Posted on by Scott Delahunt

It's Flag Day here in Canada. What a better day than to give a background on a dangerous bill introduced in Parliament?

Bill C-51 has been introduced in the Canadian House of Commons by the Harper Government. C-51 will, if enacted, force ISPs to monitor and record customers' online usage – web, email, chat, you name it – to be turned over to law enforcement when asked, no warrant required. The Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews, has called anyone against C-51 as siding with child pornographers. A senior minister in the Harper Government told a critic of the bill, "either stand with us or with the child pornographers."

Minister Toews continues to pursue that line of defense when interviewed about C-51. He insists that the bill is needed to fight child pornography. However, the bill is direct contravention of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically, section 8 which reads, "Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure." Warrantless recording of online use sounds unreasonable and may be how the bill gets squashed if enacted.

The irony of this intrusive bill is that the Harper Government made the long form census voluntary and killed the long gun registry due to privacy issues. Apparently, it's fine to not ask questions or to not require weapons be registered, but just as fine to spy on people without them noticing.

What can be done at this point? C-51 has not yet gone through the full process of becoming a law. It has only had its first reading and still needs to pass through both the House and the Senate before it returns for a third reading in the Commons. However, the Harper Government has a slim majority in the House, and Prime Minister Harper himself has stacked the Senate to get Bill C-10, aka the Omnibus Crime Bill, shoved through. At this point, C-51 and its partner, C30, the online surveillance bill, looks like it'll get through unless Parliament is prorogued. At that point, a court challenge based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms may be the only way to get the law tossed.

–Scott D

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