Today there will be a Stop Bill C-51 march in Kitchener [here’s a map]
Concerned citizens will leave Montgomery Park at 5:00pm and march to Victoria Park.
The march will be followed by discussion and a barbeque in Victoria Park.
On Saturday there will be a STOP BILL C-51 CONVERGENCE at Parliament Hill, fittingly at the Human Rights Monument, where concerned citizens will protest this dreadful proposed legislation (currently before the Senate) that will render Canadian civil rights protections meaningless. Protests will again be held in a Canada Wide DAY OF ACTION. There are buses being arranged to take concerned citizens from Toronto to Ottawa.
This is NOT a partisan issue, this is a Canadian issue: we ALL need civil rights.
It is legally unconstitutional to breach these rights, and yet Mr. Harper plans to do it anyway (and has been so far been shamefully supported by the Liberal Party.) Kind of tells you what the Harper Government thinks of our Constitution.
The Senators are indeed partisan which has been proven time and again as Prime Ministers from Brian Mulroney to Jean Chrétien to Stephen Harper have proven by stacking the Senate again and again and again as the Senate provides its rubber stamp to increasingly bad legislation.
Stripping Canadians of civil and human rights protections will not make us safe; that is the Big Lie.
Civil rights protect us.
If the Senate follows along like sheep on an issue of this magnitude, an issue that strikes at the heart of every Canadian, it would resoundingly prove that there is no hope for this body to ever provide Canadians with sober second thought, and I will finally come to agree with Mr. Mulcair’s intention to remove it from the Canadian political landscape when his NDP forms government this fall.
Bill 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.
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
Canadians at the First Stop Bill C-51 Day of Action Sing “Oh Canada”
Despite widespread opposition to Harper’s so called anti terror bill, Harper is pushing forward this piece of legislation which aims at criminalizing dissent and although this legislation will affect all it will specifically be used to target native peoples just struggle for self-determination, muslims and immigrants. As such all should take a stand in defence of the rights of all!!!!
I’ve been trying to put my thoughts about the Ottawa shootings down, and then I happened upon Russell Brand’s energetic assessment, not only of the situation, but how it is being spun. Yes, it is terrible that a soldier died. And that another soldier died in a completely unrelated incident earlier. But there is no question in my mind that the murders of these two men is being “spun.”
Security professional Byron Sonne was arrested before the G20 Summit, an event on which the Canadian government lavished a great deal of money on security. Byron was concerned about the implications of the introduction of an influx of a host of new CCTV cameras in downtown Toronto, so he took a look at the security being provided by his tax dollars (and yours). Apparently citizens were supposed to keep their eyes closed. Police violated Byron’s Charter rights; he was arrested and punitively denied bail for almost a year. When he was finally released into his parents’ custody for almost another year, the draconian bail conditions obliged his parents to waive their own Charter privacy rights.
Byron lost his home, his business and his wife; and yet he was finally exonerated because, as hard as the authorities looked, there was no credible evidence. At one of the court proceedings I attended, a law enforcement expert witness explained that their inability to break the encryption on one of Byron’s computers meant that even if acquitted, Byron would always be considered a person of interest.
Apparently these days, Canadians are guilty until proven innocent.
And the G20 Summit? Well, that event was marked by a great deal of violence… but not violence perpetrated by peaceful protesters, this was violence perpetrated by the “security forces” against citizens, as citizen journalists posted masses of video of such incidents to YouTube. There were so many unlawful arrests and Charter violations that a great many voices called for a proper inquiry… which never actually happened. The government didn’t want to be bothered investigating abuses it was responsible for. Funny that.
(I kind of think Byron was held for so long because they needed a “bad guy” in jail to justify the ridiculous amount of tax dollars spent, and hopefully distract from the civil rights abuses…)
Canadian tax dollars paid for a whole year of an undercover officer’s infiltration of poverty activist Julian Ichim‘s life.
Even after they were unable to prove any wrong doing against him, (Julian is, after all, an activist, not a criminal), absent evidence the undercover agent tried to convict Mr. Ichim with character assassination and innuendo. No matter what you think about Mr. Ichim and his methods, there is no question he is sincere. And yet, law enforcement agencies continue to harass and try to intimidate the young man.
In well over a decade of activism, working in the trenches to fight poverty and injustice in constructive ways, it seems the only “violent” act Mr. Ichim has ever performed was the act of throwing milk at politician Stockwell Day in his student days. And yet law enforcement considers him a threat.
Omar Khadr‘s rights are still being denied. As a child put in harm’s way by a parent, maybe he was a child soldier, or maybe he was an innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time; but either way he was a victim who should have been treated better. This 15 year old child certainly should not have been abandoned by the Canadian authorities after being dug out of the rubble nearly dead; nor should he have been delivered to the infamous Bagram then tortured and left to languish at Guantanamo Bay for years where he was convicted in what can only be described as a travesty of “justice.” Even back in Canada this young man is still being victimized. What happened to his Charter rights?
