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Issues: The Fight To Protect Our Internet Privacy Is Not Over!
By Brian G. Rice. When the Liberal Party of Canada in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission sent out our media advisory about our Roundtable Discussion on Internet Privacy & Integrity in Democracy, I got a call from from a local reporter. “Why are you holding this event, Brian? I thought the Conservatives were going to fix this bill in committee?”
With all of the drama and outrage over the possibility of systemic electoral fraud in the last election, Canadians have seemed to move on from Bill C-30 (the “If you’re against us, you’re a child pornographer act”… or whatever it is called). In many ways, the election fraud scandal is a blessing in disguise for the embattled Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. This crucial bill that threatens our privacy can now be sent to committee without the level of attention Canadians might have otherwise given it.
The Liberal Party of Canada has a petition, now signed by over 35,000 Canadians, insisting that all committee meetings regarding this bill be done in open televised sessions, and that any debate in the House of Commons not be limited by time allocation or closure. The fact that an opposition party has to get Canadians to sign a petition insisting on open committee meetings and free debate is troubling enough. But what really concerns me is that with the spotlight off this Bill, can the Conservatives be trusted to actually fix it?
I was excited to see that three of the thirteen people who joined us had never been to one of our events before. They brought a wonderfully diverse perspective to the meeting.
We started with a brief discussion of how the Conservatives have a formula for introducing Canadians to a new idea or policy. First, they divide. Anyone who isn’t with us is against us, and since we are the government, they are against Canada. As an example, the Conservatives recently called environmental organizations “radical groups”, and according to one source, “[enemies] of the state”.
Minister Toews tried the same tactic with Bill C-30. In response to a question from an Opposition Member about the bill, Toews responded “He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers.”
Luckily for Canadians and internet users, the normal Conservative game plan backfired this time. Due to unprecedented pressure from average Canadians supporting petitions from groups like OpenMedia.ca, as well as on social media, the Minister was forced to “take the unusual step of referring it to a committee for amendments before second reading.”
One of our new participants, an IT manager with a great deal of experience with issues regarding the Internet, asked the question: “Who is lobbying for this Bill?” This gentleman rightly pointed out that government rarely introduces legislation without the input from outside groups, and since the Minister admitted to being surprised by the contents of the Bill, it obviously wasn’t his idea.
While the origins of Bill C-30 remain murky, the groups advocating for Bill C-11 are very clear.
Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act, threatens to reduce the rights of consumers in Canada in regards to copyrighted material while increasing the scope of enforcement for the relevant industries. Often compared to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) from the US, this bill will make it a crime to break a digital lock, even when that digital lock is preventing you from doing something legal. Michael Geist, one of Canada’s foremost authorities on copyright in Canada, speaks extensively on these issues on his blog at http://www.michaelgeist.ca/ .
The Liberal Party of Canada recently posted a petition asking Canadians to stand up against “the most restrictive digital lock provisions in the world”. The petition goes on to say that “this bill will make it illegal to copy a DVD so you can enjoy it on your tablet – even if you are not infringing on copyright.” So far, over 22,000 Canadians have signed this petition.
It was another of our new participants who posed the really big question: How do we stop it?
I fear that the track record of the Harper Conservatives is not great at listening to dissenting opinions. If anything, the more resistance they receive on an issue seems to reinforce their resolve to push ahead. We can hope that our Liberal Caucus will be successful in amending Bill C-30 and C-11, but given the track record of this government, I find it unlikely.
While action today on these issues is important, we will ultimately, I think, have to wait for the next government to either repeal or amend these bills (along with so many more). If we have any hope of seeing the Harper government defeated in the next election, we have to take action now!
Here’s how you can help:
Vote. Just under 40% of eligible voters didn’t cast a ballot in the last election. If Canadians want accountability from our government, more of us must demand it through our votes.
Become a Supporter. Help the Liberal Party of Canada elect a strong leader who represents the perspective of all Canadians, not just those of us inside the Liberal bubble. If you would also like to help shape our policy platform for the next election and select your local candidate, you can also choose to join the party.
Get involved. Voting is just the first step. If you want to see this government change, then helping elect an MP that represents your views is the only way things are going to change.
Donate. Now that the Conservatives have repealed the per vote subsidies, political parties rely on the donations from supporters now more than ever. To attract a great candidate and have the best chance of winning we need the money to do it properly.
The Liberal Party of Canada in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission has meetings every week to discuss issues just like Bill C-30 and C-11. We invite you to come have your opinions and ideas heard. Help us in the fight to put an MP in Ottawa from this riding who cares about protecting the rights and freedoms for all Canadians, not just their friends.