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.
I 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 realized I had to find out just why Mr. Trudeau believes supporting it is a good thing.
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.
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 misjudged 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 thinks 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 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 and of itself. If all it takes is an allegation to abrogate our 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.