The Canadian Government, our government, has been chipping away at our civil rights since 9-11. Since we are now apparently all guilty until proven innocent, our “security services” are investigating all of us all of the time… okay, our Charter Rights aren’t being chipped away, they are being steam rollered and dismantled.
The awesome powers of the state are being deployed, not against terrorists, but against activists trying to make Canada a better place, which often means disagreeing with government policy. But peaceful protest and dissent are considered to be crucial elements of democracy, which is why these activities are enshrined in the Charter.
“Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982. Here are some protections that the Charter guarantees:
freedom of religion, of thought, of expression, of the press and of peaceful assembly
the right to participate in political activities and the right to a democratic government
the freedom to move around and live within Canada, and to leave Canada
legal rights such as the right to life, liberty and security
How many of our Charter Rights have been violated in my examples? I am not a civil rights lawyer, I’m a suburban mom who writes novels– how do I know about these things? The Internet has made “citizen journalism” possible, so we are no longer limited to knowing what the mainstream “news media” decides we should know. And the mainstream media has been so quiet about these issues that I’m inclined to agree with Glenn Greenwald’s assertion that our “news media” mostly functions as the propaganda arm of our government.
The examples I have cited do not exist in a vacuum; they are the result of government policy.
Civil Rights exist to protect citizens. Removing or suppressing them doesn’t make us safe, it makes us unsafe.
It used to be that agents of law enforcement agents were not given permission to wiretap citizens, or to search people’s homes, or seize their goods without a warrant. A judge had to be convinced of a reasonable probability — “probable cause” — that there was credible evidence to suggest the subject of the warrant was engaged in criminal activity. There had to be good reason to invade anyone’s privacy.
Certainly, there would be some judges more inclined to sympathize with law enforcement agents than others, but even they wouldn’t sign warrants that could be ruled unconstitutional by higher courts. This system wasn’t perfect, but it struck a reasonable balance between the needs of the state to be secure and the needs of the citizens to not be harassed. Because such laws were in place to protect citizens, when an abuse did happen, the citizen had legal grounds for redress against state harassment (or worse).
Lawful Access quashes our civil rights
Since 9-11 the Canadian Government has been trying to pass “Lawful Access” legislation. This would allow the government to spy on Canadian citizens all the time for no reason, with no judicial oversight.
This would be a huge blow to our Charter Rights that protect citizens from abuse by the power of the state.
Initially Canadians were protected from such legislation by a string of minority governments, which is about as close to democracy as we can get under our unfair electoral system. In a minority, no party can unilaterally impose laws; laws can be passed without achieving enough consensus. Back then I think the alarm was raised by lawyers who understood what was being proposed. The unease spread through the tech communities, because people who understood how computers and the Internet worked could better understand how this technology could be made to work against personal freedom. By the time Vic Toews tried to sell the idea that government spying was a good thing, enough ordinary citizens had twigged to the problem to mount the #tellviceverything Twitter campaign. There was too much bad publicity; the Minister, and indeed the government looked ridiculous. So they backed down.
But they didn’t stop trying, because the legal authority to spy on all the citizens all the time is very powerful indeed. The most recent attempt has been Bill C-13, in which lawful access (aka unfettered spying on citizens) was dressed up as an anti-bullying measure inspired by the Amanda Todd tragedy.
“We should not have to choose between our privacy and our safety. We should not have to sacrifice our children’s privacy rights to make them safe from cyberbullying, ‘sextortion’ and revenge pornography.”
And, of course, Bill C-13 does in no way limit its invasion of privacy to children, or cyber bullies. In the light of the Snowden revelations, the pressure on the Harper Government to get this law passed (to make all the illegal spying on citizens that CSIS and CSEC seem to engage in, alone and/or in conjunction with Five Eyes partner agencies) must have been enormous.
Something no one ever seems to consider is that, even in the unlikely event that our government would not abuse such powers, how do we know that faceless government agents with lawful access to the recordings they make of so many aspects of our intimate personal lives— how do we know that agents with the right to spy on us and our children are not themselves voyeurs, pornographers and pedophiles?
The University of Ottawa’s Michael Geist discussed inadequacies in Bill C13 before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, concluding that:
“This kind of privacy harm can victimize anyone. We know that information from at least 750,000 Canadian user accounts are voluntarily disclosed every year. It is why we need to ensure that the law has appropriate safeguards against misuse of our personal information and why C-13 should be amended. I’ll stop there and welcome your questions.”
But now, under cover of the alleged “terrorist acts” of the last few days, Mr. Harper’s government seems to have quietly passed this most controversial of laws, which shreds much of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that Canadians depend on. According to the government website it may still need one more Senate vote before getting the Assent that will make it the law of the land.
