PM Trudeau: Sainte-Foy, Québec

Montreal Gazette:
6 dead, 8 injured in terrorist attack at Quebec City mosque
Globe and Mail:
‘Quebec City is in mourning’: Six dead, eight wounded in mass shooting at mosque

Canadian Coat of Arms

Ottawa, Ontario

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement today after hearing of the fatal shooting at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec located in the Ste-Foy neighbourhood of the city of Québec:

“It was with tremendous shock, sadness and anger that I heard of this evening’s tragic and fatal shooting at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec located in the Ste-Foy neighbourhood of the city of Québec.

“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of all those who have died, and we wish a speedy recovery to those who have been injured.

“While authorities are still investigating and details continue to be confirmed, it is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence. Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear.

“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country. Canadian law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of all Canadians, and will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance.

“Tonight, we grieve with the people of Ste-Foy and all Canadians.”

Tragedy strikes Sainte-Foy, QuébecThis cowardly attack on Canadian soil has generated outrage across the Canadian political spectrum, with even CPC leadership candidates Kellie Leitch and Jason Kenney speaking out against it.

Tonight there are candlight vigils across Canada.  These are the few I know of:

Québec
Vigile de solidarité avec les musulman-es de Québec #SalamQc
Gare Jean-Talon by the exit: métro Parc.
https://www.facebook.com/events/226743947787244/

Ontario
Prayer and Solidarity Vigil organised by @KitchenerMasjid
Kitchener City Hall in Waterloo Region
https://www.facebook.com/events/227134104414096/

Yukon
Vigil for our Muslim Brothers & Sisters – Whitehorse
The Wharf ~ Front St. and Main St. Yukon River, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory
https://www.facebook.com/events/394668850883510/


The Trump Administration has gotten off to a bad start, and almost every step taken seems wrong.
One of the great powers of an American President is the ability to issue Executive Orders.

Protestors March in the Woman's March on Washington DC, January 21,2017

HEALTHCARE
Womens March On Washington ~ Public Domain photo by anonymous National Guard Member

TRADE

WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

REFUGEES+

I don’t think Mr. Trump realizes how much his election win benefited from tactical voting.  He’s barely begun and American citizens are pushing back, hard.  The chaos and protests at airports worldwide over the weekend was pretty heavy, prompting Judge Blocks Trump Order on Refugees Amid Chaos and Outcry Worldwide

And Canadians are pushing back, too.  B.C. religious leaders call on Canada to act against U.S. immigration ban.    Even Prime Minister Trudeau tweeted:

To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada

But anywhere you have two or more people, you are likely to get two or more opinions. (Which is why Proportional Representation is a necessary part of good democracy.)

Clearly there are people here ~ and there ~ who agree with President Trump’s world view.  And just as clearly there are political agendas feeding fear, Isalamaphobia, whatever.   The controversial anti-niquab attack ad targeting the NDP the Bloc Québécois’ put up during the 2015 election was only taken down today.

As horrible as this tragedy was, I am heartened by the across the board outrage.  But we can’t afford complacency; we need to encourage our Liberal majority government to get on with the necessary work that will make it possible for Canadians to welcome those seeking refuge from persecution, terror and war.   Sign the Leadnow Petition:  Tell Trudeau: Welcome Those Fleeing Violence and Deportation Under Trump

I am struck again and again by the strife engendered by winner-take-all political systems.  When there can be only one winner, everyone needs to win, but most don’t.  And we have seen, over and over again, that the easiest way to become the only winner is to play on fear and build up hatred.  But that is a dangerous game.  It isn’t as easy to turn hatred off.

No where is the us against them polarization more obvious than what we’re seeing south of the border.  And frankly, I don’t think any of us want that.  When Canada finally adopts some form of Proportional Representation, we won’t be an all or nothing world anymore.  Instead of polarization, we’ll be able to work together, to be able to embrace our diversity and tap into our strengths. And then we’ll be able to roll up our sleeves and tackle 21st century problems.

But for now, we’re struggling with the messes of the last century polarization.

