Order, please. We have reached the end of the time allowed for the hon. member's comments. We will go now to questions and comments.
The hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord.
Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government may not listen to workers or employers, but will it at least listen to Conservatives?
More and more of them are condemning the job-killing employment insurance reform. The long list includes Allen Cormier, Conservative candidate in the most recent election in Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia; Michel-Éric Castonguay, Conservative candidate in the most recent election in Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord; André Plourde, former Conservative MP for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—
The hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord.
Mr. Speaker, let us take care of business. I have an advantage: I have been here nearly 16 years. I have seen things from both sides. I have got along pretty well. From here, I now have a better overall view. I have to admit that I find this sad, and even unacceptable. We have a bill with something like 516 clauses that deals with a number of bills. It is introduced in catch-all form, which ultimately means that the public, and we, their representatives, do not have a chance to really shed light on each bill. So there is something that is not working in our democracy. It is called an abuse of power.
I am certainly very sad to see the contribution by the NDP, who are jeering and trying to ditch the Conservatives. Some people have said 3,000 amendments was superficial. No, it is giving democracy a chance to express itself. We are the same people who recently spent the night together. We remember that. There were several hundred amendments that time. Why did we do it? To define this government. We call that consistency. If we want to give democracy a chance to express itself and if we want to show just how much this government is abusing power and just how antidemocratic it is, then we have to play the game to the very end. When we are at a finance committee meeting and we make all the motions and propose all the amendments possible, it is to define this government.
Unfortunately, the official opposition has painted itself into a corner. The New Democrats can call the government whatever they like, but they have created a dangerous precedent. Unfortunately, the New Democrats, working together with the Conservative Party, have created this precedent that a majority party will be able to do what it wants from now on. They could have stood up and spoken out for their fellow Canadians. This is not a matter of partisanship; it is a matter of how democracy works. Unfortunately, the NDP voted with the Conservative Party.
He is signalling to me there, my young colleague from Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, but those are the facts. They are going to have to explain that inconsistency, because in a democracy, procedure is essential. This bill is not just an omnibus bill, it is not just a mammoth bill, it is not just a catch-all bill; it is a way of defining parliamentary democracy.
That is what is important, and I have said it in both official languages because I am a proud Canadian and proud Quebecker and I can speak in both official languages.
Democracy is not about making it fast. Democracy is about giving us time as legislators to make sure that we can look through every article in every piece of legislation, because our role is to enhance the quality of life and protect those who are in need. It is also to make sure that we fight inequities, to make sure that people in rural Canada are also treated as first-class citizens. However, to do that we have to know procedure. Here, my colleague put forward 3,000 amendments, but did not do so for nothing. It was to define the current government. It was to make sure that we understand what Parliament and democracy are all about.
We have an official opposition that I do not understand. We spent nights together for God's sake and now that party has totally changed.
Order. Questions and comments, the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord.
Madam Speaker, I would like to share my time with the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord.
First I would like to say that I am proud the NDP has proposed this motion on employment insurance.
I find it sad that the government thinks that people who receive employment insurance are a bunch of lazy slackers. As the member for Madawaska—Restigouche put it so well, there are still people who prefer to receive employment insurance because they want to go hunting. That is how the Conservatives think.
The parliamentary secretary asked whether it was not better to have a job 12 months a year rather than six months a year.
Yes, it is much better.
The parliamentary secretary said she went to visit Newfoundland. I would like to know whom she spoke to in Newfoundland. Let her report to the House on whom she met in Newfoundland, because there is a fishing industry in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and the Gaspé.
If the Conservative government is so smart, I invite the Prime Minister to introduce a bill to melt the ice in Chaleur Bay so that people can fish in winter. If he is so smart, if he really believes in jobs 12 months a year and if he wants to support the fishing industry, I invite the Prime Minister to melt the ice in Chaleur Bay. That way, people could fish 12 months a year.
In addition, let him put some fish in the sea because this same government shut down the groundfish fishery. I invite the parliamentary secretary to come and tour New Brunswick. Let her come, and I will take her around to the employers who are having problems as a result of seasonal jobs: they want to keep their employees. However, the government's bill does the exact opposite. It wants those employees to go work elsewhere.
Industry back home in New Brunswick, and in the riding of Acadie—Bathurst, amounts to fishing and peat moss. Has anyone ever wondered how you harvest peat moss under the snow? This Conservative government is really out of touch with the reality of the regions to a ridiculous degree. The parliamentary secretary says she comes from a rural area. All right, but she may come from a rural area where there are secondary or tertiary processing jobs and employment 12 months a year.
