Need to know: Peter MacKay goes after cyberbullies—and terrorists

Nick Taylor-Vaisey on what might have been the biggest news of the day


Sean Kilpatrick/CP

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.


What you might have missed

THE NATIONAL Hepatitis. Statistics Canada estimates 0.4 per cent of Canadians are infected with Hep B, and 0.5 per cent are infected with Hep C. The numbers come from the Canadian Health Measures Survey, which polled over 8,000 Canadians. Critics say the study is “minimizing the true state of affairs.”
THE GLOBAL Iraq. Thirty-six people were killed in a spate of bombings that targeted mostly Shiite neighbourhoods in Baghdad. AFP reports that bombings elsewhere raised yesterday’s death toll to 49. Iraq Body Count, which tracks civilian deaths, marked the daily toll at 82—the ninth deadliest day of 2013.


Need to know: Peter MacKay goes after cyberbullies—and terrorists

  1. The time-honoured CPC response to crime is to scream endlessly about wrongdoing and then make a big show of passing a law for stuff that was already illegal.

    Reheath Parsons didn’t die because there was no cyberbullying law. Reteah Parsons died because everyone in authority, cops included, pretty much said “so what?”

    • Yeah. The cops were given evidence of a sexual assault and sat on their balls until after the victim died.

  2. “You’re either with us or with the cable TV thieves!”

  3. Peter Mckay and his co conspirators have 0 credibility anymore. They need to be put on trial for all the criminal conduct they are engaged in.

  4. “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.”
    This sounds an awful lot like Toews’ old bill. Hope they aren’t trying to sneak it in again under a new guise. I can well understand Boivin’s scepticism.

  5. Rehtaeh Parsons was a sexual assault victim. Police failed to investigate thoroughly either the assault or the subsequent cyberbullying and distribution of photos of the sexual assault. They failed either because they were inept, didn’t consider the allegations serious of just didn’t care. The lack of cyberbulling laws made no difference whatsoever in the outcome of this case, Amanda Todd was a victim of extortion, and whether the means of communicating the extortion demands was an old-fashioned letter and printed photos or email communications with digital photos was irrelevant. Again, the police failed to act because they seemed not to care very much about poor Amanda. The laws sanctioning criminal acts in both these cases were sufficient for prosecution if the police and prosecutors had chose to do their jobs. They did no. In their despair, these two young women chose another way to put an end to their misery. Passage of a cyberbullying law will make no difference to the ineptitude of police and prosecutors. Giving them casual snooping access to the internet communications of everyone, which would be an invasion of everyone’s privacy, was just plain wrong when Vic Toews tried it and it is still wrong under the guidance of this pathetically moronic Justice Minister, Peter MacKay.

    • Solving deep-rooted societal problems is hard. Writing something on paper, getting it through the House, and calling a press conference to say “Problem solved!” is easy.

      (And sneaking in a bunch of unnecessary police powers at the same time is despicable).

  6. When are we going to learn that we can’t sacrifice our freedoms for the illusion of safety?
    What is the most alarming are the caviats that Kilpatrick lets slip everytime he gets the media attention he craves.

    • Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism
      By: Dr. Lawrence Britt
      2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because
      of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes
      are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because
      of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve
      of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of
      prisoners, etc.
      3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying
      Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the
      need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or
      religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
      12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist
      regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The
      people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil
      liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force
      with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

      The Harper regime has shown they possess all fourteen, in some way. These are just the ones pertaining to this bill, which is very similar to their withdrawn internet surveillance bill.


  7. I suppose the media attack on Rob Ford can be classed as bullying. Maybe his urinating in the bush qualifies for charges to be laid against the photographer. No exceptions.

  8. The man is beautiful

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