Indulge me for a moment while I become hysterical

| 7 Comments

Much of the establishment media coverage of the public reaction to Bill C-30 — and Vic Toews initial comment on it in Question Period — has been annoying, to say the least. Did you know it's naive of us to be outraged at Toews claim that opposing the bill is the equivalent of supporting child pornography? This isn't the first example of this kind of nasty comment. So has there always been a Best Before date on criticism of gutter politics?

And apparently, unless we line up in order by height and express our outrage only when called upon and in the approved manner, we're an hysterical mob who have worked ourselves up into a frenzy. Good to know.

But in a roundup of some of the punditry on the issue, Chris Selley gets close to something the other columnists have either missed or skipped over. He's responding to Andrew Coyne, who wondered why the reaction to the actual contents of the bill is so much stronger than it was to very similar measures proposed by previous Liberal governments.

Over the seven years since the Liberal bill, police set fire to some of the credibility they had among conservative freedom-lovers: the Robert Dziekanski coverup, the G20 debacle, supporting the long-gun registry, and so on. ... beneath the hysteria is real and growing anger and distrust, which is quite heartening to see.

I could be snarky about this from a number of angles.

I could start by asking why Selley thinks it's only "conservative freedom-lovers" who have developed a distrust of law enforcement. Or maybe I should just ask what the hell took conservative freedom-lovers so long. If you go back through the archives on this site, I'm pretty sure you'll find criticism of the kinds of measures that C-30 and it's previous incarnations, both Conservative and Liberal, propose. I'm also pretty sure you'll find expressions of criticism and distrust aimed at CSIS and the RCMP, dating back to early in the last decade, and the Toronto Police Service and pretty much the entire judicial establishment here in Ontario, as a result of the G20 weekend in 2010 and its fallout.

But I think it's certainly true that the anger and distrust Selley mentions has spread to a larger portion of the population. In addition to the Dziekanski coverup, we know more now about the role that the RCMP and CSIS played in the detention and torture of a number of Canadians who have never been charged with wrongdoing. We now know that the previous Director of CSIS objected to an absolute embargo on information gained from torture because he feared it would undermine the entire Security Certificate regime. And we learned recently that the same Public Safety Minister who has tabled C-30 wrote a memo in 2010 that effectively turned CSIS loose to trade in information resulting from torture. Aside from the moral bankruptcy that represents, Toews is now encouraging our national intelligence agency to deal in, and act on, information that is inherently unreliable.

The common thread in these and other incidents isn't just malfeasance on the part of the security establishment but the lack of transparency and accountability. The agencies responsible for oversight of CSIS and the RCMP are, by all accounts, weaker and less effective than they were ten years ago. All requests for a proper judicial inquiry into what Selley quite rightly called the G20 fiasco were stonewalled at both the federal and provincial levels of government. For all the law enforcement horror stories we've heard over the last decade I've seen nothing to suggest that things aren't going to continue to deteriorate.

It sounds as though police chiefs across the country are getting set to speak up in support of Bill C-30 and an important part of the message will undoubtedly be that they'll treat any new powers they get responsibly; we can trust them.

I don't trust them. Not any more. Not even a little bit. With all due respect, they can put Bill C-30 where the sun don't shine. Sorry for getting all hysterical on you. I'll try to calm down now.

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7 Comments

Ah thanks pogge, you bring such coherency to my rage.

Just doing my job, ma'am.

Mister pogge, I heart you and your righteous indignation! It looks good on you, btw. :D

Good gawd man get a grip of yourself.. Nah on second thought carry on.

The gatekeepers of what is and isn't newsworthy have come to the realization that they are losing control and they don't like it one bit.

Despite my mistrust of the cops and CSIS, if only it were just them! One thing that's been annoying me about the coverage is that it continues to concentrate only on the bit of the bill letting the police access relatively limited chunks of information without a warrant.
That's the tip of the iceberg. There is a section of the bill that lets *anyone* the minister designates access *any* data anything remotely resembling an ISP might have on hand, with no need to give anyone so much as a reason. It is actually far worse than anything I've heard about the old Liberal bill.

I had signed the petition to stop online spying, and today got a response from Toews:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding Bill C-30, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act.

Canada's laws currently do not adequately protect Canadians from online exploitation and we think there is widespread agreement that this is a problem.

We want to update our laws while striking the right balance between combating crime and protecting privacy.

Let me be very clear: the police will not be able to read emails or view web activity unless they obtain a warrant issued by a judge and we have constructed safeguards to protect the privacy of Canadians, including audits by privacy commissioners.

What's needed most is an open discussion about how to better protect Canadians from online crime. We will therefore send this legislation directly to Parliamentary Committee for a full examination of the best ways to protect Canadians while respecting their privacy.

For your information, I have included some myths and facts below regarding Bill C-30 in its current state.

Sincerely,
Vic Toews
Member of Parliament for Provencher

Myth: Lawful Access legislation infringes on the privacy of Canadians.

Fact: Our Government puts a high priority on protecting the privacy of law-abiding Canadians. Current practices of accessing the actual content of communications with a legal authorization will not change.

Myth: Having access to basic subscriber information means that authorities can monitor personal communications and activities.

Fact: This has nothing to do with monitoring emails or web browsing. Basic subscriber information would be limited to a customer’s name, address, telephone number, email address, Internet Protocol (IP) address, and the name of the telecommunications service provider. It absolutely does not include the content of emails, phones calls or online activities.

Myth: This legislation does not benefit average Canadians and only gives authorities more power.

Fact: As a result of technological innovations, criminals and terrorists have found ways to hide their illegal activities. This legislation will keep Canadians safer by putting police on the same footing as those who seek to harm us.

Myth: Basic subscriber information is way beyond “phone book information”.

Fact: The basic subscriber information described in the proposed legislation is the modern day equivalent of information that is in the phone book. Individuals frequently freely share this information online and in many cases it is searchable and quite public.

Myth: Police and telecommunications service providers will now be required to maintain databases with information collected on Canadians.

Fact: This proposed legislation will not require either police or telecommunications service providers to create databases with information collected on Canadians.

Myth: “Warrantless access” to customer information will give police and government unregulated access to our personal information.

Fact: Federal legislation already allows telecommunications service providers to voluntarily release basic subscriber information to authorities without a warrant. This Bill acts as a counterbalance by adding a number of checks and balances which do not exist today, and clearly lists which basic subscriber identifiers authorities can access.

I see he still hasn't read his own legislation.

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This page contains a single entry by pogge published on February 21, 2012 2:01 PM.

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