By now, it’s pretty likely that you’ve probably heard of the controversial anti-terror bill by the Conservative government, Bill C-51, that passed by the House of Commons last Wednesday with Liberal support (PM Stephen Harper was the only federal leader who did not attend the vote). Unsurprisingly, the Liberal endorsement of the bill made the internet erupt in backlash from former Liberal supporters publicly abandoning Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party altogether. Many cut up their Liberal Party membership cards to rightfully showcase their disgust.
Many of you might still be wondering what Bill C-51 is and how it can possibly affect everyone? Why you should care that it is mere inches away from becoming a law, and why should that scare the absolute crap out of everyone? Well, there are many reasons.
Let’s give you a pretty thorough overview, shall we?
It jeopardizes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The rights and freedoms essential to a democratic society that Canadian people pride themselves on have been constitutional since April 17th, 1982. That’s a long time relatively speaking, so long in fact that most people just take these rights and freedoms for granted. I mean, how could they ever change? Canada’s a great country, and always has been, right? Well, not entirely, I’m ashamed to admit.
Here in Canada we’re proud to have things like ‘freedom of expression‘, and that is largely what we’re going to centralize this discussion on. What does that mean to you, and especially in the grand scheme of things? Aside from promoting hate speech, which is legally defined as a severe attack on an identifiable group of people that is public and deliberate, freedom of expression exists as a compromise to ensure that aside from promoting violence and so on, we are free to talk about pretty well anything in a public forum. Still don’t really know what that means? Well, for one, it means that we can disagree with each other. It means we can have a debate. It means that when you’re told objectively “this is how things are”, and that doesn’t work for you, you’re allowed to say hey, you know what? I don’t really agree with that. That may be true for a few people, but not most people I know and definitely not for me. That sounds an awful lot like democracy, doesn’t it?
O, Canada. Well now let me delve into this a little bit more. I’ll refer back to my point number 1 continually throughout so this makes a bit more sense to you.
Bill C-51 drastically expands upon the definition of ‘security’ and ‘safety’
Well, that doesn’t really sound that bad, does it? I like being safe. Safety’s great. Likely, when most people think about safety they think of it in primarily physical terms. You know, no bad guys will get to you, and so on. However, Bill C-51 has added to our preconceived definition of the word ‘safety’ to include preventing people from interfering with various aspects of “public life” or “the economic or financial stability of Canada.”
With this newly created definition that was just kind of thrown in there in hopes of seeming innocent, a student demonstration in Quebec that fails to get a proper permit (i.e. all of them since protesting has curiously become virtually illegal in Quebec), a peaceful protest by indigenous people (or any First Nations activists for that matter), or even environmentalists protesting the pipeline or anything else could all be seen as threats to national security.
This article, since it disagrees with Bill C-51, could be seen as a threat to national security. So that also sort of begs the question of what has been added to the definition of “terrorism” now, doesn’t it? Am I a terrorist now? Well but terrorists are the bad guys, aren’t they? What about ISIS? Everyone knows ISIS is terrible. But that’s barely the point right now, especially in a country where historically and currently we are more likely to die from getting hit by a deer while driving than by a legitimate ‘terrorist attack’. Seriously, do some research guys.
So if this bill is so “anti-terror”, or “anti-war” or whatever, why is a war on democracy getting supported
left right and centre? More importantly, why have the definitions of words conveniently changed to include people that the government doesn’t really like (i.e. the people who don’t really like the government)? Makes you think about your right to speak freely, doesn’t it? Not only this, but it also make it even easier for the police under the Criminal Code to arrest or detain someone who has never committed a crime, and allow these potentially innocent individuals to be detained even longer. In fact, the detention time would double just because someone wants to protect everyone else from your ‘future dangerousness’.
Kind of seems like the margin for error on that one is kind of high, doesn’t it?
It gives the government way too much power to pick and choose which targeted individuals and groups to scrutinize
And we all sit back and let it happen because it gets called the “anti-terrorism” bill. Acts of terrorism are awful and tragic events. 9/11 was terrible. That is objectively true; it was tragic and we the people must do whatever we feel necessary to prevent evil from happening to that terrible extent. Remember that.
However, as we just learned, the definitions of certain words seem to conveniently have grown to include more than we maybe once thought, like ‘terrorism’, which seems more and more like a fear-mongering buzzword amongst politicians to perpetuate Islamophobia. Seems pretty shady, no? Let’s think about this again. The bill opposes anyone who is a threat to national security, which we know now doesn’t just mean the kind of safety that we’re used to talking about. It means basically anyone who openly states that they don’t like what the government is doing is a threat.
That one time you said something to your friend on Facebook chat about wanting to oust the police officers who commit violence against certain groups of people for absolutely no reason besides their own deep-seated and oppressive prejudices? You’re a threat too, which takes me to my next point:
CSIS would more or less become a police force –
THIS MEANS THE PEOPLE WHO SPY ON YOUR INTERNET BROWSING WILL HAVE THE RIGHT TO COME AFTER YOU
The fact that there is no such thing as internet privacy anymore is already alarming. It should be, anyway. Under Bill C-51, CSIS or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will be allowed to do more than just simply observe like they’ve been doing all this time (in secret and without much regulation, might I add). They will be allowed to make disruptive actions against anyone they think is suspicious based on the information they have collected from their spying.
Why is this all so vague? Doesn’t something this important and game-changing need to be clear so no one messes it up and takes it into their own hands? The answer is an obvious yes but the reality is not at all. A secret agency can take action against you in efforts to eliminate you as a ‘threat’ because they thought you might do something maybe that threatened ‘national security’ because you said something on Facebook. The Federal Government could basically find anything out about any Canadian individual on demand, like your Health Records or your tax information, which were previously a highly private and protected set of documents by law. Thankfully here in Canada we can at least have a shred of hope that beckons through in this rather grim scenario which calls itself the Supreme Court; aside from that it’s fairly evident that Stephen Harper doesn’t care. Neither does Justin Trudeau or the Liberals, for that matter. Remember that when it gets to voting time this fall, kids.
All of this talk is definitely more serious than we all thought it would be. If you’re interested in finding out more, which you should be, you might want to check out what NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has to say about this:
What are you thoughts on the whole thing? Leave a comment below, and tweet us to let us know!
Since there was an outpouring of concern regarding the research done to support my opinion in regards to Bill C-51 and the controversy surrounding it, you will find that I have provided a number of links to various sources in the comment section below which include a direct link to the bill itself.
Main Photo by Nick Galipeau