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Bill C-51 in Bullet Points

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Cardinal Richilieu on PrivacyMy friend Paul suggested:

Someone needs to publish or post a good summary for the layman, with perhaps bullet points of what Bill C-51 entails. So many websites I have gone to are filled with opinion that just rambles on ad nauseam. I am more confused than ever!

Anyone who reads this blog knows how hard this assignment will be for someone as inclined to over-explain as I.  But I’ve tried.

BILL C-51 in Bullet Points


  • Bill C-51 is overly broad, so it can be made to mean anything the authorities want it to mean.
    [Instead saying someone who bombs a government building commits a terrorist act punishable by 50 years in jail, it might say someone who commits a terrorist act can be punished by 50 years in jail. Defining endangering Canada’s economic stability is terrorism, it could be used to identify as terrorists: factory workers picketing their place of employment because their employer’s lack of safety standards endangers their lives might be sent to jail for terrorism.]
  • Bill C-51 dispenses with the need to get evidence before targeting suspects.
    [Instead of requiring evidence showing “probable cause,” law enforcement agents will be able to proceed against citizens based solely on suspicions.*]
  • Bill C-51 introduces the “constitutional breach warrant” granting permission to breach civil rights in advance.

    But now, for the first time, judges are being asked to bless in advance a violation of any or all our Charter rights, in a secret hearing, not subject to appeal, and with only the government side represented. What the government proposes now is a “constitutional breach warrant”. It is a radical, idea that contorts basic constitutional understandings and the role of the courts. It has correctly been compared to a stealth use of the notwithstanding clause, in which judges and not Parliament are being asked to do the dirty work of abrogating rights.”
    BILL C-51: ROACH AND FORCESE SUBMISSIONS TO THE SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE

  • Bill C-51 dispenses with citizen privacy by allowing indiscriminate unsupervised information sharing.
    [Instead of requiring the various law enforcement agencies to share information cooperatively (which would be good), it will allow the sharing of information stored in 17 government departments  “to any person, for any purpose”with no review for 14 of the 17 recipient departments, and no judicial review at all.  The two scariest departments that would be required to give out our personal data so recklessly?  Health and Canadian Revenue Agency.  Yay.]
  • Bill C-51 will put all Canadian citizens at risk of secret trials.
    [At present, Canada’s “Security Certificate” regime has been used only against immigrants who have not yet become citizens. Bill C-51 would extend this to all citizens through secret procedures that fly in the face of human rights. You can see what this will be like in the documentary film The secret Trial 5. The trailer on the site will give you a good idea, but it is well worth downloading the very well done important documentary.]
  • Bill C-51 will render our civil rights protections meaningless by allowing CSIS to breach law or the Charter.
    Bill C-51: What Did We Learn About The Government’s Intentions From The Clause-By-Clause goes into this in much more detail.
  • Bill C-51 expands the government’s ability to spy on Canadians without any oversight.
    [The office of the Inspector General used to provide oversight (oversight=supervision) but it was quietly dissolved as part of the Bill C-38 omnibudget leadnow dubbed the “Black Mark Budget” in 2011. The Harper Government maintains the underfunded understaffed part-timers of SIRC provide oversight, but it can’t.  SIRC provides limited review of only selected CSIS operations after the fact.
    ]
  • Bill C-51 makes the no-fly list (already an incursion in the Charter’s mobility rights) even worse.
  • Bill C-51’s vagueness threatens free speech because it allows arbitrary censorship at the whim of government.

*The rule of law is the legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government officials.
Rule of Law, Wikipedia

A big part of the problem is that there is no time.  But when the entire legal profession, information technology folks,  the Government’s own Privacy Commissioner (and every other Canadian Privacy Commissioner past and present), civil rights organizations at home and abroad, along side a vast array of ordinary people from all walks of life and across the breadth of the Canadian political spectrum opposes a law, it should not pass.

The Canadian Senate will vote on Bill C-51 this week, and the Senators might yet prevent it from passing. Please contact as many Senators as you can to tell them not to undermine our civil rights.

Here’s a tool that makes contacting Senators easy:
https://stopc51.ca/

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leavesP.S.  The only way a law like Bill C-51 could have gotten this far is because our unfair outdated electoral system puts absolute power into the hands of any majority government.  Bill C-51 would not have a hope if we had Proportional Representation.  With the exception of the Conservative and Liberal Parties, every one else wants to adopt meaningful electoral reform.   So no matter what, and no matter who for, every Canadian needs to vote in the fall election. 

