Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act (Bill C-13)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, as we are now debating time allocation in response to what the Minister of Justice and the government House leader have moved, I want to again address the disservice to this place, the disrespect, indeed the contempt toward this place and the role of individual members of Parliament that is constituted in 78 time allocations in this Parliament.

I know that you, Mr. Speaker, are considering carefully the motion I brought forward, the question of privilege I brought forward on September 15, and the numerous legal opinions that lean in the direction of concluding that our ability to do our job, which is a matter of privilege, to hold the government to account, is significantly compromised, in fact savaged, by the constant application of time allocation.

I referred to the decision of Mr. Justice Binnie and the Vaid decision in 2005, that the heart and essence of what we do as MPs is to hold the government to account. The ability to do that job requires adequate time for debate.

I understand the Minister of Justice believes we have had more than enough time for debate. However, the reality is that the privacy commissioners of this country, many of them, believe the bill would violate rights of privacy. Lawyers and experts with the Canadian Bar Association believe it will not stand the test of a Supreme Court challenge, yet we are asked to rush it through.

This is a violation of our rights. I ask the Minister of Justice to reconsider. We shared the same law school. I would like to think we share something else, which is respect for Parliament.

Hon. Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, I have been around this place a little while, since 1997, and I sat, literally, where the member is sitting.

We hear the hyperbole of “savaging democracy” and “stifling debate”. As I have told the member, we have had significant debate on the bill. We have had examinations at committee. We have had input from attorneys general and justice ministers at the provincial and territorial level. We have had input from lawyers and experts of well-renowned reputation when it comes to cyber and the use of Internet, and the use of the modern information age.

Now is the time to move forward. Now is the time to make actual progress on the legislation and the insertion of Criminal Code amendments that will help protect people from the scourge of online criminality. That is what this is about.

We can argue procedural points in the House of Commons, but there is no getting away from the fact that, and I believe my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands would agree, as a lawyer, as a person with a legal background, there is a necessity and a pressing need to modernize our Criminal Code and bring forward amendments that empower our investigators and our courts and our entire system of justice to improve upon a system that has been outdated, and is proven to be lacking when it comes to the necessary protections for online criminality.

These sections of the Criminal Code were put in place prior to the Internet. We have talked about and I reiterate that this does not create new police powers. It does not give them new investigative powers without judicial oversight. That was very much considered, both in the drafting and presentation of the bill. It was also very much considered in the wake of the Spencer decision, which I remind members, just for emphasis, was a case involving possession and distribution of child pornography.

Let us come back to reality. Let us come back to the importance of having legislation and Criminal Code amendments that will protect Canadian citizens, protect our ability to do the important work of online investigations that will prevent the likes of what we saw in the terrible tragedy of Rehtaeh Parsons.