am sorry to say, that I do not have a lot of insight into, but the overriding principle of safeguarding the information of Canadians has to be first and foremost, especially for any political party that hopes to earn their votes.
View Ya'ara Saks Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ya'ara Saks Profile
2022-11-28 12:45 [p.10062]
Madam Speaker and hon. colleagues, I rise today to speak about the digital charter implementation act, 2022, also known as Bill C-27.
I thank the member for Châteauguay—Lacolle for sharing her time with me today.
It is an important discussion that is happening among Canadians about what our digital environment looks like. As we know, over the past few years, we have witnessed the constant evolution of our digital environment. Canadians have been successfully navigating through this changing environment, but they have also made it clear to us that they want better protection of their privacy. They want to be able to benefit from the latest emerging technologies with the confidence that they can be used safely. Canadians also believe that organizations need to be fully accountable for how they manage personal information and how they go about developing powerful technologies, such as artificial intelligence, or AI.
From the beginning of our consultations on digital and data, stakeholders have stressed the importance of maintaining flexibility to innovate responsibly and maintain access to markets at home and abroad. I am proud to say that the digital charter implementation act, 2022, which would enact the consumer privacy protection act, or CPPA, and the artificial intelligence and data act, or AIDA, would do just that.
The CPPA represents a complete transformation of Canada's private sector privacy regime, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, or PIPEDA, which came into force in 2001. That was 20 or so years ago. CPPA would introduce significant changes to better protect Canadians' personal information, including strong fiscal and financial consequences for those who seek to benefit from curtailing their legal obligations. This new framework would also ensure that all Canadians could enjoy the same privacy protections as individuals have in other countries.
The AIDA, for its part, is being proposed to build confidence in a key part of the data-driven economy. This part of the bill would introduce common standards for responsible design, development and deployment of AI systems. It would also provide businesses with much-needed guardrails for AI innovation and would ensure that Canadians can trust the AI systems that underpin the data economy.
PIPEDA was passed at the start of the century when other countries and some provinces were moving forward with privacy laws governing the private sector. Recognizing the potential for a patchwork of provincial privacy laws to emerge and the need to align internationally, Canada put in place PIPEDA as a national privacy standard. It drew on best practices to provide robust privacy protections for increased consumer confidence and a consistent and flexible regulatory environment for businesses that allowed for legitimate use of personal information.
The key element for alignment was the recognition of provincial private sector privacy laws as substantially similar. This meant that, where such a law is given that designation, PIPEDA did not apply to an organization's activities within that province. PIPEDA would continue, however, to apply to the federally regulated sector in that province and to any personal information collected, used or disclosed in the course of commercial activities across borders. This has provided a stable regulatory environment and flexibility for provinces, and it has supported Canada's trade interests well for many years.
Today, history is repeating itself, but the stakes are much higher. The role of the digital economy is far more central to our lives than it was 20 years ago. To harness all that the modern digital world has to offer, we clearly need to modernize our federal private sector privacy law. The provinces are moving in that direction and, again, the risk of fragmentation looms.
Quebec has amended its private sector privacy law, and B.C. and Alberta are examining their private sector privacy laws as well. Ontario too is considering introducing a new private sector privacy law. Therefore, the federal government must act now to ensure that all Canadians benefit from a substantially equivalent degree of protection and facilitate compliance for organizations that do business across the country.
Like PIPEDA, the CPPA is grounded in the federal trade and commerce powers. It builds on the best practices developed internationally and by Canadian provinces, and it foregrounds the importance of the ease of doing business across boundaries. The CPPA replicates the approach under PIPEDA, and it updates the mechanism in regulations for recognizing provincial laws as substantially similar. The regulations will set out the criteria and process for such recognition and will continue to provide the flexibility that has been important to PIPEDA's success.
CPPA, like its predecessor, would also maintain the Privacy Commissioner's ability to collaborate and co-operate with his or her provincial counterparts. This is an important tool to ensure consistency, guidance and enforcement, and one that has enabled our commissioners to lead the world in privacy collaboration and co-operation.
Canada also needs to move proactively to regulate in the AI space, given that the operation of these systems transcends national and provincial borders in the digital environment. AIDA would create a common standard that all organizations involved in international and inter-provincial trade and commerce would have to meet. AIDA would place Canada at the forefront of international regulation in the AI space and would provide clear rules across the country. This would spur innovation and build confidence in the safety of AI systems used or developed in Canada.
We live in an interconnected world. Data is constantly flowing across borders. In 2001, the European Commission recognized PIPEDA as providing adequate protection relative to EU law, allowing for the free flow of personal information between Canadian and European businesses.
In 2018, a new EU regulation came into effect that was known as the general data protection regulation. It updated many of the existing requirements and added strong financial penalties for contraventions. The EU is currently reviewing its existing adequacy decisions, including the one that applies to Canada. We expect to hear more on the outcome of this review soon.
The CPPA would make a positive contribution to maintaining Canada's adequacy with the EU privacy regime. It would enable personal data from EU businesses to continue to flow to Canada without additional protections. Beyond the EU, the changes proposed in the CPPA would represent important updates that would bring us in line with other international jurisdictions that have updated their laws. It would ensure interoperability with consistent rules, rights and consequences.
Other jurisdictions internationally are also moving ahead on their AI regulation, and strong action is needed to maintain Canada's leadership position internationally. Interoperability with international partners remains a key priority. The EU in particular has advanced a framework for regulating AI that would set standards for any AI systems being deployed in the EU market.
AIDA would propose a risk-based approach that would ensure interoperability with the EU while keeping in mind that Canadian context is unique. For example, AIDA would include flexible compliance options in order to ensure that our many small to medium-sized businesses would not be left behind. The proposed AIDA would represent an opportunity for Canada to lead internationally, would ensure market access for Canadian companies and would uphold Canadian values.
The government launched Canada's digital charter in 2019. Its 10 guiding principles offer a foundation on which to build an innovative and inclusive digital and data-driven economy. Ensuring interoperability, a level playing field, strong enforcement and real accountability are clearly reflected in the digital charter implementation act, 2022.
I can assure colleagues that our approach is pragmatic, principled and meets our trading needs. The bill would provide a consistent, coherent framework that Canadians and stakeholders could rely on. With Bill C-27 we would continue to encourage trade and investment and to grow an economy that would extend across provincial and international borders alike.
View Rick Perkins Profile
CPC (NS)
Madam Speaker, one of the important concepts of this legislation is clause 18, which introduces the concept into law of legitimate interests of the business. It says that when there is a legitimate interest of the business, it can choose to use a person's data for something that it did not intend, if it is of more importance to the business and it does not think it would cause too much harm to the individual.
I wonder if the member could tell us why the government believes that a company has a right to use an individual's data without their permission.
View Ya'ara Saks Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ya'ara Saks Profile
2022-11-28 12:54 [p.10064]
Madam Speaker, this legislation is important right now so that we can weed out what is not legitimate. We all have these phones. I have one. It tells us when we have been to the grocery store, it tells us when our flights are on time and it tells us where we are in the world. We acquiesce to that every day and that data is used. In the same mind, we want to make sure that when businesses, large or small, have access to that information, because we have agreed to it in theory, that it is guard-railed and it is protected.
That was a great question, and I think that is exactly why we are moving on this legislation.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
I want to remind the hon. member that she is not to use her phone as a prop in the House.
Questions and comments, the hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle.
View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, it is a beautiful Monday morning, particularly since we are talking about a bill that will likely make things easier for people who, unfortunately, did not give their consent or whose personal information was compromised.
I will repeat my question, which I unfortunately did not get an answer to. Does the government intend to thoroughly analyze this bill and invite enough witnesses to ensure that it is clear for all legislators?
View Ya'ara Saks Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ya'ara Saks Profile
2022-11-28 12:56 [p.10064]
Madam Speaker, as part of the ethics committee team, I have already begun these deep-dive discussions on the impact of AI on privacy. We have looked at the mobility data of movement as it pertained to the pandemic. I can rest assured that I have an interest in this at committee, whether it is at ethics, at justice or wherever this lands, to make sure that we get those answers. Consumers and Canadians have a right to know how their data is used and to understand when it is used and the purpose for it.
