(LifeSiteNews) – A House of Commons ethics committee will look into why the federal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spied on 33 million cell phone users without their consent, supposedly to determine population movement patterns during COVID lockdowns.
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) and Bloc Québécois MPs were successful in demanding that the Commons ethics committee hold hearings as soon as possible into the spying on Canadians.
CPC MP John Brassard said that the spying was “done in secret,” and that he filed a complaint with Canada’s federal Privacy Commissioner.
The news of the ethics committee investigation comes less than a month after Canada’s federal government admitted it covertly tracked the cell phones of 33 million Canadians throughout the COVID crisis, using cell tower data for months.
The secret tracking program was done under the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), which claimed the tracking was done to understand the “public’s responsiveness during lockdown measures.”
According to Mark Johnson, a spokesman for PHAC, the “urgency of the pandemic” justified the agency to collect and use “mobility data such as cell tower location data throughout the COVID-19 response.”
“It was to help understand possible links between the movement of populations within Canada and COVID,” said Johnson, who also said the program has been made public to be “open and transparent.”
Surveillance was done throughout the pandemic to “analyze population movement data to better understand the public’s responsiveness during lockdown measures,” Johnson added.
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, the ethics committee has not yet scheduled any dates for hearings.
Brassard said that PHAC managers will be mandated to appear before the committee to be questioned.
He added that there are “rightly some questions that need to be asked of” PHAC as it relates to “privacy, security, the data that are being collected, what it’s being used for.”
“Canadians expect their elected officials will ensure there is appropriate oversight for any such program,” said Brassard, adding it is “vital” that Canadians not “allow the COVID response to create a permanent backslide of the rights and freedoms of Canadians, including their fundamental right to privacy.”
Brassard added that answers are needed to determine if any measures were put in place to “protect de-identified information from being re-identified.”
Currently, the government of Canada has a federal contract notice tender out that indicates PHAC is looking to permanently use cell tower tracking for up to the next five years.
There were many indications over the past year and a half that the Canadian federal government was planning to use cell phone data to determine travel patterns, all done supposedly in the name of fighting COVID.
Indeed, just a few weeks into the COVID crisis in Canada, reports surfaced that the federal government was looking into using Canadians’ cell phone location data to track people’s movements.
In January 2021, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that cellphone data his government is privy to indicated that many in his province were not following COVID quarantine restrictions. This raised many questions as to how the cell data was obtained.
Earlier this year, Jay Cameron, litigation manager for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), told LifeSiteNews that cellphone tracking done involuntarily is a “flagrant” violation of one’s constitutional rights.