Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to comment on private member's Bill C-475 tabled by my colleague, the member of Parliament for Terrebonne—Blainville.
First, I will correct the record for the hon. member. I think it was February 15, and I do not know if the hon. member was here, when our House leader certainly made very clear that we were willing to move Bill C-12 to committee, but it was obstructed by the opposition party that denied consent for that.
The Internet has become a platform for commerce. More and more online transactions rely on flows of information, including personal information. In fact, personal information is often cited as the lifeblood of the modern economy. It is a key asset and a driver for innovation. However, for information to continue to be an engine of growth and innovation, it is necessary to maintain a solid foundation of trust in the fair and responsible handling of personal information.
As the opposition is well aware, the government already has amendments to PIPEDA before the House in the form of Bill C-12, the safeguarding Canadians' personal information act. The amendments in this bill are the result of extensive public consultations and reflect the work of our parliamentary committee and legislative review process. They reflect the values of Canadian consumers as well as the realities of the marketplace.
Bill C-12 establishes broad-based, balanced, comprehensive improvements to PIPEDA which set out enhanced protections for Canadians' privacy, while ensuring that legitimate business needs for information are met.
By contrast, the opposition's approach to privacy in Bill C-475 introduces only two new measures in PIPEDA. The first of these is a potentially costly and administratively burdensome data breach notification regime.
Bill C-475 would require that organizations report every data breach involving a “possible risk of harm”, no matter how remote to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. The commissioner must then spend time determining whether each one of those breaches poses an “appreciable risk of harm”, and thereby warrants notification to affected individuals.
In contrast, the government's Bill C-12 proposes an approach to data breach notification that balances the cost to organizations of unnecessary notifications with the needs of consumers.
Bill C-12 would require notification to individuals only in situations where the organization determined that a breach carried a “real risk of significant harm”, which includes both financial harm, such as fraud, and non-financial harm, such as humiliation. This would eliminate the need for costly notification where it was not needed. This would minimize the compliance burden on organizations and reduce the risk of notification fatigue among consumers, while ensuring individuals would get the information they needed to protect themselves.
The opposition's Bill C-475 contains a lengthy list of consequences for non-compliance. This includes a monetary penalty of up to $500,000, which I am sure members will agree is a significant amount. However, should penalties for small businesses in our communities be as large as those of multinationals? The opposition seems to think this should be the case because Bill C-475 is silent on this question.
In contrast, the proposed measures in Bill C-12 reflect the importance of personal information to the smooth functioning of the marketplace. They address barriers to information flows, which were unforeseen when the act first came into force. They clarify and streamline privacy rules for business, while at the same time providing companies with the information they require to continue to grow and prosper.
Consumer information plays a role in many legitimate businesses. Financing transactions and acquisitions that occur in the normal course of development of many businesses require an assessment of business assets. These assets can include databases containing the personal information of customers the businesses intend to keep serving or information about the training and skills of employees who will continue to work with the business. Without the ability to access this personal information, it can be difficult for companies to assess the economic viability of a particular transaction.
Bill C-12 proposes to amend PIPEDA to enable companies to review personal information when necessary to conduct the proper due diligence prior to engaging in business dealings. Before any information can be shared between parties to a business transaction, each party must enter into a formal agreement that constrains the use of the information to purposes related to the transaction itself. In keeping with PIPEDA's existing principles, the agreement must also require the parties to protect that information with strong security safeguards.
Bill C-12 involves amendments that will remove barriers to the availability of information that is necessary to establish, manage or end an employment relationship.
Private sector representatives and the Privacy Commissioner of Canada have recognized that adjustments to PIPEDA were needed to reflect the unique context of the employment relationship.
As a result, Bill C-12 would amend the act to address situations where, for example, employers might need to collect and use the personal information of their employees to issue identification cards and control access to restricted areas.
These measures have been carefully balanced to maintain the protection of employee privacy by limiting the collection, use or disclosure of employees' personal information to that which is absolutely necessary and by ensuring that individuals are notified when their information is being collected, used or disclosed in the employment context.
