I wrote this admittedly fear-motivated* letter on Thursday morning. I sent it to the Herald, but they didn't print it. Here's their opinion on the noxious 'cyberbullying' omnibus. Now here's mine.
If anything, I ought to have written along the lines of "The 'cyberbullying bill' should explode in the hangar" (they're the legislators: it should be their job to use fundamental reasoning skills to demonstrate we need this, not my job to say we don't), but I was trying to get into a newspaper, so I attempted to be charitable even though the CPC hardly merits that at this point.
The cyberbullying bill must be broken down
I am concerned about our federal government's readiness to use the seemingly noble notion of defending children as a justification for substantially increasing its surveillance and seizure powers. Effectively, we are being asked to trust our politicians not to use these powers for ill. More of the infrastructure for a police state will be present, but of course no politician has ever used the machinery of government to gain political advantage, so we shouldn't worry.
We may not even get to have a debate on whether, say, we should prosecute people for stealing cable, because whenever a politician steps behind a "Protecting Canada's Children" sign on a podium, we're expected to simply go along with everything. Putting everything into yet another omnibus bill seems to me to reflect a dangerous attitude of "You're either with us, or you're against the safety of children." No ifs, ands, or buts are permitted. It's the Vic Towes controversy all over again, but this time it might be harder to oppose because the memory of Rehtaeh Parsons is fresh on the public's mind, not to mention our present preoccupation with Senate expenses, the Senate itself, the Prime Minister's Office, Elections Act violations, and the Mayor of Toronto.
I have hope that items like the "anti-terrorisim" measures stuffed under the "cyberbullying" banner, including the ability to place tracking devices on any person or thing if it will aid an investigation, are not actually reflective of an increased threat but rather a desperate governing party, behind in the polls, attempting to appeal to part of its traditional base with increasingly overreaching "law and order" measures.
We must not sit back and take this. Even as there are people who would support every measure in the bill, I hope they also support breaking it down into smaller pieces so that we will be able to have meaningful debate.
* - Wanna know something, though? We live in a country with constitutional protection of expression and conscience (among other things). So as far as being afraid to speak up? Don't speak up like you're afraid to speak up, just speak up! You can think much better when you're not trembling with fear.