In Sainte-Foy, Québec, the victims have all been identified, and the alleged assailants, too.  One man has been charged with 6 counts of 1st-degree murder.  You can follow the link and find out his name if you like, but I’m not about to repeat his name here.   Because here’s the thing… if I ran the zoo, the names of mass murderers would never be said.  Instead they’d be assigned a number and locked away securely for the rest of their days.  Writing the name would just help make him famous.

Instead, I will name the victims here.  I’ll share the names of six innocent men killed by the cancer of hate.  Men who didn’t deserve to die; who deserve to be remembered.

Lives lost at Sainte-Foy, Québec

Ibrahima Barry, Abdelkrim Hassane, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Aboubaker Thabti, Azzeddine Soufiane, Khaled Belkacemi

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Image Credits

Womens March On Washington (with Capitol Dome) ~ Public Domain photo by anonymous National Guard Member

Protestors March in the Woman’s March on Washington DC, January 21,2017 ~ Public Domain photo by anonymous National Guard Member

A Lake Huron Nuclear Deep Geological Repository?

Lake OntarioGuest Post by Louisette Lanteigne

OK. So there is this project to bury nuclear waste beside Lake Huron called the Lake Huron Deep Gelological Repository project, or DGR for short.

Over 92,000 people signed petitions against it. Read the Globe and Mail article Petition opposing Ontario nuclear waste plan garners 92,000 signatures.

Here is a list of Ontario Members of Parliament who have passed resolutions against it.

Over 180 municipal resolutions passed, representing 22 million people in Canada & US demanding stop of Lake Huron nuclear repository

And now Ontario Power Generation just released a new study saying there is NO PUBLIC INTEREST in this plan:
Public not concerned about moving nuclear waste bunker from Lake Huron according to Ontario reportThe blue Twitter bird mascot

What did they use to say that? They based their info on Twitter and Google searches while completely negating the resolutions, the petitions and MPs.

OPG’s Deep Geologic Repository Project

For Low & Intermediate Level Waste
Study of Alternate Locations Main Submission [PDF]
00216-REP-07701-00013

excerpt: pages 72 and 73

7.2.2 DGR Not a Concern
Research shows that there is little interest among the general public regarding the DGR Project at the Bruce Nuclear site. OPG had a social media analysis prepared in the fall of 2016. The analysis began with a detailed query in Sysomos MAP – a media analysis platform that provides news, blogs, forums, tweets and many other media results. A year’s worth of data was passed through IBM Watson’s Alchemy – a language analysis platform to identify key themes identified from OPG DGR related media activity and conversations in the past year. In addition to media analysis, the Google Keyword Planning Tool as well as Google Trends was used to understand how Ontarians are seeking information about nuclear waste disposal. In particular, the analysis focused on the keywords being used, and the frequency with which Ontarians are looking for this information.

The analysis showed that Ontarians are not looking for information on nuclear waste disposal in large volumes. This topic is not a popular one, nor is it generating large volumes of curiosity.

  • Compared to other energy related keywords (wind turbines, solar power) there is very
    little curiosity about nuclear waste disposal, or deep geologic repositories.
  • DGR related searches are at a frequency of virtually zero, and nuclear waste as a topic
    shows less interest amongst Canadians than other energy topics.
  • Looking at how Ontarians search, there is an even greater discrepancy. Energy and
    power are more important (or generate more curiosity) than disposal and waste related
    searches.
  • Currently, interest in DGR in Ontario has flat-lined; outside of a spike in May 2015
    attributed to the release of the Joint Review Panel report, there has been very little
    search frequency for ‘deep geologic repository’.

Download the PDF of the full study here.

Email Justin.Trudeau@parl.gc.ca and Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca and let them know what you think.

Find out more — and what you can do to help at Stop The Great Lakes Nuclear Dump

Masse: Storing Nuclear Waste Close to the Great Lakes is an Unnecessary Risk


The Federal Government has extended the deadline to make a decision on this twice has been extended twice; I believe the current deadline is August 12, 2017 ~ Laurel

Who will rock the ‪#‎GlobeDebate‬ ?

There are no end of excuses for excluding Elizabeth may from the Globe and Mail’s so-called “leadership debate.”

The Globe’s own story is:

We have invited the major party leaders to this debate  – those who have official status in The House of Commons.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have been asked to take part, because we believe a more streamlined, effective conversation about the Canadian economy will take place in that format.

