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      Our Rights Under Attack
      Oppose Bill C-51 & Bill C-59

      By Janine Solanki

      On November 8, 2019 eight-year-old Muhammad Al-Sabawi was stopped at Toronto International Airport and was not permitted to board a flight with his family. His mother was told that her son was on a no-fly list while the confused and crying boy asked “What's the problem with my name? They don't like my name?” This ordeal and the state-sanctioned act of racism and Islamophobia which this boy and his family went through is not isolated – there are thousands of people, including children and even a six-week-old baby, on Canada’s no-fly list.

      The no-fly list is one of the many infringements on human and democratic rights in Canada that were passed into law with Bill C-51. The so-called "Anti-Terrorism" bill was passed under the Conservative Harper administration in 2015, and almost 4 years after Justin Trudeau’s election promises to amend and “fix” the bill, in the summer of 2019 Bill C-59 was passed. However, 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. This includes that your personal information can still be shared with up to 17 government agencies without your consent or knowledge, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) continue to have the chilling and undefined powers of “disruption”, and CSIS is still able to violate a person’s rights as defined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

      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 December 2, 2019 the group held its 227th bi-weekly action outside the Langara and 49th avenue skytrain station. Many college students on their way to and from classes took informational brochures being handed out by organizers, or stopped at the table to sign the petition demanding that Bill C-51 and Bill C-59 be repealed. On December 16 the 228th action was held outside Vancouver City Center skytrain station, where a colorful banner and picket signs reading “Repeal Bill C-51 and Bill C-51!” could be seen by thousands of people commuting through the busy transit point. These actions are mainly met with two reactions – those aware of the bills and grateful that there is still opposition being organized against them, and those learning about it for the first time and outraged that the government of Canada has taken the liberty to strip away their rights.

      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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