More Information

WWhat Is A Disruption Warrant?Professors Kent Roach and Craig Forcese are the acknowledged experts on Bill C-51. As well as testifying before both the House of Commons and Senate Committees on Bill C-51 they have studied it as exhaustively as possible and published their findings as they go in the website Canada’s Proposed Antiterrorism Act: An Assessment

Among the vast amount of material already out there, I have covered Bill C-51 as extensively as possible here in Whoa!Canada, (just read back… you might like Our Kids Deserve to Have Civil Rights, but there are a lot more, just read on) and I’ve have shared copious links and articles like “What is a Disruption Warrant” on Visual Laurel.

My Bill C-51 YouTube playlist features important snippets of things I’ve learned from ordinary people.
I’ve also assembled a playlist of other people’s Bill C-51 videos on YouTube

Privacy is an incredibly important human right, necessary for the “security of the person.” Former Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart published a list of excellent movies that dealt with the Privacy issues we increasingly face. These films demonstrate the importance of privacy matters, and why Bill C-51 must not pass.

The Lives of Others

Red Road

The Conversation

Minority Report

Gattaca

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

May 31, 2015 at 7:46 pm

Posted in Canada, Civil Rights, Law

Tagged with ,

Who Voted for C-51… Is my math right?

with 3 comments

Thomas Mulcair in Waterloo


CORRECTION: My Numbers were Incorrect.

The premise of this article was my speculation that Bill C-51 might have been voted down at 3rd Reading in the House of Commons by the combined vote of all non-Conservative MPs (since so many Conservative MPs abstained from voting).

It has been brought to my attention (through the comments– thanks Sharon Best) that my count was indeed incorrect. Assuming I have the numbers right now, it seems that the Conservatives were 5 ahead on MPs.


Bill C-51 is being fast tracked by the Harper Government.  Although the Conservative Party only got around 30% of the vote in the 2011 election, thanks to the screwy unfair electoral system we have, the walked away with 100% of the power.

Although the NDP forms the Official Opposition, the reality is that the Harper Government can vote down every other party on brute force alone, and we have seen numerous examples of it doing just that.

Since there are no real checks or balances left to us ~ will the Senate transcend it’s rubber stamp-hood and stop Bill C-51?  We won’t know until next week.  In the meantime, I thought it would be a good idea to start keeping track.  I don’t know about you, but I will certainly never trust any politician who voted for Bill C-51.  It doesn’t matter that voting against it would not have stopped it against a Conservative onslaught.

Looking at the numbers, I have to wonder.  A striking number of MPs didn’t vote at all.  Math is not my strong suit, but right now the House of Commons is down 4 seats, so there are 304 seats in total.  But looking at the number, you can see just how smug the Harper Government was… a whopping 13 Conservatives didn’y bother to vote.  In fact, there were a mere 146 Conservative votes cast that day.  Which means Bill C-51 could have been voted down.

I understand young Justin Trudeau has done nothing but put his foot in it on this one.  His decision to support Bill C-51 and the hollowness if his various justifications have led to a goodly amount of dismay out here in the world where citizens are worried about the masive loss of civil liberties coming our way.

But instead of reconsidering his position, Mr. T  dug in his heels and presumably ordered his MPs to follow his lead in supporting the wworst legislation Canada has ever seen.  Trudeau’s refusal to back track in the face of facts is reminiscent of Mr. Hudak going down with his own ship in the last Ontario election.   Maybe Mr. Trudeau is worried he might be accused of shilly-shallying if he changed his mind.  Or looking weak, or foolish, or whatever.

But the fact remains, the one thing Mr. Trudeau might have done to rehabilitate himself and his party’s chances would have been to quietly consolidate opposition to the terrifying legislation.  If he has worked to ensure every single non-conservative MP voted against Bill C-51 he would have taken advantage of Mr. Harper’s hubris (the man himself didn’t even bother to show up and vote for his own Secret Police Bill) and voted Bill C-51 down.

Justin Trudeau lost out on a classic opportunity to get the egg off his face by getting Bill C-51 thrown out.  If he keeps this up, he will be lucky if his party manages to hang on to fourth place status come October.

