Wednesday, August 17, 2016

E-Petitions are now a Thing, and There's One Regarding C-51 (Signing is Easy, and You Should)

There is (at least) one thing you can do, while we wait for more news and the opportunity to be a part of consultations. E-petitions are now apparently a real and legitimate thing that the Canadian Parliament supports on their website (since December 4th of last year, it seems), and there's a petition called e-308, which calls on the Government to:

  1. Engage in comprehensive review of the the Act in its entirety through detailed and diligent consultation with a broad cross section of experts and authorities on the Act and its effects.
  2. Remove from the Act those provisions which, through expert testimony, are found to stand in conflict with or to be in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  3. Create, empower, and fund the office of Ombudsperson for Privacy and empower and fund the office of the Privacy Commissioner and civilian review boards, such as SIRC, to oversee and evaluate the secret activities of Canada's security services; CSIS, CSE, and the RCMP.
  4. Ensure and commit in law that any subsequent amendment to the Act or such new legislation, as may be in future brought forth by any government, not impinge upon the privacy of citizens and be structured within a framework that is consistent with the historic continuity of Canadian Charter rights and with international human rights law.
These all seem like good steps to me, and I found out about this petition through the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, one of the groups who have filed a Charter challenge against the bill.

I think signing this petition could be effective, but the deadline is early September, so please do so sooner rather than later.

I think it could be effective because I've seen the effect of a petition with a lot of signatures, at least in local (municipal) politics. It was an important element of the successful fight to stop a gambling facility from being put up near my home. But in order to be effective, petitions have to be properly managed. The people involved have to be within the relevant geographic area (in this case, Canada, but in the case of the example where I've seen a petition work, those collecting signatures had to turn away or remove names of people who weren't living within the city limits). Petitions work when politicians know that the people who might vote for them are the ones that signed. And the e-petition format on the Parliament of Canada website allows politicians to know that (you provide your postal code). So... worth it. In less time than it took you to read this paragraph, you could officially add your voice to those calling for C-51's Charter-breaching provisions to be removed.

For those interested in creating an e-petition of their own, go here. If you would like to learn about the process, go here.