Bill C-51 – also referred to as the Anti-Terrorism Act – is a pretty unpopular now a-days, as the Tories watch the approval rating in the polls plummet as more and more people became aware of what its implementation would mean.
It has passed in the House of Commons with a vote of 183-96 which sparked continued protests across the country. If carried in the Senate, it would amend the criminal code and allow different government agencies to share information about *you*.
The current Harper government – now in power for nine years – wants Canadians to believe that this *you* is the gun-toting terrorist bringing the Canada-hate to the front lawn of the capitol.
While the *you* might actually be a young, First Nations girl attending community college concerned about the disappearance of her kin . Or the *you* might be the 60-something environmentalist who doesn’t believe it is prudent to run an oil pipeline through a watershed.
This said, the *you* that will probably be most impacted by the passing of Bill C-51 will be Indigenous rights activists.
Because by being an activist, you are intrinsically going against the state. And do you know who also goes against the state? Terrorists! …or so the Tory logic goes.
Indigenous academic, Pam Palmater, writes, “All of the rights, freedoms and liberties upon which Canadian democracy rests will be suspended with Bill C-51. This bill creates what has been described as Harper’s “Secret Police force” with terrifying expanded powers. The purpose of the bill is to eliminate any “threat to security of Canada” which includes any activity that undermines the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada. It also includes some of the following interference with the administration of justice; interference with diplomatic relations; the economic or financial stability of Canada; terrorism; and interference with critical infrastructure.”
So demonstrating against the tar sands pipeline across your traditional territory could be construed under Bill C-51 as, interfering with, “economic and financial stability of Canada”, as “terrorism” and as “interference with critical infrastructure”.
And if you live in B.C., don’t even think about shutting down the port again to protest the potential harm oil tankers could have on the ecosystem as that too could theoretically being construed as, interfering with, “economic and financial stability of Canada”, as “terrorism” and as “interference with critical infrastructure”.
Nevermind if anyone disrupts construction work along Enbridge Line 9. It’s the same story. *You* are not to interfere with, “economic and financial stability of Canada”, as “terrorism” and as “interference with critical infrastructure”.
Assembly for First Nations (AFN) Chief Perry Bellegarde is quite concerned with the potential for government misuse of this bill to brand any Indigenous dissent as a terrorist as they stand up for treaty or environmental rights.
Appearing before the House of Commons national security committee on Thursday March 12, 2015, he said, “The key issues at stake in Bill C-51 are the state’s power to place individuals or groups under surveillance, to monitor their everyday activities, to create criminal offenses that affect our ability to exercise our legally recognized rights, and the overall relationship of state power to fundamental human and indigenous rights.”
Bellregarde also noted the lack of consultation – again –regarding legislation that could potential affect settler government and Indigenous relations.
The AFN chief also told the crowd, “This generation is not going to forsake our ability to protect our lands and territories and rights that has ensured our survival.
Where is Idle No More when you need them?