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Manitoba Ombudsman joins other privacy commissioners in expressing concerns about the implications of Bill C-51

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Mar 6, 2015

Today, provincial and territorial privacy oversight officers have jointly released a letter to the chair of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security expressing concerns about the privacy implications of Bill C-51 (the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015). This is in addition to a letter of concern released by federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien.

“Provincial oversight officers share the commissioner’s concerns,” said Acting Manitoba Ombudsman Mel Holley, “that the new legislation fails to strike the right balance between safety and privacy.”

The federal privacy commissioner has expressed the view that:

All Canadians – not only terrorism suspects – will be caught in this web. Bill C-51 opens the door to collecting, analysing and potentially keeping forever the personal information of all Canadians in order to find the virtual needle in the haystack. To my mind, that goes too far.

…the Bill would provide 17 federal government agencies with almost limitless powers to monitor and profile ordinary Canadians, with a view to identifying security threats among them.

The end result is that national security agencies would potentially be aware of all interactions that all Canadians have with their government. That would include, for example, a person’s tax information and details about a person’s business and vacation travel.

While the potential to know virtually everything about everyone may well identify some new threats, the loss of privacy is clearly excessive.

In a country governed by the rule of law, it should not be left for national security and other government agencies to determine the limits of their own powers.

Read Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien’s letter at:

Read the letter of provincial and territorial privacy commissioners:

Also read Daniel Therrien’s op-ed piece at: