In Debate on C-42, Irene calls for the protection of airline passengers personal information

Ms. Chris Charlton:...

I cannot justify the Conservatives' approach to how they deal with confidentiality and access to information. In fact, we have just spent an entire week in the House and the Speaker had been asked to adjudicate on an issue with respect to access to information that my colleague, the member for Ottawa Centre, raised in the House just yesterday.

We have been spending a tonne of time here where we, as parliamentarians, have had to fight the government to get access to information that we should have had as a matter of right for us to be able to do our job.

There is now before us the question of whether we, as members, have a right to have access to information about the cost of the government's crime bills. We received a piece of paper yesterday but unfortunately that paper contained hardly any information, and paper alone is not good enough.

We have asked and not received yet appropriate projections of the costs of corporate tax cuts.

Members will remember only too well the seminal ruling given by the Speaker on the issue of us having access to documents pertaining to Afghan detainees. Of course there is another issue about who said what, when and where about the funding cuts to KAIROS, another matter that the Speaker had to adjudicate on.

We are taking up an unbelievable amount of time in this House appealing to the Speaker over and over again to get us access to information that we require to do our jobs on behalf of Canadians, instead of debating the issues that Canadians care about, like jobs, pensions and health care.

Yet here we are in Bill C-42, and the same government that will not share information with us or Canadian citizens is all but eager to hand that information over to foreign countries. As my colleague pointed out, it is not just any information, this is information that includes travel plans, car leases and, most importantly, potential medical records of the people who are travelling. Medical records should never be shared with anyone beyond the patient and his or her doctor, yet the government is opening the books to foreign governments.

There is a huge inconsistency in the way that the government deals with the protection of information. It is trying to close its books to us but opens them to foreign governments. I think that alone is the reason why every member in the House should be voting against Bill C-42.

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I too would like to thank and congratulate my colleague from Hamilton Mountain. I think that she set out the reality of Bill C-42 in a very succinct way.

It terrifies me and I know it terrifies my constituents. I began to hear from them when news of this bill first emerged about a year ago. They absolutely recognized the danger of allowing other foreign capitals to have the information that we have always regarded as key to our security in this country.

The member talked about the long form census and she made reference to the secrecy of the government.

It is interesting, we have just been exposed to one ludicrous crime bill after another. The government seems desperate to make criminals of Canadians. In the course of that, it keeps talking about victims. However, with Bill C-42, it seems to me that it is victimizing the citizens of this country, exposing them to whatever possibility in terms of the release of sensitive information to the likes of Mexico and Panama.

We know what happens in Mexico and the violence and insecurity that travellers experience. We know with this new trade deal that the government has signed with the Government of Panama that we have been exposed to the lack of support and security that Panama provides its own citizens. So how on earth are we going to expect that government to support the citizens of Canada and protect them?

Ms. Chris Charlton: Mr. Speaker, my colleague raises absolutely essential points in this debate.

It really is about the onus of our government to protect Canadian citizens from the potentially corrupt practices of other governments. However, the government is actually condoning the potential victimization of Canadian citizens. It is completely appalling. We should all be resolutely against this bill.

We have laid out the reasons. There is no protection for the private information of Canadian citizens. There is no guarantee that it would not end up in the wrong hands. Therefore, there is no guarantee, there is no control, about how that information would be used against Canadian citizens.

At a minimum, Canadians have the right to expect that their government would stand up for them in any international obligation. We are not simply a doormat for its friends south of the border. Yes, we have friendly relationships, we have important trading relations with them, but that does not mean that it is not the responsibility of our government to protect our citizens. In proceeding with Bill C-42, clearly the government is abdicating that very important responsibility.