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Bill C-309 is the latest attempt by the Harper Government to strangle dissent.
Put forward by Alberta Wildrose backbencher MP Blake Richards, the Bill is an amendment to the Criminal Code. Specifically, it makes it illegal to wear a mask at an "unlawful" protest, a crime now punishable with a decade-long jail sentence.
Richards has gone on the record defending his Private Members Bill as a well-intentioned response to the Vancouver Riots, stating in the House of Commons that "this tool in no way restricts citizens' rights to expression or assembly. In fact, it serves to strengthen them."
What does it say about our democracy when the prime minister of the country can with impunity almost continuously demonstrate contempt for it and repeatedly violate its rules, conventions, and the independence of its institutions and agencies? Combined with a trend to disturbingly low turnouts in federal elections there is reason to start using the term crisis in describing Canadian democracy.
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The week of September 21 was an important one. Well, it is true that it is a special week when Muslims celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr and were happy congratulating and visiting each other. But for two other Muslim families, one in Ottawa and another in Montreal, this week had a special meaning.
I am speaking about Sophie Lamarche and her husband Mohamed Harkat who live in Ottawa, and about Adil Charkaoui and his family who live in Montreal. For Harkat and Charkaoui this week meant an extraordinary change in their lives.