Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Exposing the fakery matters

On the news of the fake citizenship reaffirmation ceremony hosted at Sun News at the urging of Jason Kenney's office, Chris Selley of the National Post concluded this about the episode last week: "But that’s just the usual stuff and nonsense. I don’t see how any of it makes a difference to anyone outside the bubble."

I wonder if he'd like a do-over? A follow-up report from Canadian Press raises serious questions about whether the privacy rights of those new citizens who were sought out to be part of Minister Kenney and Sun News' television production were breached: "TV citizenship ceremony plan might have violated privacy of new Canadians." While there is one privacy specialist quoted who says the request to a new citizen for the publicity of their new citizenship might be an acceptable use of the information, note the contrary view of lawyer Lorne Waldman (supported by another lawyer in the report):
Immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman said just a call from the immigration department can set off anxiety among some of his clients.

"I have serious concerns that the use of the information in this fashion was clearly not for the purposes for which the information was provided," Waldman said.

"The successful applicants had already been granted citizenship, the files had been closed, and to access it for what was obviously a publicity stunt for the minister is not a legitimate public purpose, and I would think it would be a breach of the Privacy Act."
There's this aspect of the fake citizenship ceremony story to consider as well:
Manitoba MP Kevin Lamoureux says many of his constituents have been waiting more than a year for a citizenship ceremony. One wonders how they feel about the fake ceremony.
Waldman and Lamoureux's points might help anyone having difficulty in seeing how the episode might make a difference to anyone outside the bubble.

The publicity given to what Kenney's office was doing is also a powerful check on the government, irrespective of whether any privacy complaints result.

(hat tips)