Mr. Colin D. Gibson (Hamilton-Wenlworlh):
Mr. Speaker, eavesdropping and wiretapping are vicious practices and highly immoral evils. I support the reasonable suggestions advanced today which would empower parliament to enact measures to restrict these evils. It is true that in the field of crime detection, with proper safeguards, such as obtaining an order from a judge, the crown should not be prevented from using these devices in the interests of justice. However, such practice should be carefully confined to approved investigations under strict judicial control, and such controls can be imposed by an alert and modern House of Commons. In my view eavesdropping and wiretapping are extensions of the old law of trespass. The right to privacy needs judicial expression, and now is the time for parliament to create legislation
to protect the citizen from abuse of his right to privacy.
We have this evil in two contexts. First we have the criminal context where, if controls are imposed by parliament with care, eavesdropping and wiretapping may have a good effect in the field of Canadian justice. On the other hand if there is any stretching of the legislative use, or any illegal use, we may have more injustice and a marked increase in trespass.
So far our law does not protect the citizen by spelling out the right to privacy. Capricious business practices must be prohibited as we advance with the technological age. It will be a matter of great satisfaction if parliament brings in progressive legislation to curb the trend toward the invasion of privacy. The time has come to treat such invasions as crimes.
Our neighbours in the United States of America are struggling with this problem. To quote the United States text, "The Intruders" by Senator Edward Long, at page 183:
Most state legislatures, like Congress itself, have failed to keep abreast of advances in the field of privacy invasion.
If some vestige of individual privacy is to be preserved for the average American adequate laws both state and federal must be enacted and enforced.
[DOT] (6:30 p.m.)
In this great country of ours I suggest this is a field in which the provinces and the federal government should act. I strongly urge that at subsequent federal-provincial conferences, and if possible at the current one if there is time, this matter should be included on the agenda. The provinces are closely identified with the federal government in tracking down criminals, and I think if there was uniformity through use of the federal-provincial conference as a guide line, all the legislatures could adopt uniform and standard practices from one end of this great nation to the other.
Topic: JUSTICE AND LEGAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic: ELECTRONIC EAVESDROPPING-SUGGESTED STUDY AND REPORT BY STANDING COMMITTEE