Thursday, June 04, 2015

Protection from Terrorism or Loss of Human Rights? - Bill -51

If Bill C-51 passes this is what the Charter of Rights will look like:
Trudeau's support of C-51 has some Liberals seeing orange
Jane Taber The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, July 10, 2015
Why the Liberals supported the anti-terror bill
John Fenik is the Mayor of Perth, a picturesque community just southwest of Ottawa. A card-carrying Liberal for more than a decade, Mr. Fenik turned in his membership card a couple of months ago, and is now the NDP candidate for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, one of the bluest Tory ridings in the country.An uphill battle, for sure, but Mr. Fenik said he couldn’t support leader Justin Trudeau any longer because of his decision to support Bill C-51 – the Conservative government’s anti-terrorism legislation. He felt there had to be another voice in the riding. "It was not easy leaving," says Mr. Fenik. "I felt my principles and my values reflected more with [NDP leader Thomas Mulcair] who is taking leadership on these issues." His concerns with Bill C-51 were over the lack of parliamentary oversight and the implications for peoples’ rights and freedoms, he said.
The Trudeau Liberals have been weakened by their support for the bill. They know it. So do the NDP, who are riding high in the national opinion polls and trying to capitalize on the grief Grits are taking over it. The once popular bill quickly lost favour with Canadians and the NDP’s sustained opposition to it looks more principled to some people than the Liberals’ decision to support it but modify it if they form government.
Like Mr. Fenik, Diane Freeman, a professional engineer and veteran city councillor in Waterloo, says she was a Liberal member for the past 10 years – but turned in her membership in March. Mr. Trudeau’s position on Bill C-51 was the last straw. "It fundamentally undermines civil liberties of Canadians. There was no requirement for the Conservatives to need the support of the opposition." She is now the NDP candidate for Waterloo, a riding held by the Conservatives. She was approached by the NDP to run.
Liberal MPs were not all on the same page initially that supporting the controversial bill was the best tactic. Behind the closed caucus doors, there were "intense" discussions, according to Liberal insiders. But Montreal MP and former justice minister Irwin Cotler’s support for the bill (with amendments) was powerful – and swayed some MPs. Mr. Cotler is a human-rights expert and it’s hard to accuse him of not being sensitive to issues of rights and liberty, notes a senior Liberal official.
There was also "real concern," says the official, that the Liberals were walking into a Stephen Harper trap if they joined the NDP in opposing the bill. At the time, there was huge support across the country for the security legislation and some Liberals feared Mr. Harper would call a snap election and then portray himself and his party as the champions of security.
Wayne Easter, a PEI Liberal MP and former solicitor-general under Jean Chrétien, is the lead Liberal on Bill C-51. He says the NDP is using the bill as a "propaganda tool" against the Liberals. "They are using the fear factor and misinformation just as relentlessly on their side to attack us as Stephen Harper was using the fear of a terrorist under every rock on the other side," says Mr. Easter.
"I think it has hurt us to date," he says. "But, I also believe that as time goes on and people see through time, the balanced position we have taken. I trust Canadians."
The Liberal source says that their polling suggests it is "not the vote determiner the Dips would have people believe."
Mr. Mulcair says he would repeal the legislation but has not specified what he would replace it with. Mr. Easter says it’s well-known where Mr. Mulcair stands on the civil-liberties side of the bill but "where does he stand on the security side?"
"They have never stood for security," says Mr. Easter. "And nobody really knows where Thomas Mulcair stands yet."
The Liberals, says Mr. Easter, will amend the law to include oversight provisions; bring in sunset clauses on offensive parts of the bill; and put parameters on the sharing of certain data.
"We can fix bad legislation in the future and we are proposing how we would do that in our platform but we cannot fix infrastructure or a building that has blown up and people are killed. We can’t fix that," says Mr. Easter.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. (Canadian Press)
Andrea Horwath’s power play
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has adopted a new summer strategy to capitalize on the blurring of lines between the federal and provincial Liberals. It helps both her and federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. She unveiled it in Windsor recently during a town hall she organized to fight the Ontario Liberal government’s partial privatization of Hydro One.
In her speech, she argues that Premier Kathleen Wynne didn’t give Ontarians a chance to vote for or against the sale of Hydro One in last year’s provincial election – but there’s a federal election coming up, she says, providing an opportunity to show opposition to the Hydro One sale by voting against the federal Liberals.
Ms. Horwath is planning to hold more town halls over the summer and has been pushing hard against the sale – the NDP characterize it as the "Liberal government’s plan to privatize your Hydro One." Some federal Liberals are concerned the opposition to Ms. Wynne’s new sex-education curriculum will cost them votes. Could this also hurt them?

