Image for In open letter to PM, top Canadian business leaders identify serious concerns with National Security consultation
Avatar image of David Christopher

In open letter to PM, top Canadian business leaders identify serious concerns with National Security consultation

Over 60 business leaders warn that proposals under consideration by the federal government will change Canada's business climate for the worse

A group of over 60 leading Canadian business figures have expressed serious economic and data security concerns with the direction of the federal government’s national security consultation. In an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale published by the Toronto Star, the group warn that a number of consultation proposals will undermine Canada’s reputation and change our business climate for the worse.

Some of the notable signatories include Frederick Ghahramani (founder & CEO of airG), Julia Fournier (President & CEO of HCMWorks), Susan McLennan (President, Reimagine PR), Tim Bray (founder of OpenText), Meredith J Powell (Advisor,, Jason Collinge (VP Technology, Payfirma), Mark Buell (Director, Internet Society North American Bureau), Ryan Dochuk (co-founder of popular VPN provider Tunnelbear), Graeme Bunton (Manager, Public Policy, Tucows), and Joel Solomon (Chair, Renewal Funds).

The group say they are ‘deeply troubled’ that business concerns about Bill C-51 remain unaddressed, and warn that plans for weakened encryption, new interception powers, warrantless access to subscriber data, and mandatory data retention would “dramatically exacerbate” the negative impact of Bill C-51, which they say should be fully scrapped.

Here's what some of the signatories had to say about why they signed on:

  • Tech entrepreneur and privacy advocate Frederick Ghahramani: “One year after Bill C-51 gave our national security apparatus 'kinetic' policing powers, we've seen an all-out assault on Canadians’ privacy rights," further adding, "whether it's the illegal sharing of Canadians’ personal information with foreign governments, the mass collection of cellphone information without a warrant, or the illegal build-out and concealment of secret spy databases, the message to the technology industry is clear: Canada is a horrible place to build or store intellectual property."  Ghahramani, whose family fled an oppressive regime in Iran for the safety of Canada, last year donated 1 million dollars to civil society groups working to repeal Bill C-51.
  • Mo Dhaliwal, Director of Strategy of Digital Branding Agency Skyrocket: "We are still in the nascent stage of the exponential effects the Internet will soon have on our daily lives. Privacy and security, without fear of surveillance, are fundamental to our digital future."
  • Our executive director Laura Tribe: “In Canada’s digital economy, trust in the integrity of our business and technology sectors is essential for our country to thrive. With top job creators sounding the alarm about how Bill C-51 and the national security consultation proposals undermine this trust, it’s essential for the government to address these serious economic concerns.”
The signatories to the open letter focused on four key parts of the government’s security consultation green paper which they say are of deep concern:
  1. It appears to favour the undermining or breaking of the encryption that many of our businesses and workers rely on.
  2. It floats and positively frames mandatory interception powers to access our sensitive business and customer data.
  3. It suggests that mandatory access to subscriber data such as an IP address without a warrant is akin to looking up a number in a phone book. This is an appalling and frankly incorrect analogy for a piece of data that can unlock the highly intimate details of the lives of law-abiding Canadians.
  4. It raises the idea of forced customer data retention and suggests practices such as purging user data as problematic when such practices actually strengthen data security and customer privacy.

The business leaders also attached an appendix with more detailed answers to some of the high-level questions put to Canadians in the government’s online consultation. Both the letter and the appendix will be submitted as part of the public record of the government’s consultation.

To date, over 10,000 people have submitted detailed feedback to the consultation using OpenMedia’s tools including - thanks to all of you for speaking out, and if you've yet to do so don't delay - the consultation closes on Thursday so speak up now!



The following individuals have signed the letter:

Laura Tribe, Executive Director, OpenMedia

Julia Fournier, President & CEO of HCMWorks

Wyle Baoween, CEO, HRx Technology          

Sara Blenkhorn, Director of collaboration, Leverage Lab

Tim Bray, co-founder, Open Text Corporation

Mark Buell, Director, Internet Society (ISOC), North American Bureau

Matt Buie, Financial Planning Advisor, Assante Capital Managemeny

Graeme Bunton, Manager, Public Policy, Tucows                  

Sana Kapadia, Spring Activator

Kirsten Starcher, Founder, outside in the sun productions

William Anderson, CEO, Resolver

Dean Mailey, President, Fusion Communications Group Inc

Jason Collinge, VP Technology, Payfirma                   

Jennifer Cutbill, Executive Director, Vancouver Design Week

Mo Dhaliwal, Director of Strategy, Skyrocket

Phillip Djwa, President/CEO, Agentic Communications, Inc.

Ryan Dochuk, Co-founder, TunnelBear Inc.

Kat Dodds, Founder/Director, Hello Cool World Media

Bryce Evans, Founder, The One Project

Rachel Forbes, Principal & Legal Eagle, Sharp Six Services

Benjamin Fox, Founder, Tapstream

Martha Fusca, President,The Storyz Network

Mehrdad Gharib, President, FEED Engineering Inc

Frederick Ghahramani, Founder & CEO of airG

Mike Gifford, President, OpenConcept Consulting Inc.

John F. Gray, Co-founder, Mentionmapp                    

Michael Goodman, Chairman, Tri City Group of Companies

Mack Hardy, President, Affinity Bridge Consulting Ltd.

Daryl Hatton, CEO, ConnectionPoint

Kelsey Heikoop, Owner, Adion Systems

Raynard von Hahn, Lawyer, Genesis Law Corporation

Peter Henry, CEO, GrowthLogic Inc.

Keith Ippel, CEO, Spring Activator Inc.            

Gary Isberg, President, AGI by Design           

Andrew Jung,  Information Architect, Skipping Rock Communication Arts

Alex Krohn, CEO, Gossamer Threads Inc.

Christopher Larsen, Owner, DeadRatGames Inc.

Jordan Lewin, CEO, Digital Sparks Media

Urszula Lipsztajn, CEO and founder, WorkBrite               

Campbell Macdonald, CEO, Proxxi

Monika Marcovici, Director, Board of Change

Tara Mahoney, Founder/Creative Director, GenWhy Media

Susan McLennan, President, Reimagine PR

Frank Michlick, Founder, DomainCocoon Inc.

Adam Millard, Chair, 3Fold Partners

Chris Nissen, President, Nissen Fasteners

Philip Neves, President/CEO, Neves Software Inc.

Ken Nickerson, CEO, iBinary LLC

Sandra Nomoto, President, Conscious Public Relations Inc.

[signature retracted]

Meredith J Powell, Advisor,

Shamus Reid, Co-Founder/COO, New/Mode Inc.

Vanessa Richards, Director, Creative Together

Michael Richardson, Chief Scientist, Sandelman Software Works

Steve Rio, CEO, Briteweb       

Thomas Savundra, CEO,

Joel Solomon, Chairman, Renewal Funds

Josh Stuart, President, cStreet Campaigns Inc.

Marten Sims, European operations lead, Happy City

Steven Tannock, Founder & CTO, Codegnostic

Michael Tippett, CEO, Wantoo

Matt Toner, President, Zeros 2 Heroes                                   

Andrew Wyllie, Founder and CTO, NU Frontier Communications

Zaid Zawaideh, COO, Sandglaz    

Take action now! Sign up to be in the loop Donate to support our work