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      Bill C-51: A Flagrant Violation of Human Rights in Canada

      By Thomas Davies

      It's a simple method for understanding true intentions: Judge based on actions, not words. This is just as true with governments as it is with people. It's with this criteria we should evaluate Justin Trudeau and the Liberal majority government in Canada – especially when it comes to something as important as the controversial, human rights trampling law known as Bill C-51. When we compare what they have said with what they have done, we realize that something is very wrong. Especially when we see what the consequences are for people in Canada as CSIS, the RCMP and various government agencies move forward in using their new-found powers to undermine our privacy, freedom of speech and many other fundamental human rights.

      They voted for it!

      The first fundamental contradiction of the Liberal Party on Bill C-51 was that despite criticizing then Prime Minister Harper and the Conservative government for introducing a law with “problematic elements” that, “didn’t do enough to uphold and protect people’s rights” all 33 Liberal MPS who voted on Bill C-51 voted in favour it! Even after they acknowledged the significant “public pressure” against Bill C-51.

      Liberal MP Yvonne Jones said, “Bill C-51 is not the ideal bill; it's a typical Harper Conservative bill, where they start out to do something good and they always build in some unnecessary evil in that bill; it's a normal practice for the Harper government.”

      Then she voted for it.

      Many local Liberal party members left the party in disgust over the hypocrisy, and one star election candidate, veteran David MacLeod resigned. He wrote, “The reason for my resignation was Liberal Party of Canada support for Bill-C 51, The Anti-Terrorism Act.” He concluded that Bill C-51 is a, “very disturbing piece of legislation that undermines Canadian democracy and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

      The Next Contradiction

      In justifying the absurd position of voting for something you acknowledge violates human rights, Justin Trudeau promised that, “As the party of the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms], as the party that has always understood how important people’s rights and freedoms are, as someone who has demonstrated it on a wide range of issues throughout my leadership, we will move on it [Bill C-51] very quickly.”

      Very quickly? The Liberal government took office 5 months ago, and while we have been told that Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale will be in charge of handling Bill C-51, there has been nothing concrete undertaken regarding Bill C-51 despite vague and undefined promises regarding some sort of consultation.

      The Liberals know that the longer Bill C-51 remains a law the more difficult it could be to reverse and repeal the Bill as the police, secret police and government agencies move forward in implementing it. No party that, “has always understood how important people's rights and freedoms are” would allow that to happen.

      Consultation? With Who?

      While government statements regarding Bill C-51 have been few and far between, there has been promise of a public consultation.

      The Liberal Party website originally promised that after they have introduced new legislation amending certain parts of Bill C-51 that, “we will launch broad public consultations, to engage and seek the input of Canadians and subject-matter experts”. Most recently, the one sentence mention of Bill C-51 in the Federal Budget said simply “consultation.”

      How has this played out? So far the good Minister Goodale has flown to England, France and and the United States for cooperation and advice from these governments - all of which either have similar or worse rights violating “anti-terrorism” legislation in place, and absolutely no intention of changing it.

      As we pointed out in Volume 10, Issue 2 of of Fire This Time, “It's a bit strange that Minister Goodale would think he'd need to take a long flight over the Atlantic to get advice about Bill C-51. Organizations and individuals across Canada have been making it clear from many different perspectives for over a year now. Over 311,000 people have signed the online petition demanding the immediate repeal of Bill C-51, making it one of the most popular petitions in the history of Canada. The Guardian newspaper also reported, 'No legislation in memory has united such a diverse array of prominent opponents as the proposed legislation...The campaign to stop Bill C-51 grew to include virtually every civil-rights group, law professor, retired judge, author, editorialist and public intellectual in Canada.' ”

      What's Actually Happening – They Are Using Bill C-51 Constantly and Secretly

      So while the Liberals stall against any action against Bill C-51, they are moving ahead with its implementation, as are CSIS, the RCMP and government agencies. While we know of some general facts about what is going on, Bill C-51's allowance for increased secrecy means we know few details:

      - The Toronto Star wrote on March 8 that CSIS director Michel Coulombe had told a Senate committee, “CSIS agents have used the extraordinary powers of Bill C-51 to disrupt suspected terrorist threats nearly two dozen times since last autumn, even as public and political debate over the new terror law still rages.” The Star continued, “The use of such powers is shrouded in secrecy...Coulombe also refused to say how many success stories CSIS has had where it was able to disrupt plots.”

      - On March 24, the Canadian Press reported that, “At least four federal agencies have used controversial information-sharing powers in Canada's new anti-terrorism law...Briefing notes prepared for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale say Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and a fourth agency whose name is blacked out of the records have used the provisions.”

      - The Canadian Press also reported on March 27 that, “The federal government has issued guidance to Canada's spy agency on using contentious new anti-terrorism laws — but most of the instructions won't be made public.” They also quoted Josh Paterson, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, "One of our greatest concerns with C-51 is that CSIS has been given extraordinary new powers, including the power to break the law and violate the Constitution...it's troubling that so much of the minister's high-level, general direction to CSIS on how the agency should interpret its new powers is blacked out.”

      So the Liberals have been able to move forward on Bill C-51, they've just moved forward in its implementation.

      It's Up to Us

      “We are targeted by these terrorists for no other reason than we are Canadians. They want to harm us because they hate our society and the values it represents.”

      “Those who would attack us want to change all that. They hate the way we live. They seek to instil division, fear and loathing in everything we do. They want us to see our neighbours differently. They abhor tolerance and accommodation. Pluralism is anathema to them. Freedom, democracy and respect for human differences are to be despised.”

      Are those two quotes from same person? No. The first is from Stephen Harper when he first introduced Bill C-51. The second was made recently by Minister Ralph Goodale when he was explaining the Liberal party's approach to security and Bill C-51. Both are overflowing with exaggeration and meant to confuse the issue to justify Bill C-51's violation of our human rights.

      It is obvious that the Liberals are not interested in representing the clear voice of the majority of people across Canada who oppose Bill C-51. They could have repealed it 5 months ago if they had wanted to. Instead, regardless of previous statements, the have deliberately stalled the discussion and moved forward with the Bill's implementation. CSIS, the RCMP and other government agencies have been only to follow along.

      Fortunately groups and individuals continue to organize against Bill C-51 and encounter a very positive response from the public. The Working Group to Stop Bill C-51 in Vancouver organized it's 55th consecutive weekly action against Bill C-51, and the Toronto Coalition to Stop Bill C-51 continues to organize regular meetings and recently held a successful concert and fundraiser titled, “Funk the Police State.” The online petition against Bill C-51 continues to collect signatures and has established itself as one of the most popular petitions in the history of Canada.

      When the Liberal Party held their federal convention in Victoria on March 12, a Globe and Mail reporter inside posted on Twitter that the convention speaker was forced to acknowledge the loud drumming of the protesters demanding a repeal of Bill C-51 outside. Now is an especially important time to continue our public activity demanding against Bill C-51. We too must match our words with our actions, so wherever the Canadian government goes it cannot escape our demand, “REPEAL BILL C-51 NOW!”

      Follow Thomas on Twitter:@thomasdavies59

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