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Conservatives and Liberals pass C-51 in the House of Commons

Hamilton chapter activist Kathie Clark speaks at rally against C-51.

Hamilton chapter activist Kathie Clark speaks at rally against C-51

A so-called “anti-terrorism” bill opposed by the Council of Canadians has been passed by the House of Commons.

The Canadian Press reports, “The Anti-Terrorism Act, also known as Bill C-51, easily passed third reading by a margin of 183 to 96, thanks to the Conservative government’s majority and the promised support of the third-party Liberals. …Prior to the vote, the Opposition New Democrats voted noisily — and in vain — in favour of proposed amendments that they say would have added a level of oversight and stronger privacy protections, among other things.” The Green Party also opposed C-51.

A Globe and Mail editorial warns:

“The bill’s most troubling provisions give unprecedented powers to government departments, to police and to CSIS, the country’s spy agency. Departments will be able to share private information about any person or group deemed a threat to national security. There are protections for ‘lawful’ advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression, but the very fact that the bill makes an exception for things that should so obviously be allowed to exist without government interference is concerning.

The law also makes it a crime to communicate support for terrorism ‘in general’ – a provision that could be applied to anyone sharing an online comment that is unrelated to the commission of terrorism offences.

As for CSIS, it will be allowed to ‘reduce’ terrorism threats, but the government has never defined ‘reduce’. We still don’t know if CSIS agents can detain and interrogate people without proceeding through the Criminal Code and other legal avenues. We do know CSIS will be allowed to violate a suspect’s Charter rights if it can obtain a warrant to do so in a secret hearing with a judge.”

Council of Canadians chapters have taken part in days of actions and organized public forums against C-51. Council of Canadians Sudbury chapter activist Andre Clement has commented, “Right now, we can’t trust the government in power to look after the concerns and the interests of Canadian citizens. We fear this bill is being rammed through the House with a majority government and we want people to know there are several very serious problems with the bill.”

C-51 now heads to the Senate (where the Conservatives hold the majority of seats) for approval. Governor General David Johnston is expected to give the bill Royal assent within weeks.

Further reading
27 chapters take part in national day of action against C-51 (March 2015 blog)
What’s in Harper’s proposed Bill C-51 ‘Security of Canada’ legislation? (February 2015 blog)