Quebec formally announced that EDLs will be available for Quebecers on Monday, with Jean Charest using a relatively bogus financial argument to support EDLs.* Says he:
“If there are five people, five kids and two parents, if they had to all pay for a passport it would be an expensive requirements for them to come here” (Source)
Not withstanding Charest’s poor math (I count seven people in his ‘equation’), the costs that he is referencing are for the people coming to Quebec, not the costs of Quebecer’s traveling to the US. Were he really concerned about costs, he could adopt the line that the OPC and IPC (Ontario) have been pushing: Canadian’s should have their passport’s subsidized, and the lifetime of these documents extended. Were he honestly concerned about the privacy concerns, he would be pushing passports, not EDLs. Fortunately, of course, Charest is a stanch ‘supporter’ of privacy:
“[Privacy is a serious issue. We believe we need to do what has to be done to protect the privacy of individuals” (Source)
In light of this, one has to ask: if the Quebec premier recognizes privacy as such a serious issue, then why isn’t the Quebec information commissioner’s privacy assessment available to the public? While the information commissioner can’t disclose what, exactly, was in the report, the fact that he is warning Quebecer’s to “be careful” is telling about what the report actually contains. One can presume that the information that the commissioner included in his report bore resemblance to the warning found in the CBSA’s Privacy Impact Assessment of BC’s EDL program.
If you’re living in Ontario or Quebec, and are interested in the issues surrounding EDLs, I’d highly recommend that you attend the National Public Forum on EDLs. The organizers have lined up a host of very knowledgeable individuals and groups who have been stridently working to reform the EDL systems that are being deployed around the country.
March 24, 2009 from 9:00 to 12:00
Ottawa Library Auditorium, 120 Metcalfe Street
The aim of this public forum is to increase the awareness of policy makers, Parliamentarians, the media, and the public regarding the concerns associated with the introduction of a new Enhanced Driver’s Licence in most Canadian provinces. This new citizenship identity document which has been primarily driven by the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), will include radio-frequency identification (RFID) and biometric capabilities, raising a host of potential privacy and civil liberties issues. The Assistant Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Director of policy at the Information and Privacy Commission of Ontario will participate, as well as Canadian and U.S. civil society experts. University of Toronto researchers will also demonstrate the capabilities of RFID and biometric technology used in BC’s and other provinces EDLs.
This forum is organized by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Consumers Council of Canada, the Council of Canadians, the Information Policy Research Program of the Faculty of Information – University of Toronto and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group.
* It should be noted that the CBC article is somewhat off regarding provinces that are interested/testing EDLs. To date, Alberta has staunchly maintained that they will not be adopting EDLs.