According to a newly released memo that was obtained under the Access to Information Act, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has now established a multilateral forum of trusted partners, for the objective of sharing information on suspected extremists who are traveling abroad. The group of trusted partners extends far beyond the Five Eyes spy network agreement, which Canada is a part of. Amnesty International Canada has said that the CSIS memo evokes the same sort of “information-sharing” that previously led to the torture of four Arab-Canadians after the 9/11 attacks. Coincidentally, the memo was drafted only weeks before a gunman shot a soldier at the National War memorial and then stormed Parliament Hill in Ottawa. It came as no surprise to some that following the attack, new sweeping security legislation was introduced with the promise that it would make us safer.
The task of combating terrorism, which has been taken up by Canadian authorities, along with the U.S. and other nations, is an objective that is a global one. Regardless of there being little legal or statistical reasoning for us to engage in these wars, and to pass legislation which broadly overrides natural or Constitutional rights, we continue with our efforts nonetheless. As CSIS continues to grow its surveillance mechanism and presses to reach for more power, it's understandable that Canadians should be weary (yes, even those with “nothing to hide”), because of the lack of clear oversight that this institution operates with. The blind ambition from Canadian authorities to chase after terrorists and the threat of terror, regardless if it poses a threat to the innocent along the way, is a growing risk to the safety of Canadian citizens who value their privacy and due process of law in this country.
As support for C-51 dwindles, and amendments are considered, it feels like it's only a matter of time before some other freedom in this country is lessened in the name of combating terrorism. For now, there remains staunch opposition to Bill C-51, thanks to the many prominent citizens who have been unafraid to speak-out against it and encouraged others to do the same. The state continues to press forward with C-51, repeatedly falling back on the claim that they fear future terrorist attacks. Unfortunately, their solution of initiating violence on a sovereign country (Syria), is a quick way to make matters even worse than they are now.
The federal government claims that Canadians are vulnerable to attack because their departments can't share information easily enough with one another, a claim which has been rebutted by legal experts who contend that Canada has necessary systems and tools in place to currently deal with any terrorist threat. Rather than just being about the risk to Canadians alone, overall this is about global information sharing on mostly innocent citizens, and terrorism is unsurprisingly going to be the repeatedly used excuse; nothing works better than fear.
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