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laurel l. russwurm's political musings

Bill C-51 Needs to be Scrapped, Not Amended

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Privacy Is Not A Crime - Protest Sign Remix No Canadian Police Force asked for the expanded powers in Bill C-51.

Not local police.  Not Provincial Police.

Not RCMP.

Not even CSIS.

In fact, Canadian Law enforcement “already has many powers to target terrorism and terrorist activities in Canada.”

So why did the federal government put forth Bill C-51?

Oversight vs Auditing

In 2012 Eva Plunkett, the Inspector General of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service retired.  The role of the Inspector General was the CSIS Watchdog, and provided the only independent oversight for the CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service).

Rather than replacing her with a new Inspector General, the Harper Government took the unusual step of dismantling the position of Inspector General of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.  This was quietly accomplished with the controversial Omnibus Budget Bill C-38.

Division 15 of Part 4 amends the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act to
(a) remove the office of the Inspector General;
(b) require the Security Intelligence Review Committee to submit to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness a certificate on the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s annual report; and
(c) increase the information on the Service’s activities to be provided by that Committee to that Minister.”

— Omnibus Budget Bill C-38.

Black Mark Budget Demonstration, Waterloo, Ontario

The Harper Government has taken the position that SIRC (the Security Intelligence Review Committee) provides oversight, but in fact, SIRC does not ensure CSIS does not stray over the line into illegal behaviour (such as actions which would infringe on the civil rights Canadians are guaranteed by The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms).

While SIRC does perform an important function, the reality is that it is a committee of part timers with limited resources that only finds out what CSIS has done after it has done it.  If then.  While CSIS itself has become a massive bureaucracy, apparently the most lavishly funded of all government agencies; SIRC only has the resources to investigate a small fraction of CSIS actions.   Rather than providing sufficient oversight, SIRC doesn’t provide oversight at all, it simply audits and recommends CSIS improvements after the fact.

SIRC is a public forum for people to complain. It’s also a forum to make the public aware of problems,” Plunkett said. “The [Inspector General’s] office was, get in there and identify the problems and point them out to the minister and say, ‘You have to fix this before it becomes an issue for the public.’

“There’s no minister that’s going to be able to know everything about everything. And I can guarantee you that no director (of CSIS) will point out the flaws.”

— Eva Plunkett, retired Inspector General, CBC: CSIS watchdog to be cut in budget

Legality

 Yes, we know that this government is extremely thin-skinned. But the inspector-general for CSIS isn’t an office that criticizes government. It critiques CSIS behaviour on behalf of the government. Its role is to ensure that the government doesn’t get blindsided by shady behaviour on the part of its intelligence agents.

Or, in the words of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, spoken in 2010, “The inspector-general performs an important review function that supports me in my role as minister and ensures that CSIS is operating within the law and complying with current policies.”

— Colin Kenny, Globe and Mail: “Dismantling the CSIS inspector-general’s office is dumb”

So why would the government eliminate the Office of the Inspector General?So why did the federal government put forth Bill C-51?

Even before the Office of Inspector General was eliminated, despite limited resources for both the IG’s oversight and SIRC’s review, the IG raised serious questions about CSIS activity.

The inspector general’s key function was to produce an annual certificate stating whether CSIS had strayed outside the law, contravened ministerial direction or exercised its powers unreasonably. In her final certificate, Plunkett found CSIS continued to flout policy and made a serious number of reporting errors. She warned that CSIS’s reputation and effectiveness would suffer if the problems weren’t addressed.”

— CBC: CSIS watchdog to be cut in budget

Following the abolition of the Office of Inspector General, it’s website was taken down, so only IG certificates up to 2010 are posted online by way of the Centre for International Policy Studies archive of CSIS Inspector General Certificate Reports.  Plunkett’s final certificate does not appear to be online.