If the Conservative government wants to do the right thing, let it put tools in place. Let the human resources minister put the tools in place for us to do the secondary and tertiary processing instead of sending all our fish to Japan.
Under these new regulations, unemployed workers are required to look for work twice a week. Some 3,000 people lose their jobs at the end of June because the fishery winds up in June and starts again in mid-August. The biggest surprise this government could have right now would be for fish plant employees to decide, twice a week, to go and see employers one hour’s drive away about jobs those employers do not have. Employers would tell the Conservative government to get those workers off their backs because they would not be able to produce anymore with them coming to work in their yards when there are no jobs.
The government's parliamentary secretary said they were going to send unemployed workers job alerts twice a day to tell them where they could find work, but the problem that was raised is that some of them do not even have a computer. The government responded that 85% of people filing employment insurance claims did so online.
They file employment insurance claims online because the government requires them to do so. It has shut down human resources offices everywhere. There were more than 100 human resources offices in Canada, and since the Conservatives intend to close some of them, there will only be 22 left.
Applying once for employment insurance means going to a neighbour and asking to use his computer. This happens once a year. But if a person has to ask to use his neighbour’s computer twice a day to check jobs, the neighbour will get fed up.
The government is saying that if you want a job, you will have to use a computer to get it, because that is where the jobs are. Is the government telling us that it is going to send out two letters a day to Canadians to tell them that jobs are available? My goodness, I do not know what planet I am living on. If there are that many jobs in Acadie—Bathurst, I cannot wait to find out where they are. I am sure that the residents of Acadie—Bathurst cannot wait to know where all these jobs that the government is announcing are.
We are not against motherhood and apple pie, we are not against the fact that the government is telling people that there are going to be jobs available at specific locations. We are not against employers posting jobs or workers being available. The problem is telling somebody that if he does not go to a specific location for a job and accept it, his employment insurance will be cut off. If I were an employer, I would tell the government to mind its own business because it is not up to the government to dictate who should be in the private sector. If the government forces somebody to work for a particular employer and the person does not like the job, how productive will he be?
The 70% model sounds good, does it not? For those who get a job at 70% of their salary and are then laid off, will the next job be at 70% of that salary? Will it be 70% until the person receives the minimum wage? The government wants to help employers keep wages down. The government is going to play a role in forcing people to go and work for employers who will not increase wages. The Conservatives are going to make sure that people remain in poverty. That is what this measure is all about.
Furthermore, this measure is found in Bill C-38. Why did they not separate it from Bill C-38? They should let the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities conduct a real study. If the bill put forward by the minister and the federal Conservative government is so good, why is the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador not satisfied and why was it not consulted? Why is the Province of Nova Scotia not satisfied and why was it not consulted? Why is the Province of Prince Edward Island not satisfied and why was it not consulted?
The exception is New Brunswick, because we know that our premier, Mr. Alward, follows everything that the Prime Minister of Canada says. The Conservatives are in power in New Brunswick and they will not touch this with a 10-foot pole. The premier might have to answer for this in the next election in New Brunswick, because at the moment he does not represent the seasonal workers in our province.
The people in our province who work in the fisheries are wondering where they are expected to find a job. What will happen to the 60-year-old woman in Caraquet who has almost reached retirement age if she tries to take her car to work at a McDonald's in Bathurst with the winter road conditions that we have? By the way, it is not funny when you drive along the coast. With the wind, even if there is not much snow falling, it becomes a storm. On the peatlands and in open country, the roads can be impassable just because of the winds. This is what they are doing; they are putting people's lives in danger.
The Conservatives think that people are happy to receive 55% of their salary and feel as though they are on vacation. They should see these people's living conditions and they should live in these conditions. They should answer the calls that I get in my office from people saying that they would like to work. They should remember the time when the fisheries were good and people worked 35 weeks per year. They worked 15- and 16-hour days, 7 days a week, for 35 weeks. I will never allow them to call our workers lazy slackers. These are the same people who leave our region to go work out west, where they can find jobs.
