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EDITORIAL: The only thing we have to fear is …Vic Toews

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

I can’t help but agree with reader Adam Riley’s letter to the editor on the right.

The poisonous hot air emanating from our Conservative government’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews in regards to a very dangerous piece of legislation has been completely unreasonable.

At issue is Bill C-30 which, if passed, would require Internet service providers and cellphone companies to hand over Canadians’ e-mails, online web-surfing histories and communications data to police without a warrant.

When questioned in the House of Commons about the rather obvious dangers of granting such extraordinary powers to the authorities, Toews stood up in front of his nation in Parliament and said,

“You can either stand with us, or with the child pornographers.”

Really?

It could be the single most irresponsible thing I’ve heard uttered by an elected official — a high-ranking representative of a government who just days ago scrapped a federal gun registry over concerns of the privacy of its citizens.

The ridiculous level of hypocrisy is one thing, Toews’ habitual button-pushing disregard for the basic intelligence of Canadians is an mounting embarrassment to the government of Canada.

As it stands, police can already access personal Internet and communications records through court orders in the context of an investigation.

In a further embarrassing episode Saturday, Toews’ told CBC’s Evan Solomon that he was unaware that Section 17 of the Bill states in ‘exceptional circumstances’ any police officer may request customer information from an Internet service provider without judicial authorization.

Outside of Parliament Hill, opposition has emerged from Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian who has called the government’s justification ‘weak’ and called the naming of the Bill — The Protecting Children From Internet Predators Act — ‘disingenuous’.

As you could imagine, Toews has faced a momentous online backlash from Canadians. Free Internet advocates and hacker group Anonymous even published a warning to Toews which released embarrassing personal details about his divorce on YouTube.

I found the stunt oddly satisfying in the face of the typical government justification of — ‘if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear.’

Toews has said in recent interactions with the media that he believes Canadians are being radicalized by the Internet.

I would suggest that Canadians are being radicalized by Vic Toews and his tiresome fear-mongering.

Rick Mercer said something great in a recent rant about just such Conservative fear-mongering:

“People who are afraid do what they’re told, they pass over their lunch money, they keep their mouths shut. Don’t fall for it. There’s nothing to fear, but fear itself and the people who benefit from spreading it.”

As a citizen, I want to be able to take my government seriously, not be forced to choose sides by some ridiculous ultimatum seeking to needlessly divide and distract Canadians from the real issue at stake: their eroding rights to privacy.

Smarten up and start acting reasonably, please.

Chris Marchand

 

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