Earlier this month FIPA took part in a civil society consultation on national security and possible changes to Bill C-51. The Ottawa meeting was at the invitation of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and had about two dozen participants.
The meeting lasted a couple of hours, and FIPA highlighted concerns we expressed earlier about Bill C-51. One point we made to the Ministers was that the acts of terrorists are in fact contraventions of criminal law, and that criminal law should be the principal tool in combatting the problem of terrorism. To provide special treatment for terrorists is to reinforce their message that they are warriors fighting a noble fight rather than criminals committing crimes. The shortsighted undermining of our criminal law and its protections of our rights may only add to the problem rather than help combat it.
FIPA also pointed to the fact the ‘committee of parliamentarians’ which will provide review of the security agencies activities is not an actual parliamentary committee with the independence and power that comes with it. If the Emergencies Act creates an actual parliamentary committee when this country is at war, surely we can have an actual parliamentary committee to keep an eye on the security apparatus.
There is a public consultation currently underway, which ends December 1, 2016, which FIPA will also be contributing to. You should too. If you are looking for some help with your response, you may want to check out this tool.
The next day, FIPA appeared as a witness before the Commons ATI, Ethics and Privacy committee which is reviewing the Privacy Act.
The Committee is reviewing the Act and a number of recommendations from federal Privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien. FIPA agrees with most of what the Commissioner recommended, and we also suggested that the Committee consider implementing domestic data storage requirements (as we have in BC) and require the workings of algorithms used by federal public bodies be made publicly available.
There is no current timetable for action related to these two consultations.