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.
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