The Conservative Party would have you believe that anyone opposing the proposed Bill C-51 is a ‘conspiracy theorist.’ Most boomers believe that the Bill will never make it through Canada’s Supreme Court, chock full as it is with civil right offenses, so we should all just calm down.
Staunch Con allies, such as the Ottawa Sun, are playing the label game to, inferring that “Commies oppose anti-terror bill” in response to Canada wide marches by people who massed to protest a threat to their civil rights.
(And just to make one thing perfectly clear – The Communist Party of Canada (CPC) is a legal entity, and has “in the past been elected to the federal Parliament, the Ontario Legislature, the Manitoba Legislature, and various municipal governments. The party has also contributed significantly to trade union organizing and labour history in Canada, peace and anti-war activism, and many other social movements.” (Wikipedia)
Those who speak out against governmental overreach are used to being maligned. In 2012, the government killed its Internet snooping bill, C-30, after an online backlash and when it couldn’t recover from then public safety minister Vic Toews comparing opponents of C-30 as being friends of child pornographers.
The Liberal Party under leader Justin Trudeau has backed the legislation, which may well be the decision that nips his political career in the bud.
From the first moment I got wind of Stephen Harper’s proposed Bill C-51, I have been openly criticizing its very existence. Many other people agree, including some allies of the Harper government, the National Firearms Associate, Tory MP Michael Chong, The Canadian Bar Association, Leader of the Opposition NDP’s Thomas Mulcair, aboriginal groups, and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
Greenpeace Canada Executive Director Joanna Kerr wrote in an iPolitics post last week. “More than 100 legal experts have written to parliamentarians to say that this legislation is dangerous—that it will make it harder to effectively fight terrorism while introducing unprecedented infringements on our rights and privacy. Their concerns have been echoed by four former prime ministers, five former Supreme Court judges, the federal Privacy Commissioner, Amnesty International, the Assembly of First Nations, and a host of other organizations. Are they all terrorists?”
As the meetings and debates drag on in Parliament (on your tax dollar,) key legal voices blocked from C-51 committee debate include the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Daniel Therrien, the Criminal Lawyers Association, Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault, former CSIS Inspector General Eva Plunkett, chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee Deborah Gray and former SIRC chair Chuck Strahl.
The Mozilla project, the open-source software community behind the Firefox browser, has issued a statement urging the federal government not to go ahead with Bill C-51.
“C-51 is sweeping in scope, including granting Canadian intelligence agencies CSIS and CSE new authority for offensive online attacks, as well as allowing these agencies to obtain significant amounts of information held by the Canadian government. The open-ended internal information-sharing exceptions contained in the bill erode the relationship between individuals and their government by removing the compartmentalization that allows Canadians to provide the government some of their most private information (for census, tax compliance, health services, and a range of other purposes) and trust that that information will be used for only its original purposes. This compartmentalization, currently a requirement of the Privacy Act, will not exist after Bill C-51 comes into force.
“The Bill further empowers CSIS to take unspecified and open-ended ‘measures,’ which may include the overt takedown of websites, attacks on Internet infrastructure, introduction of malware, and more all without any judicial oversight. These kinds of attacks on the integrity and availability of the web make us all less secure.”
The opponents are concerned about a lack of parliamentary oversight of intelligence agencies under the bill, as well as numerous privacy and civil liberties issues. The Canadian Bar Association has argued that it contains “ill-considered” measures that erode Canadians’ civil liberties without making them safer.
The bill’s “vague and overly broad” language means it could be used to harass protesters and put a chill on legitimate dissent, the group said. The broad nature of information-sharing between government agencies would erode trust in government, and the Association described the Canadian bill as “even more concerning” than the controversial CISA bill making its way through the U.S. Congress.
From Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien::” “This is really about big data, which relies on massive amounts of information that can be analyzed algorithmically to spot trends, predict behaviours and make connections.”
Canada’s foremost Internet law expert Michael Geist: “”The scope of sharing is exceptionally broad, covering 17 government institutions with government granting itself the right to expand sharing to other departments. In fact, the bill even permits further disclosure “to any person, for any purpose.” In other words, there are few limits on how information the government collects can be shared internally, with other governments, or with any entity it sees fit.”
Steve Anderson, national coordinator for internet freedom advocate OpenMedia, also brought a 100,000-person petition against C-51 and said he felt Canadians were actually well informed on the topic and should be encouraged to enter debates over it rather than be “disrespected.”
Anonymous also got into the action with its members posting a video to Vimeo and creating an anti C-51 website. (http://www.opc51.gq/)
Actually, even writing this blog has likely landed me on the ever growing list of people the Conservatives want to silence.
How bad could Bill C-51 be for Canada? Well, it’s even broader in scope than the United States’ Patriot Act, which was put into place after the events of 9/11, and has remained in place through the last 14 years and two presidents.
