Predators threaten safety of Canadian children

by Raymond Parker on February 20, 2012

in News, Politics, Social

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Big Brother is Watching

The Minister may designate persons or classes of persons as inspectors for the purposes of the administration and enforcement of this Act. 33. (1)

I’m not alone in seeing Bill C-30 as an intrusion into the cherished privacy and freedoms of Canadians, as widespread public protest makes plain.

Most criticism has focussed on Section 16 and the extended police powers it would enshrine, but I’d like an explanation of the words quoted above.

Under its power, “inspectors” deputized by the Minister (presumably Public Safety Minister Vic Toews), would be issued a “certificate” of authority compelling “any telecommunications service provider” to open your private online information to their inspection. [35. (3)]

It would be illegal to misrepresent any information [38. (1)] or “obstruct or hinder an inspector” and his  sidekicks ((38) (2) in pursuit of warrantless government snooping.

Social media has carried a great deal of the backlash against the bill, some of it personal, like the Twitter “Vikileaks” campaign that made public the salacious details of Toews’ personal life; some of it humorous, in particular the #TellVicEverything trend that inundated Twitter with the mundane affairs of everyday Canadians. At one point last week, this protest trended not just Canada-wide, but globally!

While Toews thought CBC should make a show out of the “very, very funny” content of the latter, he’s called for police to investigate the former intrusions, the details of which, it should be mentioned, are public, if not formerly common knowledge.

The choice Toews offered critics of the legislation—”You can either stand with us or with the child pornographers”—is a false dilemma worthy of George W. Bush, and a low insult to every law-abiding Canadian who, exercising their democratic rights, wonders why a government needs to claim unfettered powers.

Re-branding the legislation “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act” does not so much obscure its intent as reveal the clumsy Orwellian spin behind the scenes.

“…they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.” ~George Orwell, Nineteen-Eighty-Four

This blog, attached to a bicycling website, as mentioned on the “About page” sometimes includes content “spilling outside, the regular purview of cycling culture.”

I often spill thoughts on these pages that occupy my mind, on and off the bike.

These public musings often examine the politics of oil, the global warming denial industry, car culture, and government environmental policy. They are all easy to find; check out the categories, over in the right sidebar. I make no secret of my views.

It’s also no secret that the governing party of Canada is a lobbying arm of the petroleum industry, though they would rather you believe that’s all in your best interest—jobs and all.

Having publicly declared my opposition to the current regime and its corporatist agenda—I believe Stephen Harper and his government are the greatest threat to democracy that Canada has ever faced—should I be afraid that “inspectors,” appointed by “The Minister” at whim, may march into my internet service provider demanding access to “any document, information or thing” associated with my online activities, as laid out in (34. (2.) (a)?

Am I paranoid, or worse, a friend of pedophiles?

As Canadian poet Joni Mitchell mused, “maybe it’s paranoia, maybe it’s sensitivity,” ‘cause I’m a sensitive kind of guy, and I believe the threats my grandchildren face come primarily from predatory corporations and their government courtiers, more interested in quarterly profits than the future of life on earth.

Should organizations like Vancouver-based DeSmogBlog worry about surveillance, following their release of the “Denialgate” papers, revealing plans of global warming-deniers at the Heartland Institute and its list of sponsors, a who’s who of corporate heavies, including General Motors, Koch Industries and Microsoft?

After all, DeSmogBlog has (without extra-judicial powers) highlighted possible internet connections between Harper Government apparatchiks, global warming deniers, and tar sands spinners such as “Ethical Oil,” run by Sun Media heavy-breather Ezra Levant.

If DeSmogBlog’s investigations are correct, a cadre of Conservative Party insiders are running disinformation campaigns in support of the oilpatch.

Harper’s ministers, including Vic Toews, have publicly demonized environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, as “radicals,” funded by “foreign interests.” At the same time, they are silent on the intentions of the foreign oil interests they are courting on bended knees.

They have declared war on those who oppose the Alberta tar sands, associated pipelines, and oil tankers that would supply bitumen to foreign processors.

Is it a stretch to imagine that these “enemies of Canada” might find themselves the target of “investigators” appointed by a minister who has thrown his support behind the promises of the petroleum industry?

How about Canadian scientists, already muzzled by Harper’s inquisitional control freaks; should they be worried about surveillance of their Internet activities?

My greatest concerns have been laid out more cogently by great Canadian writers like John Ralston Saul (husband of former Canadian Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson) who wrote the definitive history of corporatism and its brutal excesses, in Voltaire’s Bastards–a story of neutered courtesans, always willing to jettison democracy for economic theory and efficiency.

