Canada's spy watchdogs should not be acting as lobbyists

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We saw this clearly with the government’s online spying bill C-30, but I think many were hopeful they had seen the light when they made a public commitment to never again try to impose warrantless spying on Canadians. The government has now flip flopped and Peter MacKay is now trying to use our concern for children to push many of these NSA-style spying provisionsthrough. It’s wrong and sad to see this. Clearly the government is listening to lobbyists (this time those in the security/resource extraction sector) and not citizens.

Whether it’s telecom price-gougingcopyright censorshiponline spying, or a range of other issues; these controversies reveal a systematic democratic deficit in Canada and beyond.

In this era of participation, after years of open collaboration and free expression online, citizens believe they have a right to participate in decisions that affect their daily lives -- we have a right to meaningful, open-ended participation in our economy and our democracy. What we’re seeing today is that ethos and deepening culture bump against old, top-down business and government bureaucracies intent on maintaining their control.

Credit where credit is due 
We’ve seen in Canada that our government under the leadership of Industry Minister James Moore, and the CRTC led by Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais, are beginning to adapt to this new reality of public participation. Moore resisted Big Telecom’s misleading PR and legal offensive last year, and has begun to usher in new rules and government enforcement to support our access to independent Canadian telecom choice. The CRTC’s Blais has done the same with the wireless code of conductroaming, and has even tried to open up a consultation process about thefuture of TV.

None of this is enough to Canadian families feeling the pinch of price-gouging in these difficult economic times - but we’re moving in the right direction in terms of public policy, if not yet effect. If the government builds on these efforts and doesn’t submit to lazy short term fixes we’ll get somewhere in the next year.

If one part of the government can begin to learn to open up to the will of citizens and our active participation in decision-making, there is hope that other parts of the government can learn this lesson as well.

Our job
The government didn’t open its ears on telecom on its own. It took Canada’s largest-ever online campaign and sustained, widespread, solutions-based engagement to make it happen. We’ll need that to continue, and we’ll need to bring that energy to privacy, free expression online, and other issues of the day.

In short we’ll need to show there are costs to not acting in our interests, and benefits to listening - we’ll need to show there are votes at stake.

At OpenMedia.ca we’ll be working to build as large of a community as possible around these issues, and we’ll be sure to connect with these voters around election time to let them know where each of the parties stand. Together we represent a growing political force.

Join us based on the issue you’re most concerned about:

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