June was a month of security scandals in Canada.
First off, a judge forced Canada’s spy agency, CSIS,
to destroy a massive amount of illegal information
it was storing for decades. Meanwhile, Freedom
of Information requests also brought to light
an unknown US-Canada border watch list that
Prime Minister Trudeau has been secretly trying
to enlarge with the Trump administration.
The “National Security” Bill, which was
promised by the Liberals as a fix to the massively
controversial Bill C-51, has turned out to be
nothing of the sort. While it would remove
some of Bill C-51’s most drastic and vague “antiterrorist”
language, the Liberals are advancing the
most broad and alarming data collection regime in
the history of Canada.
Cannot Be Trusted
At the same time as Trudeau is trying to give
CSIS more power for “Big Data” collection of
our personal information without
justification, the spy service is
being forced by a judge to destroy
undisclosed volumes of records relating
to the communications of thousands
across Canada. Starting in 2006,
intelligence analysts had saved data
into their systems about people who
were initially seen to be in proximity to
terrorism targets, but who ended up not
themselves being considered threats.
This information was kept regardless
that CSIS knew full well it had nothing
to do with suspects of terrorism.
Meanwhile, the Liberal government is
working behind closed doors with the
Trump administration on a new version
of the program known as Tuscan, short
for Tipoff U.S./Canada. The Guardian
newspaper reported that Canada uses
Tuscan, a vast repository of at least
680,000 names - 40% of which have “no
recognized terrorist group affiliation” - to
screen all travellers coming into Canada
from anywhere in the world.
The program began in 1997, and this
information is only coming to light now
because of the Guardian’s Freedom of
Information Requests. Tuscan’s list is kept
by U.S. authorities, and offers no clear
process to remove your name if you think
you have been added in error.
The Guardian interviewed Josh Patterson,
Executive Director of the BC Civil
Liberties Association, who pointed out
that Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale
embarked on a public consultation on
national security, promising transparency
and a review of the official no-fly list ± even
while staying silent about Tuscan, which
has been functioning all along as a second,
unofficial no-fly list.
Defending Our Rights
As long as Bill C-59 has not been passed into
law, there is an opportunity to stop it. Given
that, the Working Group to Stop Bill C-51
has continued to organize full out during the
summer months and continued its campaign
of weekly actions. Now up to 173 consecutive
weeks, the Working Group alternated
between banner drops and petition drives to
hit four different cities in June: Burnaby, New
Westminster, Coquitlam and Richmond.
The work of defending human rights and
privacy must continue. The government and
its so called “security’ institutions have shown
themselves to be completely untrustworthy,
and when left to their own devices, completely
destructive. We must continue to educate,
organize and mobilize to Repeal Bill C-51
and Scrap Bill C-59. Our rights are too
important to be left unprotected.
Repeal Bill C-51! Scrap Bill C-59!
Follow Thomas Davies on Twitter: @thomasdavies59
Follow Max Tennant on Twitter: @maxtennant
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