On second thought

Yesterday, the NDP’s Rosane Dore Lefebrve asked Public Safety Minister Vic Toews if he would put new airport surveillance measures on hold until an assessment could be conducted. Mr. Toews assured the New Democrat that “the privacy rights of law-abiding Canadians are respected at all times,” but otherwise avoided answering the question directly.

A few moments later, Liberal MP Scott Simms asked if Mr. Toews would refer the issue to the privacy commissioner. Mr. Toews repeated his assurance and invited Mr. Simms to contact the privacy commissioner if he was concerned.

If the member wants the privacy commissioner to look at any practices inside the CBSA in this respect, I would invite him to make that request. I do not think CBSA has anything to hide.

Today, Mr. Toews seems to have decided to go ahead and do that himself.

A spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says he has told the Canada Border Services Agency to halt audio monitoring until a study of the privacy implications is complete. Julie Carmichael says Toews wants a privacy impact assessment from the border agency and recommendations from the federal privacy commissioner … Carmichael says it is important for agencies to have the right tools to catch smugglers and criminals. But she adds it is equally important that these tools do not unduly infringe on individuals’ privacy.