Topic: Privacy

Caplan urged to help protect privacy of personal mail

April 27, 2001


Minister Elinor Caplan
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Jean Edmonds Tower South
365 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1

Dear Minister Caplan:

RE: The Opening and Inspection of Mail from Abroad

I am writing to you today to raise my voice alongside that of my colleague, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Mr. George Radwanksi, in denouncing the practice of opening and inspecting mail from abroad.

Canadians consider privacy to be a fundamental human right. Consequently, they expect their written communications to be private. The current practice of having officials of the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency open mail coming into Canada and providing information related to immigration cases to your department flies squarely in the face of that expectation.

Like Commissioner Radwanski and other Canadians concerned about the erosion of their privacy, I feel that the opening and examination of personal correspondence without a court-ordered search warrant is, by its very nature, invasive and highly disturbing.

In my view, Canadians must be able to place their confidence in the government of the day to protect the freedoms that are most fundamental to the democratic society we have fought for and achieved. I would, therefore, strongly urge you to reconsider the Privacy Commissioner’s sound recommendations on this matter.

Commissioner Radwanski is clearly sensitive to the complexity of the challenges that face your department in resolving this issue. I would encourage you to avail yourself of the considerable expertise of his office in finding a balanced approach that meets the needs of all parties, and preserves the fundamental freedoms so cherished by Canadians.

Sincerely yours,

Ann Cavoukian, Ph.D.