If the Conservative government wants to help people get jobs, it can help us get a better airport in Bathurst. The runway needs to be lengthened. It can give us a building that is capable of handling our people travelling up to the far north for jobs. This is the same government that cut $18 million from ACOA and that gives us no tools. Tools are what we want. It is the government's responsibility to provide tools and to make it possible to get jobs, not to do what it is doing at the moment, cutting employment insurance so that people fall on hard times, sending them onto welfare and putting all the burden onto the provinces.
I hope that the Premier of New Brunswick is also listening to me; I hope he realizes that we, the taxpayers of New Brunswick, are the ones who are going to be paying for the federal government's mistakes—
Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege to raise a matter that represents a serious offence against the dignity and authority of Parliament and, as such, constitutes a clear contempt of Parliament.
On February 24, a package addressed to me was received by the House of Commons delivery service. However, although the package was clearly addressed to me, the shipper used the address of my former officer, which is now occupied by the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord.
The messenger went to the office of the hon. member in question, which signed for the package even though it had my name on it. As we had not received the package, we looked into the matter with the House of Commons delivery service and we contacted the office of the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, which sent a very clear and short email in response: “Yes, we received the package that was addressed to the hon. member. The thing is that the hon. member regularly receives these sorts of promotional items so we handed them out. Sorry.”
This is a serious offence. What is more, that package contained items that were meant for a charity.
While a contemptible offence has taken place, regardless of what was contained in the package, it is worth noting that the package contained toys intended as fundraising prizes to raise money for sick children from the north who need to come south for medical treatment. Although an offence against the dignity of the House regardless of the contents, the theft of these contents, in my view, is also an offence against common decency.
I wish to quote from section 356 of the Criminal Code under the heading Theft of Mail, which states:
Everyone commits an offence who
(i) anything sent by post, after it is deposited at a post office and before it is delivered, or after it is delivered but before it is in the possession of the addressee or of a person who may reasonably be considered to be authorized by the addressee to receive mail.
While the member's office has admitted to receiving the package addressed to me, opening this package, removing the contents and giving them away, it remains unclear who specifically took part in the offence. In other words, was it the member himself, members of his staff or both? On this point I will simply note that I have notified the sergeant-at-arms of this situation and, pending his investigation, a further complaint to police may be made. Regardless of who committed the offence, this took place within the parliamentary precinct and as such would constitute a contempt of Parliament.
Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, Second Edition, states on page 163:
Each House of Parliament has jurisdiction over its precincts. While outside of “proceedings in Parliament” and parliamentary debate the criminal law applies to Members of the House of Commons, the act of doing something within the “precincts” could constitute a contempt of Parliament....
Furthermore, the opening and/or theft of the member's private correspondence or mail are tantamount to past findings of contempt where an invasion of privacy of members has occurred.
Maingot states on page 256:
The invasion of the privacy of a Member of the Senate or of the House of Commons within the precincts of Parliament by any person also constitutes a prima facie question of privilege. This includes the interception of a private communication on the precincts.
On October 17, 1973, a meeting of the NDP caucus on the precincts was the subject of electronic eavesdropping by a journalist. A question of privilege was raised by the leader of the NDP at the time, David Lewis, who stated on page 6942 of Debates:
Whether or not it is illegal under the present Criminal Code, or any other statute of which I may not know, is irrelevant. Certainly it is totally illegal as far as the rules of parliament are concerned. I hope that those responsible will not find it more offensive that I intend it to be when I say that it is morally and socially wrong in every respect for them to have done this.
Those words are as accurate in describing the present event as they were in dealing with that prima facie breach of privilege in 1973.
House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, in defining contempt of Parliament, states on page 82:
[...] the House also claims the right to punish, as a contempt, any action which, though not a breach of a specific privilege, tends to obstruct or impede the House in the performance of its functions; obstructs or impedes any member or officer of the House in the discharge of their duties; or is an offence against the authority or dignity of the House, such as disobedience of its legitimate commands or libels upon itself, its members, or its officers.
It is, I believe, self-evident that the theft of a member's mail within the precincts of Parliament undoubtedly represents an offence against the authority and the dignity of the House, as does the cavalier response of the member's office once confronted and admitting the offence.
I would understand if, in error, the hon. member or his office staff had opened the package. However, what occurred was not simply an error. They received the package, opened it and, once viewing the contents, toys intended for a fundraiser in regard to a cause supporting children, miniature shuttles in this particular case, they did not call and return the contents with an apology for opening the package clearly addressed to me. Instead, they removed the contents and gave them away. That was not only an invasion of my privacy but it was theft. When contacted by my office, they showed no remorse whatsoever for the offence.