I am deeply encouraged by our work at committee and what we have done, and I look forward to the discussions that will be ahead.
View Laurel Collins Profile
NDP (BC)
View Laurel Collins Profile
2022-11-28 12:57 [p.10064]
Madam Speaker, privacy rights are so critical. When they are violated, consumers deserve to be compensated. There have been numerous examples in the United States where consumers have been compensated in the realm of hundreds of millions of dollars. For the same breach here in Canada, consumers have not been compensated.
I am wondering if the member would support amendments that would ensure that, in Bill C-27, there is parity, and for the same breach, Canadians and Americans would be getting fair compensation.
View Ya'ara Saks Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ya'ara Saks Profile
2022-11-28 12:57 [p.10064]
Madam Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, part of the act and its contemplation is financial consequences for misuse of the act, in terms of privacy and data breaches, so it is certainly something that would come up.
I heed warning. The member and I have talked about this in terms of the Volkswagen case in the U.S. and Canada. We need to compare apples to apples. It is a bit of apples to oranges when it comes to the litigious nature of the United States in terms of compensation and the guardrails that are here in Canada. We should always be mindful of that. While in principle we want to make sure that there is accountability and transparency in the use of this, and that with accountability comes financial penalties, I would like to make sure that it is a made-in-Canada approach.
View Rick Perkins Profile
CPC (NS)
Madam Speaker, data is used for good and data is used for evil. Data is money, data is power and data is knowledge. Data can improve our lives. Data can also harm our lives. Data tells the story of our lives, and our personal data flows globally. The amount of data in the world has doubled since 2020 and is expected to triple by 2025 according to Statista, 2022.
To understand why we need modern privacy rights in the digital world, it is important to understand that businesses have evolved from providing a specific service, like a social network such as Facebook and Twitter or a search engines such as Google or Microsoft to find things, to using data to gather information on individuals and groups, to manage and deploy people's data and to sell their information to others and sell them goods and services.
We have evolved from businesses providing these services for interest to businesses using these services for surveillance on us and making enormous amounts of money on our personal information. As legislators, we must balance the uses of data collection with an individual's right to privacy. It is a delicate balance that Bill C-27 aims to address by modernizing our privacy laws.
At the heart of this long overdue revision to our privacy laws must be the rights of the individual. In my view, commercial usage of data under privacy law should be secondary to personal privacy, and should only be focused on how business interests enhance personal needs and how commercial entities protect individual privacy rights. My remarks today will focus on why this legislation falls far short of what individuals, groups and businesses need for a clear legislative framework of data collection and management of personal information in this digital age.
First, Bill C-27 is really three bills in one omnibus bill. The first bill would update privacy law. The second bill contains a new semi-judicial body and would potentially duplicate what the Privacy Commissioner could do while removing the right to go to the courts. The third is a rushed bolt-on bill on artificial intelligence that does not, in my mind, have much intelligence in it. The Liberal legislation manages to weaken privacy and put up barriers to innovation at the same time.
Bill C-27 fails Canadians right up front in its preamble. Despite demands from privacy advocates over the last few years, the government has failed to recognize privacy as a fundamental right in the preamble. The bill states that individuals' personal information should have the “full enjoyment of fundamental rights”. This is clever language that avoids giving personal privacy the recognition that it is a fundamental right or a fundamental human right.
The wording “full enjoyment of fundamental rights” in the preamble needs to be amended from “of fundamental rights” to “as a fundamental right”. Furthermore, leaving this strictly in the preamble reduces if not eliminates any real legal impact. If privacy is a fundamental right, for it to have true force in this bill it needs to be included as well in clause 5, which notes the purpose of the bill.
Why is privacy a fundamental right? Freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom to be left alone are derived from privacy. The legal protections of privacy limit government's intrusion into our lives. In free and democratic societies, we consider these freedoms as essential rights. The rights to think what I want, to say what I want and to be free to choose what I do, what I am interested in and whom I interact with and where I do that in our digital world are data points. To me they are personal information and therefore are part of a fundamental right to privacy.
What does this mean? It means privacy rights under law are prioritized over commercial rights. A rights-based approach serves as an effective check on technology's potential dangers while ensuring businesses can function and thrive.
Government officials have told me this cannot be recognized in the bill the way it needs to be to have true meaning under law and force because it would intrude on provincial jurisdiction. I do not agree, and neither does the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Both levels of government can regulate privacy and do. The federal government's role is to regulate aspects under its control, including the fact that commerce does not follow provincial boundaries and therefore requires federal oversight.
I believe that most Canadians accept and expect their data to be used to enhance their experiences and needs in our modern society. I also believe that for organizations to obtain the data of Canadians, Canadians must first consent to it, and that if these same organizations find new uses of our data, they need to get express consent as well. Canadians want their data safely protected and not used for things they did not give permission for, and if they choose to end a relationship with a service provider, they want their personal data to be destroyed.
I do not believe Canadians want their personal data sold to other entities without their express consent, and how does Bill C-27 deal with these expectations of Canadians? I think poorly. The legislation, in the summary section, states that the dual purpose of the bill is to “govern the protection of personal information of individuals while taking into account the need of organizations to collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of commercial activities.” What it would not do is place personal privacy rights above commercial interests.
The bill would require express consent in clause 15, and that is true, but a great deal of the bill goes on to describe the many ways in which consent would not be required and how it would be left up to the discretion of the organization that has collected the data if it needs consent for its usage. The bill is also weak in terms of making sure individuals understand consent when given. For consent to be meaningful, the usages proposed must be understood. The lack of definition and the placement of burden of interpretation on businesses expose those same businesses to legal action and penalties if they get it wrong. This lack of clarity may stifle innovation in Canada as a result. The bill needs to ensure that individuals understand the nature, purpose and consequences of the collection, use and disclosure of the information to which they are consenting.
In addition, the bill would give organizations the right to use information in new ways and would require businesses to get an update to consent for this information. That is good and necessary, but the bill would also enable organizations to use the implied consent in subclause 15(5). When combined with paragraph 18(2)(d), this would give businesses carte blanche to use implied consent rather than express consent.
An organization can decide on its own that the original consent implies consent for a new purpose, and they do not need to seek the individual's views. This is a version of the old negative option marketing that was outlawed in the 1990s. Either someone gives consent, or they do not. There is no such thing as implied consent, in my view, and this needs to be removed from the bill.
Additionally, the bill uses the term “sensitive information”, which companies and organizations must determine to protect data, but it does not anywhere in the more than 100 pages define what “sensitive information” is. It needs to be defined in the bill to include information revealing racial and ethnic origin, gender identity, sexual orientation and religious and other affiliations. These are just a few examples.
However, that is not the worst of it. Bill C-27 would introduce a concept called “legitimate interest”. This is a new rule that would rank an individual's interests and fundamental rights below those of the organization that gathered the information, the exact opposite of what a personal privacy bill should do. To do this, subclause 18(3) would allow an organization or business to use information if it has a legitimate interest in doing so. However, here is where it really gets goofy: To try to reduce businesses using our data under the legitimate interest clause for their own needs over ours, the Liberals have decided to limit the power under paragraph 18(3)(b). This clause could prohibit the business or organization from using our information for the purpose of influencing behaviour.
For more than 20 years, since the invention of loyalty and rewards programs, retailers have used people's data to offer products they might enjoy based on their purchasing patterns. Have members ever bought wine online or in store because it said, “If you like this, you might enjoy this alternative”? Have members ever watched a show on Netflix because it was recommended? Have members ever listened to a song on Spotify because it was recommended based on what else they had listened to? Well, guess what. Paragraph 18(3)(b) could now make this service illegal.