Colin Kenny, the former Chair of the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence argued that instead of eliminating the IG, Canada would be much better served by significantly expanding its scope:

If Mr. Toews had wanted to do something useful, he would have expanded the concept of inspector-general of CSIS to other federal intelligence-gatherers, of which there are roughly a dozen, including the RCMP. Most of these intelligence operations are inadequately scrutinized. Setting up an inspector-general-type of agency to oversee all of them would have been a great move. It would have reassured the public that while this government is serious about law and order, it is also serious about maintaining the legality and integrity of the federal institutions involved in law and order. Instead, it is neutering its only oversight structure that works well.”

— Colin Kenny, Globe and Mail: “Dismantling the CSIS inspector-general’s office is dumb”

The word "Court" intertwined in the fascia above the side entrance to Toronto's Old City Hall from the day

Since then, there have been serious questions raised about the appalling lack of oversight over Canadian intelligence services.

Eroding the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The breaches of civil rights around the Toronto G20 were my wake up call.  An unreasonable quantity of Canadian tax dollars were employed in a widespread supression of Canadian civil rights, resulting in mass arrests, none of which justified such repression.  The case of Byron Sonne, a young man whose Charter Rights were breached from the beginning demonstrates the ease with which law can and will be abused.

Even though Mr. Sonne was acquitted, an intelligence agency witness said Mr. Sonne will always be a “person of interest.”

Not because there was probable cause.  Not because there was evidence.

The reason Mr. Sonne will spend the remainder of his life under surveillance is solely because, after almost two years of trying, they were unable to break the encryption on one of Mr. Sonne’s impounded computers.  Canada’s intelligence apparatus exhibits a frightening sense of entitlement exhibited after having been allowed to act as if mass surveillance on all Canadians all the time is within its mandate.

In contravention of the Charter.

Legal Candour

In 2013 Judge Richard Mosley Canadian found that CSIS deliberately breached its “duty of candour” to the courts by withholding information to get warrants with “a deliberate decision to keep the court in the dark about the scope and extent of the foreign collection efforts that would flow from the court’s issuance of a warrant.” [Toronto Star: Spy Agency Withheld Information from Court to Get Warrants, Judge Says]

In spite of this, the Harper Government fast tracked Bill C-51s sister bill, Bill C-44: An Act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other Acts .

It is imperative that the Canadian public trust that CSIS is not acting in a lawless manner. And while improving how SIRC functions, or adding Parliamentary review, could regain or maintain that trust, a more cost-sensitive approach could involve statutory reporting. Regardless, something must be done to ensure that CSIS’ actions remain fully accountable to the public, especially given the new powers the Service may soon enjoy. Doing anything less would irresponsibly expand the state’s surveillance capabilities and threaten to dilute the public’s trust in its intelligence and security service.”

— Christopher Parsons, CSIS’s New Powers Demand New Accountability Mechanisms

WiFi Surveillance

"WIFI Internet Access Here" sign at The Working CentreThe Edward Snowden revelations have shown our intelligence agencies have exhibited serious legal deficiencies.  The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was shown to have been breached through mass surveillance of WiFi:

The thought that everything you’re doing is being monitored when there’s no need for it, when there’s no reason to believe you’ve done anything wrong, it completely goes against everything we’ve built our criminal justice system on,” said Borg in a telephone interview with Metro in March. “If you think that we’re just spying on everyone, well maybe it takes away that platform of being able to discuss social issues because you’re scared of what the repercussions might be and I think that’s very worrisome.”

— Charmaine Borg, Opposition Digital Issues Critic Metro: Canadians ‘should be outraged’ by WiFi spy allegations: Borg

Who is Watching The Watchers?

Christopher Parsons discusses the ramifications of these intelligence agency actions in depth in Accountability and Government Surveillance.  Before any new laws expanding the powers of the Canadian intelligence apparatus at the expense of Canadian civil rights, Mr. Parsons poses some questions that need to be addressed:

In turning to CSIS, we see that the Service has a highly specific understanding of what laws compel it to disclose information about its practices and collection of Canadians’ personal information. The Service failed to provide a rationale to MP Borg as to why, specifically, questions placed on the Parliamentary Order Paper are insufficient to compel a meaningful response: to whom, specifically, would CSIS provide this information? And under what laws? If the Service is unaccountable to Parliamentarians then who, specifically, does it hold itself genuinely accountable to?”

