POLITICS

Anonymous videos a 'threat' to Toews, Speaker says

03/06/2012 11:56 EST | Updated 05/06/2012 05:12 EDT

The videos posted online by the group Anonymous about Public Safety Minister Vic Toews constitute a "direct threat" to him and all MPs, the Speaker of the House of Commons ruled Tuesday.

Toews had asked Andrew Scheer to determine whether there was a prima facie question of privilege because of the videos, and because of the Twitter account that published details of his divorce and the "tell Vic everything" online campaign.

Scheer said he carefully reviewed the Anonymous videos and said "the language used does indeed constitute a direct threat to the minister in particular, as well as all other members."

The activist group posted the videos on YouTube and warned Toews to scrap the online surveillance bill.

Scheer said that when MPs are personally threatened for their work in Parliament, it must be taken seriously.

"These threats demonstrate a flagrant disregard of our traditions and a subversive attack on the most fundamental privileges of this House. As your Speaker, and the guardian of those privileges, I have concluded that this aspect — the videos posted on the internet by Anonymous — therefore constitutes a prima facie question of privilege and I invite the minister to move his motion."

Toews then tabled a motion asking that the procedure and House affairs committee study the issue, and MPs passed it during a vote Tuesday evening.

Witnesses could be called to testify at the committee but it's not clear yet who would be called to appear.

Liberal apology for Vikileaks means case closed

Immediately after Toews raised the question of privilege on Feb. 27, interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae stood in the House of Commons to say that a member of his party's research bureau, Adam Carroll, was behind the "Vikileaks" Twitter account and he offered a personal apology to Toews.

Carroll, who resigned once it was discovered he was responsible for the Twitter account, set it up in reaction to Toews's introduction of Bill C-30, known as the lawful access bill, or the online surveillance bill.

Scheer said he considers the matter of privilege closed because of Rae's apology.

Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro wants Carroll to appear before the ethics committee, and a motion to that effect was debated Tuesday. The NDP MP who chairs the committee, Jean Crowder, ruled the motion out of order, but her decision was overturned by the Conservatives on the committee who hold a majority.

The committee debated the motion for the two-hour meeting but it was not called to a vote and debate will continue at the next meeting.

Toews had also complained that the "tell Vic everything" campaign, which has people inundating Toews with the details of their day in reaction to the online surveillance bill, was interfering with his ability to carry out his duties.

The calls, emails and faxes were preventing Toews from responding to his constituents in a timely fashion, according to the public safety minister. But Scheer didn't agree that he is being impeded from carrying out his functions.