Magazine article Canadian Dimension

The Public Safety Guise:to the Honorable Vic Toews Public Safety Minister Government of Canada

Magazine article Canadian Dimension

The Public Safety Guise:to the Honorable Vic Toews Public Safety Minister Government of Canada

Article excerpt

DEAR VIC,

I realize how terribly busy you must be, what with keeping the Canadian public safe from the usual suspects. So many terrorists to pursue, so many jails to build. So much fear to kindle. I know also that you prefer to exit the rear entrance and leave journalists waiting at the front, but Vic, this is Maga-zineland; I have you cornered.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I have read the Canadian Press report of your recent staunch defense of the U.S. Secure Flight Program. I see you are tabling legislation to provide personal information about Canadians merely overflying American airspace.

Passports and itineraries will be shared. This will ensnare about five million Canadians who visit family, do business, travel to sun-spots, (without setting foot in the U.S.) into Homeland Security's finely meshed net. That it may begin before the year ends means it has been in the works for some time - a fait accompli, I'm betting.

CP sent your spin out to hundreds of thousands of readers, no questions asked. Improved security, open borders, etc. The real implications of the new bill were nowhere in sight.

How long can the U.S. keep the private details of Canadians?

Exactly who gets them? How will they be shared? How will undesirables be defined? How will abuses be detected and addressed? But for the subsequent protest from Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart there might not even have been routine follows on the story.

Call me paranoid, but would you gather this info at great expense, give it away, and not use it yourself? Your new bill could certainly make life easier for authoritarians on both sides of the border. You will know who is visiting suspicious places, and how often. Airport workers in both countries could be forewarned and corral people with exotic names, immigrants, academics, activists, protesters, unsympathetic journalists. …

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