Trudeau Liberals tracked Canadians during pandemic, including trips to liquor stores: report

Detailed snapshots were obtained of the behaviours of Canadians, including their trips to the grocery store, how much time they spent with family and friends, and more.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC

Canadians were being tracked via their smart phones without their consent, a report sent to a parliamentary committee shows.

Canadians' movements, including trips to the pharmacy and even the liquor store, were tracked via their cell phones, according to the report by outbreak intelligence analysts BlueDot, which prepared it using anonymized data for the Public Health Agency of Canada to help "understand travel patterns during the pandemic," reports the Canadian Press.

The Trudeau Liberals gave a report to the House of Commons ethics committee "as it probed the collection and use of mobile phone data by the public health agency," The Press reports.

Detailed snapshots were obtained of the behaviors of Canadians, including their trips to the grocery store, how much time they spent with family and friends, time spent in other towns and provinces, and more.

"Questions remain about the specifics of the data provided if Canadians' rights were violated, and what advice the Liberal government was given," said Conservative MP Damien Kurek, who was among one of the ethics committee members who expressed surprise over the findings.

On Wednesday, the committee released a report on the probe conducted into the health agency's collection of Canadians' data, and concluded that the Liberal government should have allowed Canadians to opt out of being tracked.

The health agency said that tracking Canadians' movements "is not about following individuals’ trips to a specific location, but rather in understanding whether the number of visits to specific locations have increased or decreased over time."

Canada's Public Health Agency had previously admitted that it used surveillance on Canadians by tracking 33 million mobile devices to test whether lockdown was working.

The government used mass surveillance as "understand the public's responsiveness during lockdown measures," according to Blacklock's Reporter.

"Due to the urgency of the pandemic the Agency collected and used mobility data such as cell tower location data throughout the Covid-19 response," said a government spokesperson in December.

"It was to help understand possible links between the movement of populations within Canada and Covid," they added.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had said in March of 2020 that while tracking Canadians was not something they were interested in at the time, that it was certainly "on the table."

"I think we recognize that in an emergency situation we need to take certain steps that wouldn’t be taken in a non-emergency situation, but as far as I know that is not a situation we are looking at right now," he said.

"But … all options are on the table to do what is necessary to keep Canadians safe," he said on March 24.


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