Opposition Motion—Charter of Rights and Freedoms (C)

That the House recognize: (a) the fundamental right of all Canadians to the freedoms of speech, communication and privacy, and that there must be a clear affirmation on the need for these rights to be respected in all forms of communication; (b) that the collection by government of personal information and data from Canadians relating to their online activities without limits, rules, and judicial oversight constitutes a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ protections against unreasonable search and seizure; (c) that Canadians who have expressed deep concerns about Bill C-30 should not be described as being friends of child pornography or advocates of criminal activity; (d) that the Charter is the guarantor of the basic rights and freedoms of all Canadians; and (e) that the Charter is paramount to any provision of the Criminal Code of Canada; and accordingly the House calls on the Prime Minister to ensure that any legislation put forward by his government respects the provisions of the Charter and its commitment to the principles of due process, respect for privacy and the presumption of innocence.

Elizabeth May: Madam Speaker, when I ask my hon. colleague from Halifax West about the legislation, I add parenthetically that the hon. member and I were classmates at Dalhousie Law School in the same years and I want to ask him a legal question.

I look at the legislation and I do not see, as the Conservative members have pointed out, anything that lets police read our emails. I do see an unwarranted invasion of our privacy. How does hon. member feel about the fact that without warrant and without any suspicion of any crime, significant information would be turned over to law enforcement authorities?

Hon. Geoff Regan: Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. classmate. I do not know how often that is said in the House. We often say hon. colleague, hon. friend but not often hon. classmate, so it is nice to be talking about the law with a young classmate from a few years ago.

The idea that without warrant investigators could have access to personal information that, as most Canadians feel, ought to be private is very disturbing and disconcerting. That is the question. What can we find as a balance to ensure police officers have the tools they need so they can quickly get the authorization they need to do the investigation and stop people who are engaging in child pornography from distributing it or taking part in any way in that kind of activity? We have to do that, while at the same time protect Canadians who are law-abiding computer users going about their activities online in a legitimate way, but who ought to be able to do that privately, without someone watching what they are doing. Therefore, it is very disturbing and that is the question with which the committee has to grapple.

The attitude of trying to figure this out is how a government ought to bring this kind of bill to the House, not saying it knows what it is doing and that it is not listening to anybody else and that if it is challenged, it will attack. It is by taking a much more open approach and being open to criticism and to changes.