Peter MacKay is taking on cyberbullies. If these were normal times, and the Wright-Duffy smorgasbord of news didn’t consume so many column inches, the Justice Minister’s new bill, introduced yesterday, might have been the biggest news of the day. Few stories have sparked national sorrow more than the sorrowful tales of Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons, both victims of cyberbullying who took their own lives.
MacKay’s legislation targets the distribution of intimate images without consent. Along the way, the bill would make it easier for investigators to obtain warrants to intercept private communications. Individuals who are even suspected of a crime could be tracked by authorities. Police would receive expanded wiretapping powers. MacKay says it’s all necessary, and the Toronto Star quotes him as insisting he’s not pushing an omnibus bill on Parliament: “This legislation is very specific in its intent,” he said.
The NDP’s Francoise Boivin isn’t convinced, just yet. She wants to make sure the bill remains consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Ottawa Citizen quotes the NDP’s justice critic talking about the importance of details. “Credibility sometimes is zero with that government, so I want to make sure that all the disposition on how (police) can obtain the information, the images from computers, how will it proceed, what type of proof will be asked … those are all details that I want to be very sure that what we engage in (so) we are not opening a can of worm for no reason.”
This is a tricky bill to critique. The government would dismiss most proposed amendments as soft on cyberbullies. But the government’s in a tight spot, too. Most parliamentarians could reasonably agree that they all want to punish bullies and, if at all possible, prevent the kinds of tragedies that afflicted the Todd and Parsons families. When then public safety minister Vic Toews accused the opposition of standing with child pornographers in February 2012, he was pilloried for the comments.
Perhaps that conversation is moot, and the parties will lay down their arms and work together honestly on the file. That would be quite a departure for this crop of parliamentarians, and a stark contrast to the bitter partisanship that usually consumes the place.
What’s above the fold
|The Globe and Mail||The RCMP says ex-Harper chief of staff Nigel Wright broke the law.|
|National Post||The Prime Minister’s Office allegedly attempted to influence a Senate audit.|
|Toronto Star||The PM maintains that he had no prior knowledge of Wright’s actions.|
|Ottawa Citizen||Emails suggest Harper had some knowledge of Mike Duffy’s problems.|
|CBC News||RCMP are questioning the credibility of three senior Conservative senators.|
|CTV News||Two Canadian Greenpeace activists were freed on bail in Russia.|
|National Newswatch||Sen. Irving Gerstein allegedly attempted to influence a Senate audit.|
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