The Canadian Senate just passed Bill C-51 Tuesday night in a vote of 44-28, making the controversial anti-terrorism bill the law after a sign-off by our Governor General.
The passing of this bill by the Senate was no great surprise as the Harper government had stacked it with party supporters.
That said, most of the independent Senators from the Liberal Party and independent Progressive Conservative Elaine McCoy voted against the bill. But that wasn’t enough
It didn’t help that NDP leader Thomas Muclair was all flip-floppity about his support for the bill. And Liberal leader Justin Trudeau defended his party’s support for the bill by claiming, “there are elements of this bill” that his party supported.
The problem lies in the name of the bill. Which politician in their right mind would come out on national television and claim they don’t support fighting “terrorism.”
Bill C-51 was first introduced at the end of January, 2015, with the Conservative government’s intention to extend Canada’s anti-terror laws beyond the pre-existing legislation that the former Liberal government implemented just after the 9/11 attacks.
In a way, Bill C-51 seems to play fast and loose with our Charter of Rights and Freedoms — Section 2 — “The fundamental freedoms are freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.”
Now yes, Section 1 of the Charter does give the government the right to curtail some of the Section 2 freedoms, but I believe nowhere to the extent wished by the Conservatives.
So like I said, Bill C-51 is named the “Anti-Terrorism Bill” by no mistake. It is meant to instill a fear in ordinary Canadians of some barbarian activist-other, when in fact the people Canadians are told to most likely “fear” are Indigenous rights or environmental activists; proudly homegrown resistance at that.
With the passing of this bill, some of our best community leaders risk criminalization for standing up for what they believe in, speaking their truth, putting themselves on the line to defend their communities or be in solidarity with others.
Critically in Bill C-51, it makes it illegal for anyone to interfere with the “economic and financial stability of Canada.”
I’m not exactly sure what this will mean for Indigenous and environmental activists as a blockade of a B.C. port to prevent tar sand tankers from sailing along our environmentally precious coastline or activists from occupying Enbridge Line 9 sites in fear of potential oil spills could in the Tory mind be considered as such.
The passing of Bill C-51 went against what most Canadians wanted, but Harper rammed it through with his majority government; perhaps as a legacy bill if things don’t go well for his party in the upcoming federal election in October of this year?
If Canadians keep the pressure up on the bill, it could become an election issue.
Until then, we must not fall into the trap of leading from a place of fear when it comes to defending the environment or standing up for Indigenous rights.
As we wait for the election — did you realize that Stephen Harper has been in power for nine years? — resistance is still possible.
Please check out the Kill Bill C-51 campaign for more information.
And please continue following #RejectFear on Twitter for more information.
I will also be updating you on any acts of resistance against this bill.
To end, here is a video of Justin Trudeau getting the third degree for his party’s support of the bill.