Canadian Tories' campaign pledge: We will spy on the Internet

Michael Geist has timely analysis of the Canadian Conservative party's campaign promise to pass a massive "crime and justice" bill within 100 days, if re-elected. The bill -- which has never been debated or had hearings or public consultation -- includes massive, extrajudicial bulk surveillance over Canadians' use of the Internet.
More important than process is the substance of the proposals that have the potential to fundamentally reshape the Internet in Canada. The bills contain a three-pronged approach focused on information disclosure, mandated surveillance technologies, and new police powers.

The first prong mandates the disclosure of Internet provider customer information without court oversight.

The second prong requires Internet providers to dramatically re-work their networks to allow for real-time surveillance. The bill sets out detailed capability requirements that will eventually apply to all Canadian Internet providers. These include the power to intercept communications, to isolate the communications to a particular individual, and to engage in multiple simultaneous interceptions.

Having obtained customer information without court oversight and mandated Internet surveillance capabilities, the third prong creates a several new police powers designed to obtain access to the surveillance data.

The Conservatives Commitment to Internet Surveillance

(Image: big brother, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 59744536@N00's photostream)


  1. Here’s hoping our neighbors to the north aren’t as sheep-like when it comes to politicians’ dangling that “law-n-order” carrot in their faces, the way we are in the States.

  2. They miss out #4. Everyone who use the Internet must download this app that will enable them to turn on your computer mic and webcam remotely in order to spy on you. And you must never interfere with that, like taping over the camera.

  3. Please! Let’s not refer to the current Canadian Progressive Conservative Party as Tories! I prefer to call them Sorries, or Fake Tories.

    Tories were historically populist fiscal conservatives which have very little to do with the dressed-up Reform social conservatives that have taken over the party.

    Once upon a time a social democrat like me would actually find Tory positions tenable. The current platform and policies of this party are completely foreign to the Tories of old.

    Referring to the current party as Tories just gives them a legitimacy to fiscal conservatives of old that they simply have not earned.

  4. I doubt that any Federal Party would do any less…this is where are freedoms are headed and it really doesn’t matter who is in power. They can codify it and make it law or just do it secretly like they do now…either way it still will happen.

    1. Article says as much: “None of this is to say the Liberals would be any better”. The title of this post implies that a vote for the Tories is a vote for surveillance… when all Canadian parties are broadly in agreement.

      They’re also broadly wrong, and must be resisted.

      1. If by all parties, you means conservatives and liberals, okay, fine, but that’s hardly broad. Unlike our neighbours to the south, there are popular alternatives that get a sizeable vote and are represented in parliament- for example, the NDP. The NDP’s members support initiatives for technological openness across the board, and don’t dictate policy from the top down like the liberals and conservatives. Since the NDP is a democratic party, conventions and interim policy events actually codify the democratic will of the participating members into party policy. If democratic party structure gives you the willies, well, I suppose you could always vote for the pirate party. They’re disorganized and insular but they care about tech issues.

      2. Always a con to put their spin on things ! Just cause you keep repeating something doesn’t make it true,as you will soon find out in this election for the harpercrites true colors are coming to light and the media isn’t falling for the same old bullshit! Have a good day ,i will!

  5. That is what the Democrats are doing here. Conservative/Libertarian members of Congress are trying to stop them. That is one thing I agree with them on, funny that it is on the other foot in Canada…plus Canadian liberals are trying to regulate the internet. The U.S. is in the better position for a open and free internet.

  6. I don’t know who is worse now the UK, the US or Canada. The spouse wants to move back to Canada as that is where she is from but I keep seeing this kind of stuff and think as broken as the US goverment is, it is broken enough that it makes it a lot harder to shove the same kind of stuff through into law. Not that it is doing much better lately.

    1. Well, is there anyplace in the world that is not moving this way? Moving some where else seems an attractive option to me too, but in the end, it seems like all governments, prompt often by multinational corporations, are moving in this direction. I think the continuing drama over the ACTA treaties is evidence of this. At some point, maybe we all just need to dig in and fight this kind of thing. Easy to say, of course, but harder to do.

      As they say in Russia, “What is to be done?”

      1. Yeah, you see it, I see it, unfortunately she isn’t seeing it. On the plus side actual socialized medicine, on the downside quitting a 10+ year job for unknown employment prospects.

