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      Working and Poor People Under Attack!
      Repeal Bill C-51 and C-59!

      By Janine Solanki

      Our human and democratic rights are not something we simply have - they were fought for and must be defended if we are to keep them and to advance them. This is a fact that people in Canada have had to confront with Bill C-51, imposed by the outgoing conservative Harper administration in 2015, and with Bill C-59 which was passed into law in the summer of 2019 under the Liberal Trudeau administration.

      The government of Canada used the tactic of fear to justify this infringement on our human and democratic rights. They threw around the word “terrorism” but what were the actual so-called threats defined in this bill? One of the vague definitions implicates those whose activities “undermine the security of Canada and other countries” which include to “threaten the country’s economic interests and financial stability”. Under Bill C-59, this was clarified as an activity that would constitute significant and widespread interference with critical infrastructure. This can translate to protests for Indigenous rights, environmental protests such as those against the TMX pipeline, or even labour strikes – essentially free reign to criminalize protests.

      While Prime Minister Trudeau promised that he would “fix” Bill C-51, the passage of Bill C-59 not only doesn’t address many of the fundamental human rights concerns in Bill C-51, it also creates an even worse cyber surveillance regime. “No fly lists” still violate our freedom, personal information can still be shared with up to 17 government agencies without your consent or knowledge, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) continues to have the chilling and undefined powers of “disruption” and is still able to violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

      Even before the passage of these bills, our rights have been under attack, and Bill C-51 and C-59 serve to codify into law the stripping away of our rights. Since 2013, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has been pursuing complaints against CSIS for their monitoring of environmental groups. Just one week after Bill C-59 was passed, the BCCLA published thousands of pages of heavily-redacted documents disclosed by CSIS, which suggest the spy agency spied on the peaceful protests and organizing activities of Indigenous groups and environmentalists who were opposed to pipeline expansion – and actively shared and received classified information with oil and gas corporation representatives.

      To take up the fight to defend our rights, the Working Group to Stop Bill C-51 was formed in 2015 and continues to educate, organize and mobilize to repeal Bill C-51 and C-59. Their events and actions include bi-weekly actions across Metro Vancouver transit stations. On November 4th the 225th bi-weekly action took place at the Broadway and Commercial Skytrain Station, and on November 18th the 226th action was held at New Westminster Skytrain Station. With a colorful banner and picket signs reading “Repeal Bill C-51 & C-59!” protesters handed out information to commuters and talked with those who stopped to find out more, and to sign on to the Repeal Bill C-51 petition. Many of these commuters were outraged when they learned how these bills infringed on their rights and that these bills were passed without any input from people in Canada!

      To find out about the next action, visit www.repealbillc51.org and follow on Facebook and Twitter @stopbillc51 campaign.

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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