What if the Government Passed Lawful Access Without Hearing from Any Privacy Commissioners?

Yesterday I appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to discuss Bill C-13, the lawful access and cyberbullying bill. My comments focused on three issues: immunity for voluntary disclosure, the low threshold for transmission data warrants, and the absence of reporting and disclosure requirements.

As Committee chair Mike Wallace discussed plans for further work on the bill, it became apparent that the government intends to move quickly without the opportunity to hear from any Canadian privacy commissioner. Only two more days of witnesses are scheduled (the committee is desperate to hear from Facebook) and then it plans to move to clause-by-clause review of the bill. 

Given that lawful access has been the subject of more than a decade of debate, the likelihood that the bill will pass through the committee stage without hearing from a single privacy commissioner is shocking. In fact, leading privacy groups such as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, and CIPPIC have all been told that there is unlikely to be spots for them at committee. The exclusion of these groups – along with the absence of any federal or provincial commissioners – undermines the entire review process. There may be differing views on the lawful access provisions (the bill is certainly far better than the prior Bill C-30 and its predecessor but still needs improvement), but a fair and effective legislative process should ensure that leading experts are given the opportunity to voice their views.


  1. Devil's Advocate says:

    There’s a party, but you’re not invited,,,
    “leading privacy groups… have all been told that there is unlikely to be spots for them at committee”

    Similar to the way all these “trade talks” are handled now, isn’t it? Only “stakeholders” are invited. (“Stakeholders”, of course, referring to those that have a vested financial interest in the result.)

    You really don’t get a more blatant message from it all, aside from simply coming out and just saying, “we don’t want input from the public!”

  2. The Government Conflates ‘Right To Govern’ with Democracy
    The government does not seem to understand the role of consultation and the democratic process in governing. It thinks governing is absolute.

  3. Drivebycommentor says:

    TPP preparations?
    Maybe they have to pass the new spy bill to get everything lined up for the new TPP bill?

  4. My Surprise-O-Meter Won’t Budge….
    …. Off zero.

    We’re about as much a democracy as India, where we only get to choose which corrupt overlord will abuse our rights.

  5. Anonymous Canadian says:

    The Canadian government wants to rule the public, while at the same time they wish to also exclude said public from having a say in how they are ruled. If you want to know how this bit of insanity will turn out, just have a look at history.

  6. pat donovan says:

    the mushroom effect. not only is propaganda considered news, legal and manitory,
    everything else is illegal.

  7. Only pro-conservative pressure groups have a voice here in Canada
    Time for a change next year. This government will only listen to the polls on the next election. This is their minimalistic vision of what democracy should be.

  8. Our Privacy
    What a lack of democracy we live in when we or the people who represent us cannot express our views. I call that a dictatorship.

  9. Kelly Richard says:

    To view important information all Canadians need to read relating to this issue — important information that is being kept from the public — open link below and read substantial evidence posted below text…