The bottom line of course, is that once put into place, it will stay there. It will replace the civil rights of Canadians with tyrannical surveillance.
With that in mind, we can look to what has happened in America during those 14 years. This video of an episode of VICE News discusses the impact of state-wide surveillance.
From Youtube: “Glenn Greenwald is an American journalist and author who’s best known for reporting on the leaks of classified National Security Agency documents by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Before he was a journalist, Greenwald was a constitutional law and civil rights litigator, and until 2012 he was a contributing writer at Salon. He has authored four books: How Would a Patriot Act, Tragic Legacy, Great American Hypocrites, and With Liberty and Justice for Some. For 14 months Greenwald was a columnist at the Guardian, where he broke the first NSA story in June of 2013.”
VICE Meets Glenn Greenwald: Snowden’s Journalist of Choice
Although the entire episode is interesting and through provoking, if you skip forward to the9.50 mark, Mr Greenwald specifically discusses what the Patriot Act has done to American civil rights.
He discusses the first report that he published of Snowden’s information about a top secret order issued by the foreign intelligence surveillance court, which forced Verizon to give the FBI metadata from millions of American’s phone calls. (Metadata is not so much communication, as it is data ABOUT communication – who you are in contact with, how often, your location, and your emails – both to and from. This supplies much more information than just eavesdropping on your actual phone calls.)
As he says, you may feel you have ‘nothing to hide,’ but if asked to give someone all of your social media and email passwords, so that that person might troll through the information, and publish whatever they found, you’d be justifiably upset.
In the U.S. the NSA has access to the central servers of nine major internet companies, including Google, Yahoo, Apple, and Facebook. The NSA wants ALL data to be public.
People who are in favour of Bill C-51, like the citizens of America, want ‘bad’ people to be watched. But most of the spying done by the NSA has nothing to do with crime or terrorism; it has to do with economic espionage and people monitoring. So much so that the government is having to build giant storage facilities to house the collected data. Uncovering any information in this giant pile of data is more akin to finding a needle in a haystack – it’s unnecessary, and it’s contrary to the stated need of anticipating terrorist activity.
What it is doing, however, is causing people to submit to authority in the name of love of country.
In relation to the Patriot Act, those who said it was “a radical piece of legislation, really dangerous, and an abandonment of all values,” didn’t anticipate that this gathering of data would affect everyone, not just terrorists. Even those painting the grimmest picture of what the act could lead to were warning that it had lowered the standard too much, from probable cause to just relevance, so that it would enable to government to target people too easily.
“But everybody assumed, even the most ardent opponents of the Patriot Act, that it was still going to be targeted investigation. Nobody ever thought the act would be distorted and misinterpreted to authorize and justify bulk, indiscriminate, suspicion less collection of the communication data of every single American Citizen. As it has been.”
“If you are somebody who exercises power, and you can know everything that everybody is doing – what they say, what they read, what they think, what they plan, with whom they’re interacting – and at the same time, build a wall of secrecy around what you’re doing, so that nobody can actually see or know what it is that you are choosing, the power imbalance becomes amazingly acute. Which is why all tyrannies instinctively use surveillance as one of their principle weapons.”
So it’s really, at it’s core, about increasing the power of the U.S. government vis a vis it’s own population and people around the world.“
When asked if America is becoming a tyranny: “I think labels are sometimes unhelpful, just because words like that are so inflammatory, and I think people are inculcated, are sort of trained to believe, that tyranny is something that happens in places like Iran and Russia, and not in nice place like America. So the minute you apply that label, people react instinctively, as though you’ve said something radical on their brain charts.
“What I can say for sure is that there are patterns that are the hallmark of tyranny, one of which is mass, indiscriminate, suspicion less surveillance, that the U.S. government is increasingly relying upon, to maintain control, and to shield itself from legitimate challenge. I mean, whether someone wants to call that tyranny or not, I’ll leave that semantic debate to others. But that power is clearly tyrannical in nature.”
Can we not learn from the United States` progressively more paranoid and oppressive surveillance laws? Must Canadians learn these lessons for themselves, and repeat a failed experiment that will destroy the freedoms and civil rights they treasured?
Harper has parlayed one mentally ill drug addict’s suicidal attack on Parliament into a terrorist threat, and now wants to impose the beginnings of a Canadian police state in Bill C-51. He`ll even take Canada into a war against the Islamic States, simply to enhance the fear he`s ramped up over terrorism, despite the fact that doing so could actually make Canada a primary target.
Bill C-51 oversteps all reason. There`s no room to tinker with this flawed and dangerous bill. It has to be stopped immediately. The people have spoken, but Harper and his cabinet of trained seals couldn`t care less. They are intent on shoving this bill into law, against the express wishes of the majority of Canadians. We cannot allow this to happen.