The Liberals cannot get express consent right, and they are allowing companies to use people's data with implied consent or no consent at all. The Liberals are also putting the business use of people's personal data above their privacy rights. That is why it is really the no privacy bill. At the same time, the Liberals are making illegal the good parts of what businesses do in enhancing the customer experience by removing the ability to study purchasing patterns and offering products that we might enjoy because of paragraph 18(3)(b). This bill makes influencing people's decisions illegal.
The minister said to me and mentioned in the House in his opening speech on the bill, as have other members today, that he is proud to be protecting children from harm in this digital bill. This 100-page legislation has only one clause related to children. Subclause 2(2), under “Definitions”, states that “information of minors is considered to be sensitive”, but the bill does not define “sensitive” nor does it define what a minor is. Officials tell me that the definition of a minor is determined by provincial law, so each province would have different rules, and companies would have to comply with the different rules in every province.
If the protection of children were really a major purpose, this legislation would devote some space to defining both what a minor is and what sensitive information is. During COVID, minors used many online apps and programs to continue their formal education. There were then and still are no protections under law as to what is done with their data. This technology would be a new normal for our education system. The online surveillance of children resulting from the COVID experience is huge and protections are zero, even with this bill.
This bill needs to define in law, not regulation, age-appropriate consent for minors, and comprehensive rules to prevent the collection, manipulation and use of any minor's data. This bill leaves it up to businesses to decide what is sensitive and appropriate for minors. It is a colossal failure on the minister's main selling point for this no privacy bill.
The bill is silent on the selling of personal data. It needs provisions on the limits and obligations of data brokers. The bill is silent on the use of facial recognition technology. The bill also prohibits using data in a way that produces significant harm and defines it inadequately. For example, psychological harm caused by a data breach and embarrassment caused by privacy loss are not included. The damages role needs to be expanded to include moral damages, since most contraventions of privacy do not involve provable, quantifiable damages.
Creating more government bureaucracy and growth is the true legacy of the Liberals in government. This bill is no exception, with the creation of a body to appeal the Privacy Commissioner's rulings to. The appointed new body of non-lawyers is called the personal protection and data tribunal, and it is the second part of the bill. Frankly, these powers, if they really are important, should be given to the Privacy Commissioner to eliminate the middle man of bureaucracy. There is no need for this tribunal.
Finally, let us turn to the ill-conceived, poorly structured and ill-defined artificial intelligence part of Bill C-27. It really needs to be removed from this legislation and puts this bill's passage into question. AI is a valid area to legislate, but only with a bill that has a legislative goal. That is why I am hopeful that the Speaker will rule in favour of the NDP's point of order, reiterated by our Conservative House leader, which would ensure that part 3 of the bill is voted on separately from part 1 and part 2.
Essentially, this part of Bill C-27 would drive all work on AI out of Canada to countries with clearer government legislation. It tells me the government has not done its homework, does not really know what AI is or will become, and has no idea how it will impact people in our country.
The bill asks parliamentarians to pass a law that defines no goals or oversight and would give all future law-making power to the minister through regulation, not even to the Governor in Council but to the minister. The minister can make law, investigate violations, determine guilt and impose penalties without ever going to Parliament, cabinet or any third party.
It is a massive overreach and is anti-democratic in an area critical to Canada's innovation agenda. Promises of consultation in the process of crafting regulations is too little, too late. It puts too much power in the hands of unelected officials and the minister.
The definition in the bill of what AI is, and therefore what it wants total regulatory power over, is a system that autonomously processes date related to human activities using a genetic algorithm, a neural network, machine learning or other networks to make recommendations or predictions. If we think this is futuristic, it is not. It is already happening in warfare to determine and execute bombings.
Without parliamentary oversight, the bill introduces the concept of “high-impact systems”. It does not define what that is, but it will be defined in regulation and managed in regulation. No regulatory power should ever be given to the minister or the Governor in Council for anything that is not defined in law.
The only thing the bill defines is the unprecedented power to rule all over this industry and the fines to those who breach the unwritten regulations. The massive financial and jail penalties that extend down to the developers and the university researchers for undefined breaches of law as part of the statute are huge.
Unless this portion of the bill is separated when members vote, this AI section is reason alone that the bill should be defeated. AI is a significant need, but it needs a proper legislative framework, one that is actually developed with consultation.
I urge all members to read the bill carefully. Current privacy laws need amendment, but the current law is preferable to this ill-defined proposal. The AI bill would drive innovation and business out of Canada's economy, making us less competitive.
It is hard to believe anyone could get this legislation so wrong, especially since this is the second time the Liberals have proposed updating our privacy laws. Without splitting the bill, without having separate votes and without considerable amendments in committee in the first two parts, the bill should be defeated.
I urge all members to consider this seriously in their deliberations as we go on to the many speeches that we will hear. While this is a critical point of updating our personal privacy, the bill, in its current state, does not do it and it gives equal if not greater rights to businesses and organizations than it does to individuals.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-11-28 13:17 [p.10067]
Madam Speaker, I have heard the Conservatives talk a couple times, as did the member, about the definition of a “minor”. For a lot of people, that is self-explanatory. I think we can assume what is intended by the definition of “minor”. Would the member support this going to committee so questions like that could be answered? If it is a matter of defining that, and the member and others feel so passionately that it should be in there, would it not be beneficial to get it to committee so that discussion could be had?
View Rick Perkins Profile
CPC (NS)
Madam Speaker, I suspect the bill will go to committee given the costly coalition of the NDP and Liberals.
Specifically on that question on defining “minors”, it is not clear in the bill because it does not set an age. We are allowed to drive at 16 and vote at 18. The age of majority can be 19 for consuming alcohol. In the United States, the law for the purpose of the digital economy, I think, defines it as low as 13. That is where some of the confusion will lie.
If people are running businesses and we have all these different definitions in Canada of what a minor is, how are they supposed to determine, for the purpose of managing that database and whether that information should stay there or not, what the cut-off age is? It is too vague.
I am hopeful that is one of the areas, presuming the bill will reach committee with the coalition, that we will study in depth and perhaps be able to come up with a more precise definition.
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
2022-11-28 13:19 [p.10068]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from South Shore—St. Margarets for her speech.
Here are my takeaways from my colleague's speech: Not everything in this bill is black and white, and it could be improved. Also, the Conservatives want to vote against the bill just to prevent it from going to committee. In contrast, I think we can find common ground and amend it.
I have to say that this unwillingness to send the bill to committee does suggest, kind of like what we saw with the bill to amend the Broadcasting Act, that the Conservatives may be under the influence of big corporations that would be happier with no regulatory framework whatsoever rather than an imperfect one that is a work in progress.
I think this kind of approach which consists of arguing against sending the bill to committee could undermine Quebeckers' and Canadians' confidence in our institutions.
View Rick Perkins Profile
CPC (NS)
Madam Speaker, the member for Mirabel and I have some spirited discussions as seatmates.
With respect to the first point, if there is not a separate vote, as has been requested in the point of order, for the artificial intelligence in the third part of the bill, then, yes, we agree that this needs to be defeated because it would really hurt our economy.
In terms of the issue of personal privacy versus companies, in my remarks I made it very clear that the bill is inadequate in dealing with the personal protection of privacy and data of the individual and it places the interest of business over that. We are opposed to this.
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
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 Rick Perkins Profile
CPC (NS)
Madam Speaker, it is an enormous area. Artificial intelligence is already here in aspects of our lives of which we are not aware. Machine learning has evolved into this neural net.
There was a conflict in Azerbaijan where all the targets were chosen by artificial intelligence and the actual bombing and execution of that were all done by artificial intelligence without any human intervention. Obviously that is a worrisome thing from our perspective, though maybe not from some perspectives of other countries with different ethical backgrounds or approaches to these issues.
There is the need to do a proper consultation beforehand. We are at the early stages of trying to figure out the balance of how to do that in a way that still enhances our lives, like those things that we get now through machine learning about better purchasing options, right through to the issue of the point of which the machines are doing the decision-making process. It is an important area to put some regulatory and law structure around, as other countries have. However, we need to have much more detail in the bill rather than just give the minister carte blanche of regulatory power in the future to define it, execute it and investigate it.
