With five actions in the month of July, the Working Group to Stop Bill C-51 is definitely not taking a summer break. Especially as the Liberal government recently introduced Bill C-59, a “light” version of Bill C-51 which maintains the fundamental human rights violations the original “Anti-Terrorism” legislation imposed under the Harper Conservations in 2016. The need for public education and action on this issue is absolutely crucial.
Bill C-51 greatly expanded police, spy agency, and government agencies' powers to spy on, detain and limit our democratic and human rights. Among major changes, it granted CSIS undefined powers of “disruption” which included explicitly breaking laws and violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 17 Government agencies were given the ability to share our personal and private information without a warrant, and the law's language was so broad that countless legal experts pointed out it could be used to target practically anyone.
Fundamentally the Same
Bill C-59 includes a new national security review committee and an intelligence commissioner, a tightening of language and increased burden of proof required before detaining someone for supporting terrorism, new limitations on how CSIS can violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and makes it slightly more difficult to pre-emptively detain people without criminal charge.
- 17 different government agencies would still be sharing your personal information without a warrant.
- Police would still be able to preventatively detain us without charges for a week. They can also continue to intimidate people into signing “peace bonds” limiting their freedoms.
- Human Right violating No-Fly lists and Security Certificates remain intact
- Perhaps most alarmingly, CSIS would still have vaguely defined powers of “disruption” which include “limiting” the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They would also be given unprecedented data collection abilities that even Bill C-51 didn't grant them.
The Liberals are also pushing that under Bill C-59, CSIS would have have broad new immunity from prosecution for breaking laws! This is incredibly dangerous given CSIS long history of scandals and coverups.
Pattern of Scandals, Abuse and Cover-Ups
Just last year a federal court found that CSIS used a huge and secretive data collection facility, the Operational Data Analysis Centre, to run unauthorized advanced data analytics to aid in its investigations. They also backtracked on their promise to reveal to a Senate committee how many Canadian journalists they spied on in the past, citing “operational security.”
This month five longtime CSIS employees launched a 35 million dollar lawsuit alleging, "CSIS is a workplace rife with discrimination, harassment, bullying and abuse of authority, in which the tone set by management, namely to mock, abuse and humiliate and threaten employees, has permeated the workforce."
More specifically, the 54-page statement of claim outline management indifference to harassment and discrimination specifically against Muslim, Black and gay employees.
Anyone who thought it might be a good idea to grant CSIS “disruption” powers and legal immunity should take some time to read the shocking 54 page statement of claim. One of the five lawsuit members, “Cemal,” is an analyst who worked for CSIS for more than 20 years. He is also Muslim. He states, “The culture of CSIS is hostile to Muslims, and this is more than just an unfriendly work environment — it is deeply ingrained prejudice of distrust for Muslims which has meant that Muslims are used and managed as needed, but are not part of the team.”
When Islamophobia is being used to justify these “National Security” laws in countries like Canada, US, France and Britain – giving more powers to a spy agency which has already proven itself to be rife with Islamophobia at the highest levels is like knowingly adding fuel to a forest fire.
Justin Trudeau: Respect Our Human Rights
The Working Group had new signs at its pickets and banner drops in July which stated, “Scrap Bill C-51! Justin Trudeau: Respect Our Human Rights”. For 126 consecutive weeks we continue to find broad interest and outrage as people come to understand the consequences of Bill C-51 and now Bill C-59. We are not interested in negotiating our human rights, especially when the government hasn't even attempted to explain how any of these new “security” provisions makes us more “secure”. We continue to demand:
REPEAL BILL C-51!
SCRAP BILL C-59!
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: RESPECT OUR HUMAN RIGHTS!
Follow Thomas Davies on Twitter: @thomasdavies59
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