Will this make Canadians more safe?
Without consulting with Canadians, our government squandered vast sums of money to build and equip the most expensive Canadian building in history to spy on us all the time. In spite of this, our security forces were caught flat footed by the Ottawa shooting.
In the old days, when Canadian civil rights ensured law enforcement agents had to provide reasonable grounds before a court would issue a warrant to violate anyone’s rights– they did a better job of providing national security. Instead of catching terrorists, the Harper Government is busy watching the birdwatchers who dare speak against current environmental policy. This doesn’t make Canada safe.
Nor will misidentifying disturbed individuals who “go postal” as “terrorists” keep Canadians safe. Addressing the root causes– making the appropriate medical help available to disturbed individuals, for instance, would do much much more to keep Canadians safe.
SWAT teams shouldn’t break into the homes of law abiding families enjoying Sunday dinner. It was acceptable and legal in Nazi Germany, but should it really be legal in Canada?
Spying on citizens was legal and accepted in Russia when the Tsar’s security forces did it. Oddly enough, it didn’t keep the Tsar and his family safe.
Later, it was still legal in the Soviet Union when the KGB did it. Material collected by such surveillance could lead to an ominous knock on the door in the middle of the night. People who dared express concern or disagreement with State policy were often dragged from their beds and whisked away to the Gulag for “preventative detention.” Not because they had done anything illegal, but because somebody decided that they might. Citizens were guilty until proven innocent, rather like medieval laws that put accused witches on trial by being tied to a chair and dropped in the lake– if she floated, she was a witch (who could then be burned at the stake) but if she sank and drowned she was proven innocent. Do we really want laws like this? In Canada?
“It is always stunning when a country that has brought violence and military force to numerous countries acts shocked and bewildered when someone brings a tiny fraction of that violence back to that country. Regardless of one’s views on the justifiability of Canada’s lengthy military actions, it’s not the slightest bit surprising or difficult to understand why people who identify with those on the other end of Canadian bombs and bullets would decide to attack the military responsible for that violence.”
And now that the Lawful Access bill has been passed by the House of Commons, the Conservative dominated Senate is the only thing standing in its way. Will it legitimize the government’s ability to spy on us all, all the time? .
And you know how the story goes, if you give a mouse a cookie… Apparently it works the same way for governments. Lawful Access is the foundation, but even that is not enough.
Mr. Harper envisions curtailing our rights even more. He is considering laws of ‘preventative detention‘ in wake of Ottawa attack.
Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Commons that laws and police powers would “need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, detention and arrest.” He pledged to bring forward legislation in an expedited fashion.”
My maternal grandparents escaped from Russia before the Iron Curtain slammed down. I’d always been grateful for their foresight in relocating to a better place. Movies like Gorky Park, or The Lives of Others have made me appreciate how important this was. And now it seems it was all for nought.
Isn’t the purpose of terrorism is to spread terror? Although there seems to be international disagreement on what terrorism actually is, the United nations seems to agree with me:
“Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.”
When I arrived at Kitchener City Hall for “Casseroles Night In Canada,” I was proud to see how many people had turned out to show our support, not just for the striking Quebec students (as of this writing the strike is now at Day 110), but because of concern about the erosion of Canadian civil rights by laws like Quebec’s Bill 78 or C-309.
Hah! There were a lot more than a hundred people there, by the end of the night there were closer to 300 collected at the Kitchener Casseroles rally.
With barely more than a day spent in organizing the “event” on Facebook, that was an awfully impressive turnout for a mid sized Ontario city to muster in support of our Quebecois neighbours.
As many have pointed out, Jean Charest’s National Assembly of Quebec passed Bill 78 which severely restricts peaceful protest in direct contravention of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This law has a two year limit, which is apparently to get around any constitutional challenge. This blatant manipulation of the mechanics of government to deliberately strip citizens of our civil rights should not be tolerated.
… In Quebec, an event is also underway. The organizers gave their route to the police. Monday night, the police department of the City of Quebec (SPVQ) has arrested dozens of protesters outside the building where the negotiations took place between the government and student associations.
There are a lot of problems facing Canada, and many of them boil down to the fact the Canadian electoral system is seriously broken.
We’ve seen growing voter apathy over the last decades precisely because the Canadian government does *not* listen to citizens, especially when there is a majority government.
A great many citizens have given up on voting in frustration . . . after all, what is the point of educating yourself about the issues and the candidates, and then going out to the polls to cast a vote that doesn’t count? The frustration is very hard to take. As far as I know, the only group working for electoral reform is Fair Vote Canada, a grass roots multi-partisan group seeking to bring fairness to our electoral system.
Protests like this give citizens a voice, and remind us that our voices *should* be heard.