— Christopher Parsons, Accountability and Government Surveillance.

Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law wrote,

The deliberate attempt to mislead the key oversight body by omitting relevant information should anger more than just Mosley, who clearly felt that he was duped by CSIS. In response, the government should commission an independent review thttps://www.christopher-parsons.com/accountability-and-government-surveillance/o examine current oversight mechanisms, identify shortcomings on both oversight and the law, and recommend potential reforms to salvage a system that is under increasing public scrutiny and criticism.”

— CSIS should be subject of independent investigation: Geist

CBC reported New Snowden docs show U.S. spied during G20 in Toronto, the Globe and Mail reported, Ottawa allowed U.S. to spy on G20 summit in Toronto, Snowden leak reveals.

The Intercept reported on the tactics and tools developed within the Five Eyes Framework that can be (are ?) used by our intelligence services in “disruption”:

The aspywarepparent involvement of CSE in using the deception tactics suggests it is operating in the same area as a secretive British unit known as JTRIG, a division of the country’s eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. Last year, The Intercept published documents from Snowden showing that the JTRIG unit uses a range of effects operations to manipulate information online, such as by rigging the outcome of online polls, sending out fake messages on Facebook across entire countries, and posting negative information about targets online to damage their reputations.”

— The Intercept: Documents Reveal Canada’s Secret Hacking Tactics

Do Canadians want government agencies to employ such powers against citizens?  Particularly without meaningful oversight?

Absent proper oversight or scrutiny, Canadians would ordinarily have been unaware of much our intelligence agencies can do and have done.  Which is why we owe a great debt to Edward Snowden.

The worrisome bit is that the intelligence breaches that have become public are very probably only the tip of the iceberg.

There is more than enough credible information floating around the internet to indicate the Charter has been breached over and over again by CSIS/CSEC/RCMP/FiveEyes.   Even before they pass Bill C-51 I am apalled at what the Harper Government has allowed to happen on its watch.

When we talk about this in the context of Canada and why it’s relevant to your particular conversations today, we’ve got the C-51 bill being bandied about. I’m not going to weigh in on whether this is a good bill or a bad bill, because that’s a conversation for Canadians to have. But something that we can see when we look at all of the conversations happening around the world today is that Canadian intelligence has one of the weakest oversight frameworks out of any western intelligence agency in the world. And when they’re trying to expand their powers, it’s pretty amazing that we have the Canadian government trying to block the testimony of former prime ministers who’ve had access to classified information, who understand the value of these programs, and who are warning the public broadly and saying this is something we really need to talk about, this is something we really need to debate, this is something we really need to be careful about.”

— Edward Snowden, The Tyee: Edward Snowden’s Warning to Canada

Ed Snowden and Laurel RusswurmWhile Mr. Snowden doesn’t presume to decide whether the proposed Bill C-51 is good or bad law for Canada, as a Canadian I feel qualified to say that Bill C-51 is indeed a bad law.  As one of the Canadians obliged to live in a regime of legally approved mass surveillance even more extensive than what George Orwell envisioned in Nineteen Eight-Four, I do presume to say Bill C-51 is wrong.

I am not a legal scholar, I’m just an ordinary Canadian.

We are fortunate to live in the Internet age and have access to so much important information.  Information that can be found in all the links I have shared here.  Information like the analysis offered by legal scholars Craig Forcese and Kent Roach.

As a writer, the threats to free speech that comes with mass surveillance chills me to the bone.

As a citizen, the suppression of dissent Bill C-51 allows will emulate secret police activities practised by repressive regimes throughout history.

As a parent, the idea of leaving future generations a Canada so much worse than the one in which I was born is simply unacceptable.

What is a DISRUPTION WARRANT ? In a secret hearing a judge will grant CSIS blanket permission to violate the Charter Rights of targetted Canadians.   The “Disruption” can mean (but is not limited to) • undercover infiltration of a group • psychological manipulation of group members • planting evidence • destroying evidence • falsification of information online to • deliberately destroy the reputations of targeted Canadian citizens.   The Government will need no evidence of criminal activity, merely the argument a Canadian Citizen MAY pose a danger. The judge won’t even know what form the “disruption” will take. Canadians will not know they have been targeted so they will have no defense or appeal. .   Bill C-51 will allow CSIS agents to engage in these activities with less oversight than than any other “Five Eyes” nation.   Can you trust a government that does such things?   Bill C-51 will make a mockery of our “free country.”