Though Bill C-30 has been booted swiftly back to committee by public resistance, even with extensive modifications this attack on Canadian liberty has laid bare this government’s dangerous totalitarian impulses.

Stand on guard.

Bill C-30 | PDF version (grab a copy)

{ 9 comments… read them below or add your spin! }

Conor Ahern February 20, 2012 at 10:54 am

Last November we got to vote on the 30th constitutional referendum increasing the “Investigative powers” of the various branches of the Irish Government. The wording went something like this (I have changed some words from Irish to English to reduce confusion) ” The Government may investigate matters of public interest. The results of such investigations would be leagally binding.”

The main sticking point in the refusal of the referendum was the fact that the “matters of public interest” were not defined. In theory that would mean the government would be able to investigate any citizen who does anything, basically that would make their investigative powers limitless, never a very good idea.

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Raymond Parker February 20, 2012 at 11:08 am

One wonders where this impulse towards limitless government powers of surveillance is coming from.

I understand that there are threats–from terrorism, to child exploitation–that we expect governments to protect us from. But there are already laws in place that seem to be serving us quite well–a child porn ring was busted in Canada last week.

History warns where this kind of thing goes. In the context of where we find ourselves (witness Greece today) I don’t think my concerns are unreasonable. Notice, as well, laws seem to be applied rather unevenly already.

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Ryan February 21, 2012 at 3:58 am

In a way I’m quite happy toews made such an idiotic statement. Had he not, I fear Canadians would not have been as outraged with this bill as every other country around the world has been.

Not sure if you’ve ever seen the movie “The Trotsky” (Canadian comedy), but the question was asked “boredom or apathy”.
From my experience with both seeing and hearing people in Southern Ontario, it falls under apathy…Despite being a comedy, it made a good point in that if it is boredom, people can be ‘awaken’.

It is sad that groups who actually want to protect something (ie. Environment/Animals) are labelled radicals (or even terrorists). I’m sure more people have died and suffered at the hands of the top 3 richest companies simply because those “radicals” in the board room only care about getting every last penny no matter what the cost.

I do get a kick out of the “ethical oil” camp when they champion the idea of going to country whose ethics have been and continue to be in serious question and scrutiny.

Something I’ve been hearing more often (in support of this bill) is; “if you have nothing to hide then why worry?”
Ontario’s privacy commissioner said it best; “privacy doesn’t mean securacy”.
Is it really that wrong to want some sort of privacy? I frequent environmental news and organization websites (some of which may be deemed ‘radical’). Just because I go to **read news** on these sites why should I have to worry about being tracked? Why not someone who frequents Scum TV or Fox news?

Do you know what frightens me the most? In 3 years hArper will get re-elected, and any time between now and 3 years the radical PCer in Ontario will become Premier.
hArper would never have had his majority if two things had happened…Older people didn’t come out in force and had the younger generation not stayed home.

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Raymond Parker February 22, 2012 at 10:27 am

I don’t have the stats but I think the issue may have more to do with constituency/education than age.

There are certainly some scary young Cons out there and plenty of old folks who know a fascist when they see one.

As for the overall topic of this post, I am not blind to the fact that privacy is really a thing of the past. If “the government,” or any half-assed hacker, really wants to spy on us online it’s not that difficult.

The point here is that this government wants to enshrine their right in law to do so.

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lee kenney February 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Illegitimi non carborundum, but keep pushing back! Question authority, its our duty! Use Humour, apply the current players Monty Python roles, Toews, Van Loan, Baird , DelMaestro as the Spanish Inquisition, Big Steve as Mr. Creosote. Stay mad!

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Raymond Parker February 22, 2012 at 10:18 am

Not the comfy chair!

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Conor Ahern February 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Just because the “Government” tells you some new law is being proposed in “Your best interests” doesn’t mean it is. Beware of who you trust.

As we have found out here in Ireland, everybody is equal under the law, but some are more equal than others! For example our former Prime Minister, who has the same surname as myself but thankfully is not related, came up with this excuse “It wasn’t a bribe, it was a political donation for personal use.” To show how stupid the electorate can be he got voted in for another term after making this statement.

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Raymond Parker February 22, 2012 at 10:35 am

There are great forces at play, Conor. And you know better than most Westerners what happens when the vultures swoop in.

Canadians, on the other hand still think “it can’t happen here.” Comfortable in that belief, they are peacefully sleeping through the wholesale dismemberment of the country.

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Conor Ahern February 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Until one morning they all wake up and wonder, “what just happened.”

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