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2022-11-28 13:23 [p.10068]
Madam Speaker, one of the concerns I have with the bill is again with respect to companies having too many rights and too much power within this. One of them is around the disposal of information. Could the member talk about his party's concern with that as well, when companies say that they are disposing of it and yet that information is truly not disposable?
View Rick Perkins Profile
CPC (NS)
Madam Speaker, that is a great question regarding the ability of individuals to request the destruction, for example, of their data if they leave. I heard about a case in the news this morning and I got an email from somebody yesterday, who has been having this ongoing battle with Telus. The person is leaving the company and wants that information destroyed, but cannot even get a response from Telus.
That is one of the areas, if the bill gets to committee, that we need to explore the issue of providing amendments to the bill that would give individuals more control over the decision to destroy their data if they leave.
There is a worrying provision, as I mentioned already, about minors. A member of the government side said that minors could request the destruction of their data. I do not think minors should have to request it, personally. Minors' data should not be kept in anyway in storage in the system we have today.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-11-28 13:24 [p.10068]
Madam Speaker, on that point, when we think about data that is collected, quite often a lot of that data, especially by AI, is collected in a manner that is not identifiable with who the data came from. The whole point to AI is to develop the systems by pouring massive amounts of data into them so the technology can become intelligence, so to speak.
How does the member square the comment he made with respect to demanding data be deleted from Telus, for example, when it might not be identifiable and, ultimately, one would not want it to necessarily be identifiable in many situations? Would he exclude that from those comments?
View Rick Perkins Profile
CPC (NS)
Madam Speaker, all information is identifiable because it involves, and should involve, expressed consent up front and is trackable under all systems now, even under AI. It can be, theoretically, and at times the identity is removed to put it together in a larger context of data.
I am looking forward to hearing testimony on this. It is my understanding that there are technologies that allow people, through a back end, to figure out and get at that data. I am not sure the legislation is strong enough to deal with the issue of the itemized data, the stuff that had people's individual identification taken off, and that it cannot be reconstituted. I know there are penalties in the bill for doing that if it is done without permission, but there are questions around the technology's ability to truly hide one's data at this point.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-11-28 13:26 [p.10069]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour today to rise to speak to Bill C-27, the digital charter implementation act.
I think it is important to reflect on how long it has been since we last had an update to legislation regarding the privacy laws that exist around data. The last time was over 20 years ago. Twenty years might not seem like a long time, but when we think about it, 20 years ago Facebook was probably just a program Mark Zuckerberg was working on in his dorm room.
If we think of iPhones, they were pretty much non-existent 20 years ago. Smart phones were out, but they certainly did not have anywhere near the capabilities they do today. So many other technologies we have come to rely on now have been getting smarter over the years. They are acting in different manners and are able to do the work they do because of the data being collected from individual users.
Another great example would be Google. Twenty years ago it was nothing more than literally a search engine. One had to type into the Google form what one was looking for. Sometimes one had to put weird characters or a plus symbol between words in the search terms. It literally was just a table of contents accessing information for people. However, now it is so much more than that. How many of us have, at some point, said to somebody that we would love to get a new air fryer, and then suddenly, the next day or later that day, we see in Google, on Facebook, or whatever it might be, advertisements for air fryers that keep popping up. I am sure that sometimes it is a coincidence, but I know in my experience it seems it happens way too often to be a coincidence.
These are the results of new technologies that are coming along, and in particular AI, that are able to work algorithms and build new ones based on the information being fed into the system. Of course the more information that gets fed in, the smarter the technologies get and the more they are looking to feed off new data that can give them even further precision with respect to advertising and targeting tools at people.
This is not just about selling advertising. AI can also lead to incredible advancements in technology that we otherwise would not have been able to get to, such as advancements in health and the automotive industry. If we think of our vehicles, the big thing now in new cars is the lane-assist feature, which uses technology such as lidar to read signals in the road.
There is technology that, when we enter our passwords to confirm we are human beings, sometimes requires us to pick different things from pictures. When we do that, we are feeding information back into helping those images be properly placed. We are not just confirming that we are human beings; there is an incredible amount of data being used to give better evaluations to various different formulas and equations based on the things we do.
When we think of things like intelligent and autonomous vehicles, which basically drive themselves, 20 years ago would we ever have thought a car could actually drive itself? We are pretty much halfway there. We are at a point where vehicles are able to see and identify roads and know where they need to be, what the hazards are, and what the possible threats are that exist with respect to that drive.
What is more important is that, when I get into my vehicle, drive it around and engage with other vehicles, it is analyzing all of this data and sending that information back to help develop that AI system for intelligent vehicles to make it even better and more predictive. It is not just the data that goes into the AI, but also the data that it can generate and then further feed to the algorithms to make it even better.
It is very obvious that things have changed quite a bit in 20 years. We are nowhere near where we were 20 years ago. We are so much further ahead, but we have to be conscious of what is happening to that data we are submitting. Sometimes, as I mentioned in a previous question, it can be data that is submitted anonymously for the purposes of being used to help algorithms around lidar and self-driving vehicles, for example. At other times it can be data that can be used for commercial, marketing and advertising purposes.
I think of my children. My six-year-old, who is in grade one, is developing his reading quite quickly. Two years ago, even at the age of four, when he would be playing a video game and would not be able to figure out how to get past a certain level, he would walk up to my wife's iPad and basically say, “Hey, Siri, how do I do this?”
Just saying that, I probably set off a bunch of phones to listen to what I am saying, but the point is that we have children who, already at such a young age, are using this technology. I did not grow up being able to say, “Hey, Siri, how do I do this or that?”
What we have to be really concerned about is the development of children and the development of minors, what they are doing and how that can impact them and their privacy. I am very relieved to see there is a big component of this that, in my opinion, aims to ensure the privacy of minors is maintained, even though I have heard the concern or the criticism from some members today that the definition of “minor” needs to be better reflected in the legislation.
I feel as though if it is not known what a minor is, in terms of how it relates to this legislation, then I believe this is something that can be worked out in committee. It is something to which the governing members would be more than welcome, in terms of listening to the discussion around that and why or why not further clarifying the definition is important.
I would like to just back up a second and talk more specifically about the three parts of this bill and what they would do. The summary reads as follows:
Part 1 enacts the Consumer Privacy Protection Act to govern the protection of personal information of individuals while taking into account the need of organizations to collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of commercial activities.
A consequence of this first part would be to repeal other older pieces of legislation. I think this is absolutely critical, because this goes back to what I have been talking about in terms of how things have changed over the last 20 years. We are now at a place where we really do not know what information we are giving or is being used from us. I realize, as some other colleagues have indicated, 99.9% of the time, we always click that “yes, I accept the terms” without reading the terms and conditions, not knowing exactly how our information is being used and what is actually being linked directly back to us.
Through the consumer privacy protection act, there would be protections in place for the personal information of individuals while, at the same time, really respecting the need to ensure companies can still innovate, because it is important to innovate. It is important to see these technologies do better.
Quite frankly, it is important for me personally, and this will be very selfish of me, that, when I am watching on Netflix a show that I really like, I get recommendations of other shows I might really like. As the member for South Shore—St. Margarets mentioned earlier, when it comes to Spotify, it is important to me also that, when I start listening to certain music, other music gets suggested to me based on what other people who share similar interests to mine have liked, and how these algorithms end up generating that content for me.
It is important to ensure that companies, if we want them to continue to innovate on these incredible technologies we have, can have access to data. However, it is even more important that they be responsible with respect to that innovation. There has to be the proper balance between privacy and innovation, how people are innovating and how that data is being used.
We have seen examples in recent years, whether in the United States or in Canada, where data that has been collected has been used in a manner not in keeping with how that data was supposed to be used. There has to be a comprehensive act in place that properly identifies how that data is going to be used, because, quite frankly, the last time this legislation was updated, 20 years ago, we had no idea how that data would be used today.
