02/17/2012 12:27 EST | Updated 04/18/2012 05:12 EDT

Lawful Access: Online Surveillance Bill Will Protect Public Better Than Gun Registry, Says Tony Clement

TORONTO - A Conservative cabinet minister swept aside accusations Friday that the government values long-gun owners over web users.

Critics have blasted Ottawa over a new online surveillance bill they argue would compromise Internet users' privacy.

Many pointed out the Tories scrapped the gun registry in part because of concerns that it violated the privacy rights of lawful gun owners.

But Tony Clement defended the government's record on privacy Friday, saying in both cases, officials aimed to "protect society better."

At a social media talk in Toronto, the Treasury Board president said the gun registry did nothing to boost public safety, while the online surveillance bill could help prevent serious offences.

"It's important to make sure police investigators — if there's someone who is in the midst of planning a terrorist act or someone in the midst of planning some kind of child abuse — we do want to give them the tools to find those people," he said.

"When it comes to the Internet, there's always a balancing of rights and obligations, but no one has 100 per cent rights and no one should have 100 per cent obligations."

The Conservatives tabled the Internet bill this week and quickly sent it to committee after it sparked massive backlash from the public and privacy advocates.

The move comes as the majority government won approval to scrap the controversial gun registry and destroy gun ownership records, something Prime Minister Stephen Harper had repeatedly promised to do since taking office in 2006.

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