What Canada really needs is law that implements reasonable oversight of CSIS, CSEC, and the RCMP.  A law that ensures Canadians continue to enjoy the protection of the Canadian Charter.  Oversight to protect Canadians from the kind of Charter breaches and prosecutorial overreach Mr. Sonne was subjected to.  The fundamental flaws in C-51 need more than the cosmetic amendments the Harper Government says it will be putting forward.

Bill C-51 needs to be scrapped.

The preservation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is imperative.

Rick Mercer elaborated on Pulitzer Prize winning Journalist Glenn Greenwald’s suggestion that Canadians are in more danger of being harmed by bathroom accidents than by terrorists.    Leadnow advised Canadians to #RejectFear and tell the Harper Government to stop Bill C-51 because in Canada, we’re way more likely to be killed by a moose than by a terror plot.

Privacy is essential to civil rights.  That’s why it is protected bt the Charter.  And the reason personal privacy is such an important human right is because privacy is necessary for our protection.  The greatest danger posed to citizens is posed by government, because government has access to the resources of the entire country.  And without civil rights, we have no defence against government.

So why did the federal government put forth Bill C-51?

From the information that has come out, I suspect many of the worst excesses in Bill C-51 that we qare warned against are already the norm in our intelligence agencies.  Such practices are inevitable because there really isn’t anyone watching the watchers.  Bill C-51 seeks to make these excesses legal, which will strip us all of any legal recourse or self defence.  And that just isn’t right.

Not in a democracy.

Not in a free country.

Not in Canada.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Image Credit
Photos by Laurel L. Russwurm

“Privacy is Not A Crime” is a remix of a protest sign seen at the Kitchener-Waterloo Day of Action Against bill C-51

Bill C-51 Must Be Withdrawn

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Kitchener-Waterloo Day of Action Against Bill C-51

The rising tide of Canadian outrage about Bill C-51 has prompted the Harper Government to bend . . . a little.

The CBC reports, Anti-terror Bill C-51 to be changed as Tories respond to criticism

Min_Reyes Anti-terror Bill C-51 to be changed as Tories respond to criticism  http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/anti-terror-bill-c-51-to-be-changed-as-tories-respond-to-criticism-1.3012694 @laurelrusswurm I was afraid they would do that... they will change wee little things but not mass surveillance and preventative arrests  @Min_Reyes @laurelrusswurm yup. make the original bill so extreme that any changes would appeal as remotely democratic

There is so much wrong in very fabric of Bill C-51 that making some cosmetic changes will not touch the worst excesses.

Bill C-51 still needs to be stopped because there is no place for mass surveillance in a democracy.

Or preventative detentions.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is too important to cast aside.

SAVE OUR Canadian Charter - Landscape

 

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

March 27, 2015 at 6:30 pm

A Party of One

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"Party of One" by Michael Harris on the table with penelists Jason Blokhuis and Susan Watson at the Guelph Robocalls Town Hall, 2015

“Party of One” by Michael Harris rests on the table with panelists Jason Blokhuis and Susan Watson at the Guelph Robocalls Town Hall, 2015

Fair Vote Canada’s Waterloo Region Chapter and Wordsworth Books welcome maverick political journalist Michael Harris to Waterloo Region on April 18th, 2015.

Mr. Harris will be speaking to what will certainly be a sold out crowd at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener.  There weren’t many tickets left when I took a peek at the Eventbright site yesterday, so if you want to go, you’d best book yours before they are all gone.  Tickets are free but required to keep attendance within the seating limitation of the venue.

I have not yet read the book, but it came highly recommended by the panel at the Guelph Robocalls Town Hall.   I’ll be picking up my copy from one of the event sponsors, Wordsworth Books next time I’m uptown.

