Christian Paradis, minister of International Development and La Francophonie, holds a news conference in Ottawa, Saturday, September 12, 2015. Facebook Inc. won’t say whether it pressured a former federal infrastructure minister into assuring the tech giant that Canada would not seek jurisdiction over non-Canadian data if the company was to build data centre in the country. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand)

NDP MP calls for Facebook investigation following UK media reports

Call comes allegations that former minister made promises to land Facebook data centre in Canada

NDP MP Charlie Angus is calling for an investigation into Facebook’s conduct following U.K. media reports that alleged a former federal infrastructure minister was pressured into making privacy commitments in order to land a Facebook data centre in Canada.

In a letter to the federal lobbying commissioner Nancy Belanger, Angus said he would like the government to look into reports from The Observer and Computer Weekly that allege former Conservative minister Christian Paradis assured Facebook Canada the government would not seek jurisdiction over non-Canada data if a data centre was constructed in Canada.

READ MORE: Facebook’s privacy lapses may result in record fine

The Canadian Press has not viewed the documents or been able to independently verify the contents and messages to Paradis, who has since taken a senior position at security firm GardaWorld, have gone unanswered.

“I believe these allegations are true because it fits very much the pattern of how Facebook has been operating… Their belief that they are above domestic legislation comes to them from a real billionaire frat boy arrogance,” Angus said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“This to me is so very troubling. They have so much power that they can simply call a minister’s office and be exempt from a law. That is not how the system should work.”

Angus said he has not seen a copy of the letter Paradis allegedly sent, but is searching for it.

Facebook Canada sidestepped most of the questions The Canadian Press sent to the company and did not confirm if it exerted pressure on Paradis, but said in email that ”Before we commit to opening a data centre anywhere in the world, we want to make sure we fully understand the country’s laws and privacy protections. This is not a threat to withhold investment, but part of our duty to protect people’s data.”

The company confirmed it never did build a data centre in Canada, but said it is “continually assessing” potential sites and its meetings with government stakeholders “as of late” have focused on election integrity.

Angus said he is seeking an investigation into the company because he cannot find any record of meetings between Paradis’ office and Facebook and said this is part of a “pattern of avoidance” for disclosing meetings that he previously complained about to Facebook Canada’s head of public policy Kevin Chan.

Angus alleged Chan had multiple meetings with ministers, but none appeared as lobbying contacts and Chan allegedly told Angus that was because they were all meetings to show government officials how to use Facebook Live.

“We are seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of surreptitious, unregistered high-level contacts with government going back years,” Angus wrote in his letter. “I am even more concerned given the huge economic power of Facebook to have government policies bend to the policy preferences.”

Facebook Canada did not immediately address his concerns.

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Village of Harrison seeks community plan feedback

Survey will update a 13-year-old community planning guide

Agassiz-Harrison Museum hosts CP Rail presentation

Event covers local railroad development in the 1800’s

Agassiz RCMP hosts Coffee with a Cop

Walk-in event on Thursday, Feb. 27

Forever fifties, Forever Plaid

Off-Broadway musical lands in Fraser Valley

SFU Pipe Band comes to Chilliwack

Champion bagpipers will play on Leap Day

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Nanaimo man wins lotto, plans to buy $16,000 fridge

Curtis Wright a winner in Lotto 6/49 draw

Metro Vancouver wants the region to repurpose, donate, or repair used clothing

Textile mending workshops to be held across the Lower Mainland

Three protesters arrested after blocking driveway at premier’s home

Protestors claimed they would make a citizen’s arrest of the Premier, according to West Shore RCMP

Suspect in Surrey forcible confinement arrested in Toronto

Constable Richard Wright, of the Surrey RCMP, said William Daniels-Sey was arrested on Feb. 16

Budget 2020: B.C. adds tax to sweet drinks and sodas

All soda, vending machine drinks will be subject to higher PST

Budget 2020: B.C. unveils new grant for students, phases out debt-relief program

For the first time, diploma, certificate students qualify for yearly post-secondary grant

Most Read