Please adjust your privacy controls
What's the betting that this story will prompt a flood of formal requests to Canada's Privacy Commissioner, from people who have found themselves at odds with Ottawa? I'm thinking that it will send chills down the spines of other critics of the government, as it probably should. And if you need a reminder of that cast of characters, here's a new video. (Warning -- video contains opera.)
The idea that someone's private, medical information became cannon fodder in a policy dispute with Ottawa is outrageous on many levels -- but perhaps most so when set against the summer's controversy over the census, or, for that matter, on the gun-registry issue. Remember, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government was arguing that Statistics Canada was being too "intrusive" in the information it was gathering. A large part of its stance against the gun registry (up for a vote today in the Commons) rests on a similar argument -- that the government shouldn't be intruding into the private homes and lives of "law-abiding gun owners."
But the file on veterans'-affairs critic Sean Bruyea sets a whole new standard for intrusiveness. Canada's Privacy Commissioner, coincidentally, is due to speak today on her ongoing dispute with Facebook, but Bruyea's story serves as a little reminder that we may have some pressing issues closer to home on who's collecting data on us, and for what purpose.
It's worth reflecting, too, on this whole government's approach to information -- as something to be hoarded by those in authority, used to discipline those who would challenge that authority. That's become all in day's work for those of us in the media here on Parliament Hill, where the rule is that information/interviews are granted to the deferential/sycophantic. Fair enough; we've all learned to live with that. It's not news that information is power or currency in Ottawa; but should be disquieting to all of us when information becomes a weapon.