I guess the boys think Elizabeth May shouldn’t bother her pretty little head about a hard issue like the economy… never mind that her party was the first to publish a complete platform– one that is fully costed!  Not only do we know how much everything will cost, we can see where the money will come from.  (Has there been such a fiscally responsible leader in Canada since Tommy Douglas?)

Erïch Jacoby-Hawkins writes:

“The clear Canadian precedent is to allow parties running a large slate (at least 70 candidates) with at least one elected MP to be in the debates. Recognized party status (12 MPs) have NEVER been the criterion.

When Audrey McLauglin was in the 1993 debates, she had only 9 seats, while Preston Manning was also in with only 1 seat. In 1997, Jean Charest was in with only 2 seats. In none of those elections did anyone complain about those leaders being there; at no time did anyone seriously argue that this mean the Communists or Rhinos or any other unelected registered party should be in, nor did anyone argue that McLauglin, Manning, or Charest should be out for having fewer MPs than would normally comprise recognized party status.

For some reason, the Green Party is the ONLY party, during my voting lifetime which has had elected seats in the House yet been left out of leader debates. There is no precedent for this, nor is there any valid justification.

For some reason, every time the Greens reach what was previously the declared barrier (in 2008 and 2011 it was always “you need a seat first”), the bar is suddenly raised.”

But no matter that a large majority of Canadians want to see Ms. May in all the leadership debates, Mr. Harper decided to boycot the Consortium Debates to avoid her, and Mr. Mulcair seems happy to follow suit, the Globe and Mail is happy to proceed without the Green Party leader.

But Elizabeth May isn’t just any leader. She is a woman who knows how to stand up for what’s right, and she knows how to get things done. She certainly isn’t one to be silenced by an old boys club “no girls allowed” pact. I suspect Ms. May is also the most media savvy of the the leaders, possibly because the Green Party is a real grass roots party, so her solution has been to take the debate to Social Media, where she will participate in the debate in spite of everything. Partnering with Twitter, Ms. May will answer the questions herself on video, and each of her answers will be uploaded to twitter in real time.

ELIZABETH ROCKS

Our Waterloo Greens are planning a twitter debate party at 42 Erb Street East, Waterloo. Come on out and join us as we watch the #MayDeb8 and tweet and retweet.

We’re pretty sure we know who will rock twitter for the ‪#‎GlobeDebate‬
Here’s how you can take part:
1. Open both the @CanadianGreens and @ElizabethMay Twitter accounts.
2. Follow the live tweets.
3. Encourage your Twitter followers and Facebook fans/friends to do this, too.
4. Pick the tweets you like best, and re-tweet them.
5. Remember – if you comment on your re-tweets – the debate tweets will not show up as high as possible in the “Trending” list.
6. Use these hashtags #GlobeDebate‪#‎VoteGreen‪#‎elxn42‬ ‪#‎GlibandMale‬ ‪#‎GlobeandMale‬ ‪#‎VoteGPC‬ ‪#‎GPC‪#‎GreenSurge‪#‎UpForDebate

Team Michele Braniff

Who is rocking Twitter for the The Globe and Mail Debate?

‪#‎ItsGonnaBeMay‬

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Bill C-51 Needs to be Scrapped, Not Amended

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.

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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

Fair Elections Act Petitions

X marks the spotThe Harper Government is rushing the so called “Fair Elections Act” 242-page Omnibus Bill through the House of Commons at breakneck speed. The sweeping changes this ill advised draft legislation seeks to implement are raising alarms among Canadians about the future of Canadian democracy.

You can read the full text of Bill C-23 here.

PETITIONS

So far there are two petitions in opposition to the ill advised “Fair Election Act” the Harper Government is rushing through the House of Commons.

The first is being mounted by the online advocacy group Leadnow, who are particularly concerned with the aspects of the bill which will serve to disenfranchise many Canadians, including First Nations peoples, Canadian young people, and the growing ranks of the Canadian poor.
PETITION: Stop US Style Voter Suppression From Becoming Canadian Law

The second petition is from The Council of Canadians, who are particularly concerned with the undemocratic changes this law would make to our electoral system.
PETITION: Investigate and prevent electoral fraud with a truly fair Elections Act

Further Reading:

My previous article looked at the “Fair Elections Act” but there are so many things wrong with C-23 there have been a flurry of articles already:

Canada Flag

Free Byron

Yellow Square bearing the words Free Byron in black text

Today was the first day of Byron Sonne’s trial.

