Bill C-30: An Act to Pick Our Pockets

February 20, 2012

Why don’t you ever say what you mean, Mr. Harper? Your minister Tony Clement said: “If only one Canadian complained about the mandatory long-form census, that was good enough to kill it,” when the real purpose was to reduce the credibility of census information so you could make decisions based upon hunches rather than data. Take the Crime Bill, for example.

You eliminated the long-gun registry because it was a Liberal legacy, but you took your time about doing it because it was such a great cash cow for the Conservative Party. Your argument was that no one should be made a criminal or subjected to arbitrary search and seizure just because he owned a rifle or shotgun.

But then you came out with Bill C-30, the Lawful Access Act. Former Prime Minister Paul Martin tried a version of this bill before, but it died on the order paper due to an election. Some regulation of electronic communications is necessary to get our house in order, but C-30 goes way beyond any reasonable law in that it gives police, public employees, and “Inspectors” the right to snoop into the online activities of ordinary Canadians without notifying anybody of what they are doing.

Sure, the bill has the usual pages of how notifications and permissions have to be obtained, but the loopholes are there: any policeman or employee in a police station or anybody appointed as an “Inspector” can snoop without the victim’s knowledge and not leave a record.

This bill, if enacted, will make Canada a police state. And this comes from a government which killed the long-form census because fewer than ten Canadians over a period of two years complained about it? A government which killed the long-gun registry rather than risk making criminals out of farmers with unregistered .22’s?

These were feints before the real roundup. Mr. Harper, your thought police (all right, “Inspectors”) will do more harm to ordinary Canadians of all ages than any number of long-gun registries or long-form census rules.

And how did you defend this invasive legislation in the House? An hour before the first reading someone changed the name to the “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act.” The only thing Bill C-30 has to do with child pornography is that both are about the Internet.

Then Vic Toews, your Minister of Public Safety, stood up in the House of Commons and faced down any critic of the bill with what may go down in history as the stupidest comment ever made in the Canadian Parliament: “He can stand with us or with the child pornographers.” So a government which didn’t want to make a criminal out of a farmer with an unregistered shotgun has now called virtually all Canadians outside Parliament Hill the worst kind of criminal.

This comment was so mystifying that I tried to track its origins down with Google. It traced partly to the attack-dog style of your government, Mr. Harper, and the way you have trained your ministers to respond with bullying put-downs to opponents. “You’re not supporting our troops!” and “Liberals are soft on crime!” over the last six years have been standard substitutes for reasoned argument in question period. On June 20, 2004 you yourself said, “Paul Martin supports child pornography!”

But the child pornography accusation of Toews was more extreme than the others, so I looked a little further. Then I came up with the following quotation:

“The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”

Was this the idea floating around in the mind of your Minister of Public Safety —
hide behind the children and you can manipulate the people any way you want?

So if the long-form census was to cut off support to needy people and aboriginals because you would no longer be able to count them, and the long-gun registry was to fill the party coffers and erase a liberal tradition, what’s the point behind Bill C-30?

It’s not eliminating child pornography. Effective laws are already in place to do that. But the same part of Bill C-30 which allows emergency access to Internet records for an Amber Alert can allow access to businessmen who want to find ways to make the Internet pay.

Mr. Harper’s favourite slogan in the last election was: “Canadians don’t care about that. It’s all about the economy.” Most of the Internet in Canada is still free, but if corporations can track our clicks they can meter them and make us pay. Internet copyright laws in Canada are just about unenforceable at the moment. On Torrent sites I can download first run movies and view them along with yesterday’s T.V. programs if I want, all without commercials. My friends in the United States can’t do that.

Bill C-30 is a giant step toward tracking our keyboard clicks to make us pay. There’s no moral or safety issue here, just indirection and scare tactics, the standard techniques of the pickpocket and the mugger.

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One Response to “Bill C-30: An Act to Pick Our Pockets”

  1. rodcros Says:

    May 15, 2012: I read a column in The Ottawa Citizen today which claims that Bill C-30 is dead. It will disappear with the next prorogation of parliament, expected in early summer. Interestingly enough, it seems the reasons the Conservatives have buried the thing in the order papers are precisely the ones I listed in this article I wrote months ago.


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