The Federal Government’s new Anti-terrorism Bill C-51 is sweeping, dangerously vague, and likely to face legal and constitutional challenges on many fronts. Terrorism is a real threat and requires effective measures to keep Canadians safe but we should not have to choose between our security and our rights and freedoms. We need a responsible, principled, balanced approach.
As Canadians rally across the country in opposition to the anti-terror bill, I hope that the Harper Government will be open to NDP amendments to Bill C-51 that will make the bill better. Bill C-51 with its broad, vague definitions threatens the civil rights and freedoms of all Canadians, including freedom of speech, right to privacy, especially online, and security. Anyone who criticizes the Government’s social, economic, and environmental policies could be targeted by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), for example, social activists, First Nations, environmentalists, critics of the government’s foreign policy, labour activists, political foes etc.
The anti-terror bill gives sweeping new powers to CSIS without equally enhancing oversight. Nor is there any plan in the bill to work with communities on concrete, effective measures to counter radicalization of youth.
I am disappointed that Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party have chosen to side with the Harper Conservatives to support the passage of this deeply flawed bill that threatens our rights and freedoms and erodes our Canadian way of life.
Bill C-51 must be amended to strengthen oversight, protect Canadians’ civil liberties, and counter the radicalization of youth in Canada. Canadians deserve better.
President, SDSG Federal NDP riding association