If you've read the last two years of Fire This Time's coverage of Bill C-51, the controversial “anti-terrorism” law, you'll know we've always been critical of the Liberal Party's promises to address the human rights violations imposed by Bill C-51. When they announced they were finally going to do a national consultation on “Public Safety and National Security”, we called it out as an empty public relations show. There was enough proof to do that given that the committee was not independent, their recommendations would be non-binding and there was actually very little opportunity given for meaningful public input.
For those who may have not been convinced, consider the fact that the recently released report on the consultation was actually prepared by a billion dollar public relations firm, New York-based Hill + Knowlton. In another act of manipulation. Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale proclaimed that the report was "produced by an independent third party, "and it therefore presents "an impartial overview of what Canadians said".
“Independent third party”? Hill + Knowlton is infamous for being the primary architect of the US public relations campaign to justify the first Iraq War in 1990. They arranged for Nayirah al-Sabah, daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S., to falsely testify before the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers removing babies from incubators. Presented as an “independent” Kuwaiti girl, the story is credited as having a major impact on American public opinion going into the war against Iraq. By the time the truth came out, the US had already dropped 265,000 bombs and devastated the country.
It's not surprising then that the report never directly addresses the question everyone thought should be asked, “Should we Repeal Bill C-51? Yes or No?” The consultation never sought to ask this directly, but were forced to admit that, "a majority of stakeholders and experts [not only opposed new powers but] called for existing [security measures] to be scaled back or repealed completely, particularly Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015..." Because they chose to mix “scaled back” and “repealed completely” together, the public relations report therefore justifies not recommending the full Repeal of Bill C-51, only some roll-backs and changes to some aspects of the law.
We are still faced with:
- New, undefined powers of “disruption” for CSIS which includes breaking laws.
- “Preventative detentions” with lower standards of justification and increased times that someone can be jailed without evidence
- Private information sharing between 17 different government agencies
- Expanded No Fly-Lists
The bottom line is that even if all of the report's recommendations are accepted, our rights would still be significantly compromised, and there would continue to be a massive grey area which leaves the interpretation of human rights violations up to those who would be violating them – principally the RCMP and CSIS.
Justin Trudeau and the Liberals are completely fine with that.
It's also obvious there will be even more delays to the process. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale had said he was “hopeful” he would submit legislation regarding changes to Bill C-51 during the spring, but as summer approaches this is highly unlikely.
Meanwhile, government agencies, the police and spy agency still continue to use Bill C-51's broad, vague and reckless powers against people with minimal accountability, especially to the public. The Liberals are in no rush even to minimally improve human rights, and there are some upcoming events which might help explain why.
Kinder Morgan's hotly contested pipeline is slated to begin construction this fall, with many groups vowing to do whatever is necessary to stop the project. Having a full Bill C-51 gives the government more tools in its toolbox to suppress the protests to this unpopular pipeline it is attempting to force though, among other things.
Dakota Access Parallel
Canada could easily be looking to take a page out of the US government's book on protest suppression. It has been revealed that a private contractor named TigerSwan was hired against a peaceful protest camp attempting to stop the Dakota Access pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota. TigerSwan referred to the camp members as "an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component." Following up by saying the movement "generally followed the jihadist insurgency model while active".
Based on his hyper-exaggerated language, they justified using helicopters and drones for aerial surveillance and radio eavesdropping. They also infiltrated activist circles in various states by "using false names and identities," and forwarded the data to their employer. The firm has also reportedly targeted the movement through a "counter-information campaign" on social media.
This was all done with the consent of US law enforcement agencies, as TigerSwan was in "routine coordination and intelligence sharing with law enforcement” and "also aided prosecutors in building cases against pipeline opponents." This was accompanied by a significant weaponization of the police presence, which actually included missile launchers.
Given that Bill C-51 has language which legal experts have said could basically be used to target anyone as a terrorist or “supporter” of terrorism, it's highly likely that if it is not repealed, Bill C-51 could be used against peaceful protestors in Canada much like anti-terrorism laws are used against peaceful protestors in the United States.
We are faced with a public relations government and a public relations Prime Minister in Canada. They promised “Real Change Now” to get elected and now deliver “Some Changes Maybe”. Given this, it's very important that we judge them based on what they do, not what they say. On the issue of Bill C-51 and human rights, they are failing miserably. It's therefor incredibly important that we continue to expose and oppose their manipulations and continue to demand a full repeal of Bill C-51.
REPEAL BILL C-51!
INDEPENDENT PUBLIC INQUIRY NOW!
OUR SECURITY LIES IN DEFENDING THE RIGHTS OF ALL!
Follow Thomas on Twitter: @thomasdavies59
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