Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in this House to speak to this very important bill. I want to thank my colleagues who, both in committee and in the House of Commons, have defended our New Democrat position in opposition to the bill, and have spoken of what we expected from our proposal to ensure that the bill is about putting a stop to cyberbullying, as it says it is.
Unfortunately, what we have, once again, is the Conservative government using language—and in this case, I would also argue, using people who are in vulnerable situations—to put forward a regressive agenda that has everything to do with attacking people's privacy. It leaves tremendous loopholes in terms of powerful actors gaining access to private information, and that would do very little to put a stop to cyberbullying, which is a very serious and sometimes tragic problem in our society.
We have heard from my colleagues as to why we do not support the bill. We put forward, I believe, 37 amendments at committee to improve the bill. We indicated that whether it is the private member's bill put forward by my colleague, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, for an anti-bullying strategy, or the bill put forward by my colleague, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, to deal with sexual images and exploitation online, there are ways we can try to put a stop to cyberbullying and to the way in which too many people are exploiting privacy, private images, and taking advantage of people, in many cases young women, online.
What I find most disturbing about the debate and discussion around Bill C-13 is the way in which the tragic stories of young women who took their own lives as a result of cyberbullying are being used by the current government to push its agenda.
I do not know how many more ways we can say that this is wrong, that this is beyond disrespectful. It is disturbing, frankly.
I have had the opportunity to meet with the mother of Amanda Todd, and I have met with other youth, including those involved in Jer's Vision, who have done a great deal to try to fight bullying and cyberbullying in our communities. These are people with ideas. Sometimes these are ideas that come from places of immense pain, of having lost a loved one or having themselves experienced suicidal thoughts to get away from bullying. Despite that, they are proposing ideas. They are finding ways in their communities, and they are calling upon leaders at all levels of government, particularly at the national level, to take steps that would have an impact on ending bullying.
I am particularly encouraged by those who are applying a gender lens to this kind of bullying because we know it has a gender lens. There were the high-profile cases of young people who took their own lives as a result of cyberbullying, and they were women. In many of the cases, unfortunately, particularly in the mainstream media, women's experiences when it comes to the use of bullying was missed. Sexual objectification is very different and can lead to some very devastating situations.
I also want to acknowledge the way in which LGBT youth, lesbian, gay, and trans youth, are often the targets of cyberbullying, which has a gendered lens as well. Yet nowhere in Bill C-13 is there any plan to act on, not just bullying, but the cyber-misogyny that we see running rampant online and in our society.
I would like to turn the attention of the House and of those who are listening to the phenomenal work being done across the country to draw attention to cyber-misogyny and the way in which we can take legal action, but more importantly, employ policies and invest socially in order to put an end to cyber-misogyny.
I want to draw attention to the recent report by West Coast Leaf called “#CyberMisogyny” that is entirely about what all of us at the federal, provincial and municipal levels, in our schools and even in our homes can do to begin putting an end to cyber-misogyny. It is not a quick fix and it certainly is not Bill C-13. What it requires is real leadership and tackling the very serious issues of inequality, violence against women, sexual harassment, and the marginalization of girls and women in our society.
It also means taking bold action when it comes to putting an end to the discrimination of trans people and the particular discrimination that trans women face, and recognizing that we have a role to play. Sadly, all I hear in the House is the way in which the Conservative government is using the stories of young women who experience cyber-misogyny to put forward its own agenda, which has nothing to do with that. The hypocrisy, and frankly, the disregard for these women's memories is, like I said, disturbing.
In taking the next steps, I would encourage the government to not only see the value of dropping this badly thought out bill, which stands to benefit some of the government's agenda with regard to pulling people's private information and having access to people's private lives in a way that it sees as helpful, I guess. However, there are other steps it ought to be taking.
For one, it could support the motion that I put forward, a national action plan to end violence against women. It could work with this side of the House to try to find a way to build a comprehensive anti-bullying strategy, including working with community organizations and young leaders who are on the front lines and understand what it means to be a victim of cyberbullying.
It could also look at specific measures, as I have indicated, including Bill C-540 that was introduced in the House last June, which would make it an offence to produce or distribute intimate images of an individual without his or her consent. The list goes on, and many of my colleagues have been pointing to the actual steps that the government could be taking to put an end to cyberbullying.
I would like to end with a demand that so many people have, that the memories of those young women such as Amanda Todd and others not be used as a front for what is, once more, a piece in the regressive agenda put forward by the federal government. It can do better.
