Canada's spy-bill minister has no idea what is in his own law

Vic Toews, the Canadian Public Safety minister who introduced a sweeping domestic spy bill (a bill whose name keeps changing and is likely to end up being called the "Utterly necessary and minimally invasive bill to catch terrorists who are, at this very moment, trying to murder your children, yes you, Bill of 2012") tells the CBC that he was surprised to learn that his bill lets any police officer request your personal information from ISPs

In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House, Toews said his understanding of the bill is that police can only request information from the ISPs where they are conducting "a specific criminal investigation."

But Section 17 of the 'Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act' outlines "exceptional circumstances" under which "any police officer" can ask an ISP to turn over personal client information.

"I'd certainly like to see an explanation of that," Toews told host Evan Solomon after a week of public backlash against Bill C-30, which would require internet service providers to turn over client information without a warrant.

"This is the first time that I'm hearing this somehow extends ordinary police emergency powers [to telecommunications]. In my opinion, it doesn't. And it shouldn't."

Toews surprised by content of online surveillance bill (Thanks, Michael!)


  1. So who determines what those “exceptional circumstances” are?

    That’s what a warrant does. Currently, the cops have to go before a judge to explain what the “exceptional circumstances” are before being granted a warrant.

    This bill removes one of the checks against abuse of power.

  2. You pedophiles expected me to actually read what the bill says instead of what the note in the envelope of cash said?!

  3. I think he is playing a dumb because of vehement protest from the public he didn’t expect;in the process he made himself look like incompetent.

  4. Canadian legislators readying to enact a law they don’t even vaguely understand, with opposing viewpoints shut out of the process.

    An all-male tribunal preparing to pass laws concerning women’s contraceptive rights, with female viewpoints shut out of the process.

    I’ve GOT to learn how to make a meme. Anybody else who already can, feel free to run with that idea.

      1. LMAO! Unfortunately, his name is pronounced like “Taves”, as in “shaves” or “graves”. *SO* close, though – nice one!

        1. “You say potatoes. I say potahtoes…”

          According to CP, CBC and Wikipedia, it’s Taves. Apparently some do use the pronunciation ‘tase’ (or changed their name outright, usually to Tayes), but our man Vic is a traditionalist.

          As a BTW, apparently many immigrant families with similarly German-sounding names changed them during one of the world wars – to avoid discrimination.

    1. Don’t forget SOPA/PIPA, where you had dozens of federal policymakers in the most powerful country in the world who not only candidly admitted to not understanding even the fundamentals of what they were talking about, but explicitly made comments about not wanting to bother to understand the technology they were preparing to regulate.

      Are there any English- or French-speaking countries on the planet that both have a sane democratic government and don’t encourage things like beating your wife for backtalk? Because I don’t want to live on this continent anymore.

  5. So our vaunted Minister of Public Safety is either: a) a flat-out liar or, b) hopelessly incompetent. Or, I guess he COULD be both. Gee – whadda surprise!

    I felt better when it was Stockwell “Doris” Day – at least everyone KNEW he was just a blow-dried, vacuous talking head.

  6. surely it would be illegal and an abuse of the demo-client-cratic process, for the members of parliament to actually be familiar with the content of the laws they are enacting? The text of the law, and the ability to interpret or influence that text must be kept segregated at all stages in order to facilitate the protection of established business models against change, challenge, and competition. The public choose the people who will enact the laws, thus technically qualifying as “democracy”, whilst the people who enact the laws are fed policy from vested interest groups. The MPs are clients of the industry, the populace are clients of the industry.

    From the business perspective, all citizens are either consumers or criminals; the vested interests merely need the evidence and the ability to enforce their laws arbitrarily against the subset of people who merit destruction according to their own specific agendas. It’s not a proper tyranny otherwise.

  7. i want to know how many mens magazines minister toews has that contain under age models in their advertisements, and i want to know exactly how many ‘child pornography content and related sites’ show up on his computers and devices. 

    1. I guess you’re missing the part where, in different words, he said he doesn’t read. What good are magazines and websites if you don’t (or can’t?) read?

      Oh, wait, pictures. How silly of me, please do carry on.

  8. Another in a very long line up of politicians who claim ignorance in the face of responsibility.  There should be a rule whereby every elected official, upon using the “wha? I didn’t know!” excuse should be immediately and powerfully expelled from their position like explosive diarrhea.  The canadian prime minister knows this,  and is quietly waiting for his true inevitable screw-up to use it.  Can’t wait for that;  as it’s clear that he’s the worst micro-manager in history.

    1. Well there used to be a custom where that was the case.  Ministerial responsibility has been horribly eroded in Canada though, so that now bureaucrats regularly take the blame, rather than the ministers themselves.

      1. I used to think ole Trolly was great, but after his, frankly shocking, comments on the Occupy movement, I no longer tune in to anything he says.

        1.   Yes, there was a time I liked him as well;  sometimes I wonder if he realizes how hardline he sounds now.  His excessive character assassination of Justin Trudeau the other day was disappointing, barely a shred of real argument in the whole rambling monologue.

  9. I don’t know why anyone would expect any of the Ministers to know anything about any legislation.  They’re not in the Prime Ministers Office, where all of the bills originate and where they’re administered.  The guys in parliament are just trained seals who raise their hands at various appointed intervals as part of some old ceremony that used to be necessary to legalise the bills.  It’s a dreadful waste of paper to copy all those guys as to the details of new laws as they have nothing to do with proposing or administering them.

    1. One *could* argue that Canada crossed the line from parliamentary pseudo-democracy to dictatorship the first time Harper dissolved parliament to stop an investigation into his corruption. Or the second time.

  10. This guy is an outrage and embarrassment to Canada. We’re not getting angry enough. The #TellVicEverything meme is not enough. This isn’t funny anymore.

    Canadians need to demand his resignation loudly.

  11. It should be noted that Bill 30 is very similar to,  and arguably less invasive, then a bill introduced in 2005 by then Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, called the Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act, the goal of which was to allow police the ability to install monitoring equipment (the equivalent of a wire tap) on an ISP customer base. Without a warrant. As Andrew Coyne of the National Post points out, there was nary a hue or a cry as there is today.

    This is not to say that Bill 30 is a good law, it isn’t, only that the public’s attention to such matters has changed dramatically in the the last six years thanks in part to sites like Boing Boing and the efforts or Cory D.

    That said, it’s highly unlikely the Supreme Court of Canada would allow warrantless access to an ISP customer databases or addresses. A few years ago the SCC struck down a case where the police entered a yard and peered into a window because the officer involved believed he smelled marijuana. The court argued that the officer, despite his keen nose, required a warrant to step onto the grass (irony) in order to confirm that he smelled someone smoking grass. Given this case, and others, it’s hard to believe that that the SCC would allow the police to snoop ISP addresses just because they suspected someone was surfing the ‘net for child porn.

    In short, get a warrant.

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