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      Get Up, Stand Up, Stand Up for Your Rights!
      Our Rights are Defended On the Streets, Not In Ballot Boxes!

      By Janine Solanki

      On October 15, the Working Group to Stop Bill C-51 held their 224th bi-weekly protest action at Lougheed Town Center Skytrain Station in Burnaby, BC. With the federal election just a few days away on October 21, commuters who stopped to talk to organizers had elections at top of mind. If we think back to the 2015 election, the controversial and widely protested Bill C-51 was an election issue, with Justin Trudeau elected as Prime Minister on promises to amend and fix the bill. Fast forward to today - Bill C-51 still stands, and the Trudeau government’s idea of “fixing” the bill is the recently passed Bill C-59, which not only doesn’t solve Bill C-51 but infringes further on our human and democratic rights! Organizers at the October 15 action made the point that the 2019 federal election had no mention of Bill C-51 or C-59 by any of the major parties, all of whom have no interest in defending the rights of poor and working people in Canada.

      What are Bill C-51 and C-59?

      Passed under the Conservative Harper government and supported by Liberals, Bill C-51 was introduced as an anti-terrorism bill, using scare tactics to cover its true purpose of cutting back human and democratic rights. The bill gave a vague definition to terrorism, lending itself to further Islamophobia and applicable for use against climate activists and striking union members, to give a few examples. The bill gave sweeping powers to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), including the chilling and undefined powers of “disruption” and ability to violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Government agencies were given the power to share your personal information and “no-fly lists” were expanded, violating our freedoms and privacy.

      Bill C-59 did not fix Bill C-51, in fact it went further to create an even worse cyber surveillance regime. Furthermore, just one week after Bill C-59 was passed in June 2019, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) published thousands of pages of heavily-redacted documents disclosed by CSIS that suggest the agency spied on the peaceful protest and organizing activities of Indigenous groups and environmentalists who were opposed to pipeline expansion – and actively shared and reviewed classified information with oil and gas corporation representatives.

      Stand up for your rights!

      It’s clear that it is up to poor and working people to defend the rights that the government of Canada has attacked. Since Bill C-51 was originally introduced, the Working Group to Stop Bill C-51 has been consistently organizing and protesting across Metro Vancouver, demanding that Bill C-51 and now Bill C-59 be repealed. The October 15 action demonstrated the commitment of activists to continue standing up in defense of our rights, as it marked the 224th time activists have come out to the streets with picket signs and banners reading “repeal Bill C-51 and C-59!” The interest of passersby to sign petitions and talk to organizers also tells us that people in Canada are concerned about their rights being stripped away! The Working Group to Stop Bill C-51 encourages more people to join in the protests, which can be found at www.repealbillc51.org or on Facebook and Twitter @stopbillC51

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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