Legal Scholars, Ex-Prime Ministers Oppose Canada’s Bill C-51
The Canadian government is vilifying opponents of its secret police legislation, Bill C-51, rather than heeding a growing chorus of concern about a measure that would severely curtail civil liberties, Greenpeace Canada Executive Director Joanna Kerr wrote in an iPolitics post last week.
“More than 100 legal experts have written to parliamentarians to say that this legislation is dangerous—that it will make it harder to effectively fight terrorism while introducing unprecedented infringements on our rights and privacy,” Kerr writes. “Their concerns have been echoed by four former prime ministers, five former Supreme Court judges, the federal Privacy Commissioner, Amnesty International, the Assembly of First Nations, and a host of other organizations. Are they all terrorists?”
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Kerr chronicles the poor treatment she and other witnesses received from government members of the House committee studying C-51.
“The Harper government is employing a very dangerous strategy—stoking the politics of fear and division in order to distract voters from the state of the economy,” she writes. “[Prime Minister Stephen] Harper’s dream of turning Canada into what he has called an ‘energy superpower’ by rapidly expanding tar sands exports has proved to be a bad bet for our economy and a political liability. So as oil prices drop, the Conservatives ratchet up the rhetoric on terror.”
On Friday, iPolitics reported on the Canadian Bar Association’s conclusion that C-51 contains “ill-considered” provisions that will erode civil liberties and shred the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, without making the country more safe. “It argues the bill’s ‘vague and overly broad language’ would capture legitimate activity, including environmental and aboriginal protests—and possibly put a chill on expressions of dissent,” writes Jim Bronskill.
And on CTV’s Question Period, Mi’kmaq lawyer, academic, and activist Pam Palmeter said three federal departments are already tracking her. “Any activity by anyone in Canada which relates to or poses a potential threat to things like the economy, critical infrastructure, diplomatic relations, territorial integrity, and sovereignty of all things, can be on this terror list,” she sad.
“So that essentially puts in the realm any First Nation that’s ever declared sovereignty in this territory and any environmental group that’s ever interrupted the economy.”