Mr. Speaker, last night in Halifax I was with some friends, a group of women, some feminists. We were getting together to talk about different issues. I said that I was speaking to a bill tomorrow and asked if any of them had any feedback or perspectives they thought were missing in this debate. Everyone knew instantly what bill I was talking about.
Rehtaeh Parsons' story has touched us all in Nova Scotia. It has left an indelible mark on all of us as Nova Scotians to know that this woman died by suicide as a result of images about her spread over the Internet. It has also ignited a really good and healthy debate in Nova Scotia. Everyone has taken part in this conversation, and we are trying to find solutions. The province put together a cyberbullying task force to think about what steps the province can take to prevent this tragedy from happening again. The debate has been lively, solemn, and very real. People have taken this burden seriously and have said that this is something we need to figure out as a community.
I was at this gathering of friends last night, and I told them I had to speak to this bill. One of the women I was with said, “The problem you will have tomorrow with this speech is that the Conservatives are not actually interested in issues. They are just interested in advancing their own agenda, and if they happen to find a situation or a case that helps them advance that agenda, they will use that opportunity to their advantage”. I really believe that this is what is happening here.
There are many reasons why I care about this issue. I care because Rehtaeh Parsons was a member of my community, because she was raped, because she was humiliated, and because she felt that the only option for her, the only way to end that humiliation, was suicide.
I care about this bill as a woman and as a public figure who understands the hurtful and humiliating power of the Internet. I care about this bill as a feminist. I care about this bill as a legislator, because Rehtaeh Parsons is not the only victim. I want to ensure that we have legislation in place to prevent cyberbullying. I want to send a message to Canadians that the distribution of private images without consent will not be tolerated. There are a lot of reasons to care about this bill.
I know that I speak for all of my NDP colleagues when I say that we must better protect people of all ages from the distribution of private images without consent. That is without any controversy. We were all proud to support our colleague, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, when he tabled his bill. He worked to present a balanced and sensible proposal to deal with this issue. He proposed Bill C-540, a bill that would make it an offence to produce or distribute intimate images of individuals without their consent. We stand in solidarity with the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. Rehtaeh Parsons' parents are his constituents. He made a commitment to them to figure out how we could change the law to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.
However, as my friend said last night, the Conservatives do not have an interest in this issue. They have an interest in advancing an agenda, because Bill C-13, the bill we have before us, goes well beyond what we need to do to change legislation to prevent cyberbullying. The scope of this bill is much larger than my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour's proposal.
Members will remember when the former public safety minister, Vic Toews, stood up in this House and said that we were with them or with the child pornographers. That was in February 2012. It was a pivotal moment for me in my experience as a member of Parliament, because the response from the community was swift and strong. Canadians said, “Not on our watch does a member get away with saying stuff like that”.
That was February 2012. It was when government introduced its hyperbolically named “protecting children from Internet predators act”. It was a bill that everyone rejected. We in the NDP rejected it, privacy advocates rejected it, and the public rejected it. The government was shamed into pulling this bill, never to be heard from again or so we thought.
Here we are and it is two years later, and finally the Conservatives have figured out a way. They have found their vehicle to get those changes brought in. This is their vehicle. This is their opportunity. They are taking two very tragic events, the deaths of Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons, and are using those events to advance their own agenda because, lo and behold, two years later we find the long-forgotten aspects of the Toews bill here in Bill C-13. Only this time it is under the auspices of cyberbullying.
What does targeting banks' financial data have to do with cyberbullying? What does making changes to the Terrorist Financing Act have to do with young people and the spread of images online without consent? If they are trying to prevent cyberbullying, why in the world do they need to change rules around telemarketing and the theft of communications services? It is a gross misuse of our privilege, the privilege we have as parliamentarians. It is dishonest and it is an abuse of the trust Canadians put in us when they cast their ballots.
If we were honest about our commitment to preventing cyberbullying, we would pass my NDP colleague's motion. If we were honest about our commitment to preventing bullying, we would have passed the motion put forward by my colleague, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, to develop a national anti-bullying strategy. If we were honest about our commitment to preventing cyberbullying, we would have split this bill a long time ago.
I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Gatineau, who has worked incredibly hard on the bill, giving us advice as members of Parliament, doing the legal analysis, going to committee. She has tried at every turn to split the bill, because we agree with parts of it but not the rest.
