At least nineteen Council of Canadians chapters will be joining a national day of action against C-51 this weekend.
C-51 is the Harper government's so-called 'anti-terrorism' legislation (it can be read in full here). If passed, it would: 1) allow the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service to disrupt suspected terror activity, moving well beyond its current role of collecting intelligence and passing that on to the RCMP, 2) expand the no-fly list with only a government-defined process of appeal, 3) criminalize promoting terrorism, without properly defining those terms, 4) allow the bugging of private conversations, 5) give the power to remove 'terrorist' material from the Internet, 6) allow government departments to share your private information with security agencies, 7) lengthen the period of 'preventive' detention, 8) lower the threshold for arrest to those who 'may carry out' a terrorist act, and much more.
C-51 has been widely criticized:
- The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has stated, “There are still no answers as to why our existing laws and powers didn’t work — or if they didn’t work."
- A group of twenty-two prominent Canadians, including four former prime ministers and five former Supreme Court justices, says the bill lacks proper oversight and has called for greater oversight and the establishment of a committee of elected officials to monitor CSIS, as exists in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
- Former CSIS agent Francois Lavigne says, "If you give them more powers, if you lower the threshold, if you allow them to collect even more information, follow more people, detain people, inevitably it’s going to lead to lawsuits, to embarrassment. It’s not if it will happen. It’s when."
- Lawyer Lorne Waldman says, "The fact that we’re going to expand the information sharing with less and less controls over how information is shared is a huge problem, especially when we consider the lessons that we thought had been learned through the experiences of Maher Arar."
- David Suzuki has commented, "Language in the RCMP report [on activists opposing climate change] and Bill C-51 leaves open the possibility that the act and increased police and CSIS powers could be used against First Nations and environmentalists engaging in non-violent protests against pipelines or other environmentally destructive projects."
- And even the Globe and Mail has said C-51 would "turn our domestic spy agency into something that looks disturbingly like a secret police force."
The chapters taking action against C-51 on Saturday include: Nanaimo, Vancouver/Burnaby, Comox Valley, Delta/Richmond (in the BC-Yukon region), Red Deer, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Northwest Territories (in the Prairies-NWT region), Sudbury, Guelph, Hamilton, Ottawa, London, Peterborough-Kawarthas, Toronto, Peel Region (in the Ontario-Quebec region), and St. John's, Charlottetown (in the Atlantic region).
For more information about Saturday's protest against C-51, please see the Facebook event page here.
What's in Harper's proposed Bill C-51 'Security of Canada' legislation? (February 2015 blog)
Civil society slams Harper's new anti-terrorism legislation (February 2015 blog)