more info please: can you tell me why cic is monitoring a private citizen's blog?

From friend and reader Matthew Bin, who posts here as M@, to his Member of Parliament:
Dear Terence,

I apologize for dropping two e-mails in your inbox on one day, but a situation has arisen that, with respect, deserves an answer.

Last summer, I sent an e-mail (copied below) to your office, asking if you could tell me why CIC, with its apparently insufficient resources, is monitoring a private citizen's blog. I received a call from a member of your staff a few weeks later, asking me to confirm that I am actually a constituent in Oakville, and I assured him that I was. He told me that I would receive a reply soon, but to date no reply has been forthcoming.

I would like to hear your comments on a related situation reported by the same blogger today. The story is described in full at the following URL:


I will provide a short summary so that you don't need to pore through the whole thing: the blogger in question asked a rhetorical question about which citizenship guide she ought to be reading to prepare for her upcoming citizenship exam, since there was a much-publicized update to the guide published recently. Her partner subsequently received a call from a CIC representative, at his place of work, to answer the question.

Although I understand that you must receive many requests for information every day, and I imagine the workload to respond to them must be quite extensive, I must insist upon receiving an answer to my questions around this situation:

- Why is the CIC spending such time and resources to monitor a private citizen's blog?

- Why is the CIC looking up that citizen's personal information to contact them -- at a place of work, no less! -- in response to the content of that blog?

If it is not within your office's power to respond to these questions, I would very much appreciate it if you could refer me to the appropriate person or office who can do so. Again, I would be happy to receive your call at xxx, or to meet with you at your office at your convenience.

Thank you again for your time.

Sincerely, etc.

[earlier email]

Date: Fri, Jul 10, 2009 at 1:58 PM
Subject: CIC monitoring of war resister activities
To: Young, Terence - M.P.

Mr Young,

We met back in January to discuss the issue of American war resisters in Canada. I appreciate your willingness to discuss the issue, and I think we had a good understanding of each other's position by the time the meeting ended.

I was very disappointed to see you vote against the Citizenship and Immigration Committee's motion on March 30. However, you can imagine that I was happy to see parliament pass a motion, for a second time, recommending that war resisters be allowed to stay in Canada.

However, a serious issue has come to light today, one that goes far deeper than any disagreement on a government's policies or actions. Documents acquired through an Access to Information Request have revealed that CIC personnel have been closely monitoring the activities of the resisters movement, including postings on a private citizen's blog. This information has been posted on that blog, at the following URL:


I'd appreciate an explanation -- whether you can provide it, or direct me to someone who can -- for why government resources are being expended this way, and why the online postings of citizens who disagree with current government policy are driving the actions of a federal department. This appears to be an egregious and politically-motivated waste of departmental resources -- especially in light of the immigration and refugee processing backlog that CIC has repeatedly mentioned in recent months.

I would very much like to know your thoughts on this matter. I can be reached by e-mail or by phone at xxx, or I can come in to meet with you at your convenience.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely, etc.

The relevant part of the response thus far:
I've faxed the details of your inquiry to the MP Enquiries Division at Citizenship & Immigration Canada with a request for them to investigate. It usually about 48 hours before we hear back from them. At that time I may receive further instruction to pursue the inquiry through a different CIC avenue.

I'll get back to you once I have some concrete information.

If you're not up to speed on this craziness, please see this post, which contains links to the back story.

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