My numbers come from Open Parliament’s Vote #395 on May 6th, 2015

Bloc
YES VOTES                                    NO VOTES                         ABSTENTIONS
                                                          Louis Plamondon                  Claude Patry

Conservative
YES VOTES                                    NO VOTES                         ABSTENTIONS
Diane Ablonczy                                                                             Chris Alexander
Mark Adler                                                                                    Keith Ashfield
Leona Aglukkaq                                                                            John Baird
Dan Albas                                                                                      Joyce Bateman
Harold Albrecht                                                                            Patrick Brown
Mike Allen                                                                                     Rod Bruinooge
Stella Ambler                                                                                 Rick Dykstra
Rona Ambrose                                                                              Stephen Harper
Rob Anders                                                                                  Joe Oliver
David Anderson                                                                           Devinder Shory
Andrew Scheer
Scott Armstrong
Jay Aspin
John Barlow
Leon Benoit
Candice Bergen
Maxime Bernier
James Bezan
Steven Blaney
Kelly Block
Ray Boughen
Peter Braid
Garry Breitkreuz
Lois Brown
Gord Brown
Brad Butt
Paul Calandra
Blaine Calkins
Ron Cannan
John Carmichael
Colin Carrie
Corneliu Chisu
Michael Chong
Rob Clarke
Tony Clement
Joan Crockatt
Joe Daniel
Patricia Davidson
Bob Dechert
Barry Devolin
Earl Dreeshen
John Duncan
Jim Eglinski
Ted Falk
Julian Fantino
Ed Fast
Kerry-Lynne Findlay
Diane Finley
Steven Fletcher
Royal Galipeau
Cheryl Gallant
Parm Gill
Shelly Glover
Robert Goguen
Peter Goldring
Gary Goodyear
Bal Gosal
Jacques Gourde
Nina Grewal
Dick Harris
Laurie Hawn
Bryan Hayes
Russ Hiebert
Jim Hillyer
Randy Hoback
Ed Holder
Roxanne James
Randy Kamp
Gerald Keddy
Jason Kenney
Peter Kent
Greg Kerr
Ed Komarnicki
Daryl Kramp
Mike Lake
Guy Lauzon
Denis Lebel
Ryan Leef
Kellie Leitch
Pierre Lemieux
Chungsen Leung
Wladyslaw Lizon
Ben Lobb
Tom Lukiwski
James Lunney
Peter MacKay
Dave MacKenzie
Larry Maguire
Colin Mayes
Phil McColeman
Cathy McLeod
Costas Menegakis
Larry Miller
James Moore
Rob Moore
Rob Nicholson
Rick Norlock
Deepak Obhrai
Gordon O’Connor
Tilly O’Neill-Gordon
Ted Opitz
Erin O’Toole
Christian Paradis
LaVar Payne
Pat Perkins
Pierre Poilievre
Joe Preston
Lisa Raitt
James Rajotte
Scott Reid
Michelle Rempel
Blake Richards
Greg Rickford
Andrew Saxton
Gary Schellenberger
Kyle Seeback
Bev Shipley
Joy Smith
Robert Sopuck
Kevin Sorenson
Bruce Stanton
Brian Storseth
Mark Strahl
David Sweet
David Tilson
Lawrence Toet
Bradley Trost
Bernard Trottier
Susan Truppe
Tim Uppal
Bernard Valcourt
Dave Van Kesteren
Peter Van Loan
Maurice Vellacott
Mike Wallace
Mark Warawa
Chris Warkentin
Jeff Watson
John Weston
Rodney Weston
David Wilks
John Williamson
Alice Wong
Stephen Woodworth
Lynne Yelich
Wai Young
Terence Young
David Yurdiga
Bob Zimmer

Forces et Démocratie
YES VOTES                                    NO VOTES                         ABSTENTIONS
.                                                         Jean-François Larose          Jean-François Fortin

Green
YES VOTES                                    NO VOTES                         ABSTENTIONS 
.                                                         Bruce Hyer

.                                                          Elizabeth May

Independent
YES VOTES                                    NO VOTES                       ABSTENTIONS
Scott Andrews                                  Massimo Pacetti                André Bellavance
Sana Hassainia
Maria Mourani
Manon Perreault
Brent Rathgeber

