BCCLA Slams Chief Electoral Officer for Privacy Ignorance

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is urging Parliamentarians and the government too ignore,
if not condemn, the recommendation from Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley
to give him the powers to hand over personal information to government agencies if in his discretion it is necessary for public safety, health or security. The recommendation is part of a report from Mr. Kingsley’s office entitled Completing the Cycle of Electoral Reforms which recommends numerous changes to Canada’s electoral framework.

BCCLA President Jason Gratl responds: “This is a shocking recommendation. Canadians provide
this personal information only because they wish to exercise their democratic right to vote. In that way, the Chief Electoral Officer should be demonstrating extraordinary vigilance to protect the integrity of personal information in this database much like the Revenue Canada database. It should not be subject to any access by another government agency or third party without a court order. Otherwise, Canadians may be disinclined to register and forego their vote. Mr. Kinsley has not demonstrated any case for the need for this reform.”

Mr. Kinsgley has been reported to be willing to hold open the door to his database to Canada’s national br> spy agency the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency:

“Of course I can understand why that may raise some alarms. But I also understand that CSIS is a legal entity in this country.

And if they’re the ones asking me for something, and I find it reasonable, I’ll go along with it – if the statute is changed.

Gratl: “We well remember Mr. Kingsley’s prosecution of Jonathan Oppenheim and others for having willfully destroyed their ballots as a sign of political protest. Given that kind of action, we have absolutely no faith in Mr. Kingsley’s ability to exercise such discretion reasonably. We suggest Mr. Kingsley have a chat with Jennifer Stoddart, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, to seek some advice about privacy protection.