Bill C-51 gives too much power to police, CSIS

Douglas Channel Watch writes an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper

An open letter to:

Stephen Harper,

Prime Minister

Dear Sir:

Douglas Channel Watch was organized six years ago to oppose the Northern Gateway Pipeline. We realize that you do not sympathize with our position but please hear us out.

It is every citizen’s right and responsibility to involve themselves in the governance of their country even if that only means voting once every four years.

However, it would be a sad country where citizens could not legitimately organize, for example, to support the climate change views of the United Nations, 98 per cent of climate scientists, James Hansen of NASA, an increasing number of religious organizations, First Nations, Mark Carney of the Bank of England, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change without being suspected of terrorism.

Yes, the issue is political but in a democracy, it is every citizen’s right and responsibility to involve themselves in the governance of their country.

We took time away from our jobs, friends and families so that we could oppose a project that we felt would be extremely harmful to our country while benefitting only a few large corporations with head offices outside of Canada.

We are ordinary people from all walks of life.  We are parents and grandparents, we work in industry, health, education, public service and run our own businesses. We have exercised our right and responsibility to involve ourselves in the governance of our country.  And we have never been afraid.

Until Bill C-51 was introduced.

According to Professor Kent Roach of the University of Toronto, commenting on C-51, “The same dual concern about unintended adverse effects on both rights and security are in play with the advocacy offence proposed to be added to the Criminal Code.

It contains an overbroad reference to “terrorism offences in general” and no defences for legitimate expression of political or religious thought. This harms and chills freedom of expression…”

No competently written law should have unintended effects, adverse or otherwise.  This bill would have benefited from the disallowed testimony to the Commons Standing Committee from the Federal Privacy Commissioner, four former Prime Ministers, and five former Supreme Court Judges for rigour and fairness.  Nothing should harm or chill freedom of expression.  This freedom is what differentiates us from the terrorists.

There is no political and/or civilian over sight for C-51 either.  You are giving CSIS a free ticket to do whatever they want and not even have to check in with a judge on all occasions.  This is an invitation for abuse.  C-51 should mandate an oversight committee of knowledgeable politicians and academics who will know how to provide proper governance to a secret service.

Mr. Harper, chilled we might be but silenced we are not.  C-51 will turn CSIS into a de facto secret police and it is unconstitutional and contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You should drop it or rewrite it altogether. It seems that once again, it is our right and our responsibility to involve ourselves in the governance of our country.

Elizabeth Thorne,

Douglas Channel Watch,

Kitimat, B.C.