Liberal Party of Canada
YES VOTES                                    NO VOTES                   ABSTENTIONS
Eve Adams                                                                               Gerry Byrne
Mauril Béanger                                                                        Arnold Chan
Carolyn Bennett                                                                       Lise St-Denis
Scott Brison
Sean Casey
Irwin Cotler
Rodger Cuzner
Stéphane Dion
Emmanuel Dubourg
Kirsty Duncan
Wayne Easter
Mark Eyking
Judy Foote
Chrystia Freeland
Hedy Fry
Marc Garneau
Ralph Goodale
Ted Hsu
Yvonne Jones
Kevin Lamoureux
Dominic LeBlanc
Lawrence MacAulay
John McCallum
David McGuinty
John McKay
Joyce Murray
Geoff Regan
Francis Scarpaleggia
Judy Sgro
Scott Simms
Justin Trudeau
Frank Valeriote
Adam Vaughan

NDP
YES VOTES                                    NO VOTES                         ABSTENTIONS
.                                                          Malcolm Allen                      Tyrone Benskin
.                                                          Charlie Angus                      Pierre Jacob
.                                                          Niki Ashton                          Christine Moore
.                                                          Alex Atamanenko                Marc-André Morin
.                                                          Robert Aubin                      Nycole Turmel
.                                                         Paulina Ayala
                                                          Dennis Bevington
                                                          Denis Blanchette
                                                         Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe
                                                         Françoise Boivin
.                                                       Charmaine Borg
                                                        Alexandre Boulerice
                                                        Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet
                                                        Tarik Brahmi
                                                        Ruth Ellen Brosseau
                                                        Guy Caron
                                                       Andrew Cash
                                                       Chris Charlton
                                                       Sylvain Chicoine
                                                       Robert Chisholm
                                                       François Choquette
                                                       David Christopherson
                                                       Ryan Cleary
                                                      Joe Comartin
                                                      Raymond Côté
                                                      Jean Crowder
                                                      Nathan Cullen
                                                      Don Davies
                                                      Libby Davies
                                                      Anne-Marie Day
                                                      Paul Dewar
                                                      Pierre Dionne Labelle
                                                      Fin Donnelly
                                                      Rosane Doré Lefebvre
                                                      Matthew Dubé
                                                      Linda Duncan
                                                      Pierre-Luc Dusseault
                                                      Mylène Freeman
                                                     Randall Garrison
                                                     Réjean Genest
                                                     Jonathan Genest-Jourdain
.                                                    Alain Giguère
                                                     Yvon Godin
                                                     Claude Gravelle
                                                     Sadia Groguhé
                                                     Jack Harris
                                                     Dan Harris
                                                     Carol Hughes
                                                     Peter Julian
                                                     Matthew Kellway
                                                     François Lapointe
                                                     Alexandrine Latendresse
                                                     Hélène Laverdière
                                                    Hélène LeBlanc
                                                     Megan Leslie
                                                    Laurin Liu
                                                     Hoang Mai
                                                    Wayne Marston
                                                    Pat Martin
                                                    Brian Masse
                                                    Irene Mathyssen
                                                    Élaine Michaud
                                                    Dany Morin
                                                    Marie-Claude Morin
                                                    Isabelle Morin
.                                                   Thomas Mulcair
                                                    Pierre Nantel
                                                    Peggy Nash
                                                   Jamie Nicholls
                                                   José Nunez-Melo
                                                   Annick Papillon
                                                   Ève Péclet
                                                   François Pilon
                                                   Anne Minh-Thu Quach
                                                   John Rafferty
                                                  Murray Rankin
                                                  Mathieu Ravignat
                                                  Francine Raynault
                                                  Jean Rousseau
                                                 Romeo Saganash
                                                 Jasbir Sandhu
                                                 Craig Scott
                                                 Djaouida Sellah
                                                 Jinny Sims
                                                Rathika Sitsabaiesan
                                                Kennedy Stewart
                                               Peter Stoffer
                                               Mike Sullivan
                                               Philip Toone
                                               Jonathan Tremblay

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

May 30, 2015 at 9:38 pm

Posted in Canada

Tagged with

Voters can use Talking Points too

leave a comment »

Harold Albrecht, my MP

Harold Albrecht

When a candidate (or her canvasser) shows up at your door, or when you get an opportunity to chat at the local Canada Day celebration, or maybe at a Fund Raiser, or on social media, or at the debates, isn’t it high time we start letting them know what is really important to us?  This is supposed to be a democracy, right?  That means they are supposed to be working for us.

