Tag Archives: Anti-Terrorism Bill

Bill C-51 Has Potential To Scoop Up Aboriginal Rights Activists

A woman kneels in front of a line of police officers while protesting fracking in Elsipogtog, N.B., in October 2013. 'First Nations are on a collision course with federal and provincial governments, as well as pipeline and resource companies as they encroach on traditional lands,' writes Doug Cuthand. (Photo by Ossie Michelin)

A woman kneels in front of a line of police officers while protesting fracking in Elsipogtog, N.B., in October 2013. ‘First Nations are on a collision course with federal and provincial governments, as well as pipeline and resource companies as they encroach on traditional lands,’ writes Doug Cuthand. (Photo by Ossie Michelin)

By Doug Cuthand for CBC News

This week the Harper government rammed the anti-terrorism bill through Parliament with its third and final reading. All that remains is a short stop in the Senate and on to royal ascent.

Bill C-51 is a legislative drift net that has a reach far beyond its immediate target of radical Islamic terrorism.

It has the potential to scoop up environmentalists, aboriginal rights activists, union members and anyone who is seen to stand in the way of national security.

Is that assessment over the top? I don’t think so.

First Nations are on a collision course with federal and provincial governments, as well as with pipeline and resource companies as they encroach on traditional lands, particularly in British Columbia.

The act’s interpretation states that it applies to any activity that “undermines the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada or the lives or the security of the people of Canada.”

This includes the following: “Interference with the capability of the Government of Canada in relation to intelligence, defence, border operations, public safety, the administration of justice, diplomatic or consular relations, or the economic or financial stability of Canada.”

'Under this legislation, Mohawk protesters who blocked the 401 would be branded as terrorists,' says Doug Cuthand. (Frédéric Pepin, CBC/Radio-Canada)

‘Under this legislation, Mohawk protesters who blocked the 401 would be branded as terrorists,’ says Doug Cuthand. (Frédéric Pepin, CBC/Radio-Canada)

This is casting a pretty wide net. Assembly of First Nations National Chief PerryBellegarde has expressed his organization’s opposition to the bill.

Under this legislation, Mohawk protesters who blocked the 401 would be branded as terrorists.

The First Nations elders and family members who set up a barricade of lawn chairs on the CPR main line in British Columbia could be considered terrorists. Oka, of course, would be a terrorist act.

The confrontation between the RCMP and Mi’kmaq protesters in 2013 at Elsipogtog, N.B., led to more than 40 arrests and the destruction of police vehicles. Under Bill C-51, this could be considered a terrorist act.

In British Columbia, a group of First Nations activists in the Tsilhqot’interritory have established the Unist’ot’en Camp, which is built in the proposed right of way for the Gateway Pipeline. If that pipeline ever gets approval, will these people be branded as terrorists and subject to the arrest and overreach of Bill C-51?

Repressive legislation serves as pressure cooker

As each year rolls by, there is growing awareness and increased activism in Indian country. Repressive legislation will only serve to act as a pressure cooker and both create and define more activists.

Kinder Morgan protesters

Kinder Morgan protesters in a standoff with Burnaby RCMP as police try to move the protesters further away from their encampment in November 2014. (Sea Shepherd Conservation U-Stream)

Under this legislation, police forces will have the power to detain people they suspect of planning to break the law. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service will have new powers of arrest as well, effectively making it the equivalent of a secret police force.

In the past, CSIS was an intelligence-gathering agency that shared information with the RCMP, which carried out the arrest of individuals and seizure of evidence.

The government maintains that the legislation is aimed at Islamic jihadists, which Harper portrays as hiding behind every tree in Canada. To combat this perceived threat, the government created Bill C-51, which opens CSIS up to a whole new ball game.

Language of bill questioned

Nobody is going to argue that we don’t need to defend ourselves against terrorists, but the language of this bill is so broad the definition of “terrorist” is watered down to individuals that practise their legal right to dissent.

There are numerous simmering disputes all across Indian country, and if demonstrations occur in the future, how will they be treated under this legislation?

One thing starts to emerge as we look at this ominous bill. The government is preparing an arsenal of legislation to counteract future action by First Nations people to protect our land, resource and environmental rights.

‘The government needs to slow things down and dial back the panic.’– Doug Cuthand

This legislation has been opposed by academics, lawyers, human rights advocates and a large segment of the public, and yet they insist on forging ahead with few revisions and a minimum of debate.

The government needs to slow things down and dial back the panic. We have legislation to deal with those who break the law and commit acts of terrorism.

This legislation is far too broad and needs to undergo a serious rewrite with the input of all the public and opposition parties.

But I guess that is just so much wishful thinking. Bill C-51 is part of Harper’s campaign of fear to get re-elected.

Sadly, that fear has the potential to be spread to First Nations, environmentalists and any other group that can be used to create wedge issues and bring votes their way.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/bill-c-51-has-potential-to-scoop-up-aboriginal-rights-activists-1.3009664

Canadians Rally During A Second ‘National Day Of Action’ To Kill Bill C-51

Participants covered their mouths with tape to symbolize what they called the muzzling impact of the bill. David Kawai / Ottawa Citizen

Participants covered their mouths with tape to symbolize what they called the muzzling impact of the bill. David Kawai / Ottawa Citizen

By Black Powder | Red Power Media

Canadians rallied across the country on Saturday to oppose Bill C-51, just days before the legislation is scheduled to undergo a final vote in the House of Commons.

