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Council of Canadians chapters protest C-51 on eve of Senate vote


Council of Canadians chapters were on the streets yesterday to protest against C-51.

Metro News explains, “The legislation, which was adopted by the House of Commons in early May, gives the Canadian Security Intelligence Service more power to thwart suspected terrorist plots — not just gather information about them. It also increases the exchange of federal security information, broadens no-fly list powers and creates a new criminal offence of encouraging someone to carry out a terrorist attack. In addition, the bill makes it easier for the RCMP to obtain a peace bond to restrict the movements of suspects and extend the amount of time they can be kept in preventative detention.”

News 1130 adds, “Bill C-51 was passed in Parliament [on May 6] by the Conservatives and Liberals. It was rejected by the federal NDP, the Green Party and the Bloc Quebecois.”

On that 183-96 vote in the House of Commons, Council of Canadians St. John’s chapter activist Ken Kavanagh has commented in the media, “The Liberals supported Bill C-51 right from the start because they’re afraid to look like they’re against security — they’re afraid of political backlash. …To say that they would attempt to change this [bill] when they get into power, and not take a stand against it now, to me is the most cowardly thing I’ve heard of. That doesn’t make any sense. Your job in opposition is to challenge legislation and policy of the governing party, and if there are some serious issues with it, to stand up against it.”

A Senate vote on C-51 is expected this coming week.

On May 12, the Ottawa Citizen reported, “Most of the 29 Senate Liberals will vote against the government’s politically charged security bill, C-51, even though Liberals in the House of Commons supported the legislation.” It has also been noted that, “15 Senators oppose the bill, 5 support it and 62 are undecided or undeclared.” On May 19, Council of Canadians democracy campaigner Dylan Penner (who was at yesterday’s protest in Ottawa) wrote, “It doesn’t happen often, but there are precedents for the Senate amending bills and sending them back to the House of Commons or rejecting them outright. Public pressure can increase the possibility of this happening with C-51.”

Protests took place yesterday in Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Toronto, Regina, London, Windsor and numerous other cities.

The London chapter writes, “In spite of threatening skies, London, Ontario’s march against Bill C-51 was almost rain free and covered a good swath of the city! The Council of Canadians, London, Ontario banner is toward the back this time, but we were there! Special thanks go to Roberta Cory, Celeste Lemire, Aldous H Richards, and Rob McQueen for making all of the noise makers that were used to great effect in augmenting the impact of this march!”


The Windsor chapter notes, “Council of Canadians Windsor/Essex chapter with other groups and activists protested C51 AGAIN. This time because the bill is in the Senate. Last chance to kill this bill. Go here and tell senators to Kill This Bill.”


And the Vancouver chapter (who are featured in the News 1130 news-photo for that protest) says, “Lots of letters were sent to Senators urging them to vote against this Bill.”

Chapters have also protested against C-51 on previous national days of action as noted in these campaign blogs from March 14 and April 18.

The Council of Canadians is one of numerous organization supporting a #StopC51 petition calling on Senators to stop C-51. As of this morning, 234,994 people have signed the petition. To add your voice to this, please click here.

If C-51 is passed in the Senate this week, it next goes to the Governor-General for Royal Assent which is expected to be granted before the dissolution of Parliament on June 23.

Further reading
What’s in Harper’s proposed Bill C-51 ‘Security of Canada’ legislation? (February 2015 blog)