The Conservative government is tabling a new anti-terror bill that could give more powers to the RCMP and Canada’s intelligence agency, which could potentially affect events like #ShutDownCanada on Feb. 13. But the bill must still pass through a reading at the senate level.
If it passes, however, Bill C-51 would give police excessive powers to make arrests based on fears of terror attacks that “may” happen (as opposed to attacks that “will” happen). This seemingly small change would essentially broaden the government’s leverage when it comes to classifying activities such as pipeline protests and blockades as ‘terror acts.’
It also expands the country’s spy agency’s powers – CSIS – so it can “disrupt” websites or social media pages it considers as promoting terrorism simply for calling for civil disobedience. Events like #ShutDownCanada and the Idle No More protests of 2012 would most likely fit the bill’s criteria.
Of course, it would be nothing new. Bill C-44 and Bill C-639 have already been targeting protestors.
In December, a VICE article reported that Federal Minister of Justice Peter MacKay had admitted that Bill C-639, originally intended to deal with people stealing wire from power companies, would leave it up to a judge to decide whether energy pipeline protestors should be locked up if they are caught damaging or blocking critical infrastructure. The bill called for minimum mandatory fines of $500 or $3,000, and maximum sentences of two or ten years, reported VICE, depending on whether it was deemed a summary or indictable offence.
Bill C-51 expands on that by piggy-backing on the anti-Muslim hysteria that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stirred since the October attacks in St-Jean-sur-Richeliea and on Parliament Hill a few days later.
Despite its enhanced spying and surveillance powers, over which civil rights organizations have expressed concern, the bill lacks any additional oversight, which Steven Blaney, Public Safety Minister, claimed is “needless red tape” in CTV’s Question Period. And though it doesn’t include a specific section on Indigenous peoples, it will expand on what has already been put in place.
“They’ve already been working with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and CSIS and the RCMP,” said Russell Diabo, an independent policy analyst, in an interview with the TRT. “Now it’s just a question of them using (the new powers) not only on what they consider radical Muslims, but on other groups including First Nations.”
The way definitions of terrorism can be interpreted are one main point of concern. In an APTN report, University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran said he’s as worried about the consequences of the vague wording as he is about the new prison terms. “Imprisonment of up to a year without a trial because the government thinks a person may do something wrong is what dictatorships do, not what’s done in any civilized country,” he said.
Diabo agreed. “If you look at the definition of a terrorist activity, it’s anybody that does political or religious activities which could impact the public. So far they haven’t drawn those linkages, but it could very well start to be applied,” he said.
Dan Wallace, one of #ShutDownCanada’s organizers, said they will be sifting through the bill and putting the information out there so that event-goers can educate themselves on the possible risks and “make their own decision” before the event.
“Some people are just going to meet up at a certain place and time to show support and solidarity and some want to block roads and other things, but again that is up to those that want to do something,” he wrote in a Facebook conversation. “We can’t predict what people are going to do but when and if arrests take place, we will start launching fundraisers if need be.”
Still, he said he’s personally not too worried about the bill affecting the Feb. 13 national day of action, as it hasn’t been made into law yet.
“This still has to go through the senate and it is going to create a huge opposition from grassroots.
“So we will be raising this as a serious issue as well on (Feb.) 13th,” he wrote.
Jeffrey Monaghan, an instructor at the institute of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Carleton, agreed Bill C-51 itself wouldn’t have any “direct” impact on #ShutDownCanada. But he clarified that the bill was very troubling and, if passed, would be a “massive boost for the security establishment” which has already been spying on indigenous peoples since 2007.
“(The) RCMP/CSIS already have more than enough powers to address the Feb. 13 (demonstrations). They have been using the category of ‘aboriginal extremist’ for many years as a justification for more intrusive surveillance,” he wrote in an email. “There are also broad powers under the mandate of ‘critical infrastructure protection’ to engage in surveillance and also arrest people for various property related crimes. (Bill C-51) will accelerate surveillance and labelling of indigenous peoples that is already taking place.”
So far, at least 5,000 people have joined the #ShutDownCanada Facebook event invitation. Various protests in front of city halls across the country, as well as possible railroad and highway blockades are some of the possible activities planned. A general goal as bold as shutting down the economy through blockades, even if it is for a day, could potentially see increased police presence and monitoring of protestors.
But there are also more direct, immediate goals which the organizers hope to see achieved, such as the empowerment of people and an “inquiry led by grandmothers from across all nations” into the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women, said Shannon Hecker, also a #ShutDownCanada organizer.
Diabo suggested protestors should think clearly about the actions they are going to take and “consider their legal options” if they’re going to get involved in blockades of any critical infrastructures such as highways or pipelines.
