Canadians were largely unmoved by the Edward Snowden leaks and the disclosure of mass surveillance programs like PRISM, with few showing any serious worries about domestic government surveillance in a poll by Abacus Data in June 2013. But now a new poll by Forum Research suggests Canadians are growing suspicious of the latest Conservative cyberbullying bill C–13, with most rejecting a piece of legislation many think is more about beefing up government surveillance powers than protecting teens from bullies.
The poll asked over 1400 Canadian adults if they agreed with the central provisions of the bill, with three quarters disagreeing with the Harper government, and just one in seven approving. Disapproval went across gender and social status.
“I think that the survey demonstrates, once again, that Canadians are very interested in privacy issues,” said Christopher Parsons, a postdoctoral fellow at the Citizen Lab, a group that monitors surveillance issues.
“The fact that there is such low support for C–13, even amongst Conservative voters, speaks to the partisanship that the current government has demonstrated in trying to advance the legislation,“ he said.
To Parsons, the poll is reflective of Canadians growing interest with privacy issues. He thinks Canadians expect there to be legitimate checks and balances on government intelligence-gathering powers, with C–13 sorely lacking even the most basic oversight mechanisms.