Home / BCCLA Says Omnibus Crime Bill Too Big for Proper Debate; Controversial Internet Surveillance Bills Should be Addressed Separately

BCCLA Says Omnibus Crime Bill Too Big for Proper Debate; Controversial Internet Surveillance Bills Should be Addressed Separately

The BCCLA is calling the government’s proposed omnibus crime bill “inherently problematic”. The government has committed to introducing and passing a massive omnibus crime bill incorporating a number of very different pieces of legislation. The Association says that disparate bills combined in an omnibus package prevent the component bills from being properly studied and debated. Among the Association’s specific concerns is the likely inclusion of bills to increase surveillance of telecommunications and provide warrantless access to telecommunications customer data.

“In 1982, a Conservative opposition successfully resisted passage of the Trudeau government’s omnibus bill on energy policy. Recognizing the critical importance of proper parliamentary procedure, the Conservatives in opposition succeeded in having the bill split into eight separate bills for proper debate and scrutiny. We are calling on the government to recognize these principles in relation to their own omnibus proposal and assure a meaningful debate on all the varied and controversial bills that would make up the omnibus crime bill,” said Robert Holmes, Q.C., President of the BCCLA. “

The omnibus bill proposal is likely to include legislation that will have serious negative implications for citizens’ privacy rights. Bills from the previous parliament would require telecommunications service providers to build in surveillance capacity into their systems and require handing over customer information to police or intelligence without a warrant.

Holmes: “These bills have never had the benefit of a hearing before any Parliamentary Committee and Canada’s federal and provincial Privacy Commissioners are united in opposing these new police surveillance powers. The government has already recognized the divisibility of the proposed omnibus bill by severing Bill C-2, which deals with large criminal trials. Given the serious concerns raised by Canada’s Privacy Commissioners, so-called “lawful access” bills, as well as other bills in the omnibus proposal that stand to profoundly affect citizens’ rights, need to have an appropriate hearing before Parliament. And that cannot happen if they are all rolled into an omnibus package.”

Letter to Prime Minister Harper

Robert Holmes, Q.C., President, (604) 681-1310
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, (604) 630-9753