Vic Toews by Mostly Conservative (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Vic Toews by Mostly Conservative (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


From Toews to Todd: The Unravelling of the Government’s Lawful Access Sales Strategy

As criticism of Bill C-13 mounts, the government’s sales strategy for its latest lawful access bill is starting to unravel. Many will recall the immediate, visceral opposition to Bill C-30, the last lawful access bill that started with then-Public Safety Minister Vic Toews declaring the day before introduction that Canadians could either stand with the government or with the child pornographers. The bill never recovered as Toews’ divisive remarks placed the spotlight on the warrantless disclosure provisions and the lack of privacy balance. Within ten days it was on placed on hiatus and formally killed a year later.

While the government has removed some of the most contentious elements from Bill C-30, many privacy concerns remain (immunity for voluntary disclosure, metadata). Indeed, it appears that its primary takeaway from the last legislative failure – an incredibly rare moment in the life of a majority government – was that it was a botched sales job. So despite a promise not to bring back lawful access legislation, it did so months later, this time armed with a new marketing strategy. Bill C-13 was framed as a cyber-bullying bill and its primary sales people were presumably supposed to be the victims of cyber-bullying and their parents.

The turning point on Bill C-13 came ten days ago when they appeared before the Justice Committee studying the bill. Carol Todd, the mother of Amanda, led off and courageously insisted that the government stop using her child’s name to undermine privacy:

“While I applaud the efforts of all of you in crafting the extortion, revenge, porn, and cyberbullying sections of Bill C-13, I am concerned about some of the other unrelated provisions that have been added to the bill in the name of Amanda, Rehtaeh, and all of the children lost to cyberbullying attacks.

I don’t want to see our children victimized again by losing privacy rights. I am troubled by some of these provisions condoning the sharing of the privacy information of Canadians without proper legal process. We are Canadians with strong civil rights and values. A warrant should be required before any Canadian’s personal information is turned over to anyone, including government authorities. We should also be holding our telecommunication companies and Internet providers responsible for mishandling our private and personal information. We should not have to choose between our privacy and our safety.

We should not have to sacrifice our children’s privacy rights to make them safe from cyberbullying, sextortion and revenge pornography.

Ms. Todd’s comments effectively derailed the government’s sales strategy for Bill C-13, making it clear that the failure to appropriately protect our privacy victimizes the same people the bill purports to protect. In the days since her appearance, the voices against the bill have grown louder. Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian this week:

“The time for dressing up overreaching surveillance powers in the sheep-like clothing of sanctimony about the serious harms caused by child pornography and cyberbullying is long past.

Former Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, who faced his own backlash against lawful access, yesterday:

“There can be an overreaction in terms of how you correct it. So [Cavoukian is] raising a bit of an alarm here. Let’s be very careful in how we could protect someone in a situation like this, but let’s also be careful in going too far and limiting even things like free speech, [or using] invasive techniques that could be employed by policing. I’m hoping they take another look at this and kind of curtail some of those powers.”

Next week, the committee resumes with appearances from criminal lawyers, the Canadian Bar Association, and others (I’m currently scheduled to appear on Thursday). With the criticism likely to grow, the government should recognize that its lawful access strategy has failed yet again. The right approach would be to separate the bills, move forward on addressing cyber-bullying, and go back to the drawing board on surveillance and lawful access.


  1. Devil's Advocate says:

    They’re all on a mission
    It should be obvious to anyone paying attention to even a fraction of what’s going on lately, that there’s a definite, concerted effort being made by governments all over the world, to weave a web of surveillance around us all, with the goal of depriving the population of their ability to dissent.

    As the Internet continues to develop, the elites (who are really running the show) are faced with the realization they can no longer simply buy up all the media in order to suppress information, spread their propaganda, and dumb-down the People.

    It’s proving impossible for them to control by misdirection, so they’ve decided to go for broke, and start dismantling constitutional rights, and any sovereignties or environmental protection laws that get in the way of their profit machine.

    Canada may seem to be a “do no evil” country, and indeed, most of us would like to think that it is, however, our Government has been demonstrating a genuine interest in becoming an extension of our American neighbour…

    – Canadian intelligence is willingly a major part of the “Five Eyes” program.
    – The Canadian Governnment backs the Israel protectionist racket and parrots all the propaganda that goes with that.
    – We’re promoting a dirty oil agenda that only benefits the U.S., while threatening the entire ecosystem.
    – We participate in all these “trade deals”, which are obviously a blatant attempt to circumvent all sovereignty and established laws everywhere, and drive most of our meaningful labour outside the country, in pursuit of more profits, and the impoverishment of those who would oppose their wishes.
    – Canada is slowly following the lead of America in militarizing our local police forces.
    – Canada has already allowed American military to perform on our soil, with actions directed against Canadian citizens, more than once (Google “Bilderberg” for a few examples)

    This bill is nothing more than one of the thousands of steps being taken in order to gain more control of populations everywhere, and also seize control of internet usage, the content going over the wire, and who gets to make money with it. The fact that such efforts also threaten Free Speech, organization, and dissent, is just the icing on the cake for the “1%”.

    Every time our Government persists in introducing these type of bills (which are clearly against the wishes of the public), only reinforces my point. And, it seems the majority of Canadians are so distracted or asleep on this, we’re destined to a horrible future we should be fighting to avoid.