It would be an incredible victory if we could say that this piece of legislation passed with unanimous consent, that there we were as parliamentarians, united in working to prevent cyberbullying. Instead, we have everything and the kitchen sink thrown into one bill, so of course the New Democrats have to say no. Of course we have to vote against it and that is going to be used for political partisan purposes. Thank goodness we cannot send ten percenters into other people's ridings anymore, because I know I would have one sent into my riding saying, “Do you realize that the member for Halifax voted against protecting your children?”
It is for partisan purposes. We should be splitting the bill. We have tried to split the bill. We also have tried to bring forward amendments. These are not crazy, complicated ideas for fixing the bill. They are simple and elegant. Some of these changes are not deal breakers; it is just changing a word. An example is raising the standard from “reasonable grounds to suspect” to “reasonable grounds to believe”. It is one simple word. We know what the solution is. Change that word from “suspect” to “believe” because there is a world of difference between those two concepts. I am suspicious all the time. Do I actually believe that things are happening? Probably not. It is a big legal difference. It is an elegant and simple solution. We proposed it after hearing from witnesses at committee, yet the proposition was voted down.
When my colleague, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, introduced his bill in June 2013, this was, as I said, a commitment to his constituents, Glen Canning and Leah Parsons. The member did an interview with Tobi Cohen, a journalist here on Parliament Hill, on July 22, 2013. He said at that time that he does not care who gets credit as long as it gets done, and he hoped the government would introduce a piece of legislation, because as we know, the process of passing government legislation is much more swift. The member said, “I hope that they don’t try to wrap too many things into one piece of legislation”.
Maybe we should not be so cynical as to try and predict that this kind of thing is going to happen, but it is the modus operandi here these days. Perhaps I can address some of my other points when I answer questions.
I find this whole bill to be disappointing. I really wish we could have worked together on this.
Order, please. It is getting noisy once again. I am going to ask members one last time to refrain from heckling each other while either members are asking the question or the ministers are answering.
The hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.
Order, please. Before we resume debate, I have the honour to inform the House that Mr. LeBlanc, the member for the electoral district of Beauséjour, has been appointed a member of the Board of Internal Economy in the place of Ms. Foote, the member for the electoral district of Random—Burin—St. George's. This is for the purposes and under the provisions of section 50 of the Parliament of Canada Act.
The hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord has the floor. He will have 10 minutes for his speech, followed by questions and comments.
The hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-13.
The first part of the bill is very clearly a critical issue that we have been dealing with in Canada. I would hope that every member in this House would support expedited action, across the board, to prevent cyberbullying and the inappropriate, illegal, non-consensual distribution of sexual information, in particular related to children.
I welcome the fact, as do my colleagues, that the government is finally coming forward with a more reasonable bill, and that we do not have the slinging of insults. We appreciate the respect being given to this matter and the more respectful bill, and perhaps it is because the bill is now being tabled by the Minister of Justice. We hope we will have a better balancing of rights to privacy and the rights of children, and other people who are harmed by inappropriate acts through the Internet.
I do wish to bring to the attention of the House that this is not the first time that members of the House have sought action on the issue of cyberbullying and action, particularly where youth have been harmed, and in some cases have committed suicide, because of extensive bullying.
I would like to bring to the attention of the House the motion M-385, tabled by the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord in October 2012. It was debated in this House. The member recommended that there be a broad-based strategy on dealing with cyberbullying.
It is noteworthy that just before I rose to speak a member across the way referenced the report on cyberbullying that was put together by federal, provincial and territorial ministers of justice and public safety. The very first recommendation is that the working group acknowledged the benefits of a multi-pronged, multi-sectoral approach to the issue of cyberbullying and called for action in a comprehensive manner.
That is very appreciated. Obviously, the justice ministers and the public safety ministers across this country recognize that we need to have clarification in criminal law. However, we need a lot more than that.
The member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord recommended that. He recommended a broad-based strategy that all members of the House could develop together and, heavens forbid, reach a consensus on the measures we need to move forward on. Very sadly, the Conservative members all voted down that motion.
Also, members on this side brought forward Bill C-540, a private member's bill, from the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. In that bill, he recommended the creation of an offence to produce or distribute intimate images of an individual without their consent. That was the response to the tragic suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons in his province.
In addition, another member on this side, the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam, tabled Bill C-213, which very succinctly addressed the matter of communication for the purposes of child luring.
