This weeks post for 24 Hrs, The Duel: National Security does not trump our right to privacy.

sneakingThe winner of last week’s duel on the Senate was Brent Stafford with 51%.

This week’s topic:

Should the government be allowed to spy on your phone calls and email?

As I watched the public reaction following the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden, I shook my head at the ongoing naivety of the public in general. According to Snowden, the U.S government has been engaged in gathering massive amounts of metadata from phone calls and the Internet. He claims this has been going on for years and subsequent media reports seem to back up his claims.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

Facebook, Google, social media chat sites, and private cell phone calls are all on the list of places the U.S. government can and will access information in the name of intelligence and national security. Of course, they have claimed this is only in instances involving foreign communications – which may very well apply to Canadians as well. Got a friend in Lebanon? Hey, they might have your aunty’s recipe for kebbeh.

This American scandal has initiated numerous questions on the issue as it pertains to the Canadian government. Does the Canadian government spy on its own citizens? According to a recent Globe and Mail report, the answer is yes. Should they be allowed to? My answer is an absolute no, without prior and ongoing threat assessment documentation available to support such surveillance.

The Globe and Mail report claimed defence minister Peter MacKay renewed in 2011 a prior agreement to conduct the same sort of surveillance that the American government does. It also reported the program had been on hiatus prior to that renewal because of concerns of surveillance of Canadians without a warrant

Time for a reality check…

Read the rest of this weeks column, and vote for who you think is this weeks winner, at

I encourage you to leave your comments and critiques, which are open for 48 hours following publication!!

6 thoughts on “This weeks post for 24 Hrs, The Duel: National Security does not trump our right to privacy.

  1. And on a related and rather interesting note, this story linked to just following this paragraph, was posted on a day traditionally noted as a good day to sneak out news the public might not react well too…..Fathers Day. Involved with our fathers, or perhaps mourning their loss, but otherwise distracted from news like this. Remember. Government releases bad news on a Friday to lose steam over the weekend, and releases their good news on a Monday.

    Same thing here. I have documented many important stories released during major events or holidays only for the purpose of losing it in the distractions…

    “Proposed new rules would forbid a number of federal officials from forever discussing sensitive aspects of their work.

    The officials would include the prime minister’s national security adviser, federal lawyers who work on terrorism cases and intelligence analysts in the Privy Council Office.

    The Harper government wants to pull the cloak of eternal secrecy over past and present employees of nine federal agencies and those who used to toil at two now-defunct branches.”

    This quote, is the first thing that came to mind:

    “The corporations that profit from permanent war need us to be afraid. Fear stops us from objecting to government spending on a bloated military. Fear means we will not ask unpleasant questions of those in power. Fear permits the government to operate in secret. Fear means we are willing to give up our rights and liberties for promises of security. The imposition of fear ensures that the corporations that wrecked the country cannot be challenged. Fear keeps us penned in like livestock.”
    ― Chris Hedges, The Death of the Liberal Class


  2. Laila, I read both columns and of course I voted for your position. Of course it is important and necessary for Security Agencies to do their job and determine threat potentials however, without oversight and a “reasonable reason to believe” there is the real threat of Police State type surveillance. I believe Brent is naive in the extreme to think that Security Agencies are merely trolling metadata to find looking for patterns.
    With the advent of new technologies the real threat to our security may not necessarily be from out there, the real threat could come from within and could be as a result of our own individual complacency.
    Brents’ argument in a nutshell is the old canard that if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to worry about. Nothing could be further from the truth. One persons’ individual statement taken out of context from an entire conversation can convict or overturn elections under the right circumstances. Have we seen this happen in Canada, certainly, one only needs to look at the conservative attack ads and their lack of attention to context. Could this happen to the average Jane or Johnnie Canuck? Sure, the technology is there to do it and leave no footprint to show that it has been done.
    You know, McLuhan told us the medium is the message, Orwell warned us in his novel 1984 about this and interestingly the two of them together are in sync. We, collectively, as a society want Liberty, Freedom and Security. The question is which of these are the most important? If we want absolute security, how much Liberty and Freedom are we prepared to give up. This is a question that collectively, democratic societies around the world are going to have to grapple with. This is a debate that Canadians must realize must take place because if it does not then I truly fear for our democracy as imperfect as it is.
    I think the well known words of U.S. Revolutionary, Patrick Henry at the Virginia Convention seem to be as appropriate to this debate as it was then:
    “It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace – but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
    Give me Liberty or give me death, how much is our democracy and are our freedoms really worth?


    1. Excellent comment Stan!

      There are three excellent posts written about this that everyone should read. Why Canadians Should Be Demanding Answers About Secret Surveillance Programs Report Confirms Canada has its own Surveillance program


  3. Of course there has been lots going on that was not necessary legal or legit – by this Conservative federal government, OF course the MSM pays lip service (if that) to news that affects all Canadians in a negative way; the MSM rarely says anything compared to the frequency of the Canservative corruption – led by a relgious right wing extremist.
    Sad to say, but freedom and democracy these days is nothing but a pipe dream.
    Look around at what corporations want and get from this government ! You don’t see the big guys getting huge fines and imprisonment – note what politicians generally get, both provincially and federally ! Nothing more than naughty naughty and a slap on the wrist.
    If Harper had his way he would control the media totally – radio, tv and press.

    I fear for the country once nkown as Canada, that was respected and known for just causes, freedom democracy.



    1. Thanks for sharing. I agree, we seem to be headed down a slippery path here in Canada,much at the urging of the US government, to assist in their initiatives in the name of national security. Don’t get me wrong, I agree we need to defend our country but we also need to defend our freedoms and rights. The Canadian government would do far better to concentrate on examining it’s own internal connections with foreign government that should come under examination, as well as municipally and provincially.

      By and far, the greater threat than terrorism to our country is the corruption that has been growing like an unseen fungus below the surface, spreading it’s threads into so many levels of government federally, provincially and in some cases, municipally that opening one can of worms will, without a doubt,lead to many more cans…


  4. “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
    This was written by Franklin, within quotation marks but is generally accepted as his original thought, sometime shortly before February 17, 1775 as part of his notes for a proposition at the Pennsylvania Assembly, as published in Memoirs of the life and writings of Benjamin Franklin

    The have nothing to hide argument could work when talking about the government not allowing people to see what they are up to. For me government, especially provincial and federal, is a lost cause and they have no authority over private people unless operating as an agent of government. There is Supreme Court case law stating this, you can do your own due dilligence to find them.


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