Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has stated that the Tories’ Bill C-30, the online surveillance bill, is not dead in the water as has been reported in some places. What’s more the bill is going ahead through the political process.
“Our government has been very clear, that matter will be referred to a parliamentary committee. In fact we made it clear that legislation would proceed to committee prior to second reading,” Toews said on Wednesday.
The bill was initially tabled in February and was to usher in a “new era of online surveillance” in Canada. C-30 proposed to give police and investigators extensive powers to access electronic communications of Canadian citizens. The bill also allowed investigators and intelligence services the ability to push telecommunications companies for subscriber data without a warrant.
Bill C-30, which was racking up a set-up cost of nearly $80 million, appeared to be stalled out of the gate after public outcry got in the way. The government revealed that it was in “no hurry” to pass the legislation and the bill was set to be “redesigned.”
But Toews never took the surveillance bill off his mind, continuing his implication that Canadians can either stand with C-30 or “stand with the child pornographers.” His vitriolic approach even caused concerns from within his own caucus over the privacy implications of the bill.
So what’s next?
Toews can move the bill to committee for review before any House debate on it takes place, but that hasn’t happened yet. That review, it appears, has been stalled until fall. Toews, on Wednesday, stated that it was the House leader’s responsibility to determine when C-30 actually gets nosed into committee. He also asserted that his government was not prepared to simply back away from the bill.
Commons is expected to hit recess in June and it’s not expected that the bill will face review prior to that. Toews and Co. are probably wisely waiting for some of the heat on it to die down before they reintroduce the unpopular legislation. Whether that tactic will work to pull the wool over Canadians’ eyes remains to be seen, but stranger things have happened.