Bill C-51 vs Canadian Civil Rights #StopC51 #PrivacyMatters

Bill C-51

Who is speaking out against Bill C-51?

Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien, Joe Clark, Paul Martin and John Turner wrote A close eye on security makes Canadians safer  an open letter opposing Bill C-51 also signed by:

Privacy Commissioners Jennifer Stoddart, Chantal Bernier,

Shirley Heafey, Chair of the Public Complaints against the RCMP Commission

Security Intelligence Review Committee‘s Roy Romanow, Bob Rae and Frances Lankin,

Solicitor Generals Lawrence MacAulay, Wayne Easter, Jean-Jacques Blais, Warren Allmand,

Ministers of Justice Anne McLellan, Marc Lalonde, Irwin Cotler,

Supreme Court of Canada Justices John Major, Claire L’Heureux Dubé, Ian Binnie, Michel Bastarache and Louise Arbour

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published Bill C-51: A Legal Primer that warns that overly broad and unnecessary anti-terrorism reforms could criminalize free speech.

The Tyee shares Six Things Protesters Need to Know about Bill C-51 and

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association tells us that Canadian rights groups decry limited Parliamentary Committee hearings for Bill C-51, proposed major national security reforms

Rights groups across Canada reacted with alarm and deep concern to the news that the government has brought forward a motion limiting study of Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015, by the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to only four sessions of two hours each. With the first session devoted to government witnesses, including the Minister of Public Safety, this would leave only six hours for all other potential experts.

Amnesty International Canada, the BC Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, La Ligue des Droits et Libertés and the National Council of Canadian Muslims all called on the government to withdraw the motion and agree to a schedule of extensive hearings that will ensure that all relevant expertise and perspectives across the country are available to the Committee during the course of its study of Bill C-51.

“Canadians are being told they should embrace Bill C-51 without question because it will make us safer. Overlooked is that this Bill contains deeply worrying challenges to human rights protection, including the unprecedented proposition of empowering Federal Court judges to authorize violations of the Charter of Rights. To cut short the opportunity for these enormously consequential changes to be thoroughly examined is itself a grave human rights concern.”

— Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada (English Branch)

“The Committee needs not only to examine what is in the Bill, but what is not in the Bill. It has become clear that a majority of Canadians, including four former Prime Ministers, are deeply concerned that there is no proposal in Bill C-51 to strengthen oversight and review of national security agencies. That critical issue cannot be considered in any meaningful way under this truncated schedule.”

— Carmen Cheung, Senior Counsel, BC Civil Liberties Association

“This is the most significant overhaul of Canadian laws dealing with national security since 2001. At that time there were 19 sessions in Committee allowing 80 expert witnesses to be heard. It has come forward without any accompanying review of existing laws, policies and resources and an analysis of where they fall short. To allow such little time for scrutiny of its provisions runs counter to the expectation Canadians have that their elected representatives will consider legislation carefully before it is adopted.”

— Sukanya Pillay, General Counsel and Executive Director, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

“Already, lawyers across Canada have raised serious concerns about Bill C-51’s compatibility with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and with the rule of law. Cutting back on the time for the Committee to study those concerns and hopefully rectify those deeply problematic aspects of the Bill leaves open instead the prospect of years of time-consuming and expensive court challenges after the fact.”

— Ziyaad Mia, Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association

“Our coalition is made up of 41 organizations across the country. They come from many different sectors and have, over the course of many years, developed varied expertise in a range of issues with respect to national security and civil liberties. They are ready to share that input with MPs and have a legitimate expectation that they should be able to do so. Many will have no opportunity to do so with so little time on offer.”

— Roch Tassé, National Coordinator, International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

“Bill C-51 is complex and very technical legislation that proposes two entirely new statutes and extensive amendments to three others. Each of those should receive thorough consideration. Four two-hour sessions of Committee study will not even begin to offer MPs an opportunity to grapple with and understand its implications.”

— Nicole Filion, Coordonnatrice de la Ligue des droits et libertés

“Bill C-51 should be of concern to all Canadians as it has the potential to impact on all of our rights given its stunningly far-reaching definitions of what constitutes a threat to Canada’s security. As we have learned from past and recent experiences, without robust oversight, review and redress mechanisms security agencies have abused the powers ceded to them. Given the disproportionate impact of anti-terrorism legislation in recent years on Canadian Muslims, these new proposals are of particular interest in our community. Such limited time for study by the Committee offers scant opportunity for those views to be meaningfully shared with Parliamentarians.”

— Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director, National Council of Canadian Muslims

Errol Mendes, Professor of Constitutional and International Law at the University of Ottawa says “Bill C-51 threatens to sacrifice liberty for security

You are welcome to read the entire draft of the Bill C-51 legislation on the government’s website, but I find it more comprehensible after reading discussion by legal experts.  The definitive analysis is at created by Law Professors Craig Forcese and  .

