Friday, August 19, 2016

A Time For Some Critical Thinking

With Canada's police chiefs clamoring for new powers that would allow for a massive invasion of our collective privacy, Canadians need to take some time to think critically about our rights and freedoms. As you will see in the following, the first commentator, Rich van Abbe of Toronto, has done just that:
Re: Police chiefs pushing for your passwords, Aug. 17

It’s a bedrock principle of our justice system that no one should be compelled to give evidence against him- or herself.

That makes the demand by Canada’s police chiefs that a law be enacted to force citizens to divulge their computer and phone passwords such an odious suggestion.

There’s no question that authorities engaged in a lawful investigation should be able to obtain warrants from the courts to search suspects’ homes or businesses to seek evidence — even to bust down a locked door if necessary.

But no law requires that a subject of a search tell the cops where evidence may be concealed, or help them retrieve it. Finding it is what detectives are paid to do.

The law the chiefs are demanding might make investigators’ jobs easier, but it would enshrine a perverse violation of the principle of no self-incrimination, one of our most cherished legal protections.

The federal government should slap down this foray against Canadians’ rights in no uncertain terms.
The second letter-writer, Claude Gannon of Markham, is quite happy to surrender his privacy, because he has "nothing to hide":
The police want my password? Here it is. I have nothing to hide.

The Internet has given criminals and radicalized individuals the possibility to operate anonymously, so the police and other law-enforcement bodies must be given the tools to curtail their activities. If this involves getting a hold of someone’s password, then so be it. Honest citizens have nothing to hide and will support the police.

Of course, civil libertarians and constitutional lawyers are very quick to cite privacy concerns, but safety and security should come first. Look around you: do people really care about privacy? Most of us are quite happy sharing our lives with banks, credit card companies, major retailers, rental companies…and the list goes on. Some people even display their whole lives on Facebook.

Let’s face it, we live in an increasingly dangerous world, and we need to give law-enforcement agencies all the help they need to combat crime and terrorism. If this means the occasional breach of privacy, then so be it!
Finally, some fitting irony from Randy Gostlin of Oshawa:
Perhaps we should just assume everyone’s guilty until proven innocent —except, of course, for police. They’re always innocent.


  1. It's so easy to surrender civil liberties, Lorne. It's so hard to get them back.

    1. It puzzles me that some people can be so blasé about our liberties, Owen.

  2. Provided with excessively powerful investigative tools under the pretence of protecting lives and state and societal security, police operatives will inevitably encounter the situation where they will learn that their superiors expect them to employ those tools in any investigative procedure to which they can be applied. In the case of their having failed to avail themselves of the use of all provided tools, they will be judged as having been deficient in the performance of their duties. Their personal discretion be damned; it doesn't even have a place at the table. Talk to any policeman you know and, if you have the patience to separate the facts from the fuzz, you won't disagree.

    Without even knowing Claude Gannon of Markham, I can assure him that, like everyone else, he has plenty of personal business that he should keep to himself or, in his words, stop keeping hidden; he's just too much of a fool to know it. (Okay - he's not a Moslem or a radical environmentalist. I apologize.)

    1. Your scenario sounds all too likely, John, yet another reason to be very wary of official reassurances.

  3. Richard van Abbe pretty well said all that really matters. "It's a bedrock principle with our justice system, that no one should feel compelled to give evidence against him or herself."

    Obviously the police chiefs must be very aware of this principle, yet they quite consciously would like it ignored or squelched. I do not trust our federal government when it comes to protecting our rights. If our rights interfere with a special interest group that Trudeau would like to support such as rejecting the BDS movement against Israel, he will sacrifice our rights

    There is a reason why the police chiefs are asking now for a new law to be enacted that wiLl make Canadians give their password to the police. Everyone is vying for more power, except Canadians themselves. The new powers they want is power over the Canadian citizen.

    The government has been pursuing this kind of power for close to 10yrs and that includes the present government. The police chiefs request is blatant with no concern whatsoever about what Canadians will think about having their privacy completely violated. This is between the police chiefs and the government. Canadian citizens are completely excluded from the decision.

    I think the police chiefs have taken stock of this government and they feel they can get what want from them and violating Canadians rights won't be an issue to be concerned about.

    I would not rule out the government giving the police chiefs what they want.

    1. I can only hope, Pamela, that the minister in charge, Ralph Gooddale, will see this request for what it is - a blatant power grab from people who have shown themselves all too happy to abuse their authority whenever it serves their purposes.

    2. I do not know Lorne, but Goodale has refused to rule out this idea. He says he wants to consider it as part of the National Security Consultation. This consultation should be happening fairly soon.

      The old Ralph Goodale would have rejected this idea outright. I think if the Liberals go along even in part with this idea, Goodale will be told to toe the party line and he will go along.

      I do not think there are any independent voices left in the Liberal party.

      My guess is there will also be pressure to give the police chiefs what they want from the NSA, the FBI and the CIA. In return they too will have access to Canadians personal privacy. They may already have is to some degree.

      I am also suspect of the RCMP alledged stopping of our own home grown terrorist so close to the National Security Consultation meetings.

      I am a complete skeptic when it comes to the Liberals being protective of our rights.

    3. I think your skepticism is well-warranted, Pamela, and thanks for reminding us of some rather unpalatable political realities.

  4. Oh, bugger! A good many, perhaps most, Canadians have given up so many incidents of their privacy that a move for more by the cops must be seen as inevitable. I agree completely with Mr. van Abbe but I have no confidence that our prime minister will comply with his wishes. When it comes to fundamental rights, Slick is almost indistinguishable from Harper.

    1. As I expressed to Pamela, Mound, I hope Ralph Goodale, who has been around for a long time, sees through this blatant attempt at seizing greater power that can have no good outcome.