I understand that the member is new, having only been elected a year ago, and that his staff may also lack the experience to understand the more complicated nature of privilege, but this is not a complicated matter. Surely the office of the NDP leader has someone responsible for organization who can inform that member and his staff that they do not open packages that are not addressed to them.
While the member and his office are new, there is no excuse for this.
Sadder still is the fact that the beneficiaries of the charity will suffer as a result of this deplorable and unimaginable situation. Sick children, who are supposed to benefit from this care, saw these items that were meant to help them handed out to the hon. member's friends. It was a very offensive act and I cannot accept it.
Should you rule in my favour, Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.
Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord.
Ontario and Nova Scotia have publicly called for the Senate to be abolished. The Premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark, has said that the Senate is useless. Manitoba is in favour of abolishing the Senate. Does my colleague think that the government does not want to hold a referendum to hear the opinion of Canadians because it sincerely believes it will lose?
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord. He does a very good job in the House, which I admire a lot. He has done a lot of work, even though he has only been in the House for a few months. He does an excellent job. I wanted to make sure that I complimented him.
Canada has seen massive job losses. We cannot deny that. October was a catastrophic month for Canadian families. We lost 62,000 full-time jobs because of this government, which does not even want to take action. The Conservatives are so caught up in talking up Conservative policies that they did not even notice the job losses and the fact that the Canadian public is suffering because of the government's inaction.
We must recognize that we are influenced by global trends. We cannot deny that. However, the reality is that this government and its inaction have created a climate that, in October alone, led to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs across the country.
I must point out that, since May 2008, the Conservative government has created only 200,000 jobs, while the labour force in Canada increased by 450,000 job seekers. This means that we need a quarter of a million jobs just to maintain a stable job market in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, as we have said many times, the government wanted the private sector to have a significant stake in this project and the agreement concluded between the Quebecor group and Mayor Labeaume falls short of the mark.
I want to take this opportunity to point out to the hon. member for Québec, who called me “supposedly” responsible for the Quebec City region, that I still have my responsibilities, whereas she has been replaced by her colleague from Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord.
Madam Speaker, the first Conservative Party member to speak was the member for Beauport—Limoilou. In response to a question asked by my colleague from Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, she said—not without looking at her BlackBerry though—that she personally would not have an issue voting in favour of this important motion by the member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine.
My question is very simple and is for the member who just spoke. Generally speaking, will the rest of the Conservative Party members be in favour of the motion by the member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine?
Madam Speaker, it would appear that members are still exercised about an issue that they have already agreed has passed. In fact, the Americans gave us notice some 16 months ago that the legislation that led to Bill C-42 would be implemented and put into effect in the United States last December.
This is not an issue of security. It is an issue of the government now trying to backtrack because it presented this last June and only now wants to put it into law. Just imagine being unable to protect Canadian sovereignty for all that period and then to come forward and say that it is a question of security. It is not.
The member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord has just indicated rather eloquently that this is a commercial issue. It is to prevent airlines from being sued for breach of privacy legislation by Canadians on Canadian carriers. It is an issue of sovereignty ceded to the Americans because of the government's incompetence and inability to negotiate what the Americans asked it to negotiate on 16 months ago.
I would like the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord to elaborate on this. What this shows is that the $40 million spent on those special machines in 11 locations in Canada to provide greater aviation security meant nothing to the Americans and that the legislation to impose another $3.2 billion in aviation tax for security measures was unimpressive to the Americans, and therefore we have to go to this because our airlines will be exposed to harassment by Americans. That is what this legislation is about.
Mr. Speaker, in response to a question asked by the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities said that to help Quebec, we need to build a bridge in Ontario. That is outrageous. The numbers disclosed by my colleague with regard to the gateways and border crossings fund are clear: out of a $2.1 billion envelope, only $10 million has been allocated to Quebec. That does not include the $1 billion already allocated to the Asia-Pacific gateway. Quebec is getting swindled, and the Conservative ministers from Quebec are complicit.
They should instead be adhering to the principle whereby Quebec's development hinges on structural investments in Quebec. A number of projects, including increasing the number of containers coming through the port of Montreal, depend on the will of the government to grant Quebec its share of the gateway development envelope. It is a matter of fairness and creating wealth for today and tomorrow.
Mr. Speaker, today, the Quebec National Assembly unanimously adopted a motion that it officially support the proposal to inscribe the Saguenay Fjord site on Canada's tentative list for 2014, in anticipation of a recognition as a UNESCO world heritage site.
