Who Watches the Watchers: Bill C-51 Goes Too Far
Ottawa (25 Feb. 2015) — As the federal government tries to push through Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, by limiting debate from expert witnesses and in the House of Commons, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is releasing its response to the legislation.
Many Canadians are unaware of what Bill C-51 says
“There is a great deal of scaremongering going on with this legislation,” said James Clancy, NUPGE National President. “We want to help Canadians distill the major issues in this legislation so they understand its impact on their lives.”
“The government is trying to convince people that this legislation is not harmful to people who are not doing anything wrong,” Clancy continued. “The problem is that there are questionable and vague aspects of this law that infringe on the rights of everyday Canadians.”
The publication Who Watches the Watchers: Bill C-51 goes too far says, “We all want to feel safe. We all want to live in communities where we’re free to enjoy doing things with our friends and our family without fear. But if the Conservative government’s Bill C-51 (a.k.a. the “anti-terrorism bill”) is passed into law, we’ll end up less safe and have more to fear.” The leaflet provides three (and a half) main points about why Bill C-51 is dangerous:
- It will compromise our safety, ruin Canada’s reputation as a rights-respecting nation and be a waste of money.
- It will make us all guilty until proven innocent.
- It will allow government and its agencies to violate our privacy at will.
The leaflet also encourages people to voice their concerns about the legislation to the government. Sign a petition (link is external), join LeadNow’s campaign (link is external) against C-51, write to the Prime Minister (link sends e-mail) and the leader of the Liberal Party (link sends e-mail) who support this legislation, and contact your Member of Parliament to ask them to oppose this bill.
Prominent Canadians speak out against legislation
This legislation is raising red flags for experts across the country. A detailed letter of warning was published in The Globe and Mail exposing the flaws in the legislation. It was written by four former Prime Ministers — Joe Clark, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin and John Turner — five former Supreme Court justices, seven former Liberal solicitors general and former ministers of justice, three past members of the intelligence review committee, two former privacy commissioners, and a retired RCMP watchdog — all voicing serious concern that the legislation is too broad, and lacks appropriate accountability, review and oversight.
The letter raises the problem that recommendations for a new oversight regime, proposed in 2006 following the inquiry into the Maher Arar torture affair, were never implemented.
These prominent Canadians, the Official Opposition New Democratic Party, and many others are urging the government to accept amendments to the legislation, but so far the Conservatives appear uninterested.
Government trying to deflect concerns about jobs and the economy with legislation before a federal election
More and more Canadians are realizing that the government is using this anti-terrorism legislation to drum up Conservative support prior to a federal election.
“While Canadians are disturbed by recent violence, many are more concerned with the lack of well paying jobs, cuts to public services, crumbling infrastructure and access to timely health care,” says Clancy. “This government is determined to change that channel at any cost. And the cost may be that we end up less safe than we are today.”