By encouraging responsible innovation and ensuring we have the proper terminology in the legislation, companies would know exactly what they should and should not be doing, how they should be engaging with that data, what they need to do with that data at various times, how to keep it secure and safe and, most importantly, how to maintain the privacy of individuals. It is to the benefit not just of individuals in 2022, or 2023 almost, to have data that is being properly secured. It is also very important and to the benefit of the businesses, so that they know what the rules are and what the playing field is like when it comes to accessing that data.
The second part of this bill, as has been mentioned:
...enacts the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act, which establishes an administrative tribunal to hear appeals of certain decisions made by the Privacy Commissioner under the Consumer Privacy Protection Act and to impose penalties for the contravention of certain provisions of that Act.
This is absolutely critical, because there has to be somewhere people can go to ensure that, if they have a concern from a consumer perspective over the way their data is used and they are not happy with the result from the commissioner, they have an avenue to appeal those decisions. If we do not do that, and we put too much power in the hands of a few individuals, or in this case the Privacy Commissioner under the consumer protection act, if we give all that power and do not have the ability for an appeal mechanism, then we will certainly run into problems down the road. This legislation would help ensure that the commissioner is kept in check, and it would also help consumers have the faith they need to have in terms of accountability when it comes to their data and whether it is being used and maintained in a safe way.
The third part of the bill is the more controversial in terms of whether or not it should be part of this particular legislation or in a separate vote. The summary reads:
Part 3 enacts the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act to regulate international and interprovincial trade and commerce in artificial intelligence systems by requiring that certain persons adopt measures to mitigate the risks of harm and biased output related to high-impact artificial intelligence systems.
That act would provide for public reporting and authorizes the minister to order the production of records related to artificial intelligence systems. The act also would establish prohibitions related to the possession or use of illegally obtained personal information for the purpose of designing, developing, using or making available for use an artificial intelligence system in an intentional or reckless way that causes material harm to individuals.
One of the consequences of artificial intelligence, quite frankly, is that if we allow all of this biased information to be fed into the artificial intelligence systems and be used to create and produce results for important algorithms, then we run the risk of those results being biased as well if the inputs are going to be that way. Therefore, ensuring that there are proper measures in place to ensure individuals are not going to be treated in a biased manner is going to require true accountability.
The reality is that artificial intelligence, even in its current form, is very hard to predict. It is very hard to understand exactly when a person is being impacted by something being generated from an artificially intelligent form. Quite often, a lot of the interactions we already have on a day-to-day basis are based on these artificial intelligence features that are using various different inputs in order to determine what we should be doing or how we should be engaging with something.
The reality is that if this is done in a biased manner or in a manner that is intentionally reckless, people might not be aware of that until it is well past the point, so it is important to ensure that we have all of the proper measures in place to protect individuals against those who would try to use artificial intelligence in a manner that would intentionally harm them.
As I come to the conclusion of my remarks, I will go back to what I talked about in the beginning, that artificial intelligence, quite frankly, has a lot of benefits to it. It is going to transform just about everything in our lives: how we interact with individuals, how we interact with technologies, how we are cared for, how we move around by transportation, how we make decisions, as we already know, on what to listen to or what to watch.
It is incredibly important that as this technology develops and artificial intelligence becomes more and more common, we ensure that we are in the driver's seat in terms of understanding what is going into that and making sure we are fully aware of anybody who might be breaking rules as they relate to the use of artificial intelligence. It will become more difficult, quite frankly, as the artificial intelligence forms take on new responsibilities and meanings to create new decisions and outputs, and we must ensure that we are in a position to always be in the driver's seat and have the proper oversight that is required.
I recognize that some concerns have been brought forward today by different members. At first glance, when the member for South Shore—St. Margarets and others brought forward the concern around the definition of a “minor”, which is not something I thought of when I originally looked at this bill, I can appreciate, especially after hearing his response to my question, why it is necessary to put a proper definition in there. I hope the bill gets to committee and the committee can study some of those important questions so we can keep moving this along.
I certainly do not feel as though we should just be abandoning this bill altogether because we might have concerns about one thing or another. The reality, and what we know for certain, is that things have changed quite a bit in the last 20 years since the legislation was last updated. We need to start working on this now. We need to get it to committee, and the proper studies need to occur at this point so we can properly ensure that individuals' privacy and protection are taken care of as they relate to the three particular parts I talked about today.
View Dan Mazier Profile
CPC (MB)
Madam Speaker, the member mentioned some of the things that are missing in the bill and that it will hopefully get to committee, but there was no mention, as he said, about minors and defining “minor”. My other colleague mentioned today that in the U.S. it is defined as 13 years old, which I found quite surprising. Here in North America we have so many definitions of “minor” that we still do not know what they meant here in Canada when they wrote the laws. There was no mention of seniors, which I mentioned already this morning.
Overall, why did the government pick such an ambiguous or bureaucratic way of approaching this legislation and offering clarity versus having the rules and doing it right the first time?
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-11-28 13:46 [p.10071]
Madam Speaker, when I first looked at the word “minor” I just assumed what a minor would be. I think my natural assumption was that it meant anybody under the age of 18. That was an assumption I probably should not have made.
I have been listening to the discussion today, and when I asked that question of the member for South Shore—St. Margarets, he gave a really good answer that made me pause and reflect on the fact that even in Canada, we have various terms for minors.
I am looking forward to seeing this go to committee so that it can be studied and then we can hear the pros and cons of defining it. Maybe there is no con to it and only pros, in which case I look forward to hearing what the committee puts forward on that. Maybe there is another reason it should not be defined that I am unaware of at this point. Again, that is something I would like to hear the answers to.
However, the debate today has certainly opened my eyes to that perspective.
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2022-11-28 13:47 [p.10071]
Madam Speaker, personal information is a shared jurisdiction. The Government of Quebec already has Law 25 on personal information.
Are there any guarantees that the new legislation will not infringe on Quebec's jurisdiction? Has the member already considered that? Does he have any examples?
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-11-28 13:48 [p.10071]
Madam Speaker, my understanding, based on the information that I have received, is that the bill aligns itself very closely with the approaches of other jurisdictions, such as where the member is from in Quebec. I think that the two bills can work together and this does not necessarily supersede the other.
Again, that is a good question for the committee to study and report back on. At least, my understanding at this point is that it works very closely with other laws that exist. That may be part of the reason the information was not conclusive in relation to defining a minor. Perhaps that is a decision that has to be made with the provinces and other jurisdictions. I do not know, but I think it is a good question and I too would like to hear the answer to it when this returns from committee.
View Laurel Collins Profile
NDP (BC)
View Laurel Collins Profile
2022-11-28 13:49 [p.10071]
Madam Speaker, one of the things that concern me in this bill is the proposed personal information and data protection tribunal. The way it is formulated and the vagueness of the membership, especially since many members will be appointed by the government, gives rise to a concern that it might be used as a political tool by the government of the day to overturn rulings it does not like. No other jurisdiction in the world has a tribunal like this. No other privacy regime has a tribunal like this.
I am curious as to whether the member thinks it might be better just to empower the Privacy Commissioner.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-11-28 13:49 [p.10072]
Madam Speaker, I do not understand exactly what the member means by just empowering the Privacy Commissioner. My understanding was that the intent of the tribunal was to oversee decisions that were made by the commissioner. That being the case, I think it is important that there be a body in place to bring complaints about the commissioner to.
Having said that, again, if the concern is not about the structure of the bodies but more about the composition and how that is determined, then I think this is a great conversation that can be had at committee, and the committee can bring forward its suggestions on this.
The government that introduced the bill certainly is not in a majority, as we know, and the NDP have been there to work with the government quite a bit. If these are suggestions that need to be brought forward, in a minority Parliament there is going to have to be at least a majority of the members on the committee that make recommendations back. I guess we will see what comes back from the committee.
