Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Reprint: Open letter to Vic Toews

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Vic Toews (Public Safety Minister of Canada)
Min. Vic Toews

Americans aren’t the only people confronted with a government that seems to believe that Big Brother is an ideal rather than a deterrent. The Canadian Parliament has been engulfed in a heated debate lately over a new bill that would allow the feds to spy on Internauts through their online tracks under the usual pretense of “protecting teh children”, and the sponsor for the bill is Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.

The following was originally published at my friend’s blog, Log of Veritas. Reprinted with permission. Picture is mine.

Dear Minister Toews,

I'd like to voice my concern about the Government's intent to pass Bill C30, or as it is known, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act. As a Canadian citizen who uses the Internet, I am supremely concerned that the Conservative government is interested in co-opting my Charter rights for the ease of prosecution. While titled to be defending children from Internet predators, the actual bill's language refers only to general situations. We have no assurances that the rights co-opted by your government shall be used only in the situations suggested in the rationale. Perhaps there is only the greatest of intentions with this bill, but you are surely aware of what the proverbial road to Hell is paved with.

My Charter rights are very simple. They state that "Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure." This has meant, historically, that in order to obtain my personal records and documentation, the Government of Canada must prove to a judge that they have a legitimate merit in doing so: aka, you have to get a warrant. This has also been extended to corporations; once again, the Government of Canada must prove they have a legitimate merit in obtaining property or information from a company, such as an Internet service provider. The McLaughlin Court has consistently ruled in favour of the individual against the Government in these situations, and it is certainly not outside the realm of reason to suggest that Bill C30 is blatantly unconstitutional.

Canadians do not have a long tradition of Constitutional rights like our southern neighbours, but we do have a long tradition of avoiding government interference. You claimed this moral high ground when dismembering the long gun registry earlier in your administration, but you ignore it now when it comes to the Internet. Minister Toews, the Internet is speech, and speech must be free. It is no business of yours, Mr. Harper, Ms. Turmel, Mr. Rae, or any other politician what happens on someone's computer or over the Internet, unless a Canadian law enforcement agency can make a compelling case to a judge that it should be. I must insist that you remove Bill C30 from consideration.

I have CC'd Messrs. Harper, Rae, Angus, Andrews, Cotler and Sandhu, Mrs. Turmel, as well as my local MP, Mr. MacKay, as I feel this matter is of great import and should be addressed by all parties.

Thank you for your time.

Benjamin Stonier
Antigonish, NS

Send your own copy of this letter to, and any other government member you like!

Edit (02/22/12 1:07 PM ET) – Added a little description for context.