June 19, 2015

Why are conservatives supporting Bill C-51?

MJ SheppardRebel Blogger

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin, Reply to the Governor (11 November 1755)

C-51 is the single most statist, freedom crushing piece of Canadian legislation passed by Parliament in my lifetime, which is saying quite a bit, given that I was alive during the only implementation of the War Measures Act in October, 1970.  

The law is purportedly an anti-terrorist measure, but it actually says so much more than that. Things such as "disruption of the Canadian economy" are now classified as terrorist acts, which is overbroad and ripe for abuse. Groups on both the Left and the Right could be targeted under it. 

Don't believe me? Let's see what a uniformed RCMP has to say about it. 

Ironically, protesting C-51 is, in the eyes of the police, a terrorist act. Notice the phrase "When the demo's down, you become citizens again." That video was taken just three weeks ago.

Problematically, it is the police that will be granted extraordinary new powers to implement the law. And we saw just how restrained they were during the G20 Summit in Toronto five years ago. 

C-51 essentially says the following; 

1) The Constitution is no longer the supreme law of the land, the whims of our domestic spy agencies are. 

This cannot be stressed enough. The law explicitly allows for spies to violate both the law and the Charter rights of a suspect, if granted a judicial warrant. 

This is not how constitutional democracies have traditionally worked. Law enforcement and the judiciary have been answerable to the Constitution, not the other way around. I challenge anyone reading this to imagine a more dramatic expansion of the power of the state. 

2) Terrorism is so important that C-51 shouldn't be overseen by our elected representatives in Parliament. 

This is new for the Harper Conservatives, who have spent a full decade railing against the power of the unelected judiciary and bureaucracy over the will of Parliament. No longer. 

Should the Conservative Party ever again find itself in opposition, it will be interesting to see their reaction to learning about the national security measures of the government from the newspaper, like the rest of us. That, of course, assumes that they (or we) ever do, given that so much of this will remain secret.

3) Free speech isn't as free as it used to be, particularly political speech. 

Like it or not, terrorism is an inherently political act and often a paramilitary tactic. As has often been said, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Indeed, a number of terrorist groups have political wings that are represented in national governments. 

In that context, what does "advocacy" mean? Is the academic suggestion that, say, Hezbollah represents the aspirations of Lebanon's Shiite population now cause for imprisonment under the Criminal Code of Canada? If the peace accords in Northern Ireland fall apart, what then? I would be particularly careful of the neoconservative position that the MEK is an ideal instrument of regime change in Iran. Suicide bombing is a recognized terrorist tactic, but the Kurds have been known to employ it in fighting ISIS.

All of the above rely entirely on the views of the government at a given time, therefore they are highly selective. The long, hard battle over Section 13 of the Human Rights Code is quaint by comparison. You had to work pretty hard to actually go to jail under Section 13, which isn't true of C-51.

Support for C-51 seems to be predicated on the idea that Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party will be in power forever, which is a foolish and highly dangerous assumption. Future governments, particularly Left of centre governments, might take a very different view of what constitutes terrorism. 

And who will interpret that? The same judiciary and bureaucracy that Conservative supporters proclaim to despise. 

In fact, it's quite a bit worse than that. Criminal Code violations aren't often tried by federal prosecutors. That's usually handled by Crown attorneys appointed by and answerable to provincial governments. Would you like to gamble that the interpretations of Kathleen Wynne and Rachel Notley regarding "disruptions of the Canadian economy" line up with those of Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney? Are you comfortable giving Justin Trudeau or Thomas Muclair these extraordinary powers? If you support C-51, you had better be. 

Even though it doesn't take a great deal of imagination to see how this law can be misused to violate fundamental Canadian freedoms, there has not been, to my knowledge, many prominent conservative commentators speaking out against the law. Even those who have spent the last two years railing against the "High River gun grab" have either been supportive of C-51 or studiously quiet about it. 

Which is fine, I suppose, when it isn't their ox being gored. But someday it might be.  

