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      Bill C-51/59: The Struggle for our Human and Democratic Rights Continues

      By Thomas Davies & Max Tennant

      "This is truly a case where the RCMP manufactured the crime.”

      The above quote is from a unanimous 142-page ruling released by Justice Elizabeth Bennett, which will hopefully be the beginning on the end of a five year nightmare for John Nuttal and Amanda Korody. The B.C. Appeal Court has upheld a lower court ruling which found the RCMP responsible for entrapment of the couple accused of plotting to bomb the BC provincial legislature buildings in 2013.

      The court found that the couple were 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 five month operation.

      Korody and Nutall spent three years in jail, and another two with restricted freedoms due to a “peace bond” they were forced to agree to under threat of being re-imprisoned under new powers created by Bill C-51.

      It begs the question: If the Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and now Liberal Justin Trudeau have insisted we need to curtail our freedoms under new laws to protect us from terrorists - why is the RCMP spending so much time and energy trying to fabricate false cases?

      Don't Believe the Hype

      Could it be that Harper's “Anti-Terrorism” Bill C-51, and Trudeau's Bill C-59 have a lot less to do with protecting us from terrorism, and a lot more to do with limiting our rights and freedoms?

      A newly disclosed report from the Security Intelligence Review Committee details how CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, collected information about peaceful environmental groups opposing pipeline construction. The heavily censored report is only now being made public because of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association’s challenge of the findings in the Federal Court of Canada.

      The report acknowledges concerns we've emphasized since the introduction of Bill C-51 - about a “chilling effect” on free speech created as people know that no matter how peaceful or lawful their activism is, there's a real possibility they will be spied on by CSIS. The report, however, justifies this as “only incidentally in the process of investigating legitimate threats to projects such as oil pipelines.”

      Just as damning, the heavily censored report also found CSIS took part in meetings with oil industry representatives at their headquarters. There are no details given about what was discussed, but these are justified, as always, as “national security matters.”


      “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.”

      - Canadian Bar Association, which represents 37,000 lawyers, in its statement opposing Bill C-51

      What we see emerging is a pattern of civil liberties and human rights violations which are enabled by these broad “Anti-Terrorist” laws, which end up targeting a lot more than the so-called “Islamic extremists” we are told justify their existence. We are constantly asked to trust that these powers won't be abused, and then are constantly reminded, even in heavily censored reports which took years of legal fighting to make public, that they are.

      Another disturbing angle of this is a new law passed by the federal government on December 18. Police officers no longer need “reasonable suspicion” to ask drivers they stop for a breath sample – now they can demand it without suspicion or justification. We are told this is a public safety matter, but drunk driving deaths are steadily declining and “reasonable suspicion” is already an extremely low standard.

      Groups like the Canadian Civil Liberties Association are again pointing out that lowering the bar to zero opens the door wide open to abuse by police forces. This is especially important when we know that already a Toronto Star report found that police "carded Black people three times as often as others, though they made up 8.4 percent of the Toronto population."

      “Carding,” involves police stopping people and gathering their information when they are not suspected of any specific criminal offence.

      In 2017 the BC Civil Liberties Association and Union of BC Indian Chiefs also launched a joint complaint after Vancouver Police Department's data showed that between 2008 and 2017, 15 percent of the street checks performed by its officers involved Indigenous people, despite them representing just two percent of the city’s population.

      It's completely dishonest to say these powers aren't used by police to target already marginalized communities, just like it's completely dishonest of the Canadian government to say that expanded “anti-terrorist” police powers aren't used to target legitimate, peaceful opposition to its policies.

      The Struggle is Always Worthwhile

      It's important to remember that a decisive reason why Stephen Harper and the Conservative lost the last Federal Election was public outrage over their imposition of Bill C-51. It's also important to remember that Justin Trudeau, and every single Liberal MP at the time, voted in favour of Bill C-51.

      The Liberals were then elected and promised to “fix” the law. They then ignored their survey of 58,000 responses which found that “A majority of stakeholders and experts called for existing [measures] to be scaled back or repealed completely, particularly Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015... Many individuals and organizations were skeptical of measures proposed … and expressed concerns about how these would affect individual rights and freedoms.”

      They've now delayed their own diet Coke version of Bill C-51, called Bill C-59, well past two years after being elected. It still doesn't address our fundamental concerns, while adding new ones of vastly expanded cyber surveillance. Meanwhile, we have clear demonstrations that police forces and CSIS continue to use their new powers to target groups and individuals unjustly.

      The Working Group to Stop Bill C-51 was an important leader in the fight against Bill C-51 when it was a cross-Canada campaign of tens of thousands of people. It has continued to organize weekly actions despite a slow down in momentum following the last Federal Election. Many people had hoped that a new government would take their concerns seriously. The Liberal government most definitely has not, and so the campaign most definitely has not stopped either. Previous movements for civil and human rights also had ups and downs, ebbs and flows, but persistence in the struggle for justice is a prerequisite to winning. We are motivated by the victories of poor, working and oppressed people before us, and by the understanding that we must defend our rights or risk losing them completely.

      Repeal Bill C-51!
      Scrap Bill C-59!
      Our Security Lies in Defending the Rights of All!

      Follow Thomas on Twitter: @thomasdavies59
      Follow Max on Twitter: @MaxTennant

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