Very clearly, the members of the official opposition strongly support action by the government to address child luring and to address and punish any cyber crime that would lead to bullying and could cause serious harm or suicide of our children.
Canadian families would clearly be grateful for expedited action, certainly the families of the victims of previous bullying incidents would. Most importantly, we would like to prevent any such incident from ever occurring again. I think all members of the House would concur with that.
What we want to do is to protect our families from harm. I concur. I join with my colleagues in strongly supporting the first provisions of this bill, which deal with and address cyberbullying. I am certain that we did our best to try to suggest to the government that it would be wise to expedite these measures by dividing the bill.
We may need to strengthen the investigative powers but, as I will speak to later on, we need a lot more than stronger criminal law; we need to make sure that our enforcement officers are fully capable of actually taking action on these matters.
However, as I mentioned at the outset, the most important measures we need are ones to prevent these acts from occurring at all, not simply taking enforcement action after the fact.
Why do we have these issues? Why are Canadians, in particular legal experts and privacy experts, raising concerns with the majority of the provisions of this bill? I am informed that 37 of the 47 clauses of the bill do not directly relate to cyberbullying. Therefore, it appears eminently reasonable that we would have further debate on those provisions to expedite the cyber crime provisions.
One of the matters that was of deep concern to Canadians from coast to coast to coast, in particular legal scholars, was the previous provision of a bill that was tabled in the previous Parliament. It would have allowed for intervention into accessing Internet material without a warrant. When objections were raised, the then minister of public safety accused anybody who had raised any concerns or had proposed amendments to the bill of being pro child pornography. That caused the government to ultimately withdraw its bill, and I think appropriately.
We are encouraged that the government has moved forward now with a more reasonable bill. However, legal experts are raising some concerns with the direction the bill is taking on the way it is imposing conditions on warrants. Those are critical matters.
We have long-standing legal precedents on when it is appropriate to allow for the seizing of material and where it might be a violation of a charter right. The prerequisites to obtain a warrant have been long debated in the courts. If we are to move in any way on shifting the burden on having to show cause before obtaining a warrant, it justifiably merits a good discussion in committee over those matters. However, the government has decided that it does not want to divide the bill, so unfortunately all matters will be going to committee.
I previously mentioned the matter of the warrantless disclosure. An equally concerning matter is the possibility for Internet providers to voluntarily disclose information. I would suggest that is a matter that also needs to be looked at closely. People exchange information of a private matter day in and day out. There should be some level of protection when there is an exchange of that information.
As I only have a few minutes left, I would like to speak to a matter that comes from my personal experience. I was involved for many years in the field of environmental enforcement. One of the lessons I learned from that is that the best way to deter a crime is to have a high probability of detection and punishment.
In order to make that happen, most agencies now, when they are developing legislation, are simultaneously taking a look at the capacities of their enforcement agencies to deliver. They ask whether they have enough personnel and whether they are appropriately qualified. This is an area that police and enforcement officers have been identifying for quite some time, that it takes very special skills and training.
I have not seen the government come forward with a parallel skills, training and capabilities strategy. I would encourage it to move expeditiously on that, so that the moment the bill becomes law, the government is immediately capable of enforcing that law.
In closing, the bill is going in the right direction, generally speaking. However, it will be important for particular matters, including the changing of the burden of proof and warrants, to be explored at committee with the appropriate experts.
The hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord has 45 seconds to respond.
Order, please. I just remind all hon. members that, if they are asking or answering a question, they should pay attention to the Chair. They will get a signal when their time has expired.
Questions and comments, the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.
I would draw to the attention of the member that it is not permitted to use the name of a sitting member of the House.
The hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.
The hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.
Order, please. Questions and comments.
The hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. I also want to thank my colleague from Trinity—Spadina for her work as our transportation critic, for her tireless work with a community that is invested in seeing improvements to the Transportation Act and for her efforts to improve the bill.
Bill C-52 would amend the Canada Transportation Act. It is a bill that is long overdue.
Rail transportation is the backbone of the Canadian economy. It is in the DNA of our history, and it is something that touches a huge part of our economy. More than 70% of all surface goods in Canada are shipped by rail. We are a vast country and a country that is open to the world. It is very export oriented, and having good transportation networks is absolutely fundamental.
Many of us are familiar with the railway industry. I know that in my family, my grandfather, my husband and my mother all worked in the railway sector. It is part of our country, part of our history and part of our current economy. It touches so many Canadians.