Michael Harris Party of One
Fair Vote Canada and WordsWorth Books
Saturday, 18 April 2015
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM (EDT)

The Onion Router #Privacy Matters

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anonymity

Privacy is an important part of personal protection.  That’s why it’s protected in the UDHR and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Without the ability to speak anonymously, free speech isn’t actually possible.

Even if corporations and governments are not going to respect our privacy, there are tools we can use to protect ourselves when we use the Internet.    And if they actually pass Bill C-51 we will certainly need to use tools like TOR even more than we do now.

One of the best tools out there is the excellent TOR, not to be confused with the science fiction publishing imprint, the TOR I’m talking about is “The Onion Router.”  Here’s a video they’ve recently released that does a nice job of explaining how it works and why we should use it.  I am pleased to present it in both of Canada’s official languages:

 

 

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

March 22, 2015 at 10:00 am

Liberal Leader Gets Bill C-51 Wrong

with 4 comments

In spite of the fact the Harper Government fast tracked Bill C-51, the Parliamentary Committee won’t re-convene until next week. When you consider the Harper Government’s vow to have this legislation rushed through so it can be passed by the end of the month, this is a dramatic demonstration of how little scrutiny the Harper Government is willing to accord Bill C-51. The same can’t be said for the rest of us, because Bill C-51 is actually getting a great deal of scrutiny outside the Parliament Buildings. There are a lot of terrible things in this draft legislation, but as a writer I am especially concerned about it’s assault on Free Speech.   Ordinarily I only blog about Canadian Politics sporadically, but this week I hope to post daily.   Previous posts include: David Weber warns Bill C-51 will lead to a Police State #RejectTerror #StopBillC51 the film I’ll be seeing tonight, The Secret Trial 5 ~ Screening Tour,  Learned at the KW Stop C-51 Day of Action, and Thursday’s Stop Bill C-51 the Musical.  Better late than never, here is #5.


 

Not long ago I joined the local Liberal Party in hopes of making a difference for the 2015 federal election.  Over the years I’ve got to know some LPC folks through events like the Electoral Reform debate local MP Candidate Bardish Chagger hosted a few years back.

I made a point of notifying the local Liberal Candidate Nominees and Candidates about last week’s National Day of Action.  A week ago today a great many concerned citizens across Canada held more than 70 events to protest the fatally flawed Bill C-51 the Harper Government has been trying to sell as an “anti terrorism” measure.

Mr. Trudeau's idea of a National Day of ActionI was aware of Justin Trudeau’s promised support of Bill C-51 but expected the Liberals to come anyway, maybe to hear the other side so they might make informed choices when the time came to vote, or at least to take the opportunity to explain the Liberal stance to an audience of people who will certainly vote in the next election.   So you can imagine my surprise when not a single LPC Candidate showed up at the Kitchener rally.  Worse, I heard a rumour that the Liberal Party had ordered its candidates to avoid the Day of Action.   I was stunned.   I was going to bring the matter up with the local Electoral District Association before making a decision about whether to remain a Party member.

And then I got another ridiculous email from the LPC inviting me to a “Day of Action.”   I had previously explained the absurdity of calling a party fund raising or volunteer training or t-shirt designing gathering for the Liberal Youth Movement a “Day of Action” and yet here they are doing it again.

Particularly after ordering Party members to avoid a real Day of Action.

Since the local Liberal Candidates are not allowed to explain the LPC position on Bill C-51, I realize I had to find out just why young Mr. Trudeau believes supporting it is a good thing.

Liberals: newly minted Kitchener Centre MP Candidate Bardish Chagger moderates an LPC panel on Electoral Reform.

Apparently, Justin Trudeau’s primary reasons for supporting C-51 are:

  • Expanded powers related to preventive arrest which make it easier for police to detain someone, and to hold them in custody without a charge or a warrant for longer
  • Strengthening of the no-fly list
  • Increased information sharing between government departments and agencies

“[These] are significant improvements that will keep Canadians safer,” he told the crowd.