Bill C-51, Freedom of Assembly and Canadians’ Ability to Protest

Demonstrators attend a protest on a national day of action against Bill C-51 outside the Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver, Saturday, March 14, 2015. PHOTO: CP/Jonathan Hayward
Saturday, June 27, 2015
By Alexandra Theodorakidis
Bill C-51, the Conservative government’s anti-terrorism bill, received royal assent on June 18 and is now law in Canada.
In addition to myriad concerns, the new law will violate Canadians’ ability to protest, which is an essential part of any democracy. Protests increase public awareness of an issue and place pressure on governments and lawmakers to enact policies and laws that are in the best interest of all citizens.
As we pass the fifth anniversary of June 2010’s G20 summit and protests in Toronto, Canadians’ freedom of assembly rights are under threat from new legislation like Bill C-51.
What is Bill C-51?
Bill C-51 is a piece of anti-terror legislation introduced by the Conservative government that has recently passed into law. Critics of the new law argue that it violates the rights and freedoms of Canadians as protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It expands police power to act against suspected terrorist actions, including the ability to arrest without a warrant anyone they suspect may engage in or promote terrorist offences, and increased sharing of your personal information among government offices. The bill will also have implications on our rights to protest and freedom of assembly.
Which rights are currently protected?
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees to all Canadians freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
How will Bill C-51 affect these rights?
Exactly how Bill C-51 will affect the freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression is not made explicitly clear within the bill itself. While the government has protected lawful advocacy, there is other language within the bill that suggests activist groups and protesters could be targeted for their actions.
Within Bill C-51, the definition of what constitutes a threat to national security is broad and non-specific, making it difficult to understand how protesting in particular is affected. Any activities that undermine the security of Canada, including interfering with the economic or financial stability of Canada, are offences under Bill C-51.
This definition allows for a broad interpretation of what constitutes a threat to national security: a protest calling for action on missing and murdered Indigenous women that blocks a highway, or an environmental protest that fails to secure the proper permits, could warrant widespread arrests.
Additionally, up until now, police have required evidence that a person will carry out a terrorist act for an arrest to take place. Under Bill C-51, police now have the power to arrest a person without a warrant based on suspicion that they might carry out an act of terrorism. This increased power lowers the threshold for what actions could have you arrested.
Police in Canada also have a history of arbitrarily arresting citizens participating in peaceful protests. During the G20 summit in Toronto in June 2010, the largest mass arrest in Canadian history took place, with 1,100 people arrested over the course of the protests. The protests were largely peaceful with the exception of a small number of protesters who broke away to vandalize buildings and set fire to police cruisers.
The police arrested and detained protesters, members of the media, human rights observers and bystanders who had not been involved in the violent protests. With Bill C-51 now law, the police have the legal right to detain protesters that they believe are likely to inspire acts of terrorism or threaten national security under broad definitions of the terms.
How could this affect you?
Rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, along with the ability of citizens to protest their government, are essential to any functioning democracy. The Canadian government has the ability to decide which individuals or groups will be targeted for further scrutiny, with increased powers under Bill C-51 to silence them. This has led to some concern over whether the government will target organizations whose views do not match up with the Conservatives.
Some organizations such as Greenpeace—which has previously been under government surveillance—are concerned that the new law will take aim at Aboriginal and environmental activists groups in particular. The RCMP has already said they believe the anti-petroleum movement is a growing threat to national security. These groups are justifiably concerned that Bill C-51 will be used as an excuse to spy on protesters and others who vocally express views that counter government stances.
With the newly expanded mandate of CSIS and the increased sharing powers between government departments with information about persons deemed threats to national security, Canadian citizens who take part in protests that are deemed “unlawful”—a term that could include not securing the appropriate noise by-law exemption for loud megaphone use after 7pm—are at risk of being placed under surveillance or arrested by their government under an anti-terrorism law.


Alexandra Theodorakidis is a former CJFE intern and current freelance journalist based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @AlexandraTheo.



Canadian Security Bill puts Your Rights at Risk

UPDATE: The bill has been passed in the House and is now in the Senate. The government still need to hear from you!  >>
Bill C-51, The Anti-Terrorism Act, forms the core of the most comprehensive reforms to the Canada ’s national security laws since 2001. Widely expanded powers and new criminal offences raise serious human rights concerns including:

  1. A vague definition of “threats” that could include a wide range of protest activity that may not be lawful, but is certainly not criminal.
  2. Asking Federal Court judges to authorize CSIS “threat reduction” activities that could include human rights violations in Canada and in other countries.
  3. Suppressing freedom of expression by making it a crime to advocate or promote the commission of terrorism offences “in general”.
  4. Lowering the threshold for, and extending the duration of, preventative detention without charge.
  5. Expanded information-sharing without sufficient safeguards to prevent the sharing of unreliable, inaccurate, or inflammatory information domestically and internationally.
  6. Inadequate appeal procedures for individuals who find their names on no-fly lists.
  7. No increased review or oversight of increasingly complex national security activities.
Read Amnesty International's Brief submitted to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security

Governments have not only the right, but the responsibility to respond to concerns about threats and attacks – including terrorism – and protect their citizens. But not at any cost. 
Recent history is all too full of examples on every continent of what can happen when security laws and practices disregard human rights: torture and ill-treatment, indefinite detention, unfair trials, unlawful killings, irresponsible arms transfers, civilian casualties, profiling and other forms of discrimination, and crackdowns on protest and dissent.
Canada’s own complicity in a number of cases including Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati, Muayyed Nureddin, Omar Khadr, Abousfian Abdelrazik, and Benamar Benatta remains unresolved.Laws intended to protect us from threats should not put our human rights at risk. Join Amnesty’s call to withdraw Bill C-51. National security reforms must meet Canada’s human rights obligations.