  7. another example of the name of a bill not disclosing what it really does. This ranks up there with the U.S. “patriot” act in obfuscation and liberty shrinkage. The real crime is the bill itself. as “free” citizens, we are sleeping sheep, and gives rise to the question of intentional economic stress to avert our eyes and will…

  8. Stephen Harper and the Harper government will spy on Canadians… Canadian Privacy Law and Charter of Rights and Freedoms be damned!

  9. Remember what Harper thinks of the “Charters of Right and Freedom”? Nothing positive. Same about human rights.

  10. Someone should remind these A–holes who put them there and who they serve.

    It’s a slippery slope between protecting your people and oppressing them. This looks like a big step in the wrong direction.

    “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” – V For Vendetta

    “The people you are after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. Do not… fuck with us.” – Tyler Durden – Fight Club

  11. What’s really scary is the amount of passivity they past couple of years of dirty tricks have inspired. Government process suspended through arcane rules most had never heard of before their use (proroguing), bending the rules of official spending in election spending to hide media purchases; manipulating media and communications companies to make themselves look like heroes when they rescind the decisions of appointed boards; the current minority government of Canada is using every trick they can think of to remake Canada into their view of the country; a shadow of a NeoCon United States, full of fearful, obedient, English-speaking and church-going sheep, who do as they’re told.

    We live in terrifyingly interesting times, and stand on the edge of being free actors and creators in our own governance via the Internet, or tracked and inhibited via the totalitarian conduit that feeds and controls us. It really is at that point, don’t you think?

  12. We first have to know that all spying idiots are not idiots … The first thing is understanding the difference between a conversation and crime planning … Catch all the child abusers and leave the hard working people alone …. We do know that is not going to happen …..

  13. Thorzdad,

    It’s not so much the sheep but the ostriches that we are worried about. I’ve been screaming my head off about warrantless wiretapping for a long time now.

    As of this week, no one is laughing anymore.

    I hate to say it, but I told you all. Now Michael Geist says it’s legit. Nuff’ said.

    – Shawn Halayka

  14. P.S. I also hereby claim to be the originator of all jokes branding Harper as a warrentless wirefapper. Check my twitter.

    I know it’s kind of ridiculous, but everyone’s gotta have at least one thing to be proud of.

    – Shawn Halayka

  15. Just a clarification, the current governing party are not the Progressive Conservatives at all anymore. They are a new party that formed out a of a coalition (snicker) between the old Alliance party (which was the Alberta based Reform party before that) and the decimated Progressive Conservative party. They are now just Conservatives, not progressive ones. The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) is their official name and they are very, very different from the old PC party of Mulroney and Joe Clark.

  16. All those years of holding out the “move to Canada” option if the rednecks elect somebody they REALLY like…shot to hell. Oh, well. I can’t live forever.

  17. The problem up here is the gerrymandered voting system we have, which, of course, has a bias towards Ontario and Quebec (only so long as Quebec plays nice), which generally means the old rich get whoever they want. Harper will only be remove3d if he pulls a ‘Gordo’, and his own party wants him gone, or if Central Canada (although to us lotuslanders in BC, it’s Eastern Canada) decides they don’t like him. I’m hoping for the Grits in power, because they’ll at least pretend to support the ‘common man’, with the NDP as a strong opposition.

    Here’s an idea: every Canadian gets a pin number, and once a month, votes online, about bills, and politicians-and those votes stand. Throw some incentives, like shopping points, or a free coffee. Sure, there’s ways to hack the system, but at least it’s transparent.

    1. Here’s some numbers:

      Quebec: 14 Liberal, 11 Conservative, 47 Bloc, 1 NDP
      Ontario: 51 Liberal, 37 Conservative, 17 NDP
      Alberta: 26 Conservative, 1 NDP
      BC: 5 Liberal, 21 Conservative, 9 NDP

      Please explain for me how these figures demonstrate that Central Canada is keeping Harper in power. The fact is that without Alberta and BC, the cons would never form a government.

  18. No surprise when it comes to the votes in Alberta, where there are big oil companies making money, there will be a huge concentration of people voting for the party most likely to keep the money-makers happy. By the way, the people making the most money are NOT Canadians, but foreign companies exploiting Canadian oil. And when the supply of oil in Alberta is exhausted, that province’s economy will suffer terribly. Then, the province that was so concerned about holding onto its money will be turning towards Ottawa with outstretched hands and begging for economic relief.

