How To Rein In Lawful Access

Christopher Parsons has an excellent op-ed on how to rein in the forthcoming lawful access bill.  Parsons points to four steps: (1) dedicated hearings on lawful access; (2) strong independent audit, oversight, and enforcement powers; (3) judicial oversight; and (4) sunset clauses.


  1. T. Ruth Sayer says:

    Mr. Parsons is naieve in the extreme
    I think Mr. Parsons has some excellent suggestions; it only remains to be seen whether the Harper government is willing to listen to reason, instead of blindly clinging to their right-wing ideology. I sincerely doubt that the Harper government is willing to listen.

    Within the last year, we have seen the Supreme Court sharply limit the rights of an accused to consult counsel, even when being detained and interrogated by the police. A recent news story reveals that one of Harper’s two nominees for vacancies on the Supreme Court apparently holds the view that the Charter all too often allows criminals to escape justice.

    Look at the way the government reacted during the G8/G20. Look at their ‘tough on crime’ agenda, including mandatory minimum sentences, e.g. up to 5 years for half-a-dozen marijuana plants, etc. Also, let’s not forget their massive prison expansion plans.

    All of the above do not augur well for Canadian civil liberties. Canadians can rail against the government, and the opposition will do what it can, but ultimately Harper has the votes, and these measures will pass, because Harper wants them passed.

    The sad fact of the matter is that these measures are largely worthless — criminals will take measures to evade any such surveillance, so only the only ones affected will be law-abiding Canadians.

    I am glad that my father and uncles did not live to see this. They went overseas to fight Hitler, and they would have been appalled at the trappings of a police state about to be implemented by a Canadian government.

  2. @T Ruth Sayer
    With respect to the “massive prison expansion plans”. Some of this would have happened in any case. Both the John Howard and Elizabeth Fry Societies, as well as a number of other groups, have been complaining about prison overcrowding in Canada for a number of years. Problem is that I’ve never seen a breakdown in the expansion plans which lays out expansion due to overcrowding vs expansion due to the “law and order” agenda. The opposition and the media generally doesn’t differentiate. This would have been useful to get a better idea of the actual estimated cost of the agenda.

    Certainly some police want to be able to do their jobs without the shackles of warrants, etc. People rightly expect them to catch and charge violators of the law. The problem is that not requiring a warrant can allow rogue cops to use the loophole in a manner that was never intended.

    The criminals will always do what they can to evade surveillance. This is hardly surprising.

    I had a look at the statements made by the SCC nominee as reported by the Toronto Star (hardly a right-wing paper).

    Basically, his concern is not where the police intentionally violate the rules, but where it was violation which occurred in good faith. There are different rules for different types of searches, which both officers and judges can have a hard time keeping track of. What I understood him to say was, if the officer honestly misunderstood the rules or applied the wrong set of rules, should that be a cause for automatically throwing out the evidence?