Category Archives: Statements

PLG Edmonton Stands Against Bill C-51

PLG Edmonton is deeply concerned about the impact that Bill C-51 will have on public privacy and freedom of speech in Canada.    The Act puts the privacy of the personal information of Canadians at risk, and could also be used as a tool to limit freedom of expression in Canada.

Despite the intention of the federal government to protect Canadians from terrorism, the bill will expand the definition of security threats to actions that threaten public safety and ‘economic or financial stability of Canada’ (Stryker and Cheung, 2015). As a result the law could be used to target civil society organizations, protest groups, and other members of the public whose actions are viewed by the government as a threat to the economy, stifling debate and discussion around topics of concern to Canadians as a result.

The bill will also allow for easier sharing of Canadians’ personal information between federal departments and foreign agencies. The justification for this is that it will help police and security forces access important information they need to thwart potential terrorist acts. However, experts do not believe that the federal government has the proper infrastructure in place to ensure that the federal government can properly fulfill its responsibilities under the new law. Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien argues that under Bill C-51, there would be a lack of oversight and resources within his office to ensure that government agencies are not misusing this information (Beaulne-Stuebing, 2015).  Canadian anti-terrorist experts Craig Forcese and Kent Roach have said that Canada’s security review infrastructure lacks the essential resources it will need to review the work of CSIS as it assumes new security responsibilities (Forcese and Roach, 2014)

The privacy commissioner also believes that the bill could prevent the government from following correct records management practices.  He is concerned that as personal information is collected by various agencies, it could be retained for a longer period of time than it is needed. (Beaulne-Stuebing, 2015).

With the bill now having Royal Assent, we encourage repeal at the earliest possible juncture and demand that the federal government take into consideration the serious threats that this bill will pose to personal privacy and freedom of expression in Canada. We also encourage Canadians to remain vocal about Bill C-51 and its potential impact during the upcoming federal election campaign.

Beaulne-Stuebing, R. (23 Apr, 2015) Bill C-51 will strain my office’s resources: privacy commissioner. Retrieved from https://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/canada-politics/c-51-will-strain-my-offices-resources-privacy-215022028.html

Roach, K., Forcese, C. (2015) Canada’s Antiterror Gamble. Retrieved from:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/opinion/canadas-antiterror-gamble.html?_r=0

Stryker, A., Cheung, C. (March 11, 2015) 8 things you need to know about Bill C-51. Retrieved from:

https://bccla.org/2015/03/8-things-you-need-to-know-about-bill-c-51/

(Non)Response to the Royal Society of Canada’s Expert Panel on the Future of Canadian Libraries and Archives

The Progressive Librarians Guild, Edmonton Chapter (PLG Edmonton), was directly invited to participate by the Royal Society of Canada’s Expert Panel on the Future of Canadian Libraries and Archives, but PLG Edmonton has decided to forgo this futile opportunity.  The mandate of the Panel is confused and meaningless, as to address any of the six objectives in a comprehensive manner would require a much broader undertaking and consultation.  The limited consultation will result in only a handful of Canadians being consulted, and particularly notable is the fact that the panel and its consultation itinerary has clearly privileged the views of urban Canadians living in major metropolitan centres.  While the Expert Panel has numerous representatives from the upper echelons of library and archive management, notably absent from the panel are the expert practitioners whose daily work in libraries and archives is what makes these institutions so valuable to Canadians.  The Panel’s report will have little influence on the Canadian public.  Indeed, it would appear that the primary and dominant benefactors from the Expert Panel are the panelists themselves.

In addition to the shortcomings of the expert panel, PLG Edmonton also questions the utility of the panel presenting its findings to the Harper Government.  This government is the same government that was worked to undermine any evidentiary base for policy through actions such as eliminating the long-form census, actively muzzling scientists, and showing a dismal record with respect to supporting Library and Archives Canada.  With regard to the latter, there is no shortage of issues at LAC that this government has presided over, including appointing Daniel Caron, cutting the National Archive Development Program (NADP), and adopting the draconian LAC Code of Conduct.  Regardless of the recommendations of the panel, its report will simply end up being used a paperweight by the politicians in the Langevin Block.