The unanimous adoption of this motion is a strong endorsement of the process I initiated with the help of Dr. Jules Dufour and my colleague from Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, in order to get the Saguenay Fjord on this list of world wonders. Representatives from the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and Haute-Côte-Nord regions strongly support this proposal and are working together to promote it.
Quebec recognizes the unique and exceptional value of the Saguenay Fjord as a natural site and believes that it is important to have it recognized by UNESCO. Now it is up to the Canadian government to lend its support.
Mr. Speaker, the closing comments by the minister, when he referred to bites, et cetera, reminded me of a statement made by our colleague from Montmorency yesterday. So much of the government legislation is sound bite legislation, “safeguarding Canadians' personal information act”. It almost as if we had a guard dog on site. The only problem is that the guard dog has a bark like a sheep dog and a bite like a chihuahua. When is the government going to get away from sound bite legislation and actually do something worthwhile?
The minister justifies it all by saying we have an Internet economy that is worth some $62.7 billion and so we will ensure we can grow that. The government is not going to do anything about that at all.
What is going to happen is companies that want to get on the Internet for the purposes of expanding their commerce are going to do so. They are not going to worry about whether the government wants to jaw-jaw its way into this. They are going to take a look at this legislation and say that the member from Montmorency is right, that those guys have a bite and a bark like a chihuahua.
This is especially so after the industry committee has made some recommendations to the minister. With the benefit of those recommendations, he still goes ahead and presents legislation that he himself acknowledges requires further study from the committee and make the kinds of suggestions to improve the bill that he knows he must put in place if this will be acceptable legislation.
All of us are desirous of maintaining our privacy, in keeping what is ours to ourselves, keeping our security safeguarded at all times, to ensure that anything that pertains to our person, our businesses, our interests is released only when we think it is appropriate for our sake, for our interest.
For the government to come forward and say that it will safeguard all of that, except in certain circumstances, does not make safeguarding personal privacy interests very secure. What it does is introduce exceptions to kinds of privacy and security that it claims to be support.
Its sound bite title is, like everything else the government does, smoke and mirrors, deception and manipulation.
One can easily applaud the fact that there are amendments to PIPEDA, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and notice that there is nothing in that title that sounds like a sound bite that it is actually a factual issue, but the government decides to take this legislation and make it look like it has done something else with it. That might enhance its opportunities to sell itself as something proactive.
It took the government four and a half years to discover that 80% of businesses are on the Internet, that means they have a website, and that 88% of Canadians are Internet savvy, that means they can browse the net. All of these things do not a business make, but they are the fertile ground for businesses interested in making their commerce more time sensitive, more immediate and more global.
Bill C-29 amends PIPEDA to, among other things, permit the disclosure of personal information without the knowledge and consent of the individual who possesses that for certain purposes. Some of the purposes will make sense. It is a little bit like the Trojan horse that gives access to a treasure trove in somebody else's domain.
The first of these does sound as if it makes sense. Number one is for identifying an injured, ill or deceased individual, communicating with their next of kin. There are very few people who would say that is bad.
Second is for performing police services. There are no other qualifiers. There are a lot of people who want to know what that means.
Third is for preventing, detecting or suppressing fraud. Successfully or unsuccessfully? What is the intent? Which organization?
Fourth is for protecting victims of financial abuse. How so? By releasing their information?
Another series of amendments is to permit organizations, any organization, for certain purposes not specifically outlined, to collect, to use, to disclose without the knowledge and consent of the individual, his or her personal information, number one, contained in witness statements related to insurance claims. Whose commercial interests are we looking at there? Second is information produced by the individual in the course of his or her employment, business or profession. That is virtually anything. Everybody in this place is producing information literally on a minute-by-minute basis, but some organization is going to have access to that.
Members might say that in a great, open and transparent environment such as the Parliament of Canada, such as the House of Commons, anybody who is engaged in this ought to so admit. It is something that we might have asked the Minister of Defence, for example, who today talked about the complexity of the procurement process and military hardware acquisition as being a little too complicated for the simple-minded public that wants to find out whether it is transparent and whether it meets the test of value for money, as being a bit of an intrusion and just barely tolerable.
This is hardly accountability. It is hardly transparency and it certainly does not lead to the business of openness, but under PIPEDA, everybody else has to operate that way.
