Wednesday, May 02, 2012

But did Vic Toews breach your privileges?

Omnipotent Vic Toews
Good Day Readers:

While it's all well fine and done a Conservative dominated and controlled House of Commons Committee has ruled Mr. Toews parliamentary privileges were breached by the hacker group Anonymous, the fact remains it still has to find and identify those responsible to which we say, "Bloody Good Luck!" Finding the person(s) behind the 3-YouTube videos (No it wasn't us we're not intelligent enough!) will be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Vic Toews: "Come out Anonymous with your hands up I know you're in there!"

Truth is, the Committee was yet another waste of taxpayer money. It's impact will be like peeing in the ocean it's not going to make a whole hell of a lot of difference. In essence, was it impotent to do anything meaningful other than to re-state, yet again, the obvious?
However, a much larger issue may be looming. When Vic Toews instructed his Winnipeg lawyer Robert Tapper to apply at an ex parte hearing before a Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice (Richard Saull), was it your expectation of privacy that was also breached. To explain.

Ex parte hearings while certainly not unheard of are a tad unusual. Why and by whom was the decision made? Regarding a question of such importance with the potential for significant privacy ramifications, why was no one present to protect and safeguard your interests. Rather, the Queen's Bench File Registry or their agent was absent.

When the public views a court file should it not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Does this ruling violate any provisions of Manitoba's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act? Or what about The Canadian Charter? Will it serve to detract from the principle of an open court system in which Canadians like to pride themselves? While we're certainly not lawyers it somehow feels as though the decision was made without giving proper consideration to its potential impact vis-a-vis existing legislation.

The other day while at The Law Courts we checked with staff in the Appeals Branch. Why did Ombudsman Manitoba not appeal this decision as asked by a citizen?

To date we've had conversations with senior officials at Queen's Bench File Registry, Ombudsman Manitoba and FIPPA and are still in the midst of our research.
We just checked and the third Anonymous YouTube video (about 12 minutes in length) released early in March is still online. To date it has been viewed about 10,100 times. It contains the most explosive allegations so why has it not been disabled long before now House of Commons Committee? Sleeping at the switch are we?

Clare L. Pieuk
Anonymous And Vic Toews: MPs Rule Hacker Group Breached Minister's Privilege, But Not Much they Can Do

By Stephanie Levitz
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
A series of videos by the activist group Anonymus targeted Vic Toews in the days following his introduction of an online surveillance Bill, demanding his resignation and the wirthdrawal of the Bill or they would expose information bout him. (CP/AFP Getty Images)

OTTAWA - The public safety minister's privileges were breached when he became the subject of an online attack, a House of Commons committee declared Wednesday.
And the people behind the video may face contempt of Parliament charges — if anyone can ever figure out who they are.

A series of videos by the activist group Anonymous targeted Vic Toews in the days following his introduction of an online surveillance bill, demanding his resignation and the withdrawal of the bill or they would expose information about him.

The threats they contained were ruled by the Speaker as worthy of further examination, but the nature of the group means the videos' creators are uncertain and the committee had struggled with how to proceed.
A series of witnesses had suggested that tracking down Anonymous would be difficult, though Toews himself had urged them not to back down.

But in a report Wednesday, the committee said it is better for the RCMP to continue its investigation and they'd be willing to take a second look if more information comes to light.

"When the identity of the person or persons hidden behind the mask becomes known to this Committee, they will be called before the Committee to answer for their behaviour and, if appropriate, the Committee will recommend sanctions," the report said.

The committee called the threats unprecedented in the medium that was used and raised concerns that it could happen again.

They noted that the freedom of the Internet is protected by the Charter right to freedom of expression, but the Charter offers no protection against bullying.

"The people behind those videos claim to act to protect basic democratic rights and freedoms, but they themselves have jeopardized and breached these same rights and freedoms they claim to protect," the report said.

Anonymous' threats against Toews were part of a broader online campaign against the bill, which critics suggested gives authorities far too much power to snoop into people's Internet lives.

Another Commons' committee has examined the use of a Twitter account set up by a former staffer to broadcast portions of Toews' divorce records.

Toews has said he was satisfied with the staffer's appearance at the committee to explain his actions.

And on Wednesday, his spokeswoman said the minister was pleased with the committee findings.

"All MPs must be free to introduce legislation on whatever issues are important to them or their constituents without fear of reprisal and are rightly concerned about the threats posed to our democracy by online thugs who seek to intimidate duly elected Members of Parliament," Julie Carmichael said in an email.


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