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

Just Posted

City of Castlegar treating weeds the next few weeks

City will be using organic product on sidewalks, traffic islands and parking lots.

17th Street closed intermittently today

Castlegar street will be closed for line painting

Summer reading fun at Castlegar library

Registration for second session in July 19.

Last stop: The inside story of Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure

Former employees open up about the Nelson company’s final days

Craft cannabis development planned for Castlegar

Plans are underway for one of the first craft cannabis industrial parks in the province.

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

West Kootenay U16 Rebels take home provincial gold

West Kootenay Rebels fastball team battle hard to win the BC U16C Fastball Championship

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

Rare white ravens spotted again on Vancouver Island

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in Coombs area

Most Read