A third set would require organizations to report material breaches of security safeguards to the Privacy Commissioner and to notify certain individuals and organizations of breaches that create a real risk of significant harm. Somebody is going to make a judgment. I will come back to that in a moment.
As I go through this, I ask how we can safeguard Canadians' personal information. I am a consumer like everybody else in this House. As an individual and like many people in this House, excluding all those who serve the House, I am a legislator, and I do not believe that my personal information will be any safer, believe it or not, under the current drafting of Bill C-29.
The Government of Canada prepares a piece of legislation by which I, as a member of Parliament, as a consumer, as a private citizen, just like the Minister of Immigration, who is really listening to this, think that my information is easily protected by some of these measures that have gaping holes, in a legislation that did not exist before. It is going to need a lot of amendments in order for me to feel comfortable.
Why do I focus on me, Mr. Speaker? Just like you, we represent the general public and the general public expects us to feel what they feel, to see what they see, to experience what they live every day. There is not a Canadian out there who is not thinking, “Hold up. Is this legislation really designed to protect my privacy, or are they beginning to insinuate some sort of little loophole for others who are involved in business or whatever, to use to my disadvantage?” There are a lot of them out there already.
It is interesting that this legislation did not have this sound bite title that said, “We are going to go after all the crooks. We know they are out there but they are not being reported. We are going to build jails for them so that when we catch them, if we ever put police on the beat and if we ever sustain the court system enough that they will be able to process all of these accused and alleged criminals, we will actually be able to house them”.
That is not what this is about. If that is the kind of intention they have, I do not see that intention in the legislation. Primary in this kind of assessment relates to the requirement that I mentioned a moment ago to report a “material breach of security safeguards involving personal information under its control” to the Privacy Commissioner. That is what is going to happen. All of this is going to be reported to the Privacy Commissioner.
First, the threshold for determining that requirement for that disclosure is ambiguous. I noted that the minister did not make any effort to be specific to give us an indication of where the intent is. He did not give us any indication of the precision of the language. Not only is it ambiguous; it is confusing, quite frankly. As I said a moment ago, it has more holes in it than a retaining wall that has been breached by an invading army.
Second, there is no enforcement provision included in the bill to ensure that this will be done. When my colleague from Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord says that the sound-bite legislation that the Conservatives put in place is a little bit like a chihuahua barking away and trying to bite, he is right. If there is no enforcement mechanism, what is the purpose of making all of these statements? Who are they playing for fools? Do they really think Canadians do not look, do not listen, do not watch, do not critique?
I took a look at what the bill states and under proposed section 10.1:
(1) An organization shall report to the Commissioner any material breach of security safeguards involving personal information under its control.
It does not tell us how it got there in the first place or whether the organization had the right to get it there. It goes on:
(2) The factors that are relevant to determining whether a breach of security safeguards is material include:
Here is a definition for them, and so when I say it is ambiguous, confusing, wide open, it says, first of all, the “sensitivity of personal information”. Who is the best judge of whether personal information is sufficiently sensitive? Is it going to be the organization? Is it going to be the Privacy Commissioner? Is it going to be the person about whom that information is rendered? The proposed section continues:
(b) The number of individuals whose personal information was involved...
This reminds me of days gone by when priests in a confessional were trying to explain to penitents the significance of lies. One of the penitents said, “Father bless me for I have sinned, but it is no big deal; I just told a lie”.
The priest did not know any other way to get the penitent to understand the severity of that lie and said, “I tell you what. Here is a pillow full of feathers. Go up to the top of the hill. It is rather windy right now. I want you to open that pillow.”
The penitent went to the top of the hill, opened the pillow full of feathers and, behold, the wind blew them all over the place.
The penitent went back to the confessional and said, “Father I did what you asked me to do”.
The priest said, “Good, go pick them all up”.
The penitent said, “I cannot do that. Those things have gone for miles and miles now”.
Members can understand what the priest said then. That is the gravity of personal information about which one spreads lies, but the bill does not say that the person about whom information is being supplied has any control over it. Somebody else is shaking that pillow at the top of the hill. The proposed section continues:
(c) An assessment by the organization that the cause of the breach or a pattern of breaches indicates a systemic problem.
Yes, that will happen. Every organization is willing to beat its chest and say, “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa”. It is not going to happen. Very few people did it in times when people spoke Latin, and now that English has replaced Latin as the lingua franca, there are even fewer people.
