Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Time To Dissolve The Harper Government

Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a warrant is required to gather evidence from a suspect's online activities.  
Police need a search warrant to get information from Internet service providers about their subscribers' identities when they are under investigation, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday. 
The high court's landmark 8-0 ruling on online privacy issues came in the appeal of a Saskatchewan man facing child pornography charges. 
The case has implications for the federal government's current cyber-bullying bill, setting the stage for another political clash between the Harper government and the Supreme Court.
One would have thought that this ruling would have led to a little bit of rethinking and revision of the Government's Bill C-13 and S-4.
The Senate on Monday passed Bill S-4, known as the Digital Privacy Act, Geist reported on his blog. The bill, which has yet to pass the House of Commons, is meant to enhance privacy online, but privacy experts say it could end up doing the opposite. 
S-4 is being sold as “protection for Canadians when they surf the web and shop online,” and critics have lauded certain parts of the bill, such as those that would give the privacy commissioner greater powers and establish new penalties for privacy breaches. 
But critics say corporations would gain access to the private data of telecommunications users. The law would allow internet service providers to share subscriber information with any organization that is investigating a possible breach of contract, such as a copyright violation, or illegal activity. 
Telecoms would be allowed to keep the sharing of data secret from the affected customers. 
The bill could also remove court oversight of copyright lawsuits against Canadian consumers, potentially setting up the sort of “copyright trolling” seen in the U.S., in which music and movie rights holders often demand tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars from individual downloaders.
Instead, we get the Idiot-In-Charge, Justice Minister Peter MacKay, feeding us the following bit of sophomoric semantics:

Justice Minister Peter MacKay stunned critics Tuesday by suggesting the Supreme Court’s landmark privacy ruling last week upheld the government’s position all along. 
On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that police cannot ask telecoms for customer data without a warrant. 
MacKay had defended this practice as legal. One government bill, C-13, would have given telecoms legal immunity for the volunteering of information to police. Another, S-4, would allow companies to share customer information with other companies without telling the customer. 
Despite the apparent contradiction, MacKay said in the House of Commons that the Supreme Court agreed with government because C-13 would not let police demand information without a warrant; they could only ask for it. 
“The Supreme Court’s decision actually confirms what the government has said all along, that Bill C-13’s proposals regarding voluntary disclosures do not, I repeat, provide legal authority for access to information without a warrant,” said MacKay. 
Asked for his response, Liberal justice critic Sean Casey broke into laughter for several seconds before saying, “You can quote me on that.” 
NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said MacKay brought his own credibility into question by twisting the meaning of the court’s decision.
Had MacKay made such a claim in law school paper, I have the distinct feeling he would have been laughed out of the school ... the class at the very least.

The arrogance of this government has reached beyond all credibility.  We aren't talking about subtle misunderstandings here, but blatant twisting of the court's rulings.  This is not a government which understands and respects the legal frameworks of Canada's legal traditions, but rather a government which views the Constitution and in particular the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as an impediment to its legislative agenda.

I am beginning to think that it is time for the people of Canada to demand that the Crown dissolve a government which is so clearly operating in contravention of the fundamental principles of law and the Constitution of this country.

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