But instead of actually conversing with us, very often candidates or elected representative use well rehearsed “talking points,” which are really just a prearranged script provided by the party to inform us of their party line.  Isn’t it hight time we turned the tables?

If my MP were to appear at my door, I might ask Harold, “Why are you sending your advertisements monthly when we both know you are only allowed to mail out 4 a year?”

The trick is to take a few minutes and think of what you want to ask before you actually see them.  Or maybe wait until you are inspired by their political ads.  Write your concerns down in point form and you’ll have your own set of “talking points.”

You might want to ask, “What do you think about outlawing political ads and giving Elections Canada the teeth to enforce it?”

The single most important issue for me is meaningful electoral reform.  I think the growing list of unsolved problems facing us are largely unsolved because there is no incentive to actually solve our problems under a winner-take-all system.  And I don’t think any party should have 100% of the power unless 100% of the population voted for it.  If even 51% voted for them, that still means 49% didn’t.  In 2011 14,720,580 Canadians voted. But the reality is that a mere 6,201 votes in 14 hotly contested electoral districts gave the Harper Government a majority.  So my own talking points are all about PR.

The thing to remember is that you don’t have to be a Proportional Representation expert to ask:

  • Should elections be about a few swing voters in a few swing ridings leaving most voters unrepresented or ignored?
  • Do you think a party gets 39% of the vote should get 39% of the seats?
  • Do you think some votes should be worth more than others, while some are worth nothing at all?
  • What will you do to make every vote will count, and count equally?
Fair Vote booth at the Kitchener Multicultural Festival

Fair Vote Canada’s Bob Jonkman and Sharon Sommerville discuss Proportional Representation at the Kitchener Multicultural Festival.

I want 2015 to be the last unfair election.  Don’t you?

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(Maybe we should all be writing to CBC to encourage them to air the Danish political series “Borgen” a political series like “House of Cards” set in a nation that successfully uses Proportional Representation.   But then, we should also be writing to tell them to air the “The Secret Trial 5” too.)

Image Credit:

Photos by me released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License 

 

 

Robocalls: The Movie

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The movie trailer you have just seen ^ is for what looks to be a stunning Canadian documentary:

Election Day In Canada: The Rise of Voter Suppression

Documentary film maker Peter Smoczynski is on a road trip to promote and incidentally raise funds to complete this film in time for it to bee seen by as many Canadians as possible before the 2015 election.

Are you concerned about Canada’s democratic deficit?  if so, come to the Boardroom in the city of Waterloo’s historic Huether Hotel
come on out and meet the filmmaker:
TONIGHT
May 21st, 2015
at 7:00pm

Fair Vote Canada WRC asks: Is Voter Suppression Here To Stay?  

Jim Harris at the Duke of Wellington

Jim Harris spoke about the Robocalls scandal to a Fair Vote Canada WRC gathering at the Duke of Wellington, on January 14th, 2013

Jim Harris

Jim Harris in Waterloo

Fair Vote Canada WRC hosted a Robocalls talk with Jim Harris in January 2013.

This year Fair Vote Canada Guelph hosted a Robocalls Town Hall where people reported on the “resolution” of this issue.

And yet the Federal Government response has been to pass the unfair “Fair Elections Act” which ultimately makes it easier to commit electoral fraud with impunity.

What is amazing to me is the deafening silence about this topic in the mainstream media.

I wonder how much that has to do with the vast sums of advertising dollars pouring in their coffers in an election year.

If not for the internet, in the form of blogs like the one in which Jim Harris helped break the Robocalls Scandal, alongside alternate media and social media that have helped inform Canadians, most of us would have no clue this had even happened.

Robocalls Town Hall in Guelph

FVC Guelph Robocalls Town Hall

And those who did know something about this egregious case of voter suppression would suffer under the mistaken belief that it only happened in Guelph and that Michael Sona was the only one involved

If you care about the future of democracy in Canada, please start talking about politics with your friends and neighbors.

Especially if you are reasonably sure they don’t vote.

Or even worse, if they do vote, but make all their decisions based on the information fed to them by the “mainstream.”

And if you’ve a few bucks to spare, perhaps you’ll kick in to support this very important documentary.  And help share this message on your social media.