View Mike Morrice Profile
GP (ON)
View Mike Morrice Profile
2022-11-28 13:50 [p.10072]
Madam Speaker, I appreciated hearing the thoughts of the member for Kingston and the Islands, but one proposed section that is a concern to me is proposed section 18(3), which states:
An organization may collect or use an individual’s personal information without their knowledge or consent if the collection or use is made for the purpose of an activity in which the organization has a legitimate interest that outweighs any potential adverse effect on the individual resulting from that collection or use
I wonder if the member could comment on the possibility of tightening up the language of what a legitimate interest is and if, in his view, this is something the committee could look at improving when the bill gets there.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-11-28 13:51 [p.10072]
Mr. Speaker, given the fact that the governing party does not have a majority, if a majority of the House feels a concern over that, there will have to be some kind of a compromise or resolution in committee with respect to this.
My only caution would be to ask, what does it actually mean? When we hear stuff like this and we read it, we might intuitively say, “Hold on, there is a problem with this,” without actually getting all the feedback. Committee is a great place to ask these questions specifically and to get examples of when that might happen and when it might not. That would then better inform the committee to make a recommendation, like the member is suggesting.
View Ken McDonald Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ken McDonald Profile
2022-11-28 13:52 [p.10072]
Madam Speaker, I want to compliment my colleague on his wonderful speech.
He did mention that it has been 20 years since this matter was reviewed and looked at. Could the member describe why now, and how important it is to get it right at this time?
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-11-28 13:52 [p.10072]
Madam Speaker, as I said at the beginning of my remarks, 20 years ago none of us were on Facebook. I think it was just Mark Zuckerberg and some of his college friends, and look where we are now and not only the way Facebook, Instagram and all those other social media services impact our daily lives in the sense that we are using them, but also how they are selling stuff to us, collecting information from us and feeding stuff back to us. The same could be said about Google and the iPhone. All these things have come a tremendous way in the last 20 years.
Having the proper measures in place now is critically important, because these technologies are not going to slow down. They are just going to speed up, getting better and more efficient. We need to make sure the proper accountability and rules are in place at this stage of the game, so we are not trying to play catch-up even more later on.
View Ryan Williams Profile
CPC (ON)
View Ryan Williams Profile
2022-11-28 13:53 [p.10072]
Madam Speaker, the member talked about being in the driver's seat, about AI and privacy.
The bill is really a balance between business interests and privacy, but one thing that we have seen is missing from the bill is its failure to mention privacy as a fundamental human right. That is not included in the purpose clause. We look at other provinces, like Quebec, and Quebec has privacy listed as a fundamental human right in its privacy legislation.
To be in control, to be in the driver's seat, to protect our minors, to ensure that businesses do not have something like legitimate interests that take control of this bill, does the member agree that having privacy listed as a fundamental human right is imperative to this bill going forward in the purpose statement?
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-11-28 13:54 [p.10072]
Madam Speaker, the member indicated that it is not in the preamble. Could it be in the preamble? Maybe it should be. I am not sure.
What I did learn very quickly from my days on municipal council is that the preamble really does not matter; it is the resolve clauses in the motion, or in this case the bill, that really matter. Do I believe that privacy is of the utmost importance? Absolutely. It is talked about throughout this bill. Should that be in the preamble? I am sure that is another matter that could be discussed at committee to determine if it is appropriate.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
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 Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I am sorry, but I am going to cut in to interrupt the hon. member. She will have 15 minutes and 45 seconds to complete her speech when we return to this. We will now go to Statements by Members.
View Jenna Sudds Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Jenna Sudds Profile
2022-11-28 14:00 [p.10073]
Mr. Speaker, last week I had the pleasure of joining the Minister of Public Services and Procurement in Kanata to announce $1.7 million in federal funding for BluWave-ai, a clean tech company in my riding of Kanata—Carleton.
BluWave-ai is leveraging artificial intelligence to help utility companies add renewable energy sources to their electricity grid. Our federal funding will help it build and commercialize software to manage electric vehicle fleet operations while reducing energy consumption on carbon-emitting vehicles.
By investing in these transformative technologies, our government is supporting workers and businesses as we move toward smarter and more reliable made-in-Canada, and in this case, made-in-Kanata, technologies. Way to go BluWave. Way to go FedDev Ontario. The future is green.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2022-11-28 14:01 [p.10074]
Mr. Speaker, December 2 is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. In Canada, forms of modern slavery can take place in factories, on job sites, on farms and in restaurants.
However, sex trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes. It is happening in every province, in thousands of Canadian communities. It is happening within 10 blocks, or within 10 minutes, of where we live. Most victims of this crime are from Canada and are coerced into prostitution by pimps. Over 90% of them are women and girls.
Around the world, over 50 million people are trapped in modern-day slavery, many making the very products Canadians buy. Modern slavery takes advantage of the poor and vulnerable throughout the world and robs people of their God-given dignity and freedom. It destroys lives and families.
We can change this. We can end this. On this International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, let us recommit to ending modern day slavery in all its forms, to seeking justice for those enslaved and to hoping for the restoration for those who are freed. May Canada be the first country to declare zero tolerance to modern slavery and human trafficking.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-11-28 14:02 [p.10074]
Mr. Speaker, almost four years since construction started, almost five years since all the funding was approved and over 50 years since it was first conceived, a third crossing of the Cataraqui River in Kingston is almost ready for its opening date of December 13.
Officially known as the Waaban Crossing, its name is an Ojibwa word meaning dawn, morning light or east. It is an appropriate name, as the bridge will further connect Kingston’s east end with the rest of the city, and it recognizes our indigenous roots.
On time and on budget, this was the first bridge built in North America using the integrated project delivery model made possible only because of the incredible collaboration of public and private efforts of the City of Kingston, led by Mark Van Buren, and contractor Peter Kiewit Sons, along with the incredible labour delivered by LiUNA labourers Local 183; Local 793, operating engineers; and Local 765 and Local 721, ironworkers.
The largest infrastructure project taken on by the City of Kingston to date, this bridge spans nearly 1.4 kilometres and includes a fully accessible active transportation lane, which will allow residents to enjoy the beautiful Cataraqui River while moving between Kingston east and centre. Once again, I send my congratulations to all those involved.
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am rising to recognize the exceptional season of tennis played by Quebecker Félix Auger-Aliassime.
The season culminated in an impressive victory at the Davis Cup, where his performance was instrumental in winning that iconic trophy for the first time. His career reflects his phenomenal progress. This year he won his first tournament in Rotterdam, to which he added consecutive titles in Florence, Antwerp and Basel. He won 16 matches in a row during the tour, qualifying for the ATP finals, in which he managed to score his first career win against Rafael Nadal, finishing sixth in the world rankings.
Félix Auger-Aliassime is a source of pride for Quebeckers. He is an example of perseverance and determination as one of the top athletes on the international stage in 2022. All Quebeckers are behind Félix Auger-Aliassime and hope to see him reach the top of the world rankings next year.
View Angelo Iacono Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Angelo Iacono Profile
2022-11-28 14:04 [p.10074]
Mr. Speaker, budget 2022 proposes to provide $100 million over three years to support harm reduction, treatment and prevention at the community level. People have different reasons for using substances, but one thing is certain: No one chooses to become addicted.
Although National Addictions Awareness Week came to an end this past weekend, we must continue our daily efforts to minimize these devastating effects on individuals, families, communities and the country.
In fact, I see this as an opportunity to call Canadians to action. Without passing judgment, let us provide support and help eradicate the stigma.
There are federal resources, such as Wellness Together and Kids Help Phone, to help those struggling with addiction. I want them to know that they are not alone.
View Rick Perkins Profile
CPC (NS)
Mr. Speaker, from Halifax, down the south and western shores of Nova Scotia, is Canada's most lucrative fishing region, where the lobster season will open this week. It is dangerous work fishing in the North Atlantic in the winter. This year, fishermen are facing more challenges. If the howling winds, frigid temperatures and unpredictable waves were not bad enough, the Liberal government's taxes are making it more difficult for fishermen to fuel their boats and make a living.
