Parliament resumes this month, and as Tim Harper of the Toronto Star asserts, the highly unpopular online spying bill, C-30, is still high on the government’s agenda. As there’s little on the books for the fall session of Parliament, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is taking the opportunity to once again push his controversial legislation.
But Toews may not be the Public Safety Minister for much longer—according to Harper, the online spying bill is in desperate need of a new champion following Toews’ public relations disaster earlier this year, when he asserted that all those who opposed the bill supported child pornographers. This showed blatant disrespect—not only in regards to this brutally serious crime—but also to the privacy commissioners, legal and policy expert, and thousands of Canadians who had asserted that the online spying bill is invasive, costly, and poorly thought-out. Now that Bill C-30 is so negatively linked to Toews, the Conservatives may be looking for a new salesman.
In spite of this, the Herald News reported this week that Toews has been pushing hard for Lawful Access, asserting that police are “overwhelmed” with paperwork and it is impeding their ability to get out on the street and do their jobs. This annoying “paperwork” consists of the police work that has to be documented and turned over to defense lawyers to ensure that those accused of crimes get a fair trial.
So how does Toews propose to streamline this cumbersome accountability process that is legislated by our Charter of Rights? Through legislation like the online spying bill, which will allow the authorities to track suspects without a warrant, bypassing some of that pesky paperwork.
Meanwhile, the CBC has noted that the RCMP is scrambling to deal with the basic processing of forensic evidence, and is underfunded and under-resourced in this respect. But rather than directing funding towards these basic and essential policing services, Toews is trying to pass this off as a provincial problem. Instead he’s pushing the government to fund an expensive and invasive surveillance system, which can only create further reams of information to be processed, and which will do away with the checks and balances that make sure these powers won’t be abused.
Toews has consistently dismissed the concerns of Canadians in pushing this costly and invasive surveillance plan. Whether it’s him or another salesman championing online spying in the fall, we need to let the government know that we won’t stand for unchecked mass surveillance.