A second National Day of Action, took place in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, and more than two dozen other cities and towns.

About 300 protesters picketed the Prime Minister’s Office in Ottawa, their numbers bolstered as they marched to the U.S. embassy, chanting anti-Harper slogans and decrying the proposed bill.

“Kill the bill” chants echoed through Edmonton’s downtown as protesters spoke out against Bill C-51, also known as the federal anti-terrorism bill, that they say threatens the rights of Canadians.

The controversial anti-terror legislation was introduced by the Conservative government in January.

Many opponents of the bill argue that it could also be used to shut down environmental activists and lumps peaceful demonstrations in with terrorist activities.

Despite the outcry, the Conservative government insists that the anti-terror legislation arms law enforcement with the necessary tools to disrupt terror plots before they take place.

Bill C-51 would give CSIS the ability to expand no-fly list powers, allow police to have greater control in limiting the movement of a suspect and increase the amount of time they can be kept in preventative detention. It would also allow for increased intelligence sharing between law enforcement agencies.

Earlier this month, the Conservative Party said it will propose a handful of amendments to the bill.

The likely amendments include provisions to narrow what is considered terrorism-related activity, as well as a section to clarify that CSIS will not have power of arrest.

Changes are also expected to limit information-sharing.

Despite the proposed changes, many at Saturday’s rallies called for the entire bill to be scrapped.

The NDP and the Green Party oppose the anti-terror legislation, while Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has said that his party will support it despite some reservations.

At demonstrations in Montreal last Month, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said the party will be unwavering in their opposition to the bill, which he said “compromises” the rights and freedoms of Canadians.

He added that the bill’s scope is “too wide” and that existing legislation is already adequate.

The government majority guarantees the bill will pass and become law.

 

Activists, aboriginals fear anti-terror bill will tread on rights

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney comments on the arrest of a man plotting to blow up the U.S. consulate and buildings in Toronto's financial district, in the foyer outside the House of Commons in Ottawa, Wednesday, March 11, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney comments on the arrest of a man plotting to blow up the U.S. consulate and buildings in Toronto’s financial district, in the foyer outside the House of Commons in Ottawa, Wednesday, March 11, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Canadian Press

Federal assurances the government’s anti-terrorism bill will not be a licence to spy on activists have done little to calm the fears of aboriginal leaders, environmentalists and human rights advocates.

Several critics said Thursday they have strong reason to believe legislation would be used to step up surveillance of protesters opposed to petroleum projects and other resource developments.

“We don’t want to be labelled as terrorists in our own territories, our own homelands, for standing up to protect the land and waters,” Assembly of First Nations national chief Perry Bellegarde told the House of Commons public safety committee.

(What is the Conservatives’ new anti-terror bill and what are the privacy concerns? Read The Globe’s easy explanation)

The committee plans to hear more than 50 witnesses on the bill, introduced in response to extremist-inspired attacks that killed two Canadian soldiers last October.

The legislation would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service the ability to actively disrupt terror plots, make it easier for police to limit the movements of a suspect, expand no-fly list powers and take aim at terrorist propaganda.

In addition, the bill would relax the sharing of federally held information about activity that “undermines the security of Canada.”

Neither the new disruptive powers nor the information-sharing provisions apply to “lawful” advocacy, protest or dissent, but some fear the bill could be used against activists who demonstrate without an official permit or despite a court order.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney told the committee earlier this week such concerns were ridiculous, saying the legislation is not intended to capture minor violations committed during legitimate protests.

Roxanne James, Blaney’s parliamentary secretary, used much of her allotted time during the committee meeting not to ask questions of the witnesses, but to reiterate Blaney’s assurances.

There is strong reason to suspect the new powers could – and would – be used against those advocating for clean water, ecosystem protection and an end to climate change, said Joanna Kerr, executive director of Greenpeace Canada.

“We are very concerned that the draft legislation appears to environmental and First Nation climate activists as a threat to security,” she told the MPs.

Kerr pointed to the recent leak of an RCMP intelligence assessment, Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry, that said those within the movement are willing to go beyond peaceful actions and use “direct action tactics, such as civil disobedience, unlawful protests, break and entry, vandalism and sabotage.”

If an aim of the bill is to avoid targeting legitimate dissent, then parliamentarians “have an obligation to write the legislation so it cannot be used in that way,” she added.

Recent examples show the government already takes a very wide view as to what constitutes a threat to Canada’s security, said Carmen Cheung of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

“We need only to look at CSIS and RCMP monitoring of non-violent protests undertaken by First Nations and environmental groups,” she told the MPs.

The bill’s information-sharing provisions are “fundamentally flawed” and should not be enacted, Cheung said.

She echoed concerns raised by privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien that the scope of the warrantless sharing would be excessive and put the personal information of Canadians at risk.