Majority of Canadians want Bill C-51 repealed: government report

People rally against Bill C-51, the government's anti-terror legislation, as they pass Parliament Hill during a International Workers' Day protest against austerity measures in Ottawa on Friday, May 1, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

In the delicate balance between constitutional rights and additional powers for security agencies, Canadians have voted to protect their rights.

Public Safety Canada released its results from their national security consultations, compiled from over 58,000 responses online as well as town halls and round tables.

“A majority of stakeholders and experts called for existing [measures] to be scaled back or repealed completely, particularly Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015,” the report reads.

“Many individuals and organizations were skeptical of measures proposed … and expressed concerns about how these would affect individual rights and freedoms.”

READ MORE: MP committee starts the ball rolling on fixing ‘problematic’ bill C-51

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Friday the information would inform important decisions about protecting national security and safeguarding rights and freedoms.

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The Liberals promised to reform Bill C-51 as part of their election platform.

WATCH: Justin Trudeau responds to questions on amending Bill C-51

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Justin Trudeau responds to questions on amending Bill C-51

Among other things, the bill had a stated aim of improving information-sharing between federal government agencies in order to combat “activities that undermine the security of Canada.”

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A clear majority of respondents had an expectation of privacy in the digital realm equal to or higher than in the physical world.

“It really shows Canadians value their privacy issues,” Meaghan Sali, communications manager at OpenMedia, told Global News.

She believes that “privacy versus security is a false dichotomy.”

“We can have both… we need both,” she stressed.

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“Now what we’re waiting on is action from the government,” she said. “Not just to change the bad things [in Bill C-51], but to put forward a pro-privacy agenda.”

The report showed that many Canadians classified their online activities as “very personal” or “intimate.”

In the online consultations, seven in 10 respondents considered their basic subscriber information — such as name, home address, phone number and email address — to be as private as the actual contents of their emails, personal diary, and medical and financial records.

READ MORE: CSIS using Bill C-51 powers to collect intel on Canadians held in foreign prisons

They said they opposed giving government the capacity to intercept personal communications, even if a court authorizes the interception, and were against any moves to weaken encryption technology.

Almost half said such information should be provided only in “limited circumstances” and with judicial approval.

However, there was “a strong alternative view” that law enforcement faces crucial delays and roadblocks that are impeding investigations, the summary says.

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Those who supported this view said investigators need court-authorized, timely access to basic subscriber information, both online and on digital devices, to ensure authorities are “best able to investigate criminal activity and keep Canadians safe.”

Most who took part also advocated a focus on preventing terrorism by countering radicalization through promotion of diversity in Canada, better support for new immigrants and at-risk groups, and improved social programs.

A majority of those who were prepared to accept some new measures and powers for agencies insisted there be additional oversight, transparency and checks and balances, says the summary, prepared independently for the government from thousands of submissions

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