As the federal Conservatives celebrate the restoration of rights and privacy for long gun owners, critics allege they are trying to take the same away from Internet users through Bill C-30, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews created a firestorm last week when introducing the bill — which would give police broader powers to monitor Canadians’ Internet communications — by saying in the House of Commons that opponents of the bill “can either stand with us or stand with the child pornographers.”
Edmonton-St. Albert Tory MP Brent Rathgeber has major concerns with the bill as it stands right now, calling it “problematic” and saying that it leans too far to the side of government in trying to achieve a balance with privacy.
“The drafters had the best intentions of Canadians, and especially Canadian children, in mind when they drafted it,” he said, noting that he read most of the 80-plus-page bill on the flight home from Ottawa last week. “That being said, as you read through it — and it’s not an easy read — it casts an admittedly pretty broad net with respect to the powers of the state, with respect to what they will require Internet providers to monitor.”
The Tories have taken the unusual step of sending the bill to the public safety committee before second reading, and Rathgeber — who sits on that very committee — will be waiting anxiously to get his hands on it.
“In my three and a half years in Parliament, I’ve never seen a bill go to committee without being debated in second reading. … It’s got to be modified. It’s got to be more than just a fine-tuning. There’s got to be some significant change with respect to the privacy protections in this bill,” he said.
“Democracy works because Canadians have spoken, and Parliament is going to respond,” he added. “And I’m happy I’m going to be part of that process being on the public safety committee.”
— GLENN COOK, St. Albert Leader