3 min

Why attacking Vic Toews won’t help

The Twitter Machine was abuzz today with the anonymous posting of all the details about Vic Toews’ divorce
papers. It was done under the aegis that if Vic Toews wants to invade people’s
online privacy through lawful access, then this account holder was going to invade
Toews’ privacy. Err, except that court documents are actually public,
generally, and so it’s not really an actual invasion of private documents.

But what the anonymous account holder and his or her evangelists around the net, gleefully cheering and retweeting these
details, are engaged in is a series of false moral equivalencies. All their
justifications are misguided and, in fact, petty.

One of those evangelists tried to get me to
promote said account on my Twitter stream, but I wasn’t going to indulge in
that kind of discourse. “The more people who see it, the more embarrassed Vic
Toews will get. This is what makes American politicians resign,” said
evangelist argued.

But what does that have to do with C-30?
Nothing. Spreading around the details of Toews’ messy and acrimonious divorce
will have zero impact on C-30. Zero. Even if – IF – Toews were to become so
embarrassed that he would feel the need to resign – and he won’t – it wouldn’t
affect the bill at all. Hell, enough details of Toews’ divorce have been public
for the past two elections. Yes, people in his constituency knew that he was a
serial adulterer who had a child with a staffer – but they voted for him
anyway. And yes, this was more of an issue years ago when it was relevant to
the fact that Toews was the face of “family values” when he led the opposition
to same-sex marriage in the Commons. But that has nothing to do with lawful access.

Even if Toews were out of the picture, the
bill would still be on the order paper, and it would still be moving ahead.
This isn’t America, and our political system works differently. A politician
resigning won’t mean a government bill is withdrawn, because it’s a government
bill, and the new public safety minister would simply pick
it up and carry on. And all that online energy would have done nothing of

“Most Canadians have a distaste for Vic
Toews and what he’s trying to do here,” came the argument. So? How does this
deal with the bill at hand? It doesn’t.

It was argued that the Conservatives used
attack ads to win the election, and that Canadian-style politics of not going
after politicians personally are dead. Opponents are being called “radicals!”
Again I ask – what does this have to do with the bill? Nothing.

Oh, but when Toews said, “He’s either
standing with us or he’s standing with the child pornographers,” the gloves
came off! Again, you’re doing nothing about the bill itself. Yes, Toews is
invoking moral panic about people who abuse children in order to shield the
bill from criticism. So call him on that fact. Attacking him personally is not
going to shine any light on the problems of that bill.

Yes, there is a lot to be concerned about
in this bill. And even the government is getting pushback from its core
constituency and libertarian base, which has already filtered through to the
backbenchers, and they’ve been spooked enough to suddenly be open to
amendments. But the criticisms have to be about the bill itself.

Attacking Toews won’t advance the debate.
In fact, it will only make him a martyr in the eyes of the Conservative base
that opponents of the bill should be courting and building alliances with. When
that base suddenly gets defensive, closes ranks and circles the wagons, the
opportunities to change or even kill the bill will have been squandered.

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