Cardinal Richilieu on Privacy

Privacy is Not Dead

It seems our government wants to keep us in the dark, investigating innocent Canadians collecting and sharing access to every intimate detail of our lives without our knowledge. Bill C-51 will allow our intimate information to be shared among these agencies as they see fit, without our permission or even notification that we are under investigation.

It isn’t just

Just how exactly do you catch terrorists by allowing the free flow of the intimate personal information of innocent law abiding Canadians among such a disparate array of government organizations?   

One Last Thing

After sitting on the video for nearly six months, the RCMP has finally released the Zehaf Bibeau video

But the video has been edited.  The first 13 seconds and the last 5 seconds have been cut out.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson told MPs “I am satisfied that there are reasonable and sound operational reasons for these edits and you will no doubt want to understand these reasons too.  Unfortunately, for the very same reasons we have edited the video, I cannot explain to you at this point why we have done so.”

Pardon me? Hasn’t the RCMP had time enough to study the video and glean whatever evidentiary gems or whatever “operational” information was contained in those 18 seconds?  If there is something unimaginable in the missing 18 seconds, something so volatile it can not be shared with the public because it pertains to national security, perhaps there might be a reason to not share this video with ordinary Canadians in its entirety.

But it is beyond absurd that Canadian Members of Parliament are being prevented from seeing it.  Forget for a moment that these are people who were kept locked down for a very long time after Mr. Zehaf Bibeau had been killed.   Members of Parliament are the people’s representatives that voters send to Ottawa to make laws, not children who need to be protected from scary things.  And right now, this very incident is being used as a justification for Bill C-51.  But the MPs responsible for deciding whether this legislation is fit to pass are being prevented from knowing the facts of the case?

What Can YOU Do?

Talk to your MP ~ tell them how you feel about Bill C-51.

You can call or write; postal mail is still free to Canadians when writing to MPs.  You can find your MP’s contact information by name, or if you are unsure who your MP is you can find your representative by Postal Code (and these links are a permanent feature of the Whoa!Canada sidebar)

The problem is that majority governments are prone to ignoring individual constituents. At most we each have only one vote, and the unfairness of out First Past The Post system means some of our votes count more than others, while others don’t count at all.   Because of this, some MPs don’t hear their constituents unless they join together.

Sign Leadnow’s Petition:

Tell them that attacks on civil liberties including the sweeping expansion of spy powers, criminalization of speech, and preventative arrest for those who have committed no crime are not acceptable.

The more I learn about Bill C-51, the worse it sounds.  This law doesn’t just need to be revamped, it needs to be scrapped.  If Canada is a democracy, the government should have the decency to ask us whether or not we want to live in a secret police state.  I know that I don’t want to.

Leadnow boils it down into bite-sized chunks.  Bill C-51 is

  1. Reckless: It turns CSIS into a ‘secret police’ force with little oversight or accountability.
  2. Dangerous: It opens the door for violations of our Charter Rights, including censorship of free expression online.
  3. Ineffective: It will lead to dragnet surveillance and information sharing on innocent Canadians that even Stephen Harper has admitted is ineffective.

The government is trying to push this law through parliament in record time.

This bill disproportionately targets indigenous communities, environmental activists, dissidents, and Muslims, many of whom are already subjected to questionable and overreaching powers by security officials.

This bill will make it easier and ostensibly lawful for government to continue infringing upon the rights of peaceful people. We are calling on the government to stop the bill, and start over.


Join your local DAY OF ACTION to stop Bill C-51

People will gather together in communities across Canada for an emergency day of action to stop the government’s “secret police” law. We can’t afford to wait for nice spring weather because the Harper Government intends to pass Bill C-51 by March 31st.

You can find out where your local rally is on Facebook or Twitter, and LeadNow has set up a webpage to co-ordinate the whole thing. If there isn’t one scheduled in your neighborhood, you can start your own by setting up a Facebook Event, inviting your friends or by announcing it on Twitter.

Here’s where you’ll find the Guelph Day of Action to Stop the Secret Police Bill C-51 and in Waterloo Region we have the  Waterloo Walk against Bill C-51 which will join up with the Kitchener-Waterloo Day of Action Against Bill C-51

Twitter Hashtags


Videos on Bill C-51

There are plenty of YouTube videos with more information on Bill C51

More to read:

Mulcair opposes C-51 while Trudeau folds like a cheap suit 2

Did Conservatives violate their own terror bill by sharing “terrorist propaganda” on Facebook?


Quirks and Quiddities presents A Collection of Resources Concerning Bill C-51- the “Anti-Terrorism Act”

“Total Information Awareness”: The Disastrous Privacy Consequences of Bill C-51

Image Credit
Mounties at the Calgary Stampede” by Anna Webber released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Text Credit
“Canadian rights groups decry limited Parliamentary Committee hearings for Bill C-51, proposed major national security reforms” by BC Civil Liberties Association is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License.

5 thoughts on “Bill C-51 vs Canadian Civil Rights #StopC51 #PrivacyMatters

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