Senator Terry Mercer:
I would like to thank the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner of Canada Elections and officials for being here. In my previous life I had the privilege of working closely with the Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley and I was on the committee of political parties that advised the Chief Electoral Officer. It was a pleasure to work with him and there was good co-operation and exchange of ideas.
The federal government’s response to public concern about how personal information is being used in the political process – Bill C-76 – adds nothing of substance in terms of privacy protection. It’s time to act to better protect the rights of Canadians.
Stéphane Perrault, Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Elections Canada: As I said in my opening remarks, I do believe that there should be in legislation minimal standards applicable to parties. One can debate what those standards should be and whether they should be identical to the standards applicable to other entities, but there should be minimum standards. This is not what Bill C-76 proposes, and there should be some oversight mechanisms. Again, I find that the bill is lacking in this regard.
What I did say is that we’re getting awfully close to the election. It is incumbent on parties — notwithstanding these disappointments with Bill C-76 — to have the ability to adopt robust privacy policies. We will see from their behaviour and how they can reassure Canadians about how they treat their personal information whether more needs to be done. I do believe, in the long-term, that Canada will need to catch up with other jurisdictions and adopt minimal standards as an oversight for political parties.
Senator Mercer: Thank you.