Bill C-13: Harper tries to turn Canada into a surveillance state… again!

by: Obert Madondo  | Published May 20, 2014

Communications Security Establishment CanadaCall it the Harper Conservatives’ resurrection the Orwellian ghost of Vic Toews.

Back in 2012, Canadians nuked the then public safety minister’s Bill C-30. The bill, deceptively christened Preventing Children from Internet Predators Act, had sought to give law enforcement agencies unlimited power to spy on Canadians.

A new cybercrime bill currently being rammed through parliament by Justice Minister Peter MacKay, is the reincarnation of Bill C-30.

Bill C-13, also deceptively named “Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act”, has nothing to do with curbing cyberbullying. Instead, it gives government law enforcement authorities, particularly secretive agencies such as the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) and CSIS, overreaching surveillance powers.

The bill will also rewards telecom companies that provide these authorities with direct access to Canadians’ private and sensitive information they hold in their databases. That’s access to a Canadian’s name, address, telephone number, emails, text messages – the whole nine yards.

That’s in addition to the spying the government is already conducting via telecom companies. According to the Federal Privacy Commission, the government has requested Canadians’ personal data from telecom companies an average 1.2 million times per year since 2011.

Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian, the opposition and right activist are particularly worried about Bill C-13.

In a recent letter to the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Cavoukian accused the Conservatives of “dressing up overreaching surveillance powers in the sheep-like clothing of sanctimony about the serious harms caused by child pornography and cyberbullying”.

“Canadians have a constitutional right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure, including with respect to personal information held by third parties,” Cavoukian wrote.

In a statement, the NDP’s Charlie Angus had this to say: “Continual revelations about warrantless snooping and new bills that Conservatives are trying to sneak through Parliament prove that Conservatives just don’t have a balanced approach when it comes to privacy. We’re all for catching terrorists, we’re all for going after bullies but we can do it in a balanced way that also respects privacy and doesn’t open the door to abuse.”

Over 50 major rights organizations are mobilizing Canadians’ pushback against the dictatorship-style Bill C-13 through Please play your part and defend your privacy.

Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based blogger, activist, photographer, digital rights enthusiast, former political aide, and former international development administrator. He's the founder and editor of these independent publications: The Canadian Progressive, a political blog dedicated to progressive Canadian journalism; The Zimbabwean Progressive, a political blog dedicated to producing fearless, progressive, adversarial, unapologetic, and activism-oriented Zimbabwean journalism; and Charity Files, a publication dedicated to journalism in the charitable public's interest. Follow Obert on Twitter: @Obiemad