Bill C-12 also follows up on other key recommendations. For instance, it would provide greater certainty and would clarify rules for business by streamlining private sector investigations. PIPEDA currently allows companies to share personal information with organizations that have a legitimate mandate to conduct investigations into breaches of agreements and contraventions of the law.
However, under PIPEDA, a burdensome and lengthy regulatory process is required in order to render this effective. To date, four separate regulatory processes have had to be launched to allow for the designation of 84 organizations or classes of investigative organizations with more expected.
Under Bill C-12, if passed, Parliament will act to replace this onerous regulatory process with an exception that will enable the information to be shared only in limited circumstances. Indeed, the government will only allow this information to be shared when it is necessary for the conduct of investigations and for fraud prevention.
I believe Bill C-12 provides a better model for the enhancement of privacy protection in Canada. I do not believe Bill C-475 provides the same balanced and comprehensive model.
I call upon members to support Bill C-12 rather than Bill C-475. I would mention for my colleagues from across the way that if they actually want to pass Bill C-12, as they seem to, both parties have mentioned it in the last few minutes, we would be glad to have that discussion and move it to committee tomorrow.
The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville is not present in the House to propose the order according to the notice published in today's notice paper.
Accordingly, the bill will be dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.
Before I give the floor to the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville, I must tell her that I will have to interrupt her at 6:15 p.m., at the expiry of the time provided for the business of supply.
The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.
It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, Fisheries and Oceans; the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville, Privacy; and the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, Employment Insurance.
Resuming debate. The hon. member for Parkdale—High Park.
The time provided for debate has expired. The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville has five minutes left.
We will now proceed to Statements by Members. The hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore.
There are five minutes left before statements by members.
The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.
Order. We have a question concerning a point of order in front of us. As we heard, the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville offered an apology for any untoward words or phrases. I think we would consider the matter closed.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Winnipeg North.
There are two minutes remaining today.
The member for Terrebonne—Blainville.
Order. The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.
Order. The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville has the floor. Order.
The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.
I appreciate that. We will stop the clock momentarily. I would ask the hon. members who may wish to carry on conversations to take those out to the lobby at this point. There is a lot of noise in the chamber.
The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.
It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, Housing; the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, Housing; the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville, Youth.
The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainvillewill have five minutes for questions and comments when the House resumes debate on the motion.
It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.
Order. I would like to give the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville an opportunity to respond.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville for sharing her time with me and for an excellent speech. There were good points, it was well argued and it was an important message from our new generation of NDP MPs.
It is useful, as we enter into a debate on the old age security regime in this country, to pause and reflect on some of the steps that got us to the position we are in. I am very proud, as an NDP member of Parliament, to take up the cause of defending the integrity of our old age security system, as has been our function and role throughout much of the last century.
I represent the riding of Winnipeg Centre, which is home to two of the greatest champions of social justice, I might say, that this country has ever known. In 1921, the Government of Canada wanted to send J.S. Woodsworth to prison for his role as the leader of the 1919 general strike but the good people of Winnipeg Centre sent him to Parliament in Ottawa instead and he stayed there until his untimely death in 1942.
I raise that subject because, only three years after J.S. Woodsworth arrived in Parliament, the prime minister of the day, William Lyon Mackenzie King, was in trouble. He was going to lose his government and needed the coalition support of what J.S. Woodsworth called the ginger group at the time, the Independent Labour Party. Woodsworth negotiated with Mackenzie King a deal, a condition, a compact, a coalition so to speak. The very art of politics is forming compacts, coalitions and agreements. Woodsworth went to Mackenzie King and said, “If you agree to introduce an old age security regime, I will support your government”. That was the birth of the Canadian old age security system. We have that letter on file at NDP headquarters. It took Mackenzie King a long time to live up to his promise but he indeed did introduce old age security.
When J.S. Woodsworth passed away, he was replaced by the man who is known as the father of the Canadian pension plan, Stanley Knowles. Stanley Knowles represented my riding from 1942 until his stroke in 1984 made it impossible for him to continue. He served continuously, except for the Diefenbaker sweep of 1957. During that time, he was not only the undisputed champion of the Canadian pension plan but he fought and fought to introduce it and the old age security system. There are famous speeches on record that people published in their entirety and circulated across the country as this movement gained momentum. He did not stop fighting until he managed to have the old age security pension indexed to inflation as a secondary objective. This took his entire career but it was his proudest achievement and perhaps one of the most proud achievements of the NDP.
