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Letter to Honourable Anne McLellan regarding the expansion of the culture of surveillance

Dear Ms. McLellan:

I am writing on behalf of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) to express our concern about the lack of democratic accountability in relation to an array of initiatives and program areas that fall under the rubric of national security.

We are concerned about a fundamental expansion of a culture of surveillance that appears to be taking place without meaningful democratic consultation or debate. We see attempts to leverage public fear about national security to justify vaguely described and overly intrusive surveillance measures. The combined effect of these measures is to drastically undermine Canadian sovereignty and erode privacy protections that are critical to our political and legal culture.

We are increasingly alarmed at the extent that surveillance measures are adopted without debate or consultation. Democratic processes are being subverted by taking important policy matters to international forums and international negotiations before the Canadian public and its democratic representatives have considered the issues and values at stake. We are particularly concerned at your Ministry’s propensity for “unveiling” the content of negotiations with foreign governments as a fait accompli for Canadian policy.

It is even more alarming that the Federal government persistently fails to openly identify who is responsible for these intrusive and undemocratically initiated programs. Citizens and organizations that are attempting to keep abreast of developments in surveillance and national security are frustrated by lack of transparency.

Accordingly, we ask that you provide us with a list of individuals who are responsible for the following programs and initiatives:

  • No-fly lists;
  • Smart Border Agreement;
  • Security and Prosperity Partnership;
  • National ID cards;
  • “Smart” Passports;
  • Lawful Access;
  • Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing;
  • International airline traveler terrorist threat assessment or analysis; and
  • Nexis and other traveler pre-screening programs.

For each program or initiative, we ask that you provide the following:

the name of the Minister or Ministers responsible for the portfolio containing each listed program or initiative; and

the names and contact information for the senior civil servants who are primarily responsible to the Minister or Ministers for each program or initiative.

We look forward to a response from you before September 1, 2005.

Yours truly,

Jason Gratl,