A little while ago, you may recall, the Conservative Party was calling up people in Montreal to deliver the false rumour that Liberal MP Irwin Cotler was about to resign (the implication presumably being that Liberals don’t care about their ridings, but frankly, the whole premise seems bizarre to me). When they were caught, not only did they insist that no apology was necessary, but they insisted that criticizing their antics meant attacking free speech.
Now the shoe is on the other foot, and thanks to Vic Toews and to the fake-libertarian lemmings who populate the government backbenches, very soon now an NDP staffer will be revealed as being behind the Twitter attacks on Toews. Once that happens, the Conservatives and the national media will brook no discussion of free speech rights. There will be much grandstanding from the government, and much sage chin-wagging in the media, about how such pranks devalue the meaning of Canadian democracy. Unlike the Conservatives, who do it in the name of free speech. And do it with lies, rather than truth. Toews doesn’t deny the charges; he just resents the fact that people are talking about them.
Which, ironically, shows us just how insidious and evil the government’s legislation here is. If the bill had already been passed, there wouldn’t need to be a big public investigation. With respect to any online critic, anonymous or otherwise, the government can call up the ISP and get all of the personal information they want, as well as order a list of all the websites that person has visited. The ISP will be legally required to assist them in this, with or without a warrant. They could, for instance, arrange to get the names, addresses, and Internet activities of all the people who’ve jumped on the Twitter bandwagon, enter them into the CIMS database as suspected subversives, and send police officers to harass their employers.
Unless, of course, you trust that no government will ever, ever attempt to use such far-reaching surveillance powers for political purposes, no matter how great the temptation. Real libertarians understand this problem. Hence I am forced to conclude that there are no such individuals in the Conservative ranks anymore. If there ever were.