It always seems to fall to us to defend the integrity of the pension system, which has been under continuous assault by successive Conservative governments that do not fundamentally believe in this type of universality of old age security systems.
We can trace what is going on today with the terrible notion that the Prime Minister of Canada would announce fundamental social policy changes in a speech in a foreign country. We can trace it back, or I do at least, to the musings of the unofficial prime minister of Canada at the time, Thomas d'Aquino, the chief executive officer of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. Mr. d'Aquino had a checklist of things he thought Canada needed to do that consisted of 10 or 15 items. One by one he was checking them all off and one of them was, which he announced quite publicly, that Canada had to get out from under the crippling legacy costs.
Nobody really paid too much attention because the term “legacy costs” did not ring any bells. What he meant was pensions. Sure enough, the right wing think tanks started to fall in line and also blame pensions for all of our economic woes. There was no mention of the fact that corporate tax cuts had taken over $100 billion worth of fiscal capacity in the two last governments, the Martin regime and this one.
Even when General Motors and the big auto companies ran into trouble, nobody said that maybe people were not buying their cars because they were making models nobody wanted. Immediately they said that the reason they could not function was because their legacy costs were too great, that they had to get out from under their pensions.
With this notion of never let a good crisis go to waste, they started to segue from the real root cause of their industrial woes and blamed it on this notion that we deserved to retire in some dignity and that we could take seniors out of poverty.
We have three pillars to our old age security system. One is personal savings, whatever one can save and invest during one's working life. Second, hopefully one has a pension through one's workplace, although that is becoming a rarity because of this full frontal assault by the right on the very notion that workplace pensions are possible. Third, is a robust universal government-sponsored pension plan.
The government would have us believe that there is something luxurious and comfortable about the pension system as we know it, the OAS and GIS. In actual fact, when compared with other countries, the replacement of earnings in retirement does not come anywhere close to a lot of western developed nations. It is really quite a modest system.
We have seen this assault on pensions and on the notion of pensions gaining validators and momentum, or currency. In fact, some experts in the field challenge whether it is an emergency at all. Yes, there is a demographic blip, but we would have had the fiscal capacity to provide were it not for the choices made by successive Liberal and Conservative governments to hollow out that fiscal capacity. However, we seem to be able to find money to spend in corporate tax cuts. Let us not kid ourselves. When $6 billion in corporate tax cuts is granted, that is spending money. We argue that is wasteful spending of money, and we believe that has been validated.
The logic was that if we gave those tax cuts to corporations, they would spend that money in the economy, create more jobs and a virtuous cycle would begin. In actual fact, they have been hoarding that money away. Our worst fears are realized. They are stacking it up and stockpiling it like Scrooge McDuck in the comic books, rolling around in their piles of dough but they are not reinvesting. There is no empirical evidence to prove it.
Not a single study in the world has ever proven that a tax cut equals more jobs. The only predictable and verifiable outcome of a tax cut given to companies is that they will have more money and greater profits. That is what was done. It was a transfer of wealth.
In the richest and most powerful civilization in the history of the world, the government cannot tell me that we cannot afford to lift every senior citizen out of poverty.
Our former leader, Jack Layton, costed this out and we ran on that as a platform. Instead of the $6 billion for corporate tax cuts, we could spend $1 billion of that and all 250,000 seniors, who are currently below the poverty line, would at least get to the poverty line. They would not be wealthy, rich or even comfortable. They would still be poor, but out of the depths of abject poverty. That is the cost and it is achievable, yet we go in the opposite direction.
Again, in the spirit of never let a good crisis go to waste, the Conservatives are cutting, hacking and slashing upon ideological lines just as we predicted they would. They are coming up with these dummy saving accounts to offset it. Bill C-25, the bill we were forced to vote on yesterday, is nothing but a 401(k). The only ones who will get rich on that are the stock brokers who will charge a commission every time that money is moved around. It is a 401(k), the Americanization of our pension regime.
