It has been one year since the Conservative government decided to introduce Bill C-51 and then proceed to push through that legislation onto the Canadian people; with the help of the Liberal party. They decided to pass this controversial law despite widespread objection from citizens across the nation. C-51 was a big issue for many Canadians, it still is. However, it didn't appear as if Canada's political representatives were listening when they decided to go ahead and pass this law in the face of such extensive criticism from not only average citizens, but from respected members in the community as well; former security agents, policing experts, legal professionals, famous authors, human rights organizations, civil liberties advocates, and others. Even though the bill was passed and is now law, the Liberal party continues to push the promise that they are dedicated to taking a look at the law and possibly making amendments.
For many, they want to see more than just amendments made; they want the law repealed entirely. Micheal Vonn, policy director with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, recently told a group of law students that even with those proposed amendments, this law still poses an insidious threat to the fundamental rights of all Canadians. Not only are voters expecting the Liberals to make good on their promise to address this anti-terrorism legislation, but a Charter challenge has already been launched against it in court, by the Canadian Journalists for Freedom of Expression (CJFE) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA).
“In our view around C51, the argument is that various pieces of it are probably not Charter compliant and none of it is sound security policy,... However well intended, it represents a real and genuine danger to Canadians.” admitted Vonn. According to the recent annual report by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the report identified key privacy issues as a result of C-51, which now allows for an unprecedented amount of information to be disclosed, regarding Canadians' personal information, without that individuals knowledge and consent.
Not only does it seem to blatantly violate Charter rights, but there is also growing criticism over the fact that Bill C-51 doesn't accomplish the goal for which it was supposedly enacted. Former NSA Tech Director Bill Binney himself has also admitted that we don't need to sacrifice our liberty for security, and that bulk data collection is both useless and dangerous. Why would Canada then want to follow in the same failed footsteps of the U.S. with its phishing expedition which appears to neglect the civil liberties of the citizenry? Current spying programs have failed to produce any meaningful results and this is coming from those who have headed and worked with programs directly.
When it comes to Bill C-51, what is at stake is due process of law, security of the individual, the possibility for discrimination and inequality. The new legislation overrides existing provisions and it instead allows a sort of wholesale sharing with dozens of federal agencies, many of which have nothing to do with national security. For now, many activists, labor unions, legal scholars, civil liberties advocates, and others, continue to push for further public debate on the anti-terror law. And if Trudeau and the Liberals aren't prepared to stand up for the rights of Canadian citizens, then we'll have to wait and see what occurs in the courts with the legal challenge that has already been launched against it.
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