Liberals Are Supporting Bill C-51 So Tories Can’t Make ‘Political Hay,’ Trudeau Says

Preventative Arrest.

That means Canadians would be liable for arrest because we might do something.  Think about that, now. What does that mean, exactly?  Not because you have done a criminal act, and not because you planned to engage in a criminal act.   The laws we have now give law enforcement ample provision to prosecute anyone for crimes committed, and even for crimes that have only been planned, as we know from the prosecution of the VIA Terrorist Plot.  Canadian law allows such prosecutions because, when there is a real crime, there is real evidence.  Under Bill C-51 you could go to jail  because someone thinks you might do something.

I expect most people have been misjuged at least once in our lives.  Imagine if someone in law enforcement decided you were a potential terrorist because you attended a Day of Action.

Very few of us have been personally connected with criminal activity; even fewer have had any actual contact with terrorists. So let’s think about this one in more human terms.

Let’s say you are married, and you and your spouse go to a party. As often happens, the two of you end up in different corners socializing with different people. It’s a good party, you’ve had fun, but when you get home you discover your spouse is angry and wants a divorce — because you might have an affair with someone you had an animated conversation with at the party.

Or say you’re in your final year of university. It’s been a tough year, you’ve had to take on a part time job to make ends meet. So your studies have been extra difficult, and your work isn’t up to your usual standards. When it’s time to take the final exam, your professor doesn’t believe you are capable of passing the exam, so she refuses to allow you to take the exam since she thinks you might cheat.

Or maybe you’re going through a messy divorce. Imagine how you might feel if, instead of the shared custody you had been working toward, the judge awards sole custody of your children to the other parent and you are now limited to state supervised visitation twice a month. Because the judge has been convinced you might take off with the child.

This law won’t make Canadians safer, it will strip us of our Charter Rights.  It is unconstitutional.

If you want to get an idea how these things might play out, you should watch the powerful documentary “The Secret Trial 5.”

The No Fly List

I have to wonder if the No Fly list is constitutional in an of itself.   If all it takes is an allegation to abrogate out Charter rights, the Charter doesn’t offer us much protection at all.   People used to be innocent until proven guilty.

Increased information sharing between government departments and agencies

Such irresponsible flagrant invasion of privacy is certainly unconstitutional.

I understand Mr. Trudeau might wish to get out from under his famous father’s shadow, but throwing the Canadian Charter of Right and Freedoms under the bus is not the way to do this.

Imagine a World With No Privacy....

 

Stop Bill C-51 the Musical

with 2 comments

In spite of the fact the Harper Government fast tracked Bill C-51, the Parliamentary Committee won’t re-convene until next week.  When you consider the Harper Government’s vow to have this legislation rushed through so it can be passed by the end of the month, this is a dramatic demonstration of how little scrutiny the Harper Government is willing to accord Bill C-51.

The same can’t be said for the rest of us, because Bill C-51 is actually getting a great deal of scrutiny outside the Parliament Buildings.

There are a lot of terrible things in this draft legislation, but as a writer I am especially concerned about it’s assault on Free Speech.   Ordinarily I only blog about Canadian Politics sporadically, but this week I hope to post daily.   Previous posts include: David Weber warns Bill C-51 will lead to a Police State #RejectTerror #StopBillC51 the film I’ll be seeing tonight, The Secret Trial 5 ~ Screening Tour, and yesterday’s Learned at the KW Stop C-51 Day of Action


Okay, well, I have to admit  there isn’t really a musical… not yet, anyway.   Maybe that will be James Gordon’s next project?

But in the mean time, concerned Canadians across this land have begun to engage in the making of Stop Bill C-51 protest songs.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

The Raging Grannies

SolidariGLEE


This one is not a musical.

I hope to put together a series of small films made from the video snippets I recorded at the KW Stop Bill C51 Day of Action.  Here is the first:

Security Certificates: KW Stop Bill C51 Day of Action

Please share!

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

March 19, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Learned at the KW Stop C-51 Day of Action

with 2 comments

In spite of the fact the Harper Government fast tracked Bill C-51, the Parliamentary Committee won’t re-convene until next week.  When you consider the Harper Government’s vow to have this legislation rushed through so it can be passed by the end of the month, this is a dramatic demonstration of how little scrutiny the Harper Government is willing to accord Bill C-51.