C-51 should be the primary ballot issue for anyone who says that they care about freedom. It is incredibly disappointing that, on the Right, it isn't. 


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commented 2015-06-28 21:53:26 -0400
Really though, I understand your concerns and agree entirely.
commented 2015-06-28 21:49:39 -0400
I just want to be able to grow my garlic in peace. Without a license. LOL
commented 2015-06-27 17:14:22 -0400
I agree with C-51 because I trust our police forces and spy agencies to do the right thing and our legal system to protect our rights and freedoms. Canada is not a third world country where there is little oversight. We do not live in a totalitarian dictatorship since we got rid of the Chretien Liberals and their attempts to disarm Canadians. The government is already under extreme scrutiny and they know they would never get away with any real abuse. Extraordinary events call for extraordinary measures and the threats of terrorism are real. There are real horrors happening all the time in the world. If the government did nothing and Canadians died in a bombing or mass shooting, they would be held to account for not doing something. Pre-incident planning and taking preventative measures is common practise and this goes for our security and safety as well.
Those who oppose C-51 seem to be those who want to sabotage our civilization.
commented 2015-06-22 18:35:58 -0400
Why I don’t know. Harper pretty much ignored hundreds of conservative groups and individuals who only wanted to amend the legistlation. Why Harper? He then provided no accountability of CSIS for their increased powers. Do you realize they move from a intelligence GATHERING organization to one with a mandate to ACT? Also, the free speech language is far to vague. It is also political suicide. The polls show us a whopping NDP win this fall, all because the CPC and LIBS support this statist legislation.
commented 2015-06-22 09:59:55 -0400
I also don’t agree with the writer. One thing, though. If our current judiciary had any balls, and our current police forces had any balls or common sense, this whole thing would be unnecessary. I’m thinking of the points Lyndia brought up, regarding tree huggers vandalizing private and public property, FN’s standing on train tracks, that sort of thing. There already were plenty of laws and precendents in place, all the police and judiciary had to do was do their jobs instead of caving to the politically correct crowd. As far as terrorism is concerned, pretty much the same complaint. The bill really gives various police agencies to profile people, including Canadian citizens, with greater impunity. The whole thing is only made necessary because of the cowardice of the police forces.
commented 2015-06-21 17:40:47 -0400
What is with that cop? Where does he get off saying what he said? He should be reprimanded. It isn’t his place to interpret, its his job to maintain law and order. If he doesn’t even know what the law is how can he do his job properly.
commented 2015-06-21 15:11:39 -0400
Scaremongering paranoid nonsense. The bill could have avoided 90% of the controversy with 10% more oversight, qwhich is regrettable. I don’t support all of C-51 but ultimately some sort of security bill had to be passed in this age of Islamic terrorism, and what we have is less aggressive than what the Brits or US have even now. A mass casualty attack, or an attempt, similar to what happened is Spain or Britain, is inevitable. To sit and wait for it to happen it is insane.
commented 2015-06-21 15:07:18 -0400
The amount of crap I have heard about this bill really says something to me. In my opinion, it is the unions that are afraid of being held to account. They are the ones along with the ndp who are screaming about this bill. I really wish the federal government would use this bill to stop the indians from standing in front of trains; the activists from outside of Canada from stopping pipelines and the unions from sending in clowns to violently protest.
commented 2015-06-21 05:18:08 -0400
What a load of crap, MJ. I agree with the other commenters here. You clearly haven’t read Bill C-51, and provide no evidence from the Bill itself to support your ridiculous claims. Let’s examine them, one by one:
1) “The Constitution is no longer the supreme law of the land, the whims of our domestic spy agencies are.” Wrong. The key words are: “if granted a judicial warrant”. This hardly supplants the Constitution. The rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter, for example, have always been subject to the principles of fundamental justice, and such reasonable limits as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
2) “Terrorism is so important that C-51 shouldn’t be overseen by our elected representatives in Parliament.” You’re half right in that the threat of terrorism IS important, so much so that C-51 is vital to our ability to combat it. C-51 received full debate, and was treated the same as any other government bill. The Liberals even supported it. But the amendments C-51 makes to various federal acts and the Criminal Code don’t affect Parliament’s power of oversight. Moreover, you claim that this is a problem, but then you state the following: “Support for C-51 seems to be predicated on the idea that Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party will be in power forever, which is a foolish and highly dangerous assumption. Future governments, particularly Left of centre governments, might take a very different view of what constitutes terrorism.” Among other things, this is an obvious acknowledgement that our elected MPs in Parliament retain control and oversight over federal legislation, including C-51, and completely contradicts your second claim.
3) “Free speech isn’t as free as it used to be, particularly political speech.” Freedom of speech isn’t impacted by C-51 at all. Perhaps you are living under the delusion that freedom of speech in Canada is absolute, when in fact it’s always been subject to the same limitations as any other Charter-protected right. If you disagree, prove it.
You then ask, "[w]ould you like to gamble that the interpretations of Kathleen Wynne and Rachel Notley regarding “disruptions of the Canadian economy” line up with those of Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney?" Fortunately, I don’t have to, because jurisdiction and power over making criminal law is constitutionally entrusted to the federal government, and not to the individual provinces. The provinces can only enforce the Criminal Code as determined by the federal government, pursuant to their authority over provincial courts and “the administration of justice” in the provinces.
Finally, your statement that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” discloses an attitude of moral relativism that exemplifies why C-51 is so necessary. I’m sure it’s difficult to understand by someone who doesn’t believe there are absolute truths like “right” and “wrong”

