StatsCan planned scoop of banking data ‘major intrusion’: Lauzon

SDSG MP Guy Lauzon during an event at CCH April 25, 2015. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

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SDSG – Local Conservative MP Guy Lauzon says fighting the Liberal’s plan to allow Statistics Canada to scoop banking and credit card data on a half million Canadians every year is a hill worth dying on.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended Statistics Canada’s plan to require banks to give over personal transaction data for 500,000 people without their consent. The practice, meant to build a massive data bank on Canadian’s spending habits and the economy, is not illegal as StatsCan has broad power to collect that data.

The government insists the information will be anonymized and used for statistical purposes in order to properly deliver services and social programs.

“Governments are supposed to protect our personal information,” Lauzon said in an interview with Cornwall Newswatch. “This is a major intrusion into personal lives. All your banking transactions will be forwarded to StatsCan but, all your personal information, your name, your address, et cetera. Why do they need that?” the MP said.

Lauzon said he understands the government needs to have information to make policy decisions but attaching personal information to that data crosses a line.

“For example, if there’s 5,000 Canadians who owe $350,000 to a bank, they don’t have to know the names of those 5,000 people. They just have to know the facts. Why the personal name and details of the person has to be involved is beyond me,” he said.

“We’re going to do everything to try to stop it within our power,” Lauzon added. The Conservatives have a caucus meeting today (Wednesday). “I can assure you there’s going to be a human cry about this.”

“My colleagues and I are going to make so much noise. Remember, the small business tax? We got them to back off that. We hope that reason will prevail and they will back off on this,” Lauzon told CNW.

Lauzon says he was “boggled” by the reaction of Trudeau to this plan. “It doesn’t seem to hit home that this is contravention of privacy laws. What’s more sacred than your banking information and your credit information?”

“There’s certain hills you die on and, in my mind, this is one of the hills we die on because where does it end? The next thing, are they going to want to know what my living habits are? I can’t get my head around why they (the Liberals) don’t see this as a problem.”

This is not the first large data scoop for Statistics Canada. According to Global News, StatsCan already harvested 15 years of credit history from credit bureau TransUnion as early as January, potentially affecting thousands of Canadians.