CSEC Letter from Wayne Easter Liberal MP

Last week I sent a letter to Justin Trudeau and Liberal MP Wayne Easter expressing support the Liberal bill that would impose parliamentary oversight over CSEC.  Here is Mr Easter’s reply.  I copied my letter to the Prime Minister, his Defence Minister and my MP, Joan Crockatt.  Not a peep from that corner.

Dear Ms. Wright,

Thank you for your letter regarding CSE surveillance activities and your support for my bill. This bill is a decade old and should not have been allowed to languish for so long. Had a parliamentary oversight committee been in place, what I see as CSE’s illegal activities probably would not have been allowed.

Mr Easter MP

The Defence Minister, Rob Nicholson, and the Chief of CSE, John Forster, both say that the metadata CSE tracked (‘information about information’ such as time, location, and message sender and receiver) is not personal information and therefore fair game under Canadian law. I disagree completely. Metadata, as Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian has repeatedly said, can tell you more about a person than message content. It is undoubtedly personal information, and CSE has no place or legal mandate to track Canadians’ personal information.

We must strike a balance between security and privacy that safeguards Canadians, and parliamentary oversight is an essential tool to do that. Canadians should be able to live safely in the knowledge that they are protected from threats, but also from Big Brother. Our democracy has lagged for decades without elected officials overseeing our security services, and I hope my bill will fix this.


Wayne Easter, P.C., M.P.

Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness Critic for the Liberal Party

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16 Responses to CSEC Letter from Wayne Easter Liberal MP

  1. I made it!! says:

    Thanks for stepping up for us Susan! Nice to see someone has replied!

    • I really hope Mr Easter’s bill gets some traction. The CSEC discussion is just the tip of the iceberg. We’d be naive to think that CSEC has not shared its surveillance technology with CSIS. Since it’s CSIS’s job to track Canadians suspected of being terrorists it’s highly likely that Canadians are being caught in the data sweeps. I’m not saying we need to stop everything, I’m just saying that we need better non-partisan oversight of both CSEC and CSIS. Mr Easter’s bill provides that.

  2. Rose Marie MacKenzie-Kirkwood says:

    The are relying on the fact that in the name of fear we will agree to everything and anything. Fear should not drive you further into insecurity and spying. Telling me they are spying on me to make sure the bad guys are not lurking only makes them one of the bad guys and if confronted how will I ever tell one from the other.

    We need to hold ourselves, including the government agencies, to a higher standard. Protect me without making me the target. As the old saying goes, we don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water so find a way to separate good from evil without making me part of the bath water.

    • carlosbeca says:

      Rose I just laughed so hard reading your ‘… and if confronted how will I ever tell one form the other.’ This is so true. They behaved the same way really!!
      Great post Rose, I fully agree with you. We are creating these monster spy agencies to spy on us. We actually paid 1 billion dollars to build a temple for these people and now they will comfortably spy on us. Does Harper or the so called Conservative party have anything else in mind? Oh yes the new electoral law which apparently even scared our top electoral office.
      Harper knows how to keep going though. He is a master of deceipt and control. First was the omnibus bills, then he muzzled scientists and librarians, then he build the new spy agency, then stopped the unions from being able to strike and now wants electoral reform. Interesting enough I do not see any changes in the new law that actually make a difference to us voters. Is it too much to ask for more representation? Get rid of this Past the Post joke that was created to allow the British elites to do what they are doing now in masse – control the House.

      • Carlos, what’s truly alarming is that so few Canadians seems to be concerned about this or how Harper is impacting our democratic rights with the changes you’ve listed in your post. How do we get through to the public…it’s the topic of this week’s post. I welcome any and all ideas including how to describe proportional representation in a 30 second sound bite that engages voters on an emotional, not intellectual level, because that’s what it’s going to take.

    • I love it Rose. “Telling me they are spying on me to make sure the bad guys are not lurking only makes them one of the bad guys and if confronted how will I ever tell one from the other.” How indeed!!

  3. Elaine Fleming says:

    Everyone I have talked to about this clandestine surveillance on everyday Canadians is appalled – and very concerned. The old slippery slope. What else is going on that we don’t know about? Rose is right. If we can’t tell the difference between the “good guys” and the “bad guys” it makes people feel very insecure. The opposite of what these national agencies are supposed to provide … security … right?

    • Elaine, thank you for sending off a letter of support and for talking to people about this. Why more people aren’t storming the ramparts is beyond me. Yesterday, Feb 11, was a day of international protest against this unwarranted (both legally and ethically) breach of privacy. It’s called “The Day We Fight Back”. Here’s a link to a Canadian privacy site that carries links to media reports and commentators (including the Soapbox I was pleased to see) on this topic. http://icommchange.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/the-day-we-fight-back/ It includes a compelling statistic. For the price of one Spy Palace we would have received 60 schools across Canada or 30 rural hospitals. Is this how we want Harper to spend our tax dollars without even bothering to ask us?