We are here to defend the integrity of the old age security in the spirit of Woodsworth and Stanley Knowles. The NDP is proud to present this motion today to flush out the enemies of the public pension system, to denounce them and hold them to account so they will not get away with this. There will be a blue rinse revolution in this land if they proceed in this way.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to share my time with the member for Terrebonne—Blainville.
I am very honoured to stand here today and debate this NDP motion on climate change and what is happening in Durban. I am proud to be here with my colleagues in the House who are clear supporters of internationally binding agreements when it comes to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and actually taking action on climate.
In question period afew weeks ago, the Minister of Natural Resources stood and responded to one of my questions. He said:
Mr. Speaker, the NDP members keep talking about the environment.
I would like to thank the minister for that observation. He is absolutely correct. We do stand up for the environment. I am proud to be here today once again standing up and talking about the environment in the House with an NDP opposition day motion that encourages the Canadian government to take a leadership role in tackling global climate change and ensuring that Canadian jobs are not lost as the rest of the world moves on toward a sustainable energy economy.
The minister pointed out that the NDP is always standing up for the environment because in his mind that cannot be done while we are also standing up for the Canadian economy. However, I believe that the environment and the economy absolutely go hand in hand, and we can work on both together.
I think the Conservative government lacks the creativity and vision to create an economic strategy that goes beyond the fossil fuel industry. This lack of creative vision and this attitude cuts short Canada's future economic possibilities and has led to a government that actually advocates and celebrates ecological destruction. We have heard its members applaud it here in the House.
We in the NDP think that our economic future is also our ecological future. We want to think about the economy for the next 20 or 30 years and recognize that there is more potential for innovation and job creation in a transition to a green economy. That is the end goal.
Before I was elected, I had the opportunity to work with a group of stakeholders on designing ratepayer-funded energy efficiency plans for the province. We were in a situation where the Nova Scotia power utility realized that it was cheaper to invest aggressively in energy efficiency than it was to continue on our path of increased energy use. This was a move that was good for the environment, but it was also really good for the utility's bottom line.
When we were designing these programs, we realized we needed a line item in the budget for training, because we knew that jobs would be created as a result of these programs and we knew that there was not the capacity in the community to actually fill these roles. Therefore, there was a specific line for training to create new jobs in energy efficiency, whether in auditing or doing home retrofits.
These are good-paying jobs that we cannot ship offshore. They are jobs that are not located in one city or one region. They are jobs that are in every community across Canada, and we are missing out on that with our failure to take action on climate change. We can see how the economy and the environment do go hand in hand if we just think strategically and creatively.
The Minister of the Environment has said that Canada will not agree to any international climate commitments unless big emitters such as India and China also follow suit. On the face of it, this sounds like a compelling argument. Of course we all want China and India to come on board, absolutely, and other rapidly industrializing countries should all be included in this international effort. However, I believe that the Conservatives only use this line to confuse and to create more deadlock and delay.
It is noteworthy that this minister calls China to task for not committing to a climate plan, but at the same time threatens the United States with the idea that we will sell our bitumen to China if the U.S. will not expand Keystone. What he is saying is China is a bad country for being a major emitter, but it is a good enough country for us to sell our raw products to. I think we cannot have it both ways.
The government's intentions here are transparent. It is trying to throw a monkey wrench into the good faith negotiations of other countries that want to take action on climate. We all know that if we really want these countries to come on board, the best way to do that is to lead, show good faith and take action domestically.
What the Conservatives are not telling Canadians about China is interesting. China is already aggressively investing in clean energy technology in a way that our own country is not. By failing to invest here in Canada, we are missing out on these economic opportunities. We see the government actively attempting to deadlock negotiations in the international community.
Canada is being left behind because of our failure to take action on the environment. The European commission has recommended a carbon penalty on our oil. The U.S. has ordered an environmental review of Keystone that takes into account climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. These are some of our strongest trading partners.
Canada is being punished because while other countries are moving ahead on climate, we are doing nothing. We have no plan on how to develop the oil sands. The oil sands are a precious natural resource, a resource we can use to leverage a larger transition to a green economy.
