BCCLA Asks Minister Toews To Clarify whether Canadian Privacy Commissioners are “aligning themselves with child pornographers”

The BCCLA has sent an inquiry to Minister Toews regarding the reports of his comment that critics of telecommunications surveillance bills due to be introduced tomorrow are “aligning themselves with child pornographers”. The so-called “lawful access” bills expected tomorrow have been criticized in the past for allowing greatly increased surveillance capacity and powers to the police without effective oversight. Canadian Privacy Commissioners are among the many critics of the proposals. The BCCLA has asked the Minister if he could please clarify whether he is including Canada’s privacy commissioners as supporters of child pornographers.

Robert Holmes, QC, President of the BC Civil Liberties Association: “Politicians sometimes say things that they don’t mean and that don’t make sense. The comment made by Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews, falls in that category. The government eagerly gathered support from privacy advocates when it suited them on the long form census and the gun registry. Standing up for privacy was a matter of fundamental principle there. But in the context of government snooping on your activities on the internet, the minister has engaged in intemperate language, lumping privacy advocates together with child pornographers. As a lawyer, Mr. Toews knows better than that. He should withdraw his obviously intemperate remarks. Being free from unreasonable interference by government agencies is a concern for all Canadians. Privacy advocates stand up for the rights of all Canadians. It is reprehensible for a federal minister to suggest that in doing so privacy advocates should be linked with criminals.”

Download the BCCLA’s Report Moving Toward a Surveillance Society: Proposals to Expand “Lawful Access” in Canada

Media Contact:
Robert Holmes, Q.C., President, 604 838 6856
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, 604 630 9753 or 604 687 6001

Concerns about lawful access from Privacy Commissioners in Canada include:

IPC Submission to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada on 2005 “Lawful Access” Consultations

Letter to Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews