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OpenMedia meeting with Public Safety emphasized the importance of a genuine consultation on C-51

Yesterday, we met with top officials at Public Safety Canada to discuss ongoing privacy concerns shared by Canadians across the country.

Right now, the ministry is running a public consultation about Bill C-51, privacy, and national security, asking for feedback from Canadians on some of the most pressing civil liberties issues of our time.

Meanwhile, we've been hearing from you for well over a year that Canadians expect a full repeal of the "Canadian Patriot Act" -- Bill C-51. Brought into force by Stephen Harper's Conservative government in 2015, Bill C-51 puts our freedom of expression rights on the chopping block, throws the door open to widespread information sharing among a huge range of government agencies, gives CSIS spies powers that would normally be reserved for police, and puts our privacy at risk in a number of different ways. (See here for all the gory details).

You already know all this -- and that's why you've been calling on the government to take immediate action and completely repeal this legislation and start from scratch. And yesterday, we made sure that Minister Ralph Goodale's top advisers were reminded of that fact, and that they promised Canadians they would address our privacy deficit in the last election.

But holding our elected officials to account is often a moving target, and that's why we also called on the government to commit to proactive disclosure of the results of their ongoing national security consultations.

We've also been hearing from many Canadians who are skeptical that their feedback will be seriously considered in this review -- which is no surprise given the skewed framing of the consultation questions, which have been called out for being biased in favour of greater police powers, and have in fact ignored many of the privacy concerns that have raised huge red flags with citizens.

In our meeting yesterday, we made sure to drive this point home: you have to earn the trust of Canadians that this is a genuine consultation.

We know from experience that it's all too easy for governments to exalt consultation on the one hand, but on the other be less than forthcoming with the results of that consultation. With such critical issues at stake, it's important that Canadians are not only consulted but that they also have the opportunity to see for themselves the results of that consultation process, and ensure that any ensuing legislation is matched to the wishes of the consulted.

The Trudeau government should have no problem fulfilling this request, which fits nicely within their open government endeavours. Not only will it increase trust in the process, but it will demonstrate to Canadians that they are truly committed to not only consulting but also to listening to the advice and direction given to them by those whom they were elected to represent.

And that's exactly what we told them.

If you haven't taken the time yet, use our tool at SaveOurSecurity.ca to respond to the National Security consultation -- the more people who speak up, the more pressure we can bring to bear for real change when it comes to C-51. In the meantime, we'll keep working to make sure you're heard.

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Image: OpenMedia.org

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