Oh, how quickly a good appointee becomes a bad guy. Bob Dechert and Kyle Seeback, a pair of Tory MPs from Toronto’s western suburbs, took Canada’s new privacy commissioner to task at a parliamentary committee earlier today. Daniel Therrien, the new privacy commissioner who’s on day three of his new gig, reiterated his criticism of Bill C-13, the anti-cyberbullying legislation that grants police powers to access personal data without a warrant. Therrien said, among other things, that the controversial surveillance elements ought to be split from the rest of the bill.
How did Tories on the committee receive the constructive suggestion? Not well. Paul Vieira, the Wall Street Journal‘s correspondent on Parliament Hill, captured the magic of one exchange. “Canada Tory Lawmaker asks new Privacy Watchdog, an ex-senior Justice Dept official, whether he’s familiar with some Criminal Code provisions,” Vieira tweeted. Josh Wingrove, a Globe and Mail reporter who took in the proceedings, was struck by the combativeness. “I rarely see committee witnesses being so aggressively questioned by government MPs. Really, really unusual,” he tweeted. “He’s an officer of Parliament.”
Last week, the NDP took a harsh line on Therrien, who they feared would face conflicts of interest in his new role after he helped craft government surveillance policy. Today, Therrien’s the opposition’s newest best friend. Things change.
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