Follow @EDayFilm on Twitter.

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Could the Senate actually stop Bill C-51?

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Canadian FlagBill C-51 passed through the House of Commons after a mere two days of debate (if you can call it that.)

Currently the law that will effectively remove our civil rights that are supposed to be guaranteed by the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is before the Senate, where it seems to be getting better presented than it was in the House of Commons Parliamentary committee.

It appears that Liberal Senators are planning to vote against it, so there may yet be hope for Canadian Civil Rights.  You can follow the progress of the bill (as you can any Canadian legislation) at LegisInfo.

Leadnow has a nifty online tool to make it easy to write to your senator to let them know where you stand on Bill C-51.

The Senate has served as a rubber stamp for the house of Commons for so long that it’s hard to even imagine that it might provide sober second thought.   But maybe it will.

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Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

May 14, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Stop Bill C-51 the Musical (updated)

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The Harper Government has fast tracked Bill C-51 in another 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 its assault on Free Speech.  

Ordinarily I only blog about Canadian Politics sporadically, but this incredible danger Bill C-51 poses to Canadian culture and freedoms,  I have been doing everything I can think of to try to stop this assault on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


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 wonderful land have been engaging in peaceful protest in many ways, including the making of Stop Bill C-51 protest songs.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

The Raging Grannies

SolidariGLEE

Canadians at the First Stop Bill C-51 Day of Action Sing “Oh Canada”

Bill C-51 Song (Dennis Jones 2015)

Bill C-51 a song by Ian Patton

This last one isn’t really a protest song, but it beautifully demonstrates why Bill C-51 must be withdrawn.

‘Choosing Love Over Fear’ ~ London Stop Bill C-51 Demonstration

Please share!


BONUS TRACK:

Stevie and the Conservicats: A Little Help from Big Fear

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Our Kids Deserve to Have Civil Rights

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New Brunswick native John Peters Humphrey was the principal drafter of the United Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Adopted unanimously by the General Assembly on December 10, 1948, this document established the importance of Human Rights through out the world.

On March 16, 1950, Conservative Saskatchewan MP John Diefenbaker proposed a National Bill of Rights for Canada. This law protects freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and the freedoms of speech and association. The Conservative Government adopted Prime Minister Diefenbaker’s final version of The Canadian Bill of Rights in 1960.
The Canadian Bill of Rights

Children holding a No C-51 sign

Imagine growing up in a world without civil rights.

In 1982 the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms forms the first part of the Constitution Act passed in 1982. The Charter incorporated many elements of the Bill of Rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to equality, life, liberty and the security of the person, as well as the right to counsel. In spite of incorporation of the Charter into the Canadian Constitution, The Bill of Rights is still in force and continues to protect the right of enjoyment of property, something that did not become part of the Charter.

Why We Need Civil Rights

The state is big and powerful with the deepest of pockets; you and I are small and weak and our pockets are shallow in comparison.  Most of us never even think about civil rights, unless we’re tweeting on MLK Day.  Some think only criminals need civil rights, but nothing could be further from the truth.

People don’t need privacy and human rights because we’re criminals, we need privacy and human rights because we are innocent.  We need to be legally innocent until proven guilty because the immensely powerful government has all the resources while we puny citizens have few.  This is why democratic nations place the burden of proof on the state before granting it the power to deprive us of our liberty.

Without civil rights, most people still won’t come under the direct scrutiny of the state;  none of us will know if we are next, so we will all live in fear.  We will all need to watch what we say anywhere we go.  At work.  At home.  On social media.  In our living rooms. And even our bed rooms.  Today’s technology makes it possible for all of us to be monitored by the government 24/7.  They can monitor us through our cell phones (unless we remove the battery), and our television sets, tablets and computers (unless they are firewalled) and our email (unless it is encrypted).

The most incredible thing is that Vic Toews famously lumped people who want privacy with child pornographers.  I always thought that ridiculous… giving the government the power to watch us all anywhere gives the government the power to watch and record our children in their bedrooms.  What guarantee is there that there are no child pornographers in CSIS?  You’ll never know, even if your kids appear on some porn site somewhere.

CSIS has no oversight

They tell us that it does, but the reality is that all there is is SIRC — the Security Intelligence Review Committee.