  2. “We should also be holding our telecommunication companies and Internet providers responsible for mishandling our private and personal information.”

    To that I fully agree. This includes TPIA providers as well, who have been in the know on this for quite sometime.

  3. EU May Also Step In
    “The right approach would be to separate the bills, move forward on addressing cyber-bullying, and go back to the drawing board on surveillance and lawful access.”

    The EU hasn’t conducted their threatened review of our privacy laws yet. Threat of review came down a few months ago. They haven’t got around to it, however with the revelations that telecom have been behaving quite badly on privacy issues, along with these two bills, they may step up to the plate next week as well:

    If the EU gets involved, it’s going to be months before this this bill will pass, so separating the bill may be the only option for government now.

  4. Sorry first past of that twitter conversation is here:

  5. GoC Employee says:

    Taking notes for future reference and to classify you for your stockade cell
    Devil’s Advocate = Extremist

    Jason K = In Denial that the EU is putting on a show.

  6. @GoC Employee
    Yeah well, caught in the act now. We’ll see about that. Follow up blog post is here:

    Canadian Cyber Bullying Legislation a Threat to EU Data Privacy

    Telecom and Government trying to hide from being accountable. Not on on my watch, sorry.

  7. Devil's Advocate says:

    Don’t feed the trolls
    GoC Employee = Troll/Shill offering only hyperbole and no counterpoint or meaningful input.

  8. @Devil’s Advocate
    Without the so called “trolls” brown-nosed parasites like you would have nothing to do.

  9. @Devil’s Advocate
    “And, it seems the majority of Canadians are so distracted or asleep on this, we’re destined to a horrible future we should be fighting to avoid.”

    I think a lot of Canadians have fatigue on the issue of privacy. I’ve spoken with quite a few business people and residents in my local area that is strongly Conservative on the issue. The feeling I’m getting from almost everyone is that they are concerned on their online privacy, and civil rights. The problem is that this government keeps pushing against those rights, and private industry especially telecoms aren’t doing what they should be doing to push back. Many regular folk have strong opinions on the role telecom has played in this. Many see them as being the prime source of allowing a lot of this warrantless access to information to take place. A statement I think has been mirrored by Ms. Todd’s remarks. A pox on all your houses is what seems to be the common theme. I don’t think media reports or common themes some people have that Canadians don’t care about their privacy.

    Working with several victims rights groups on this issue over the past year, many of those groups have been consulting with Canadians on their position to support or not to support. Many of them can not get behind this bill as a result of what they are hearing from regular Canadians. So in a way, the victims rights groups are speaking on behalf of Canadians, and I strongly believe that Ms. Todd’s comments mirrors almost everyone who has consulted the Canadian public on this bill.

    So Canadians are speaking out, but in the form of support for the position Ms. Todd has taken, and supporting victims rights groups who oppose the surveillance part of the bill.

  10. A pox on all your houses with respect to the privacy issues attached to the bill from Canadians, and disappointment from victims rights groups for playing politics with this bill costing Canadian public support on it. Separating the bill I think would be the best way for Canadians to show unity on the issue of cyber bullying. Anything less and there will still be huge amounts of questions due to the politics played here by putting forward a separate addenda with this bill. Government owes it to these people and Canadian public to split the bill.

  11. Shouldn’t google be added to this list and criticized for taking all of our information every chance they can and doing whatever they want. Are they better than the government? What is this mysterious hold they have over the pundits that gives them free pass on this issue?

  12. Very Interesting the Part CBC is Playing
    There was a thread discussing this and one of Neil MacDonald’s analasys points on the topic. Any criticism of the government’s side were swiftly deleted and any future criticism resulted in a “Content Disabled”. Matter of fact, they are blocking this weekend most political critique, even though the Guide for Moderators (which I have a copy of) tells them not to.

  13. Kelly Marie Richard says:

    To view important evidence relating to this issue, open link and read evidence posted below text on this homepage…

  14. @ Terry

    All corporations and governments are in bet together, they worry about political awakening. See here:

    They fear political awakening, while you may be reasonably comfortable. Many in the bottom billions of poor on planet earth are in abject poverty and oppression. Capitalism wants to keep those people in their place, hence the elites desire to control the internet.

    People are waking up to the fact that the governments are all power hungry and corrupt and are not there to serve the interests of the people, but that of the global elite and the multi-billion dollar corporations.

    WIKILEAKS: U.S. Fought To Lower Minimum Wage In Haiti So Hanes And Levis Would Stay Cheap

    This is just more part and parcel of state suppression of dissent against corporate interests. They’re worried that the more people are going to wake up and corporate centers like the US and canada may be among those who also awaken. See this vid with Zbigniew Brzezinski, former

    United States National Security Advisor.

    Free markets?

    “We now live in two Americas. One—now the minority—functions in a print-based, literate world that can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth. The other—the majority—is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic. To this majority—which crosses social class lines, though the poor are overwhelmingly affected—presidential debate and political rhetoric is pitched at a sixth-grade reading level. In this “other America,” serious film and theater, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins of society.

    In the tradition of Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism and Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges navigates this culture—attending WWF contests, the Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas, and Ivy League graduation ceremonies—to expose an age of terrifying decline and heightened self-delusion.”