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

Last week for first year of Oak Bay deer contraception campaign

Crew working to administer second booster to all 60 does

Downtown Victoria tea shop switches to plastic tea bags

Murchie’s Tea and Coffee says the transition is temporary

Dog memorial at Esquimalt Lagoon encourages living in the moment

Owner of Jazz the black lab sets up tennis ball memorial one year after dog’s death

Western Speedway racing legend ‘The Flying Plumber’ turns 98

Dave Cooper recalls car crashes, his first win, and more

Second puppy killed by poisonous mushrooms in Victoria

Springer spaniel puppy died after consuming mushrooms in Fairfield neighbourhood

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

‘Sky didn’t fall:’ Police, lawyers still adjusting after pot legalization

Statistics Canada says 541 people were charged under the federal Cannabis Act between Oct. 17, 2018 and the end of the year

Fewer people prescribed opioids in B.C., but other provinces lack data: doctors

Patients who began taking opioids were prescribed smaller doses for shorter duration

Electric cello, stolen from vehicle in Williams Lake, returned to U.S. owner

Rita Rice of Texas said she and her husband had given up hope of ever seeing it again

Vancouver Island’s West Coast going wild about cycling

Ongoing project will tie Tofino and Ucluelet together with a paved cycling trail

Drop, cover and hold on: Thousands of British Columbians to take part in earthquake drill

This year’s drill comes as scientists announce discovery of ‘stormquakes,’ an earthquake and hurricane

Woman, 24, faces life-altering injuries after being dragged 4 blocks by vehicle in Vancouver

A gofundme account says the woman will have to undergo multiple complex surgeries

Most Read