Masse Speaks on Bill S-3 (Criminal Code)

39:2 Hansard - 81 (2008/4/17)
(1550) Criminal Code
[Bill S-3. Second reading]
Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague relating to Bill S-3.

We are watching the erosion of civil liberties. She has really articulated the connection of the individual impact but also how it will relate to their employment and their family, which has greater consequences for us. Living on the border, I deal with that on a regular basis. Even with mistaken identity, where people are often assumed to be someone else, that has affected their clean record to get across the border.

We have been clear on our strategy about this. Why does the member believe the Liberal Party is backing away or splitting on this issue when it really has significant consequences? A lot of time and money has been wasted in the House with regard to failed bills in the past and this one seems to be setting itself up to be a failure.

I would like to hear her comments on that.

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, one thing that has to be addressed is that this is a Senate bill and there is an important element to that. We are talking about a bill that nobody can deny is going to change civil liberties in this country. It is going to create another procedure that is different, that limits rights and limits the ability for people to even defend themselves in the context of our current laws. That is even acknowledged by the Canadian law society and others that have advocated for different amendments, because it deals with things such as personal information that could be exposed not only internally but externally and the legacy that could leave on a person's life.

I would like to ask my colleague how he feels about this bill originating in the Senate. His party has been saying that there needs to be Senate reform, despite the fact that the Conservatives appointed a member to the Senate, a cabinet minister, and the Prime Minister has been critical of the Senate in the past. At the same time, when it comes to seeing significant changes in Canadian democratic law, they come from the Senate, which is not accountable.

I would like the member to address that issue. It is a quandary. This issue which is so important for our democratic rights in Canada is coming about by a group of individuals who are not accountable.

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, one of the problems that different lawyer associations and groups have raised is that some personal information could exit this country and could then be used against individuals. As we know from the enactment of the Patriot Act, Canada has yet to have a privacy agreement. We need a treaty to understand what happens to the Canadian information, where it goes, how it is used and so forth.

This issue has not been addressed in the bill, and I will ask the hon. member about that situation. I know we have had a series of problems in my constituency with regard to tracking the direction of personal information.

Also there are very serious cases, like the Maher Arar case wherein information was shared with another government's officials and departments. We do not know where that information goes. The Patriot Act prevents access to that type of knowledge and also the ability the scrub that information. It also has other consequences, for example, where individuals cannot get themselves taken off a no fly list.

Could my colleague tell us if those issues have been addressed by the bill?

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, in my colleague's speech today he talked about his home constituency of Cambridge. I went to Wilfrid Laurier University, which is in Kitchener-Waterloo, just outside of Cambridge. It is a very beautiful community, one with a lot to be proud of, and is very diversified. He mentioned the 401 and concerns. Everybody in Canada really is concerned about terrorist attacks.

My riding actually has the busiest international border crossing in the world. In fact, more than 30% of Canada's entire trade to the United States goes through my riding on a daily basis, including more trade than all of Canada's to Japan. There are actually four crossings, but the main crossing is the Ambassador Bridge.

On that bridge, there is a system right now whereby someone drives on and does not actually get checked until getting to the other side. As well, the only real plan for security, for appearances and so forth, is to rent a police officer once in a while who goes underneath the bridge. This is a four lane bridge that obviously is very important for the economy, connected right to this member's community.

Given the fact that these are the government's criteria for security, I would like to ask the member whether he thinks that is sufficient. Why have there not been, in this private enterprise, the mandated improvements to make sure? There are 24 international bridges and tunnels between Canada and the United States. Only two are privately held. This is one of them. I would like to hear from the member as to whether he is satisfied with that type of security provision from this private operator.

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, at the end of January, I brought forth a call for the government to bring forward legislation. We have not yet seen that, but this motion at least creates a process, a potential element to deal with the situation.

One of the points the member made, which I think is important, is that the European Union as well as the United States are looking at different models as well. Would he expand again on the importance of Canada being left out if we do not do the same?