Dan Albas

Dan Albas

COLUMN: Waiting for Parliament to address data gathering

MP Dan Albas waits for the recall of Parliament to raise questions about data gathering

It was in an October of 2018 MP report that I referenced serious concerns raised by residents on news that Statistics Canada was demanding access to certain Canadians’ personal financial and banking information, including all transactions along with bank account balances, without their consent.

At that time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it clear that he supported Ottawa bureaucrats having access to this personal financial information. The Prime Minister also stated that Statistics Canada was actively engaged with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner in that data-gathering effort.

We later discovered that the Privacy Commissioner had no idea Statistics Canada wanted this data from 500,000 Canadian households.

The Privacy Commissioner further stated that Statistics Canada was falling “way short” of its stated objective of being transparent.

It was also revealed that the minister at the time was not notified of this Stats Canada data-gathering effort, as is required under legislation.

Fortunately, this plan was halted.

I bring this up because an Ottawa-based journalism outlet, Blacklock’s Reporter, has just revealed, through an access to information request, that the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has recently been involved in a data-gathering effort again involving your personal financial records.

According to Blacklock’s nearly nine million mortgage holders had their data obtained without borrowers’ informed consent, including personal income, municipal addresses, credit scores and household debts even for homeowners who were not CMHC customers.

The report further states that, once again, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner was not consulted on this data-gathering effort.

When this similar situation occurred in 2018 with Stats Canada, Parliament was in session and we, as the official opposition, were able to ask questions of both the minister and Prime Minister to hold the government accountable.

Unfortunately, we learned recently that the Prime Minister does not intend to recall Parliament until Monday, Nov. 22, more than two months since the September election.

This leads to my question for this week: Do you believe two months to recall Parliament after an election is a reasonable period of time or should this occur within a shorter time frame?

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament-elect for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola.

ColumnistFederal Politics