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Susan, no this is not the way we want Harper to spend our dollars but you are missing the point – Harper’s point I mean 🙂 🙂 – he does not care about what we want. He has a plan and it is on track. This palace is part of that plan. I think we all know what that is. I believe it is to continue implementation of his mentor Preston Manning who believe it or now heads this great Institute called ‘The Manning Foundation’ that was created for Democratic Education. If what Harper is doing comes from this Institute’s teachings, which is very likely, I wonder what Preston Manning calls real democracy, you know the one without muzzling scientists, without banning the teaching of democratic values by the Chief Electoral Office, without robocoping the election process and without using gimmicks like the omnibus budget to get whatever they want approved along with the budget, the one when Senate Reform means just that and not appointing crooks just so their under the radar bills can get approved?

      • Carlos, what a great question–how would Preston Manning define democracy. Recently he wrote an article in the Globe and Mail in which he said all political parties need to reconnect with Canadians “…not only as vote-seeking marketing machines, but also as institutions where like-minded people can share goals and ideas, contribute to public policy, reconcile conflicting interests, influence and support political activists and serve not merely partisan interests, but those of their communities and country. High sounding language for someone who’s busy helping Harper execute on his vision for Canada (heaven help us!).
        Here’s the link to the Manning article http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/whither-our-political-parties/article16773540/#dashboard/follows/.
        Mr Manning seems to have forgotten that actions speak louder than words and Mr Harper’s actions speak volumes!

      • carlosbeca says:

        I read the article Susan and it is hard to believe this is the same man that calls Haper one of the best prime ministers Canada has ever had. The same man that Harper consults for all his democratics lunacies. He understands Democracy but does not understand a very simple concept which is very scarce in neo-con environments -integrity and honesty.

      • Here’s an interesting article about Harper’s 2015 campaign strategy, very relevant both in content and the use of social media.
        Apparently Harper’s communications efforts will be focussed on driving their “narrative” i.e. “strong, stable leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper or poor judgment of Justin Trudeau.” The fact that there’s no mention of Mulcair shows you who they think their biggest threat is. Wouldn’t it be delightful if they read it wrong and Mulcair surprised everyone!

        It also discussed the use of social media to connect with voters and potential voters. One tactic is to use the Facebook sites of other people (these are not official Conservative sites) to catch potential voters. Apparently they tried this with a right-leaning radio talk show host. His Facebook page got 55 “likes”. The PCs were able to identify 38 constituents and said five are current members/donors. They planned to reach out to the 33 who aren’t current members/donors by phone.

        Another suggested tactic is to post something on FB for a defined group of users and ask the question: “Have you voted yet? If someone clicks “yes”, then the party places a badge on their friends’ news feed saying “I’ve voted, have you”. If the answer is no, then someone from the party will call the voter to get him out to vote.

        Wow. like I said, the progressives had better be as good as the Conservatives when it comes to using data scraping and social media. Here’s the link http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/02/10/conservatives_lay_out_reelection_strategy_in_secret_document.html

    • carlosbeca says:

      Preston Manning always comes across to me as a what I call a cheap democrat. I have in this group of Cheap Democrats all those that call their countries things like ‘The Democratic Republic of Germany or better The Democratic Republic of Congo’ – I believe you get what I mean. It is a different type of democracy for sure!! One that is difficult to define because usually they support bodies like the STASI, the CSEC and other known names. Of course these bodies only want to get peoples addresses, phone numbers, and other innocent little secrets, like for example ‘who do you associate with?’, just in case of emergency they can help find the person exaclty where they are. The Cheap Democrats also have this tendency to not support Sciences. They have a hard time believing the Earth is round and 4.6 billion years old. They also have this interesting game called ‘Freedom of Information’ and they try to scare those smart people that know a lot about something just so we do not get all confused, you know, it is hard for us regular earthlings to understand higher concepts. They have are interesting traits but I do not want to bore you with so many details.

      • carlosbeca says:

        I meant to say ‘ They have other interesting traits …..’ I am sorry I think I am starting to feel the consequences of the stress of thinking that this message may now be in a CSIS folder for further investigation.

  4. Pingback: The Day We Fight Back | INF 2305: Communication and Social Change

  5. David Grant says:

    Bravo Mr. Easter for raising the issues of the abuse of our civil liberties in this time. Bravo also to the late Jack Layton, the NDP caucus, and a few Liberal MPs such as Mr. Easter(I am not sure what his voting record was, but I am aware of some of his colleagues records). We do have to be careful to curb the ability to search invade our privacy, except in rare cases to catch people who are trying to do something wrong. Keep it up, Mr. Easter!!!!

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