Bill C-51: You’re Probably A Terrorist
Now let me get one thing straight: I am not a terrorist. Sure I have made some questionable decisions in the past (like eating an entire pizza at 4 am or watching Netflix for twenty hours straight just to name a few…) but I love my country and would do anything to defend our rights and freedoms (including the right to pizza).
This is why I have decided to write this blog post concerning Bill C-51: The Anti-Terrorism Act put forth by the majority elected Canadian, Conservative government. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks you will by now have heard the backlash this bill has received from former politicians, university professors, environmentalists, indigenous groups, students, regular citizens, and pretty much anyone not in the Conservative caucus, people who are scared of the direction Canada is headed in and the decline of our freedoms and rights.
Here’s what you need to know:
- ‘Security’ takes on a whole new meaning. Bill C-51 defines security so broadly that anything from supporting Quebec separatism to obstructing a highway route peacefully can all be considered threats to national security.
- The broadening of definitions continues as the government must now use “good judgment” when deciding which group or individuals are threats. Therefore, this “judgment” will change as governments change and as the goals of these governments change. Any citizen discontent could be targeted as a potential security threat.
- ‘Advocating or promoting terrorism’ has been added to the criminalization of speech; however, there is no burden of proof needed to illustrate that the offence will actually take place.Therefore, anybody who speaks of ‘terrorism’ could be detained or pose a potential threat. This point is very interesting as the Conservative government released an ad (at the beginning of March) attempting to gain support for Bill C-51 on Facebook© that showed terrorist pictures and had terrorist speech on it.The propaganda put out by the conservatives directly violates the Bill itself!
- Freedom of expression comes into direct conflict with the Bill as being a grounds for detainment or arrest.
- The no-fly list in Canada would become so secretive that only a review of a one-sided secret, government court proceeding would confirm its legality. These court proceedings are to determine whether CSIS is justified in going against the Canadian Charter; we will never know the evidence given or if it concerned us.
- The RCMP would be able to request confidential documents from Health Canada or the Canadian Revenue Agency without a warrant.
- Arrest and Detention would become a daily occurrence, as this bill doubles the amount of time an innocent person can be detained, while also justifying detention based on might or future dangerousness.
- CSIS would now have the ability to act on, rather than just collect data, turning CSIS into a secret police force with more power, even though we already have a more than confident RCMP to carry out police duties.
Bill C-51 is a fear-mongering campaign that is using terrorism and security threats as its justification. All of the issues addressed in the Bill are not so much to protect Canadians from outside security threats as to protect the government from Canadians who disagree with their policies or economic practices. Any terrorism or security aims that are met with Bill C-51, are at the expense of the rights of each and every Canadian by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Bill C-51 effects all of us, not just ‘extremists’ or ‘environmentalists’.
There is no denying that the world system is concerned most with securitization, privacy, and economic development. What is not understood is why these concerns are directly challenging not only our economic, social, and political rights but also our fundamental rights and freedoms upheld under the Canadian Charter. Why must we take 10 steps back for our constitutional rights just so we can . . . move “forward” in the name of security?
If you feel the same way I do, I urge you to contact your local MP or MPP, join the peaceful protest in front of Parliament right now and get the conversation going! I know we all have our own lives and taking to the street may be a thing of the past but write a letter, talk to your friends, read the bill (if you like horror novels). I urge you: do not be stagnant!
I want to be proud of my country, but most importantly I want to be proud of the Canadian people for not letting our rights be stripped from us and undoing all the hard work of our ancestors. Let us remember that it was not the government that decided to implement Universal Healthcare but people like you or me protesting in the street against the government that got us to where we are today.
It is not the end goal but the road that gets us there, and right about now I would like to do a U-turn and find a road less travelled because I do not like where Canada is headed in the very near future. I am not a terrorist, nor do I wish bad things on any Canadian, but standing up for our rights and freedoms against a government that wants to take them away is our duty as citizens, and if that makes us terrorists, so be it. I have faith and hope in every Canadian to express his or her concern for this undemocratic and repressive bill, so that all of our rights are protected and we can continue to hold ourselves to the anti-repressive and democratic country that we are.
Taylor Donaldson is a 4th-year student at Carleton University obtaining her Undergraduate degree in Political Science and Human Rights. Graduating this summer, she hopes to continue her studies through travel and volunteering, while furthering her involvement in the environmental community.