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

Ridge Meadows RCMP looking for two credit card scammers

Pair of women completed fraudulent transactions at seven locations in May

Free film for Ridge residents to mark Plastic Free July

The Story of Plastic can be viewed for free on any device

Maple Ridge considers weekend closures of the main drag

Vehicle traffic would make way for pedestrians and cyclists

Maple Ridge goaltender taking talents to Junior A squad in Saskatchewan

Eric Clark, 18, undefeated with North VanWolf Pack this season; graduated from SRT with straight As

BC SPCA asking Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to take the No Hot Pets pledge

The BC SPCA receives nearly 1,000 calls a year about hot animals in cars

21 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in B.C. as virus ‘silently circulates’ in broader community

Health officials urge British Columbians to enjoy summer safely as surge continues

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

Abbotsford woman starts petition to have B.C. government help with IVF costs

Jennifer Kuiken says cost of in vitro fertilization is too high for most people

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

PHOTOS: Inside a newly-listed $22M mega-mansion on ALR land in B.C.

The large home, located on ALR land, is one of the last new mansions to legally be built on ALR land

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

RCMP searching for culprit behind needle-filled lemons left on Coquitlam-area trails

The two lemons found were thrown away leaving police with little evidence

Most Read