The government's unscientific closures for the bait fishery have made it tougher and more expensive for fishermen to set their traps. The men and women who make a living on the sea feed Canadians and, in southern Nova Scotia, the lobster industry is the main economic driver. Families depend on a thriving lobster season to pay the bills and put food on the table. I hope everyone in the House will join me in wishing all the fishermen in lobster fishing areas 33 and 34 a safe, successful and prosperous lobster season.
View Darren Fisher Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Darren Fisher Profile
2022-11-28 14:07 [p.10075]
Mr. Speaker, it is that time of the year. I am talking about a special day for kindness and generosity, and boy, could we not use a little more of that these days? This Tuesday, November 29, is a special day. After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is Giving Tuesday, a global movement of generosity.
For Giving Tuesday, I am encouraging everyone to perform random acts of kindness. They could help a neighbour, buy a coffee for the person in line behind them, pick up litter or let someone else have their seat on the bus. The opportunities are truly endless. If they have a favourite charitable organization in their community, they could call to ask if they can volunteer and how they can help.
Let us be inspired by Giving Tuesday and be kind to one another. On Tuesday and every day, let us help those who need us in our communities. I ask that everyone in the House and across all of Canada join me in celebrating Giving Tuesday.
View Mike Kelloway Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Mike Kelloway Profile
2022-11-28 14:08 [p.10075]
Mr. Speaker, local businesses are the heart of our communities in Cape Breton—Canso. Freeman's Pharmacy, nestled in the small community of Inverness, is no exception. Recently, the people of Freeman's Pharmacy went far above and beyond in their efforts to give back to their community. They did so in the form of a $75,000 donation to the local Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital. This incredible donation will go a long way toward purchasing medical equipment for the local hospital and is something that will benefit this community for years to come.
This not only is a testament of the positive impact of small businesses within our communities, but it is also a true testament to the people of Inverness, whose commitment to their neighbours remains undoubtedly strong. On behalf of the residents of Cape Breton—Canso, I extend my gratitude to the staff of Freeman's Pharmacy for their fine example of community-oriented kindness.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, something wonderful happened on Saturday, November 26, that made me very proud: The Rouge et Or, the football team for Quebec City's Laval University, won its 11th Vanier Cup, this time against the Saskatchewan Huskies. It was a thrilling game that proved that it pays off in the end to work as a team, persevere and keep up the effort until the end of the game. The last time the Rouge et Or won the Vanier Cup was in 2018. Four years later, this victory puts Quebec City's team back at the top of the list of Canada's best university football teams.
I want to congratulate receiver Kevin Mital, who was named the Vanier Cup's most outstanding offensive player. I also want to pay tribute to the Rouge et Or coach, Glen Constantin, who led his team to their 11th victory. This was Mr. Constantin's 10th career Vanier Cup. That means he has won one out of every two Vanier Cups over the past 20 years.
The people of Quebec City are all proud of the Rouge et Or. I hope the team savours their well-deserved victory.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, Conservatives believe passionately in the value and potential of immigration. Immigration allows us to fill skill gaps in our economy, to incubate movements for freedom and justice, and to pollinate our national conversation with the good and beautiful from all over the world. Unfortunately, Liberals are undermining support for immigration by piling on silly red tape, extending wait times and denying newcomers the opportunity to work and serve in their communities.
A Conservative government would make our immigration system work again. First and foremost, we would ensure that those who come to Canada can work in their fields. We would support programs to allow newcomers to qualify before they even get here, provide support for foreign-trained professionals to get certified and sign deals with provinces to guarantee that they would get a clear yes or no answer on their qualifications within 60 days.
Under the Liberals, new Canadians are seeing red: red ink and red tape. It is time to replace that red with blue skies. Conservatives are excited about the limitless potential of a diverse, pluralistic and free society where anyone, no matter how long they have been here, can use their skills to build our country up. For new Canadians and all Canadians, it is blue skies ahead.
View Tracy Gray Profile
CPC (BC)
View Tracy Gray Profile
2022-11-28 14:11 [p.10076]
Mr. Speaker, with the cost of living and record-high inflation, small businesses have been forced to bear the brunt of cost increases, which are hitting them hard after more than two years of challenges.
According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, small businesses have incurred, on average, $150,000 in new debt, yet what Christmas gifts are the Liberals giving them for 2023? Tax increases.
Carbon tax increases add costs to their heating bills and anything that is shipped. There is the payroll tax increase and an automatic tax increase on beer, wine, ciders and spirits, affecting beverage production and hospitality industries.
It is no wonder that one in six Canadian small business is considering closing its doors.
A female entrepreneur from my community recently told me that she was making the tough decision to raise her prices, knowing that it would affect her clients, and that she held off as long as she could. Small businesses are among the most affected by inflation and they are making tough decisions every day.
Only the Conservatives will axe the carbon tax on gas, groceries and heating and give our small businesses the breaks they need now.
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, like so many in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler, I was saddened to hear the news of constituent Aaron Fisher’s sudden and tragic passing while on holiday in the Philippines on Friday, November 18.
Aaron was a professional millwright and was a valued employee at Septodont in Cambridge for many years.
Aaron served as the past president of the Kitchener South—Hespeler Federal Liberal Riding Association. He was also the former executive director of the Hespeler Village BIA. In this role, he was a tremendous advocate for small businesses in Hespeler’s downtown core.
Most of all, Aaron was a dedicated father to his two sons Sammy and Cole, who have lost their father way too soon.
Every member of Parliament in the House knows what it is to have that dedicated and enthusiastic political volunteer. Aaron contributed greatly on both federal and provincial boards and campaigns in various capacities.
I extend my sincerest condolences to Aaron’s family, friends and former co-workers during this difficult time. He will be greatly missed.
View Sherry Romanado Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, last Saturday, I had the pleasure of joining members of the Canadians Armed Forces 34th Service Battalion and their spouses for a regimental dinner at Saint‑Hubert Garrison.
That evening, we acknowledged the career and command appointments of Lieutenant-Colonel Mario St-Denis, who retired as commander of the battalion in June 2020. Lieutenant-Colonel St-Denis is an outstanding service member who had a stellar career in the Canadian Armed Forces. I had the privilege of collaborating with him for several years, and I can say that I consider him a personal friend. I congratulate him on a well-deserved retirement.
Lieutenant-Colonel Lance Gosselin will be taking command. I will be pleased to work with him and continue the strong relationship that I have long had with this battalion.
Many thanks to the 34th Service Battalion for a wonderful evening.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
Mr. Speaker, today, I recognize the hard work of trucking companies and drivers who keep our supply chains and economy moving. However, those companies and employees are coming face-to-face with an illegal tax scheme that threatens the livelihood of the industry, the rights of truckers and the safety of people on our highways.
Driver Inc. is a tax scheme designed to convince employees to register as a corporation. The company then pays the corporation, which is not subject to normal tax deductions. Drivers are not entitled to overtime pay, paid sick days, vacation or severance pay.
This illegal tax scheme leaves truck drivers unprotected in the event of a workplace accident and vulnerable to unjust termination.
Legitimate carriers and labour stand together in condemning this practice that benefits large corporate entities that push the demand for this illegal tax scheme.
We must work together to clamp down on systemic labour abuses, close tax loopholes and support those who respect the rules, protect workers and keep our economy rolling.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2022-11-28 14:16 [p.10077]
Mr. Speaker, on November 17, Statistics Canada released data on urban greenness, and the news is good. With a score of 93%, Saint‑Jérôme came out on top in all of Quebec, and even in all of Canada.
There is good reason to be happy with our community's efforts over the past few years. We can take pride in our P'tit Train du Nord trails; Lac-Jérôme nature park, which is as big as the Mount Royal park; or the Rivière du Nord, which runs through the Laurentians.