    Did Harper get his plan for “How to Rule Canada” by watching what the Bush administration did? As a Canadian, throughout the time Bush was in power, I shook my head in wonder and could not fathom how an utterly uncharasmatic man who ruled by instilling fear and curtailing the right to privacy could have been voted to office TWICE. And now, as a Canadian, I am ashamed that we are now doing the exact same thing.

  19. As a Canadian voter, I feel “stuck” with the federal PC party, as no one has presented a reasonable alternative.

    The Liberals are consistently Anti-West. No one in AB will vote for a party proposing a federal tax that ONLY applies to their province, such as the one proposed on the oilsands. A platform of “They have some, so we’ll take it!” pandering to Ontario just won’t fly here.

    The NDP are an “alternative”, however their platform is dependent on them never being elected. They can promise a stairway to the moon in their campaign and be rest assured they’ll never have to build it. On the rare occasion they’ve come into power at the provincial level their populist economic policy (Everyone who makes more monoey than Joe Sixpack should be penalized) has been fairly destructive to the local economy.

    Centrally, I think the Bloc effectively breaks Canadian politics. There are a large portion of federal seats which serve only a single province, giving them a swing vote they have no right to. It will be interesting to see whether other provinces are able to float entirely self-interested parties in the future and what the result for the nation as a whole will be.

    Canada shouldn’t be THAT hard to break. It’s resource rich, we all get along (fairly) well, and we don’t share a landmass with anyone who wants to invade us. All a government would have to do to get my vote at this point is to leave things well enough alone. The rhetoric, mudslinging and absoluely shameless waste of taxpayer money (who wanted this election to begin with?) has left me alltogether fed up with our federal candidates.

    1. The Liberals are no more consistently anti-West than the Conservatives, they only look that way because they’re anti-let-the-oil-industry-do-whatever-they-want. If you’re like me, an Albertan who’s sorry to see giant areas of my province turned into toxic waste while contributing to global warming and giving as little revenue as possible to the public, their proposals actually seem pretty good.

    2. >Centrally, I think the Bloc effectively breaks Canadian politics.
      >There are a large portion of federal seats which serve only a
      >single province, giving them a swing vote they have no right to.

      Okay, this is one of my pet peeves, so forgive me as I go into heated argument mode. That isn’t breaking Canadian politics. It is The Entire Point Of Canadian Politics. Your riding elects a person who represents your interests in parliament. If your MP is failing to represent your local interests, your MP is an idiot. If your MP is being denied that freedom by his party, or his party thinks this freedom is an affront to democracy, his party is run by idiots. Stop voting for idiots.

    3. To Anon #35 – In Saskatchewan, where I’m from, we’ve had great success with NDP governments. In direct opposition, we nearly lost control of the province through bankruptcy because of the Conservatives.

      Your allegation that the Libs are anti-west is true, but that doesn’t mean the Tories are any better, in spite of Harper’s birthplace. Saskatchewan’s reward for electing 13 Conservatives in the last two elections has been a big fat load of sweet tweet: NO elected senators, NO infrastructure money, NO support for a domed stadium, and NO equalization payments. This “support for the west” looks an awful lot like neglect to me.

      Who wanted this election to begin with? No one. Who wanted a government that wasn’t withholding information or proroguing Parliament every time it got caught in a lie? EVERYONE. We’re in an election because the government flatly refused to do its job, not because the opposition parties felt like calling one.

      If you want to reward one of the most corrupt, insular, and destructive governments this country’s ever seen with another minority, that’s your business, but don’t hide behind these flimsy arguments while doing so. The rest of us know that Harper and his cronies need to be kicked out. And that’s why I’m voting NDP.

  20. They might just call themselves Conservative now, but they will always be the Conservative Reform Alliance Party, or C.R.A.P.

  21. My name is Travis McCrea, I am the Pirate Party of Canada candidate in the Vancouver Centre riding in British Columbia. I just wanted to remind anyone in Vancouver that they can vote against censorship, against Americanization of Canada, and for a progressive candidate who votes along voter lines, not party lines.

    You don’t have to “settle” with Libs or Cons

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