Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Oct. 27, 2012)

Too Much at Stake

By Bob Cooper


In a previous column (No more excuses), I outlined the dismal performance of the Federal government in living up to the law and order platform they ran on.  Since then nothing has changed, absolutely nothing. 

Their latest blunder was failing to pass Bill C-30 which would give law enforcement the tools they need to go after organized crime and terrorist groups in the cyber age.  The police in Canada have had legal authority to intercept telephone calls with a court order and under very strict conditions since the mid 1970s and all this Bill does is extend that authority to the Internet where criminals have communicated largely beyond the reach of law enforcement for years.  There they sat with success in their grasp until Public Safety Minister Vic Toews stood up in the House and suggested that those with concerns about the bill were in league with child pornographers.  A political stunt so stupid that if it weren’t for Alice Wong they’d still be talking about it.   The ensuing outcry sent the government running for cover and Bill C-30 was quietly shuffled to a committee to die a weary and unannounced death.

Thankfully, this void of leadership has been filled by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and their new President, Vancouver Chief Constable Jim Chu.  I’ve disagreed with the Chief in this space before but I’m 100% behind him and the CACP on this one.  Like all Federal legislation these days, Bill C-30 is long, drawn-out, and far too complicated, leaving a lot of room for misunderstanding that can be exploited by its opponents.  This week the CACP came out with the following video that does an outstanding job of simplifying the issues and explaining why the police need the powers the Bill contains. 

It was a brilliant stroke and badly needed to counter a huge wave of left-wing disinformation as typified by this column from the Toronto Star, (Conservative Bill C-30 will let police spy on Canadians online),  in which Heather Mallick, quoting the Liberal Public Safety critic, asserts that ‘the bill has police “preparing to read Canadians’ emails and track their movements through cellphone signals, in both cases without a warrant.”  This is patently false.  Not only does the Bill require that the police have judicial authorization to do either of these things, (except in life-threatening emergencies) but the police have stated time and again that they would not want it otherwise.  As usual, one of the biggest whoppers was David Eby’s remark in today’s Vancouver Sun that the police don’t need the powers they seek because “it takes a matter of hours for them to get a warrant”.  Eby obviously hasn’t applied for a warrant recently and when a life is in the balance, such as in the kidnapping that Chief Chu cited in the same article, hours just don’t cut it.

In addition to the checks & balances and accountability measures in Bill C-30, Ms. Mallick can rest assured that if the Bill passes the police will have their hands so full monitoring the Blackberries of biker gangs, drug importers, organized crime and terror groups that they wouldn’t have the time, inclination, or resources to bother listening to her unless she starts dating Omar Kadhr when he gets out any day now.

The public needs to get behind the CACP and pressure the government to pass this Bill before time runs out.  Telephone companies and Internet service providers have demonstrated that voluntary compliance doesn’t work and, as Chief Chu pointed out, the police are fighting enemies that are extremely high-tech with legislation that’s almost 30 years old and all they’re seeking is a level playing field.    The new sophistication of organized crime hasn’t made them any less vicious, only more capable, and there’s just too much at stake.

As for the present government, they bring to mind the words from that Paul McCartney song “We’re so sorry, Uncle Albert, but we haven’t done a bloody thing all day”.  Please Mr. Toews, do something.  Anything.  Just to show me that my vote wasn’t totally wasted.  At this rate I’m glad the law no longer requires that pubs be closed while the polls are open so I’ll have something to do next Election Day. 



Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.



Prime Time Crime

Contributing 2012