From Bill C-51:
2. The following definitions apply in this Act.
“activity that undermines the security of Canada” means any activity, including any of the following activities, if it undermines the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada or the lives or the security of the people of Canada:
(a) interference with the capability of the Government of Canada in relation to intelligence, defence, border operations, public safety, the administration of justice, diplomatic or consular relations, or the economic or financial stability of Canada;
(b) changing or unduly influencing a government in Canada by force or unlawful means;
© espionage, sabotage or covert foreign-influenced activities;
(d) terrorism;
(e) proliferation of nuclear, chemical, radiological or biological weapons;
(f) interference with critical infrastructure;
(g) interference with the global information infrastructure, as defined in section 273.61 of the National Defence Act;
(h) an activity that causes serious harm to a person or their property because of that person’s association with Canada; and
(i) an activity that takes place in Canada and undermines the security of another state.
For greater certainty, it does not include lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.

MJ, you might want to take note of the last line in particular.
commented 2015-06-20 13:35:22 -0400
MJ, you make a lot of claims, but provide not proof of what you say.
commented 2015-06-20 00:32:36 -0400
What a load of do do MJ. You’re basing the first point of your complaint on what that stupid cop who doesn’t know his job says? He’s the expert? Show me the passage in bill C-51 where is says anything like , if you protest the Canadian economy, you could be labelled a terrorist. The Constitution and the Charter of rights are upheld with regard to c-51, you either have not read it, or you misread it. You are misrepresenting, either out of ignorance or deliberate intent.
commented 2015-06-19 17:42:04 -0400
Remember when the tree huggers spiked trees and endangered the lives of loggers and mill workers. Then the mills had to go to the expense of putting in detection equipment. I wonder how many of those ecoterrorists were ever caught. There has to be something in place to insure the safety of our citizens that work for a living and contribute to the economy. If terrorism of all stripes is not crushed then the economy will suffer
commented 2015-06-19 16:53:56 -0400
Regardless, it is all subject to Judicial Review before anything can be done. Given how the courts have been treating cases lately, this may go nowhere fast. I am quite happy if this nabs some ISIS wannabes before they have a chance to murder Canadian citizens. If the courts sticks to terrorism issues originating from without, there is little danger despite all the fear mongering. What was it that Toronto protester said? Something about preventing him from growing herbs or something? Daft!