Here’s to Canadian creativity and hashtags
Posted on Feb 16, 2012
You have to appreciate the creativity that surfaces sometimes in reaction to politicians who come up with stupid, half-baked ideas or say something that really is over the top.
The latest example is federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. In his attempt to deflect opposition criticism of the government’s new online surveillance bill, a law that would compel telecommunications providers to hand over online activity records on anyone the police want to know about, without any requirement for a search warrant, Toews took the position that anyone who is against this is on the side of child molesters.
Framing the issue in that narrow a way – of suggesting that as Canadians we have to choose, thus dismissing the possibility of any middle ground, and dismissing that there are those among us who are against child pornography but also feel that privacy of Canadians must be considered too. And that’s a lot of Canadians including Chantal Bernier, assistant privacy commissioner of Canada and University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, who holds a Canada Research Chair in internet and e-commerce law.
Like many, they have cautioned that this proposed law goes too far. I wonder what they think when the Minister characterizes them as being on the side of the child molesters?
Of course it was a ridiculous thing for him to say. For those of us who agree we can be against child molesters and still value our rights to privacy, therefore not subscribing to the “you are either with us or against us (and for child pornographers)” Bush like rhetoric, we can either get mad or get creative. And creative is usually better.
My hat is off to whoever came up with #TellVicEverything, a hash tag that at the time of this writing is trending as the top Twitter topic in Canada. In protest of the bill, Canadians in huge numbers are contributing tweets telling Toews the most mundane details of their life.
Check it out. Some are really funny. But beyond that it’s a healthy, positive way for Canadians to weigh in, in this peaceful, I like to think Canadian, way to protest.
It reminds me of a few years ago, when Ric Mercer of This Hour has 22 Minutes called then Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day on his proposal that if 350,000 Canadians signed a petition on anything, that would be enough to automatically trigger a national referendum. Mercer started an online petition that eventually collected 1.2 million signatures. It was a petition to make Stockwell Day change his name to Doris Day.
It was fun but at the same time exposed the foolishness of his proposal, and was a good creative way to allow Canadians to, in a direct way, participate in our democratic process.