The curly-haired dictator strides into the living room at 24 Sussex Drive, drops himself into a couch and tosses his muddied army boots up on the coffee table.
“Laureen!” he shouts. “Champagne! I must celebrate my new home!”
Mrs. Harper squeezes the Prime Minister’s hand nervously. “Yes, Mr. Gaddafi,” she says, then leaves the room.
Picking his nose, the deposed Libyan despot watches her go. “And wear those CFM boots from the royal wedding at dinner tonight. I very much like them.”
“Now wait a minute Muammar,” the Prime Minister interjects. “You can’t talk to my wife that way.”
Muammar Gaddafi gets up off the couch, flicks a booger on the floor, and approaches Stephen Harper.
“Stevey, Stevey. Thank-you for letting me in your country.”
Gaddafi gently grasps the Prime Minister’s tie and straightens it as he talks.
“Now that NDP prick is gone, you can do what you want. So here I am!”
He rests his hands on Harper’s shoulders.
“And I am here to work. You must pass your internet spy law so that I can give you what you need. I know more about spying on citizens on the internet than anyone else.”
Harper brushes away the former dictator’s dirty, calloused hands.
“Muammar, you don’t get it. I can’t just ram that legislation through right after Jack’s funeral. It’ll seem insensitive. I need more time.”
Gaddafi lifts a crystal decanter and pours generous doses of scotch into two glasses.
“Oh, I have time, Stevey. Plenty of time. I’m on your payroll now. But if you want to know what your citizens are doing on the internet, we have to get moving.”
He hands the Prime Minister a glass.
“So until I can work, I wait. Now send in your pretty daughter. I want to discuss something with her.”
This week, writers for the Washington Post gained access to a facility in Tripoli that had been used by the Libyan government as a headquarters for spying on citizens online.
The reporters were able to examine scads of files that contained detailed records of private email and instant messaging communications.
The Libyan government was monitoring and collecting literally everything that citizens did on the internet.
There is even evidence suggesting they were able to circumvent Skype’s encryption technologies to monitor and record voice and video calls.
Libyan security forces used advanced technologies from North American and European companies to track and collect these vast amounts of information.
It all went into huge databases that Libyan agents were able to search through by name, email address, IM tag, or keyword.
They literally collected peoples’ entire internet lives and stored them for later retrieval and review.
This is not unlike the plans that the Canadian Conservative government has with the internet spying component of their proposed omnibus crime bill.
Stephen Harper wants a system put in place that would allow security officials to collect the private online communications of citizens without any notification or judicial oversight.
Just like the Washington Post discovered Gaddafi’s gang did in Libya.
Of course, Tory marketers have dressed up their endgame to make these plans almost palatable to Canadians. But their standard “tough on crime” and “anti-terrorism” phrases have worn threadbare. After all, crime is on a steep decline in Canada.
There’s no proven need for the government to troll our private Facebook messages, eavesdrop on our Skype calls, or know about anything we do online.
The Conservatives’ proposed internet spying law is starting to smell more like the paranoid delusions of a leader mistrusting and fearful of his own people.
The fictional scene I painted to begin this column, of Gaddafi and Harper chilling together at 24 Sussex, is clearly ridiculous.
But the premise is sound. Harper wants the ability to spy uninhibited on his citizens’ online activities. He wants to be able to track, store, and retrieve what we do on the internet for reasons only he comprehends.
Enter Muammar Gaddafi. He has a long history, lots of experience, and plenty of connections in this area. And he’s soon to be unemployed. He’d make the perfect consultant.
Truly, it’s unlikely we’ll find Gaddafi making an appearance at the PM’s residence any time soon.
But we might want to keep an eye on the cheques being mailed out to Algerian addresses.
Originally published in the Yukon News on Friday, September 2, 2011.