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      Why Working and Oppressed People Must Oppose Bill C-51
      Bill C-51 Is the Rejection of the Right to Free Speech, the Right to Assembly and the End of Civil Liberties in Canada

      By Thomas Davies

      After 37 months of imprisonment, on Friday July 29 John Nutall and Amanda Korody walked free when their terrorism conviction was overturned. The British Columbia Supreme Court found them instead to be victims of police entrapment. The entire RCMP operation which framed them up, the verdict, and the police's action hours after shine a massive and damning light on Canada's “anti-terrorism” strategy and the now one year old so-called “Anti-Terrorism” law Bill C-51.

      Who Are We at Risk From?

      The couple were found guilty by a jury last year for planting inert pressure cooker bombs on the B.C. legislature grounds in 2013, under the direction of an undercover RCMP officer who acted as their leader and facilitator. Nutall and Korody were both vulnerable recovering drug addicts living on social assistance when the RCMP moved in on them. The entire operation to entrap them involved over 240 officers who billed almost a million dollars in overtime alone during the 5 month operation.

      BC Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce issued a scathing 97,000 word decision saying, “This was not a situation in which the police were attempting to disrupt an ongoing criminal enterprise; rather, the offences committed by the defendants were brought about by the police and would not have occurred without their involvement. By any measure, this was a clear case of police-manufactured crime.”

      Despite the obvious unnecessary suffering caused to two innocent people who spent 3 years in jail (and possible life imprisonment), it’s important to ask a broader question:
      If we are told we need our rights taken away by laws like Bill C-51 because Canada is under such threat by terrorists, why does the RCMP need to a million dollars of overtime and 240 officers to try and create their own?

      Under Bill C-51, the Plot Sickens

      After 3 years of suffering Nuttall and Korody went for their first lunch in freedom with his mother following the not guilty verdict. That’s when 4 police cruisers roared in front of the restaurant and again took the pair away in handcuffs. “It was horrible, it was so scary - you should have seen the looks on their faces,” said Nuttall’s mother. “The cops need to be charged with harassment and causing trauma.”

      The pair were threatened with further imprisonment if they did not sign a “peace bond” which restricts their freedom for the period of one year, and can be renewed. Under Bill C-51 authorities are able to detain people on the suspicion that they “may” commit a terrorist offence instead of the normal legal evidence-based standard of “will”. So the police were able to use this new vague wording to target two people who had just been found not guilty hours earlier! Under Bill C-51 it is becoming standard practise to arrest people with minimal justification and threaten them with further imprisonment if they don’t agree to police imposed conditions.

      Nuttall and Korody signed the peace bond under obvious duress, while Federal prosecutor Raymond Leong refused to comment on the reasons why this was done.

      These forced peace bond proceedings are some of the few times we are able to see parts of how Bill C-51, which was passed over one year ago, is being used by the police, secret police and government agencies. While they all admit to using it, under Bill C-51 they have very little obligation to provide the public with information about how. This includes when they apply in secret to to pre-authorize the violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, break the law or when 17 government agencies share our personal and private information amongst themselves.

      As the Canadian Bar Association, which represents over 37,000 lawyers, judges, notaries, law teachers, and law students from across Canada wrote, “Promising public safety as an exchange for sacrificing individual liberties and democratic safeguards is not, in our view, justifiable or realistic. Both are essential and complementary in a free and democratic society. Safety cannot be won at the expense of Canada’s constitutional rights and freedoms.”

      Failed Promises Lead to Continuing Opposition

      Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party campaigned on a promise that Bill C-51 would be “overhauled without delay”, but 9 months after being elected all we have is weak promises of an undefined “public consultation” and an unpassed Bill to create a “national security oversight” committee. This committee would not have control over its membership, its chair, all of the information it is able to access, all of the information it is able to release or even when its findings would be released. The final say on all of it would remain with the Prime Minister’s office which could censor at will based on undefined “national security” concerns.

      While it seemed that many groups and analysts had taken a “wait and see” approach to what the Liberals would do about Bill C-51, after waiting for some time and seeing nothing, they have begun to speak out. The Canadian Journalists for Freedom of Expression and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association are continuing their constitutional charter challenge to Bill C-51, and editorials in major newspapers are once again criticizing Bill C-51 and Liberal stall tactics.

      The New Democratic Party (NDP) Public Safety critic Randall Garrison has also recently announced that he will introduce a private members bill to Repeal Bill C-51. Unfortunately, Mr. Garrison is near the bottom of the list for consideration of his Bill in parliament so it will be a long time before it may be introduced. While the stated demand to repeal Bill C-51 by Mr. Garrison is correct and should be supported, unfortunately he went on to take the confusion position that he was “open” to Liberal amendments to Bill C-51, and said he just hopes the announcement of his Bill will, “get the Liberals moving on their promises.” So is he for or against repealing Bill C-51?

      More Smoke and Mirrors than Magic Wand

      While it seems likely a public consultation on Bill C-51 will likely happen at some point, it’s important that we don’t treat it as some sort of magic wand that will make Bill C-51 disappear. The Liberals have known for a long time already that the majority of people in Canada are against Bill C-51. Public consultations on the environment, housing and many other issues happen all the time – and despite huge public outcry governments still move forward with their original plans.

      We need to ask of any public consultation into Bill C-51:
      Is the consultation independent?
      Is the government bound to implement its findings?
      Is there a timeline for government implementation of the findings?

      If the answer to these three questions is “No”, which it certainly will be, then we cannot treat the public consultation as a genuine or realistic path to repealing Bill C-51. What we can treat it as is another opportunity to publicize the campaign against Bill C-51 and mobilize the many diverse groups and individuals opposed to it to again make public statements and participate in public actions demanding a repeal of the unnecessary and dangerous law.

      Towards a Full Repeal

      The Liberals are not going to repeal Bill C-51 if they aren’t forced. They voted for it and they’ve purposely kept it since they formed a majority government. This Bill is important for them to scare and intimidate working and oppressed people to organize protests and to form militant opposition. Movement against Bill C-51 was at its strongest when it was consistently mobilizing in coordinated actions across the country. This gave confidence to those who were opposed to the government’s assault on our rights and helped inform those who were looking for answers.

      The Working Group to Oppose Bill C-51 in Vancouver has maintained some of this dynamism going forward with weekly actions demanding a repeal of Bill C-51. Alternating between pickets and banner drops, after 74 straight weeks the Working Group continues to encounter consistent outrage and disappointment that Bill C-51 continues to be a law. Across Canada we need to learn from the lessons we have already taught ourselves and get back into the streets in the large numbers we are to demand a repeal of Bill C-51. Our lives and our rights are worth it!

      Repeal Bill C-51!
      No to All Forms of Terrorism! No to Racism! No to Islamophobia! Our Security Lies in Defending the Rights of All!

      Follow Thomas on Twitter:@thomasdavies59

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