There is is a review board that looks at what CSIS has done after it has done it.  But it’s an underfunded part time review board, that only looks at a tiny fraction of what CSIS has done.  Even if SIRC was properly funded and expanded enough that it could examine every operation CSIS took, it still wouldn’t be oversight, it would be after thought.

Oversight is supervision.  It’s there before and during to make it possible to stop bad things before they happen.

All a review board can do is determine that bad things have already happened, tsk, tsk.

Former Security Information Review Committee (SIRC) chair Ron Atkey warned MPs that the provision to allow CSIS agents to apply for federal court authorization for measures that could potentially contravene a charter right is a “major flaw” in the proposed legislation.

“That provision, in my view, is clearly unconstitutional, and will be struck down by the courts,” he told the committee.

Ron Atkey, former MP who served as the first Chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, says Bill C-51 is unconstitutional and should be amended.

CSIS used to have oversight in the form of the office of the Inspector General, but that was dismantled as part of the Bill C-38 Ominbudget (The “Black Mark Budget”).

Inspector General of CSIS

Created by the CSIS Act, the Office of the Inspector General of CSIS is independent of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and, for administrative purposes, is part of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada (PSEPC). The Inspector General, who is appointed by the Governor in Council, is responsible to the Deputy Minister of PSEPC.

The Inspector General serves as the Minister’s internal auditor for CSIS, and supplements the Deputy Minister’s advice with an independent means to monitor CSIS compliance with its operational policies, review CSIS operational activities, and conduct reviews of specific CSIS activities as directed by the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC).

Click here to visit the Inspector General of CSIS official website.

Canadian Intelligence Resource Centre

The Inspector General was eliminated before Edward Snowden revealed the reality of government surveillance of citizens to the world.  We now know our own government intelligence services have been spying on us.  And worse, when such surveillance was known to infringe our Charter Rights, they got around that pesky detail by getting the Five Eyes allies to spy on us for them. Surveillance of blameless Canadian citizens has happened and is most likely ongoing (hence Bill C-51 to make it all legal after the fact.)

Even when there was oversight, there were egregious breaches of Canadian civil liberties.  Under Bill C-51 Maher Arar would likely still be locked up.  Or dead.  Byron Sonne’s Charter rights were breached when there was oversight.  Miscarriages of justice happen, even with the best of intentions and oversight.    This is why we need the rule of law.

All of which tells me that if such abuses can occur when we are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, what will it be like when we are not?

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Bill C-51 will deprive all Canadians of privacy and free speech protections, it will put all Canadians at risk of unreasonable search and seizure, it will make all Canadians guilty unless proven innocent.   When all it takes is an accusation, any of us can lose our liberty, and there is no defence.   Any of us might find ourselves facing Madame Guillotine.

Although I’m one of the radicals who thinks free speech and free association and freedom of choice and freedom to protest peacefully are necessary for a free country, all the experts agree there will be problems even without deliberate bad actions from the Government.

Without oversight, accountability or restraint, citizens will be abused in error.  Blameless citizens.

people dancing

Not terrorists.

Not criminals.

Not rabble rousers.

Not even protesters.

The ones who keep their noses down.  The ones who are doing everything right.  People who even the government would agree are ideal citizens, those who don’t make waves and follow all the rules.  Even these people are at risk if they are unprotected by civil rights. All it takes is a typo on an arrest warrant.  The terrorist next door could get away clean while the perfect citizen is whisked away in a secret arrest and locked away indefinitely.  When people can be imprisoned without charge, when trials are secret, when evidence is secret — even from the accused — how is it possible for even a perfect citizen to defend their liberty from a typo?  The Security Certificate regime is like a pilot project that demonstrates what might happen to any of us under Bill C-51.

The essential reason that no one should trust the government is that the government is made of people, and people are not perfect.  The James Moore sexting scandal that broke this weekend is simply another in a long line of goverment scandals that has occurred throughout history.  It is precisely because people are not perfect that Canadians can’t afford to give any goverment a blank check.  This is why we need our Charter of Rights and Freedoms intact.

Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker gave Canada our Canadian Bill of Rights.

Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau gave Canada the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Why are the Conservative and Liberal Parties willing to sacrifice them today?

Bill C-51 isn’t a partisan issue, it’s a Canadian Issue.  It must not pass.

SAVE THE CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

Call or write or tweet your MP, Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister Harper to tell them #StopBillC51

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Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

May 4, 2015 at 6:18 pm

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