What we have been finding through the study on the bill and leading up to the bill is that 80% of service commitments for agricultural rail customers, which means that they deal with food, feed and farm materials, are not met by the railway companies. There are serious delays, insufficient numbers of rail cars, et cetera. A rail freight service review found that 80% of shippers were not satisfied with the service they received.
What is the root of the problem? One would think that after a couple of centuries, we would be getting our rail service right, but sometimes when governments rush to fix one problem, they create other problems. Sometimes when governments have ideological blinders on, they are wilfully blind to the problems they are creating.
In 1995, the Liberals were in a rush to show that they were jumping on board the privatization bandwagon. They wanted to prove to the world that they could privatize with the best of them. One of the companies they rushed to privatize was CN. They privatized the company, CN. They privatized the tracks. What they forgot to do was put in any safeguards for Canadians, safeguards for shippers and safeguards for our passenger rail service in terms of access to the railway tracks. They basically turned it over to the private sector.
CN is doing very well. It made a profit of $2.7 billion. Bravo. It is doing well. It was just announced this week that the CEO made a salary of $48 million. I am sure he worked hard for every single penny of it.
The trouble is that these ideological decisions create problems. It was the Liberals in 1995 that unleashed this, and frankly, neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives after them, for almost 20 years, have done anything to fix the problems until this bill. It is with insufficient measures that they are trying to address the problems.
Let me say up front that this is a bill we will be supporting at report stage and third reading, but it is a weak bill. It is a bill that does not do the job Canadians really need it to do.
The bill would give rail freight customers or shippers the right to service agreements with rail companies. It is shocking that they have not had this before now, especially with the two majors, CN and CP. It also puts in place an arbitration process, led by the Canadian Transportation Agency, in cases of failed negotiations or where there are penalties for violating the results of arbitration.
This is positive. Canadians deserve fair and reliable freight services. This is obvious and logical.
Shippers pay good money, but they need a stronger position vis-à-vis the two main companies that form a duopoly. Together they have a kind of two-party monopoly. Their power is only partially addressed by Bill C-52.
There were recommendations by the shipping community at the committee stage that were sensible, practical and modest, yet the Conservatives ruled them out of hand with no serious consideration.
As the official opposition finance critic, I certainly know this. With every budget bill we have massive omnibus budget bills. We have been dealing with another one this week, Bill C-60, which again, is an amalgamation of all kinds of changes to different laws, many that have nothing to do with finance and budgets. We have seen that they never accept one amendment to any of their budget implementation legislation. Experts in their fields have testified at the finance committee that the government will have problems if it bullies ahead with certain changes, such as getting rid of the inspector general of CSIS. The expert who helped set up CSIS told us that this would cause problems, but it did not matter. The Conservatives are more expert than the experts, and they went ahead and made the changes anyway.
In this case, they heard expert testimony about why certain changes should be made. However, the Conservatives gave them no serious consideration. They rejected the changes out of hand, which is a bit sad, because this House ought to be about discussion, debate, learning, and ultimately, compromise to get the best laws possible for Canadians.
The bill needs further improvement. The NDP will continue to work with businesses and shippers across the country to improve this legislation and to tackle the issue of uncompetitive freight rates and gouging of the shippers. What we heard from businesses across the country was that they are getting poor customer service. They have had disruptions in rail service and unacceptable service costs. We heard about produce rotting, because it could not be shipped. We heard about lost contracts, because there was no guarantee that the goods could be shipped reliably, which made Canadian businesses unreliable suppliers. We heard about missed connections with ships for travel and shipping. This is a daily occurrence for industries across Canada.
Poor rail services are hurting Canadian exporters, damaging our global competitiveness and costing us jobs, which is a little ironic from a government that talks a lot about jobs. However, when the rubber hits the road, it often misses the train. That is what has been happening with this legislation.
There are a number of key amendments we put forward that the shipping community pushed for. They were championed by the NDP and defeated at committee. Without the rejected amendments, this bill remains only a partial success. Nevertheless, it is still worthy of our support. I want to stress that we are dissatisfied with the outcome. It is not what the shippers really wanted to see. Therefore, there is a need for future strengthening of this legislation.
Sadly, I see that my time is just about up. There is so much else to say. Thanks for the attention of this House. I look forward to the questions of my hon. colleagues.
The electoral district of Chicoutimi--Le Fjord (Quebec) has a population of 96,483 with 77,959 registered voters and 205 polling divisions.
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