Its has been over three years since “Anti-Terrorism Act” Bill C-51 was passed in the Canadian parliament. Its sweeping attacks on our rights to privacy, free speech, assembly and overall due process were justified by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper as being necessary to protect people in Canada from “jihadist extremists.”
Current Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected on a promise to “fix” Bill C-51. However, his Bill C-59 keeps many of the worst violations while promising that new “oversight” mechanisms will ensure that the massive powers given to government agencies, police and spy agencies will not be abused. This “diet coke” version of the original law has been sitting in the Senate for the past six months while they decide whether or not to give it final approval.
Trudeau's government also continues to use the same Harper-era boogie-man Islamophobic accusations to justify continuing these attacks. Their “2017 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada” emphasizes, with zero evidence sited, that "the principal terrorist threat to Canada continues to be that posed by violent extremists who are inspired by violent Islamist ideology.”
In the meantime, Canada has faced a terrorist attack, just not one that fits the government fear narrative. The newest edition of the Global Terrorism Index found that “Canada experienced six terror-related deaths in 2017, all of which were the result of an armed assault at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City by a right-wing extremist.”
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Tony Clement was forced to resign from all parliamentary committees after it was revealed he was sending sexually explicit images and video to someone who tried to extort money from him. He had been a member of the much-acclaimed National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, the new special panel of MPs and senators designed supposedly to provide real oversight of agencies with a role in national security, including CSIS, the Communications Security Establishment and the RCMP.
A chair of the previous National Security oversight committee, Dr. Arthur Porter, quit and was charged in 2013 with accepting a $22.5-million bribe in connection with the construction contract won by SNC-Lavalin for the $1.3-billion McGill University Health Centre in Montreal.
These are the people we are asked time and time again to trust with extraordinary powers to violate our human and democratic rights? To say they exercise poor judgement is an extreme understatement.
Meanwhile, the Working Group to Stop Bill C-51 in Vancouver continues its ongoing weekly campaign of picket and petition drives demanding, “Repeal Bill C-51!” and “Scrap Bill C-59!” November saw four more actions in Vancouver, as well as the growing suburbs of Surrey and New Westminster. The winter rains and darkness have not slowed down the campaign, which is still finding new locations to continue collecting signatures and discussing directly with the public. Distrust of the government remains very high, and the challenge remains to mobilize this discontent into an effective campaign to defend and extend our human and democratic rights. The Working Group to Stop Bill C-51 remains committed to this important work!
Repeal Bill C-51!
Scrap Bill C-59!
Our Security Lies in Defending the Rights of All!
Follow Thomas on Twitter: @thomasdavies59
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