The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

A noteworthy exchange from question period Wednesday in the House of Commons

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OTTAWA - The Canadian Press is always on the lookout for noteworthy or zesty exchanges on the floor of the House of Commons. Today's selection from question period features the NDP pressing Industry Minister James Moore about the revelation that the federal government asks Canadian telecom companies for private customer information about 1.2 million times each year.

NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus: Mr. Speaker, there is the guy who was going to beat up on those big, bad telecoms, but when it comes to unwarranted snooping, let us all be polite here. If Canadians are being spied on, they have a right to know. After all, Canadians are paying for this.

The telecoms charge $1.25 every time the government comes snooping on Canadians, so if their numbers are right, that means Canadian taxpayers are paying over $1 million a year to be spied on. Will the minister confirm to the House how much taxpayers' money is being used every year in this warrantless snooping on the private words of Canadians online and on telephones?

Industry Minister James Moore: Mr. Speaker, with respect, I do not think my colleague quite understands the law. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, Sec. 7, spells out very clearly the kinds of information that are being sought by different agencies of the government and they all relate to public safety, national security and criminal investigations. That is what this is about.

We have moved forward, as I said, to further protect the privacy of Canadians online. The digital privacy act does that. We have worked with the privacy commissioner in developing these proposals. We have put them before the Parliament of Canada. If the NDP has any ideas that it wants to bring forward to draw into our legislative process, we will entertain them.

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