Byron was arrested on June 22nd, 2010, before the Toronto G20. 

On June 29th, Jesse Brown did a SearchEngine interview that would have made me question the story if I’d heard it. 

But I don’t live in Toronto, and it wasn’t until much later that I learned about Byron Sonne.

Denise Balkissoon, the writer who wrote the Toronto Life cover story blogged about the publication ban: “EXPLAINER: What we can and can’t say about the Byron Sonne Trial

Today’s Globe and Mail reported on the first day G20 trial begins for man charged with possessing explosives. The way the headline reads reveals the Globe’s corporate bias (if there was any doubt).

What struck me the most about the Globe article was the reporter’s statement:

 

Supporters have organized a “Free Byron” movement.”

— Colin Perkel, G20 trial begins for man charged with possessing explosives

In many ways, Byron’s arrest before the Toronto G20 summit even began served to separate his story from all the other stories of G20 protest. The Toronto G20 protests might be considered a “movement,” but I don’t think that the support for Byron Sonne can be thought of in that light.

Byron Sonne’s friends and community have tried to support him the best they can. That’s what friends do if they believe in you, and it’s why humans belong to communities. Byron Sonne’s friends know him as a person, and they believe in him. It says a lot about Byron and his friends that they have stuck by him all through this. Because standing up for someone facing the kind of charges levelled against Byron Sonne takes guts. After all, people are often judged on who their friends are.

His friends and supporters set up a webpage to allow interested people to follow what happens to Byron. They have distributed stickers and buttons and asked interested people to post “Free Byron” badges on their blogs. I haven’t seen anything I could characterize as a “movement,” just people supporting a friend and member of their community.

Sure, there are people like me who care what happens to Byron. When I saw a “Free Bryron” button and asked what it was for, I ended up becoming a Free Byron supporter. I am not Byron’s friend, having never actually met him, although we’ve exchanged a couple of letters, and I watched a few days of one of his hearings.

I’m not a lawyer, nor am I in possession of all the facts. Still, I don’t believe Bryon Sonne is a terrorist, or anything like it. I think Byron is a good person who tried to stand up for what he believed was right.

I think Byron believed the protections in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would protect him. So far they haven’t much, and that scares me. That’s the main reason why I support Byron Sonne.

But I’m not part of “a movement,” just a citizen who hopes Canada is the country that I think it is, and that justice will prevail.

Byron Sonne has lost his wife, his home, his business, his reputation, his privacy and his liberty.

And I wonder what he has done to deserve this.

Byron Sonne is “still quite a ways away from being free”

Canadian Flag, Old City Hall, Toronto

Is Canada a free country?

Or is Canada a banana republic?

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. “

—André Marin, Promoting Good Governance and Human Rights: The Ontario Ombudsman’s Investigation of Events Surrounding the G20 Summit in Toronto

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.”

— Brendan Kennedy, Toronto Star: G20 accused Sonne out on bail; strict limits on Web use, leaving home

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?

It simply seems to be an attempt to make Byron Sonne look bad.

The group named by the Star that Byron must not associate with is the Toronto Community Mobilization Network which appears to be a collection of activists advocating for the civil rights for groups ranging from the disabled to indigenous peoples.  This seems at minimum to run contrary to Section Two of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

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.

recent articles

Jesse Brown: Byron Sonne gets bail. Finally.

Brendan Kennedy: G20 ‘geek’ Byron Sonne granted bail

Megan O’Toole: Man charged with possessing explosives before G20 granted bail

Toronto Mobilize: Court Support Needed for Byron Sonne

Tim McSorley: Byron Sonne granted bail; Crown to challenge conditions of his release

Denise Balkissoon: How Byron Sonne’s obsession with the G20 security apparatus cost him everything

David Harvey: Byron Sonne, Canada’s Political Prisoner

I got my title for this post from a tweet I found  under the #freeByron hashtag

@dr_kiwano (Kris Coward) says #FreeByron got bail, but is still quite a ways away from being free

Byron Sonne leaves courthouse
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