We need to go beyond thinking about the short-term and having that colony mentality, looking for the empire that will save us when we export our raw natural resources. We need to look to the next 20 to 30 years and think about our long-term energy future.
The Conservatives have absolutely no plan to make oil sands development consistent with the GHG or greenhouse gas reductions that we need to make through either technological investments or a diversification of strategy for our energy economy and for the economy of Alberta.
We need to diversify our energy economy. We need to invest equally in wind, solar and tidal energies. We need to think about how Canadian natural resources can benefit Canadians first. We need to invest aggressively in energy efficiency. We need an environment minister who understands that he is the Minister of the Environment and we need a Minister of Natural Resources who understands that he needs to advocate for all of our natural resources, not just one.
We have some mixed media reports coming out of Durban today, just an hour or so ago. Some reports say the minister has announced that Canada will formally withdraw from Kyoto and other reports say that is not in fact what he said, that what he said was that we are not going to recommit to Kyoto 2 or Kyoto plus, the next stage.
I just came from a meeting with the South African high commissioner where she laid out so eloquently what is happening on the world stage around Kyoto and Canada's involvement, Canada's active sabotaging of these international agreements.
It was eloquent and moving, and it made me quite sad to hear her first-hand account of what it is that Canada is doing and how we are failing on the national stage. She said that the worse thing that could happen in Durban is that Kyoto fails to exist, and with Canada passively sitting by and not doing anything, and with reports that Canada is actually pulling out, it just makes things worse.
She talked about how it would have been better for members and parties to the Kyoto protocol to drag their feet and maybe not even quite live up to the expectations than to have people pulling out altogether.
She talked about the equity involved internationally and how this is not something we can leave to developing countries or countries in the global south. They are not historic emitters. Countries like Canada are, so we need fair and equal but differentiated targets when it comes to countries around the world entering into these agreements if we are to have any success at all.
I am proud to have brought this motion forward today. I am saddened to see Canada's international reputation on this issue, but I am hopeful that the Conservatives are listening to this today and that they will take heed because there is always time to do the right thing.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased that the member for Terrebonne—Blainville has given me this opportunity to explain our government's recovery plan.
I could not help but notice the difference between our party and theirs. She talks about more meetings, discussions and debates; we actually prefer action, and that is what we have done.
The Canadian economy is emerging from one of the worst economic crises that we have seen since the Great Depression. It is obvious that Canada's recovery is the strongest among all the G7 countries. In other words, the targeted measures in the first phase of our economic action plan are working, and we are on the right road.
That is not to say that the economic problems other countries are facing will not have repercussions on our own economy. The recovery is still fragile.
The best protection against poverty is a strong economy, not more meetings and more discussion, and the best guarantee of a strong economy is job creation. That is why jobs and the economy are going to continue to be our priority.
We want the best for our fellow Canadians. We are investing in programs to promote growth and create jobs, programs such as the one-time hiring credit for small business.
We are investing in programs for Canadian families. We provide over $14 billion per year in benefits for families with children.
We are investing in programs for caregivers. For example, we estimate that more than 500,000 caregivers will benefit from the family caregiver tax credit.
We are investing in programs for the working poor. We provide over $1 billion per year in the working income tax benefit, which helps to ensure that low-income Canadians are financially better off when they get a job.
We are investing in programs for our seniors, who have worked hard to build our country. For example, budget 2011 increased the guarantee income supplement for seniors who have little or no income, and that will benefit more than 680,000 seniors.
We are investing in programs for Canadian workers who have been laid off with measures such as the targeted initiative for older workers, which has helped close to 16,000 people.
We are investing in programs that promote education and skills training, because those are the key to economic independence and prosperity for everyone.
We are looking for ways to harmonize these investments with balanced budgets, yet without imposing a tax hike on hard-working Canadians.
The unfortunate thing is that the member opposite and her party have opposed virtually every one of these initiatives.
The electoral district of Terrebonne--Blainville (Quebec) has a population of 107,694 with 83,300 registered voters and 200 polling divisions.
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