C-24 – Ottawa gives itself new powers to share personal information

Funny, I don’t recall this being mentioned in any of the government communications material:

The powers are included in Bill C-24, an overhaul of citizenship law passed last month, though have drawn little attention. The changes amend the Citizenship Act to allow Stephen Harper’s cabinet to draft regulations “providing for the disclosure of information for the purposes of national security, the defence of Canada or the conduct of international affairs,” including under international deals struck by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.

Cabinet will also now be permitted to allow the “disclosure of information to verify the citizenship status or identity of any person” to enforce any Canadian law “or law of another country.”

Ottawa contends the final regulations are still being developed and will comply with Canadian law. However, critics warn the changes could lead to Canada sharing citizenship and immigration details with foreign countries, whether verified or not, without oversight.

“This language gives them another legal basis for sharing information,” said immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman, who represented Maher Arar at a federal commission of inquiry a decade ago.

Mr. Waldman said the perils of unfettered information sharing are illustrated by that case. Mr. Arar, a Canadian of Syrian heritage, was jailed and tortured in his homeland, after RCMP wrongly flagged him as a terrorism suspect.

“Go back to Maher Arar,” said Mr. Waldman. “Sharing information is fine, but when you share information, make sure that the information sharing is accurate.”

But consistent with the Government’s approach to C-13 (cyber-bullying and surveillance).

Ottawa gives itself new powers to share personal information – The Globe and Mail.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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