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Facts belie Toews's insistence his e-snooping bill will proceed

Vic Toews says the Harper government remains committed to the Internet surveillance bill – despite evidence to the contrary

The Public Safety Minister told reporters Wednesday that The Globe and Mail's assertion the bill was "dead in the water" is incorrect.

"Our government has been very clear, that matter will be referred to a parliamentary committee," he insisted.

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But the CBC has confirmed The Globe's report that Government House Leader Peter Van Loan does not intend to move on the bill before Parliament rises in June.

The extensive committee work that will be required to allay the concerns of privacy commissioners and of critics within the Conservatives' own caucus – who say the bill is an unwarranted invasion of privacy – will not get underway for months.

And it is that timeline that appears to doom the bill.

The lawful access legislation is controversial, to say the least, because it would compel Internet service providers to store data on their clients' activities, and to provide identifying information on those clients to police without their first obtaining a warrant.

When Mr. Toews famously said critics of the bill could "either stand with us or with the child pornographers," he became the subject of a hilarious (#TellVicEverything) and disturbing (anonymous threats and the tweeting of the details of his divorce) social-media campaign.

The government, acknowledging the bill was flawed, agreed to send it to the public safety committee for study before having it voted on by the House.

By keeping the bill from the committee until autumn, the chances of C-30 being rewritten by that committee and then passed by both the House and the Senate before Mr. Harper has Parliament prorogued, as many anticipate he will, in preparation for a new Throne Speech appear beyond unlikely.

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Mr. Toews disagrees. The government, he says, is "intent on proceeding."

Time, as the cliché says, will tell.

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About the Author
Writer-at-large

John Ibbitson started at The Globe in 1999 and has been Queen's Park columnist and Ottawa political affairs correspondent.Most recently, he was a correspondent and columnist in Washington, where he wrote Open and Shut: Why America has Barack Obama and Canada has Stephen Harper. He returned to Ottawa as bureau chief in 2009. More

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