The same can’t be said for the rest of us, because Bill C-51 is actually getting a great deal of scrutiny outside the Parliament Buildings.

There are a lot of terrible things in this draft legislation, but as a writer I am especially concerned about it’s assault on Free Speech.   Ordinarily I only blog about Canadian Politics sporadically, but this week I hope to post daily.   I began Monday with David Weber warns Bill C-51 will lead to a Police State #RejectTerror #StopBillC51 and yesterday I posted about the film I’ll be seeing tomorrow night, The Secret Trial 5 ~ Screening Tour.  Today I want to talk a little about how the news media has let us all down.


Telling the KW Stop Bill C-51 Rally about COMERS vs Bank of Canada

Speaker at the Kitchener-Waterloo Day of Action Against Bill C-51

The Watchdog Press Is Dead

For a long time I’ve known the mainstream “news media” we trust to keep us abreast of the things have dropped the ball. Even though we are most definitely in the information age, newspapers, radio and tv news are not telling us what we we need to know if we are to be thee informed citizenry of a free country.  Because the mainstream news media is not a public service, but the property of corporate entities. Lou Grant was fictional, and in today’s world, Woodward and Bernstein wouldn’t have brought down a presidency, they would have landed in Guantanamo Bay.

In Canada the largest commercial advertiser, the single biggest consumer of advertising in the country is the Canadian Government.

So it is understandable that newspapers and tv networks don’t want to alienate their biggest client. Then too, these media outlets are at the mercy of corporate advertisers — who have their own agenda.  With a big enough bankroll of advertising dollars might make it possible to influence news programming and/or editorial styles.  In addition to the substantial influences exerted both by business and government, the main stream media also happen to be owned by corporate entities with their own agendas. So it isn’t surprising that the “news” what we see on mainstream television, hear on mainstream radio and read in mainstream newspapers comes wrapped in bias. And since these mainstream outlets compete for advertising dollars, the “news” must entertain to try to attract the largest audience.

Our silver bullet to ward off government control of our news media was supposed to be Canada’s independent arms-length national broadcaster, the CBC. Unfortunately CBC has not proven itself immune from government intervention. On the Harper Government’s watch I understand the CBC Board of Directors is dominated by Conservatives. Making things even worse, the Canadian government’s failure to fully fund what should be a public service has made the CBC vulnerable to advertisers in the same way the “commercial” news media is. So although there are occasional blips of CBC independence, it isn’t  really surprising CBC has failed to defend itself or stand up to the powerful forces arrayed against it.

All of which means that even the biggest Canadian news junkies are not actually very informed by the mainstream media.

The Internet is providing alternatives to the mainstream, but even though we are seeing the rise of citizen journalism with both reportage and opinions via blogs and podcasts and social media, even though alternative news outlets like websites like Rabble, the Tyee, Media Co-Op, Canadaland, Huffington Post Canada, Yahoo News etc. are growing their audiences, they are still overshadowed by the powerful mainstream media dinosaurs who still walk the land.

StopBillC51 at Kitchener City Hall

Comer vs Bank of Canada

All of this explains why most Canadians, like me, have never heard of Comer. The first I heard of this very important issue was when a young man got up on the stage at Kitchener City Hall and said a few words to the crowd about how Canadians Sued The Bank Of Canada & Won. Mainstream Media & Government Blacks Out Story

As someone who feels mathematically challenged I am still trying to get my mind around what this means, but at minimum it is something that Canadians should be hearing about. You can find out more at the COMER website.

Even though the mainstream media has apparently chosen (or been told) to ignore this issue, there has been new media coverage.   I am certainly no economist, but there does seem to be information out there.  So far I have just scratched the surface, so I have not read much of the information available; nor have I watched all the videos in the playlist.  It will take time to get a handle on this.

Still Report #356: Good News From Canada

New World Next Week: Canadian Sue the Bank of Canada

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

March 18, 2015 at 7:03 pm

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