In the face of climate change, developing green cities means building quality living spaces, mitigating heat islands, reducing rainwater runoff, preserving healthy wildlife habitats and maintaining the beauty of the area. Saint‑Jérôme is number one in urban greenness, and rest assured that we will not stop there. Saint‑Jérôme will become even greener and bolster its reputation as a champion of electrification of transportation.
A positive step forward for the planet; a positive step forward for Quebec.
View Laila Goodridge Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, the addiction crisis is destroying lives and tearing families apart. Whether it be the rapid increase in opioid-related deaths, a massive spike in meth use driving rural crime or an overuse of alcohol that continues to utilize more health resources than all other substances combined, Canadians are suffering.
I hear so often from communities that the system is broken. In fact, it often feels like everything is broken, but we can fix it. The Conservatives believe that addiction is a health condition. We believe in a fair, firm and compassionate approach to addressing the addiction crisis, that every Canadian deserves to live in a safe community and that every person struggling with this illness deserves an opportunity to pursue recovery.
We believe there should be a recovery-oriented system of care that helps people on their journey. This means prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery. The Conservatives believe that we have to meet people where they are at, but we need to stop leaving people there. We should be helping them get their life, family and dignity back. Recovery is possible.
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
2022-11-28 14:18 [p.10077]
Mr. Speaker, this morning, I had the pleasure to co-host with Karen Hunter the Canadian Remembrance Torch meet-and-greet event with students Anna, Sebastian and Raj from McMaster University. These accomplished students were involved in engineering and constructing the torch, which serves as an important symbol for the contributions of Canadian veterans.
During this morning’s event, the students shared their journey in manufacturing the torch and bringing awareness to Canada’s military contribution in the liberation of the Netherlands during the Second World War. The students also shared their thoughts on why commemorative initiatives, like the Canadian Remembrance Torch, was important for Canada’s domestic, international and military history.
I stand with them in commemorating those who did not return and our Canadian veterans, and echo their voice in bringing more awareness to our great veterans who risked so much to defend and preserve our freedom.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2022-11-28 14:19 [p.10077]
Mr. Speaker, last week, the Governor of the Bank of Canada indicated that this government's inflationary deficits have added to the inflation we are seeing today.
The Prime Minister blames these exorbitant deficits on COVID‑19, but 40% of these deficits had nothing to do with COVID‑19. According to the Governor of the Bank of Canada, inflation now costs each and every one of us $3,500.
Will the government reverse its inflationary deficit policies so Canadians can pay their bills?
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to start the day and week with some very good news.
This week, on Thursday, December 1, Canadians can begin to apply for the Canadian dental benefit. This means that parents of children under 12 years of age will be able to claim $650 for dentist visits. That is excellent news for all Canadians, especially for our children.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2022-11-28 14:20 [p.10077]
Mr. Speaker, even the Governor of the Bank of Canada has said that the government's deficit spending is driving inflation and that inflation is costing the average Canadian $3,500.
Furthermore, we are facing a heating crisis over the winter. The Liberals say they are going to buy everyone a heat pump, but according to MacLeod Lorway insurance group, many insurance companies will not accept heat pumps as a main source of heat. That is because they cannot be counted on to keep the pipes from freezing.
Instead of distracting with promises that will not work, why will the Liberals not cancel their plan to triple the carbon tax and raise home heating prices?
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, providing dental care for all Canadian children under 12 is not a promise that will not work. That is a commitment that starts this Thursday and means that never again will Canadian parents of young children need to choose between buying the groceries, paying the rent or taking their kid to the dentist. That is something for us all to celebrate.
When it comes to fiscal responsibility, Canada has a AAA rating, and the lowest debt and deficit in the G7.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2022-11-28 14:22 [p.10078]
Mr. Speaker, the question was about home heating.
The New Democrats have voted to raise home heating prices. They voted against our motion to take the carbon tax off home heating, and did it right before a winter when analysts expect that home heating prices will double. Now the Liberals are saying they will buy everyone a heat pump, which insurance companies say will not be insured because people need a backup heat supply in order to keep the pipes from freezing.
Instead of coming up with new schemes, why do the Liberals not just cancel the tax so Canadians can stay warm this winter?
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
2022-11-28 14:22 [p.10078]
Mr. Speaker, I certainly think we can all agree that affordability is an incredibly important issue for all Canadians. That is why we have done a number of things, including the doubling of the GST benefit, enhancing the workers benefit and making investments into energy efficiency to ensure we are addressing affordability.
It is also the case, no matter what the opposition tries to say, that eight out of 10 Canadian families actually get more money back than they pay for the price on pollution.
I would say that every member on that side of the House, including the Leader of the Opposition, campaigned on a platform to put in place a price on pollution. What does he say to his constituents now?
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2022-11-28 14:23 [p.10078]
Mr. Speaker, I say to my constituents that we want them to have lower, not higher, heating bills.
As for his claim, the Parliamentary Budget Officer said that, when we take into account both the financial and economic cost of the government's carbon tax, 60% of people paying it will pay more than they get back in any rebate. That is published information, and it is only going to get worse as the Liberals triple the tax with the help of the NDP.
We are heading into a cold winter. Canadians need to heat their homes; it is not a luxury. Will the Liberals cancel their plan to triple the tax?
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2022-11-28 14:24 [p.10078]
Mr. Speaker, with respect, the hon. member has now made the most bizarre argument I could possibly imagine when it comes to inaction on climate change. He is now suddenly opposed to heat pumps.
Heat pumps have the ability to reduce pollution in our community and bring the cost of power down or heat for homeowners who live in my community. This is particularly important as we are coming up on the winter season. I was so pleased to make the announcement in my hometown last week that we would provide an upfront grant of up to $5,000 for homeowners to help them lower their heating bills every month.
We are going to continue to do what is right for climate change, because we know the cost of inaction is simply too great to ignore.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2022-11-28 14:24 [p.10078]
Mr. Speaker, in the recently published government strategy on the Indo-Pacific, it says, “In areas of profound disagreement, we will challenge China, including when it engages in coercive behaviour [or] ignores human rights obligations”. There is a wave of protests across China right now, and there are now reports of government crackdowns against those protests.
If the government is serious about what it put in its strategy, then will it indicate to Beijing that the peaceful protests should be allowed to go ahead and that any crackdown should be resisted?
View Maninder Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Maninder Sidhu Profile
2022-11-28 14:25 [p.10078]
Mr. Speaker, we are following the unfolding events in China very closely. We remain in close contact with our embassy and consulate.
We believe in freedom of expression at home and abroad, including in China, and that protesters should be able to peacefully protest and share their views without fearing for their safety. We will continue to follow the events very closely.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, let me summarize the situation. Global News has reported on Chinese interference in the 2019 election. At least 11 candidates may have received funding from China. Intelligence services informed the Prime Minister's Office as far back as January 2022. We are trying to get to the bottom of this, but we are not getting any clear answers from either the Prime Minister or the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as though secrecy somehow served democracy.
I will put the question another way. Are we to understand from the government that the Global News story is false?
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, we take all threats of foreign interference very seriously. That is precisely why we created not one, but two independent committees, which have confirmed the results of both the 2019 and 2021 elections. We will continue to provide all the tools that the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security needs to protect our democratic institutions.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, even if there was no Chinese interference with the funding of 11 candidates, we know that a real risk still exists. We need only think of the Chinese researchers at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, the secret police stations in Toronto and the espionage at Hydro-Québec. It is naive to believe that there is no threat of Chinese interference in elections.
Instead of being self-congratulatory, will the government recognize that public funding of political parties is a good way to protect the integrity of our elections?
View Dominic LeBlanc Profile
Lib. (NB)
View Dominic LeBlanc Profile
2022-11-28 14:27 [p.10079]
Mr. Speaker, we obviously share our colleague's belief that it is important to protect the electoral system and the integrity of our elections. That is why the government took action several years ago by creating a committee chaired by the Clerk of the Privy Council and with intelligence experts to ensure that Canada's elections are free and open. That is exactly what this group confirmed in 2019 and also in 2021, which is good news.
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