As long as half the Canadian voters stay home from the polls, as long as the system remains broken, this will not get better. The only way to change the system is to engage the citizens who feel disenfranchised. Protests like these can engage Canadians who have come to distrust our so-called representative democracy. Giving a voice to the citizens who have lost faith in our antiquated non-responsive un-representative system is a valuable end, in and of itself.
Quebec’s Bill 78 and the federal Private Member’s Bill C-309 criminalize the wearing of masks and/or covering of faces at a protest. Freedom of association, religious freedom, health considerations, and the right to anonymous protest are among the civil liberties threatened by these laws.
When I hear government ministers like James Moore argue that Canadian copyright law needs to be “modernized” because it hasn’t been updated in a few decades makes me wonder why our government isn’t fighting to modernize an electoral system older than Confederation. Could it be because the current system grants a disproportionate amount of power to the few?
We are at a point where technology could be fuelling a period of unprecedented democracy, equality and prosperity for Canadians. I have high hopes that we will be able to achieve meaningful electoral reform and can pass real democracy to our children.
In the Interim. large numbers of Canadians protesting *does* get their attention, even in a majority government. Thank you, Kitchener, for standing up for what’s right, for a better Quebec, and a better Canada.
There had been a police presence on the periphery from the beginning; when the Kitchener Casseroles protest spilled out into King street and spontaneously turned into a march, the police cars moved in with lights flashing, following the protest. I think this made everyone a little bit nervous, but it turned out they were simply effecting traffic control. I would like to extend my thanks to the Waterloo Region Police for rendering this service.
The march wended its way to the Kitchener Market, where anyone who wanted to speak was allowed a forum. Speakers discussed the situation in Quebec, conditions imposed by Bill 78, and discussed the support the protesters have been getting from Quebec citizens and the business community. One professor spoke of the importance of extending educational opportunities to all, and a student from Quebec expressed her thanks to the assemblage for our support.
I am so proud of Kitchener . . . and the rest of Canada 🙂
Today was Byron Sonne’s 331st day in custody. On Monday bail was finally granted, yet Byron had to remain locked up until today, when there was to be a final Bail Hearing where the Crown Attorney would get an opportunity to contest the grounds of Byron’s release.
What has happened to Byron Sonne has exposed injustice in our so called justice system. The reason democratic nations enact laws to protect the rights of citizens is to counter balance the government’s power to crush citizens.
For a nation to be a free country, citizens must be free to both question and criticize.
Without guaranteed civil rights, any citizen can be deprived of liberty. You can wind up in a Gulag. You don’t even have to be protesting anything.
on the 2010 Toronto G20:
“The result was a massive breach of human rights on a scale never before seen in modern Canadian society. “
Among those rounded up in the G20 mass arrests were a many people who were shopping, working, going somewhere else, but uninvolved in the protests. Yet they were rounded up and deprived of the civil rights Canadians expect just the same. Simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Byron has today been released under extremely stringent bail restrictions. The conditions are draconian, and somewhat bizarre. According to the Toronto Star:
“He must also have no contact with anyone accused with G20 conspiracy crimes or anyone associated with a number of anarchist groups or the Toronto Community Mobilization Network. There are no allegations that Sonne has ever associated with those people or groups.”
That last bit sounds like a smear… the very terms of the release are deliberately inflammatory. By prohibiting Byron Sonne contact with people and organizations there is no evidence he has ever any contact with, an association is implied. This is rather like prohibiting Byron Sonne from contact with Adolph Hitler. Except, if you read the Globe and Mail’s heavily biased account it says there is some evidence of Byron “downloading literature of both the far right (Mein Kampf) and the far left (Das Kapital).” Which seems to forge a stronger evidentiary link to Adolph Hitler, or Karl Marx. Who scares you the most?
Something that has disturbed me from the outset is that the denial of bail appears to be punitive. Is this a case of Canada’s Crown prosecution ensuring that an innocent man will pay the price of incarceration before trial since the trial is likely to exonerate him? In fact, our federal government has published statistics indicating an increase of the use if the remand process which could well indicate that the process is being deployed as punishment rather than waiting for a judicial finding of guilt, particularly when it is unlikely to happen at all.
You can read the rest of the extremely severe bail conditions in the Toronto Star.
I’m fairly new to social media, but something I have noticed is that some tweets about Byron use the #g20report hashtag. I initially assumed that some organization or group might be keeping track of the facts for the hoped for G20 inquiry.
Then I discovered Byron’s own Twitter feed and discovered that Byron himself seems to have invented that hashtag, using it to indicate the tweets he made documenting the G20 security.
This adds a huge amount of credence to the idea Byron Sonne was working as a citizen journalist.
It is also quite interesting that the @torontogoat is still online. We can read through it and see what Byron tweeted in his own words. Read it through and see what you think.
The Best Source
For information about Byron Sonne case is the FreeByron website, created and maintained by his friends and supporters.