NDP MP Randall Garrison introduces bill to repeal Bill C-51
On Monday, New Democrat MP Randall Garrison introduced a private members bill to repeal the Harper-era “secret police” legislation, Bill C-51 or Anti-terrorism Act, 2015.
Bill C-303 seeks to repeal “all aspects of Bill C-51, a bill in force for more than a year now, which still manages to infringe our civil liberties without making us safer.”
The then Conservative-dominated House of Commons passed Bill C-51 by a vote of 183 to 96 in May 2015 amid protests across the country. The Liberals voted with the Conservatives. The NDP, Green Party, Bloc Quebecois and independent MPs voted against the bill. The unelected Senate rubber-stamped Bill C-51 by a vote of 44 to 28.
Experts and rights groups say C-51 violates the Canadians Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Bill C-51 seeks to turn the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) into a 1984-style secret police force operating with neither oversight nor accountability. C-51 also gives Canada’s chief spy agency and “no less than 17 government agencies” the power to disrupt protests and other acts of legitimate dissent in the name of combating threats to Canada’s national security.
“Canadians’ opposition to Bill C-51 has been vocal and overwhelming,” said Matthew Dubé, the NDP’s public safety critic. “After playing both sides of this debate, it’s time the Liberals show Canadians exactly where they stand on this Conservative legislation which infringes on civil liberties.”
According to Garrison, the NDP’s critic for national defence and LGBTQ issues:
This private member’s bill is about doing away with the overly broad definition of national security contained in Bill C-51 that allows surveillance of those engaged in legitimate defence of their rights, including aboriginal people and environmentalists. It is about restoring the fundamental principles of Canadian privacy law. It is about doing away with the powers Bill C-51 gave to CSIS to act illegally in secret without oversight. It is about eliminating the prohibition on free speech contained in the new broad definition of supporting terrorism in the Criminal Code. It is about restoring the previous standard that required reasonable grounds for police action in national security, instead of the grounds of mere suspicion as contained in Bill C-51.
We are putting forward our proposal today for what to do about the infringement of civil liberties in Bill C-51, and we await the government’s putting a specific proposal forward.
Earlier this month, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould announced the beginning of the much-anticipated public consultations on Bill C-51 and other national security issues.
Some privacy advocates are skeptical.
Micheal Vonn of the BC Civil Liberties Association says, the government’s national security green paper “reads like it was drafted by a public relations firm tasked with selling the current state of extraordinary, unaccountable powers and if anything, laying the groundwork for extending those even further.”
“Sadly, 300,000 people called for this consultation, but the government does not appear to have addressed it to them,” said David Christopher of the Internet rights group OpenMedia. “Instead, their language focuses on the concerns of police rather than the needs of Canadians.”
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