Committees of the House (Justice and Human Rights)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I would like to put on the record that I support the NDP motion on this matter, and agree with the position that we should split the bill, as other speakers have pointed out. I thank the hon. member, the justice critic for the official opposition, for bringing this forward.

The motion to split the bill is supported by no less than the interim Privacy Commissioner for the federal government, the Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian, and the British Columbia Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham. All of these experts are noting that what is happening here is more than a response, which we all support, to protect the vulnerable from cyberbullying. We all support that. However, in the guise of protecting the victims of potential cyberbullying, we are opening the floodgates to quite a Draconian invasion of privacy of Canadians from coast to coast.

That is why today’s Globe and Mail had the cartoon of an RCMP officer, with one hand with a cute little puppet, talking about how we are going to protect children, and on the other a stethoscope to listen to everything that is going on within that house. Privacy rights are essential. I would ask the hon. minister if he would not reconsider at this point, not trying to end debate, not trying to push this through without proper review, but actually listening to those impartial public servants who are mandated to protect privacy. Would he not take a moment, listen, and reconsider support for splitting the bill?

Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, is the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands actually putting before this House as part of her argument that editorial cartoonist? Not prone to any sort of exaggeration or mischaracterization, is that somehow part of her argument to slow up and derail the efforts to amend the Criminal Code and enhance the ability of law enforcement to protect young people? I find it stunning that she would suggest so in such a way.

As far as the interim Privacy Commissioner’s concerns, she had the opportunity and would have the opportunity to publicly comment, as she has. We have heard from other experts, and we continue to hear from experts at the committee.

Now is not the time to slow down, go back, or re-examine what we know is obvious. Suggesting that the government, via this cartoon, is putting a stethoscope to every Canadian’s private information is of course perverse. It is the height of exaggeration.

The answer is, no, I am not going to follow the advice or criticism of editorial cartoonists. We are going to act with haste to protect children, protect those who are vulnerable, including seniors, to fraud online. Protecting the interests of Canadians is what is at the very core of this effort and the core of this bill.

We do not agree with the NDP motion to split the bill. We think it is time to move forward, and that is the government’s intent.

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague, the Minister of Justice, but I think he has a problem of selective hearing if he thought my entire argument boiled down to The Globe and Mail editorial cartoon.

I think that sometimes satire is the best way of piercing the veil of increasingly draconian policies. However, it happens that I also referenced the privacy commissioners from Ontario, British Columbia, and federally, all of whom have pointed to serious problems, as well as many other critics who are looking at this.

As a matter of fact, in the language used by Ann Cavoukian, this is very clearly a wolf in sheep’s clothing. What could be clearer in saying that in the guise of doing one thing, this particular administration is willing to open the floodgates so that we will have private information from cellphone companies turned over to the RCMP?

I do think that satire often crystallizes an issue quite well. I encourage the Minister of Justice to pay attention when his legislation becomes the stuff of clear satire and the skewering of draconian polices by those, whether privacy commissioners, lawyers, or advocates for our civil liberties in this country, of which I consider myself one.

Before Bill C-13 gets rushed through this place, we should look at it and split the bill.

Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, I encourage the hon. member to listen to the answer, because I did not simply respond to the issue of political satire found in a cartoon, although I suggest that she did before and, once again, spent a disproportionate amount of time attributing great value to this cartoon that she saw in The Globe and Mail.

I would refer the member again to my answer. She can find it in Hansard, where I spoke of the fact that the interim Privacy Commissioner has made recommendations and has already publicly commented. I would remind her, as I did previously, that in the development of this bill and in the development of the proposals contained in the legislation, we consulted extensively with the Privacy Commissioner and others. Their views formulated part of the government’s legislation that is before the committee currently.

I note with great interest that this legislation would in fact strengthen and increase the investigative powers of the Privacy Commissioner, and I am sure she would find some great comfort in that fact.