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As National Security consultation wraps up, civil society experts and organizations publish open letter calling for the full release of all feedback received

Over 30 civil society organizations and experts sign joint call to federal government proactively and transparently release all submissions received as part of the consultation

December 15, 2016A group of over 30 civil society organizations and experts have published an open letter in the National Observer calling on the federal government to proactively and transparently release all submissions received as part of its National Security consultation, which wraps up today. The consultation asked Canadians for their views on a range of issues including Bill C-51, the highly controversial spying legislation passed last year.

Signatories to the letter argue that Canadians have a right to know what the results of the consultation were, and that releasing the results will help assuage concerns that people’s voices won’t be heard. The letter is signed by a range of experts and prominent organizations, including Hossein Derakshan, the Iranian-Canadian author and journalist who started the blogging revolution in Iran, and spent 6 years imprisoned by the regime there as a result.

“The government says they want to engage — but how do we know that we are being heard?” asked Victoria Henry, OpenMedia’s digital rights specialist. “Day in and day out, we’re hearing a lot of skepticism from our community, and that’s only been exacerbated by the one-sided wording of the consultation itself. Canadians need assurances that this is not an exercise in futility, and a full transparent release of the consultation results is the best way to achieve that.”

“For too long, Bill C-51 has been violating the privacy of Canadians through mass, warrant-less spying. Canadians deserve the right to privacy and personal security, and they deserve a government that listens to them on this matter. Providing full transparency in this consultation process is a critical step towards restoring trust that these concerns will be acted upon.” - Hossein Derakhshan, author and journalist.

“Leadnow is joining in the call for a full and transparent release of the national security consultation results. The draconian, dangerous anti-privacy measures introduced by Bill C-51 continue to be a major concern for our members, and Bill C-51 remains one of the worst pieces of the Harper legacy. Transparency around the consultation process will be a crucial step in reassuring our members that this government is committed to addressing these concerns.” - Francis Kung, Head of Technology, Leadnow.

"The Trudeau government has put a big emphasis on openness and transparency," said Vincent Gogolek, Executive Director of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. "They cannot make that claim and not release the results of this consultation."

“'The Liberal government has a chance to show that it is serious about listening to Canadians and governing in a truly transparent manner. Releasing the results of the consultation for independent analysis is the first step in ensuring that Canada returns to a national security framework that protects civil liberties and respects the democratic rights of Canadians.” - Duncan Pike, campaigns and advocacy coordinator, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

Among the key points made by the open letter are that:

  • There are serious concerns about biased language in the online National Security Consultation, alongside the lack of transparency around how the feedback gathered will be treated.

  • The government is urged proactively and transparently release all submissions received as part of the National Security Consultation.

  • The results of the consultation must be made available to external, independent analysis before any legislation is tabled.

  • Citizens, academics, experts, and advocacy organizations must be empowered to audit the full record of your consultation before any legislative changes are announced.

After the consultation period closes today, the government is expected to analyze the results before bringing proposed legislative changes to Parliament in the new year. To date, over 15,000 submissions to the National Security Consultation have been made using tools provided by OpenMedia at and, with many thousands more taking part via the government’s website and other channels.

Civil society organizations and experts can sign on to the open letter at:


Individuals and organizations signing the open letter include:

Andrew Clement, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

Annette DeFaveri, Executive Director, BC Library Association

BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association

Dr. Benjamin Muller, King's University College

Bill Bonner, University of Regina

Canadian Access and Privacy Association

Canadian Institute of Access and Privacy Professionals

Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC)

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

Centre for Free Expression

Dr. Christopher Parsons, Research Associate, Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

Council of Canadians

David Lyon, Surveillance Studies Centre, Queen's University

David Murakami Wood, Canada Research Chair in Surveillance Studies, Surveillance Studies Centre, Queen's University

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Excela Associates


Fenwick McKelvey, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies, Concordia University

Friends of Public Services

Hossein Derakhshan, author and journalist

International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

James L. Turk, Director, Centre for Free Expression, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Faculty of Communications and Design, Ryerson University

Janice Charnstrom, Certified Information Privacy Professional (Canada), lawyer

Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada


Leslie Regan Shade, Professor, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

Dr. Monia Mazigh, author and academic


Privacy and Access Council of Canada — Conseil du Canada de l’Accès et la vie Privée

Progress Champions

Public Interest Advocacy Centre

Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association

Sharon Polsky, MAPP — Privacy & Access-to-Information Advocate & Privacy by Design Ambassador

Youth Vote Canada

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