So who makes the determination? Mr. Speaker, I guess you are like me. If it were my personal information that was being breached, I would want to report it to the commissioner. Yet Bill C-29 leaves that decision up to the organization that is supposedly making the report if not, in fact, the breach.
Bill C-29 also states that under proposed subsection 10.2(1), “Unless otherwise prohibited by law,” and look at that loophole:
an organization shall notify an individual of any breach of security safeguards involving the individual’s personal information under the organization’s control if it is reasonable in the circumstances to believe that the breach creates a real risk of significant harm to the individual.
As the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona said a few moments ago, so now the Americans, under Bill C-42 that the House had discussed before, can ask any of our domestic airlines, our carriers, to give them every piece of information in their possession, including everything one can name from there on in, everything one has to lay bare when one goes to buy a plane ticket. Bill C-29 essentially says that organization can do all of that.
What is the definition of significant harm under proposed subsection 10.2(2)? It is:
For the purpose of subsection (1), “significant harm” includes bodily harm, humiliation, damage to reputation or relationships, loss of employment, business or professional opportunities, financial loss, identity theft, negative effects on the credit record and damage to or loss of property.
Now one has to prove how significant that was. There are not very many people who are going to be better defenders of one's character and one's interest than oneself.
Real risk of significant harm and the factors that have to be included are those that are relevant to determining whether a breach of security safeguards creates real risk of significant harm to the individuals, and have to include the following. Listen to this. They have to include this:
(a) the sensitivity of the personal information involved in the breach;
Who is making the decision on the sensitivity? Somebody else.
It goes on:
(b) the probability that the personal information has been, is being or will be misused.
I am just thinking of Bill C-42. Any foreign state can ask of a Canadian carrier information that it will say is not going to be a problem and it is not going to do anything nasty with it, so the probability of that personal information being used or misused is practically nil, so it will take it all. Oh, good.
Again, while the conditions are defined, the interpretation is wide open and even includes variables that are impossible to determine. For example, how can an organization assess the probability that the personal information will be misused?
Most critical is that there is no enforcement and there are no penalties if the organization does not disclose a breach. This is untenable.
Other jurisdictions with similar laws have very high penalties for non-prompt disclosure. Let me see. I wonder where those other jurisdictions are.
Well, for example, right here in Canada, under the Alberta Personal Information Protection Act, PIPA, individuals and organizations can be fined up to $10,000 and $100,000 respectively for failing to notify the commissioner of a breach. There is an onus of responsibility. There is none in Bill C-29.
In Florida, which is just down the road, there are penalties of up to $500,000 for similar breaches. I mention Florida especially since our carriers are going to have to reveal everything to the Americans anyway; it is about a three-hour flight from Pearson Airport in Toronto. In Michigan, penalties run up to $750,000. Bill C-29 has no penalty. Why would these jurisdictions, including Alberta, have penalties and not the federal act that the government wants us to believe is the best thing since sliced bread?
Mr. Speaker, I really enjoyed the speech of the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord. He said the government refuses to do what is necessary to prevent large oil companies from increasing gas prices without valid reasons. Every spring and every fall, around the holiday season, prices go up worldwide, even though we are talking about oil that is already in stock. A few weeks later, it is still oil that was bought at a lower cost, but the price still does not go down for several weeks, or even months.
If we look at various studies, we see that consumers are treated badly. Yet, there is nothing in this government bill to put an end to these practices.
Why does the hon. member believe that the Conservatives refuse to protect the middle class and consumers, who constantly see their money disappear, because oil companies are abusing them?
Mr. Speaker, tempers are flaring. In his point of order, the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord used an expression that you deemed unparliamentary. You asked parliamentarians to refrain from using it in the House.
I would ask the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord to withdraw the expression he just used, that is “token Quebecker”. As a parliamentarian, I am asking him to withdraw his comments because we need to respect one another. Of course, his point of order strikes me more as a point of debate because when members oppose a bill that helps victims, it is a matter of interpretation. I will leave it to you.
I would like the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord to apologize to my colleague from Saint-Boniface, who is a women and a parliamentarian. He should also apologize to her as a francophone outside Quebec and a police officer. It is a lack of basic respect and I call on him to take the high road and apologize so that we can put an end to this unparliamentary behaviour.
The electoral district of Montmorency--Charlevoix--Haute-Côte-Nord (Quebec) has a population of 90,535 with 74,813 registered voters and 211 polling divisions.
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