Friday, May 29, 2015

C-51 Hearings Starring the Recently Resigned Peter MacKay

I've long had a healthy contempt for Peter MacKay. He just radiates entitlement and sleaze. He's an anti-democratic thug. His buffoonery when a reporter tried to ask him about the Colvin reports that he refused to share with Parliament but leaked to Christie Belchforth and Rosie DiMoron lowered him beyond all redemption. But reading his testimony at the C-51 hearings has given me more reason to despise him. This guy is just a mediocre bullshit artist who has grown confident due to the fact that abuses of power have allowed him to avoid a reckoning for his stupidity and deceit.

So, I gotta say, the news that MacKay has resigned brought a smile to my face today. It's pretty clear that like the other rats leaving the ship S.S. Harper, MacKay is worried about his electoral chances when his party is so thoroughly toxic to so many people. His massive ego and his considerable cowardice won't allow him to face the voters. MacKay is going to go on to his reward on all the corporate boards, wingnut welfare and patronage that he believes is his due.

Hopefully he'll be given a position of real responsibility somewhere. Because I have a strong suspicion that MacKay believes he has a contribution still to make. It would be wonderful if he obliged. Because he's a stupid idiot who would fuck it all up and there won't be the same safety net to catch him.

Anyhoooo .... Back to his performance at the C-51 hearings. [Oh! There was a word I was looking for yesterday. It's "choreograph." The whole shtick where they built up SIRC as the great watchdog over CSIS, when it's clearly not up to the task, and then they asked the CSIS dude if SIRC had ever criticized them for breaking the law and he could honestly answer "No" because SIRC didn't; ... that was choreography. CSIS has been criticized by other bodies, but not by SIRC. But by making SIRC out to be this "vigorous" and "robust" oversight body, they tried to make it seem like lack of criticisms from it is evident of an generally respectable institution.

After a few harpercon backbenchers got to recite their lines for Blaney and MacKay, questioning has returned to the NDP's Randall Garrison.

    Mr. Norlock opened up an interesting line of questioning, which I'd like to continue with, when he talked about the RCMP and its internal monitoring of activities. We used to have an inspector general of CSIS who did internal monitoring of observance of the law and CSIS activities, and that was eliminated by this government in 2012.

    I'd like to ask the minister, given the broad expansion of powers and activities contemplated for CSIS in this, why not bring back the inspector general's position? The former inspector general said quite clearly, and she actually used the word “ridiculous”, that it was ridiculous to think the review committee known as SIRC could do the same job of probing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. She said:

They don't do the same kind of work at all.... They don't go into the same depth, the same detail. And they're basically part-time people.
    Instead of passing these powers to SIRC, which has basically had the same flat budget for the last 10 years, why not bring back the inspector general to help provide that internal oversight?

An excellent question! I wonder what the answer will be?
    I thank you for you question.
(Obviously stalling for time.)

    You are right in saying that there were some concerns when the office of the inspector general was closed, that it could have an impact. Well, it's the opposite that took place. For this I would refer you to the last annual report from SIRC, which clearly says:

As required under the CSIS act, SIRC's interaction with the Minister have become more frequent. Far from compromising its independence...this relationship has substantially added to [the security and intelligence review committee's] role in the system of accountability and has, if anything, deepened SIRC's ability to reassure Parliament and Canadians regarding the activities of the Service.
    This action was taken two years ago, and we can now say who has benefited: the whole Canadian society and the protection of their rights and their freedoms.
    Let me just add that it's not only SIRC that can review all CSIS activities, but it is also possible by the Auditor General and the Privacy Commissioner.  
So, according to Blaney, SIRC gives itself high marks for its oversight capabilities. Then, top off that embarrassing nonsense with empty assertions about how all of Canadian society is better off and all of our rights more protected, based on nothing. And then tell us we can depend on the Auditor General and the Privacy Commission to keep an eye on SIRC. What a repulsive imbecile.

     You raised two interesting points there. One, the last annual report of SIRC said very clearly that it had problems in receiving complete information in a timely manner from CSIS. They themselves have said that they've had problems doing the oversight because of a failure of cooperation in a complete and timely manner. How does that square with your argument that this is an improvement in robust oversight?

    I'm glad to see you are supporting our great Security Intelligence Review Committee. 
Clumsy. Obvious. Stupid.

Let me just say that Canada is one of the first democratic governments anywhere in the world to establish a statutory framework for its security service. We are pioneers in a totally independent institution. Is it critical sometimes of the work of CSIS? Absolutely. Actually, you just have to review their report. Indeed, they've done many reviews on counter-intelligence investigation, sensitive CSIS activities, namely the carrying of firearms—it's in the report—use of an emergency area, and they also have, as you know, a complaint process. We really have a robust system.

Desperate stringing-together of gibberish. NONE of that addressed Garrison's (and SIRC's) concerns about CSIS failing to provide information in a timely manner.

    What is also important is every year they are delivering a certificate to me.
    The question is, has CSIS operated under Canadian law? In most of its reviews, SIRC was satisfied this year with the manner in which CSIS carried out its mandate to investigate threats to the security of Canada and they gave this certificate of approval. Do they have good recommendations? Yes. Are they making CSIS a better security intelligence agency? Yes, they are.

Somebody shut this idiot up!

    In Bill C-51, for which I'm seeking the support of this committee, there are provisions that will mandate SIRC to review the threat diminishment activities that are in the provisions. We are increasing the mandate of SIRC the same way.
"We are increasing the mandate of SIRC in the same way that C-51 increases the mandate of SIRC." Say what???

    Thank you very much, Minister.

    Very briefly, at the end you mentioned the Privacy Commissioner, who unfortunately is not going to appear before this committee. Did you have a review of this legislation from the Privacy Commissioner before you introduced this legislation? What do you make of his concerns that this bill involves a significant loss of privacy rights?



    Yes, we consulted with the Privacy Commissioner, and I intend to meet with the Privacy Commissioner. As you know, this bill is about the protection of the rights and freedoms of Canadians and their privacy. There are embedded mechanisms in Bill C-51 and already within government, such as the privacy impact assessment, that will apply to the measures planned in this bill.

You spoke with the Privacy Commissioner and you'll speak to the Privacy Commissioner again. That means basically NOTHING as a response to the Privacy Commissioner's complaints about the bill. The purported subject matter of the bill has nothing to do with the Commissioner's complaints about the bill. The embedded mechanisms within the bill that the Privacy Commissioners must already know about do not address his concerns about the bill. Total useless, non-answer.

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