“Those are the things the state interprets as terrorist activities. If they do things like that, it’s likely the state will respond – usually by sending in the police,” he said. “With these new anti-terror laws coming into the mix, it’s going to depend on how much the state figures it can use them, because in the end it’s Harper’s toolbox, and he’s expanding it.”
Dan Wallace has said on the #ShutDownCanada FB page – “we have a right to cause civil disobedience” or words similar. There are also photos of police cars burning with the suggestion of throwing molotov cocktails. One commenter suggests throwing bricks through windows of businesses. This site is a little bit more than allowing people to make choices and has nothing to do with peaceful protests as far as I am concerned. I have suggested a few times the people there READ the RCMP REPORT re MMIW. Of course much of the comeback is ‘I am a troll’ and ‘police are liars’. I have posted the link to the RCMP Report at least 3 times on their site but they are not the least bit interested in READING the TRUTH. They are far more interested in causing trouble and calling those of us who are not part of this nonsense, various names which I will not share here. We are all trolls. I thought we lived in a democratic country and were free to comment on a FB Group that is Open. Silly me for thinking that way.
Sure brings out the Rednecks! These are people that believe all the rhetoric being pumped out by the Harper propaganda machine. Rather than being objective and looking at the root cause of the discontent from First Nations and the mistrust towards this colonial government, idiots like this tries to re-direct attention away from the real issues.
You must be related to Trudeau. You have said absolutely nothing in your post. As usual, you and your ilk get into the name calling when you can’t respond with FACTS to my post. No doubt you were indoctrinated by the LIEberal teachers. You have never been taught to think for yourself.
” I thought we lived in a democratic country and were free to comment on a FB Group that is Open. Silly me for thinking that way.” Hmmm. and your comment is posted on an Aboriginal website. What better example of true democracy could you possibly ask for? And please, don’t bring up that can of worms about judges doing their job. If they had abided by their own Rule of Law (British Common Law) from the very beginning, we would not find ourselves in this predicament today.
Can you READ?? I was referring to the FB page #ShutDownCanada – you are typical left wing twisting my words to suit your agenda. Try again. Judges need to start doing their job and stop being so lenient on aboriginals and their pals. Maybe you don’t want to discuss this but there are many Canadians that do wish to discuss this ‘can of worms’.
My reading skills are just fine thank you. You clearly do not grasp the seriousness of the issues and…..as always, whiners like yourself have NO interest in being part of the solution. You complain when we rock the canoe in order to assert OUR rights but as long as the status quo of the past 200 years remains as it has, you have nothing to say other than; “….stop being so lenient on aboriginals and their pals.” What is clear is, a little criticism brought out your true feelings where aboriginals are concerned.
My, you are much older than I thought. You have been ‘severely inconvenienced for at least 150-200 years…..and counting”. What is your secret for living so long? Please tell.
Why don’t we have several days of action for the various cultures that have made their home in Canada? How about a few days of action for the Chinese, a few more days of action for the Polish people, several days of action for people from all other countries that were, or still are, run by true dictators. And surely we should have a couple of weeks of action for our Jewish friends who truly know what the word Genocide means. There are still some Jews living who are survivors of the Concentration Camps during WWII. How Indians can compare their life now in Canada to what the Jewish people went through and still go through with all the hatred spewed towards them, is beyond me. I didn’t realize the children in Residential Schools were killed in gas chambers on a daily basis. Six million Jews were killed during WWII.
There are plenty of very successful aboriginal people who have left the Reserves and have made a life for themselves and their families while integrating with communities other than those on Reserves. They don’t dwell on the past. They are part of the Canadian population that you want to block from getting to their place of work, getting their children to school…………….
Yes, I do say stop being lenient on aboriginal criminals or any other criminals for that matter. The RCMP Report states: “Offenders accused of killing
Aboriginal females were more likely to have a criminal record (71% compared to 45%).” Perhaps if the Judges were not so lenient in their sentencing the first time around, there may be less deceased aboriginal females. I can tell you have not bothered to read the RCMP Report – you are not the least bit interested in learning the FACTS.
Another interesting FACT: “Another vulnerability factor
that is more prevalent in the cases of murdered Aboriginal females is the consumption of drugs, alcohol or other intoxicants by the victim prior to the incident. This information is generally obtained from the toxicology results on the Coroner’s Report or from witness accounts of the event where available. From the data available between 1997 and 2012, Aboriginal females were more likely than non-Aboriginal females to have consumed some form of alcohol and/or drugs or other intoxicating substance prior to the incident
(63% versus 20%).”
I think you are the one who needs to get a grasp of the FACTS and solutions have to come from within the aboriginal community. Incidentally, the RCMP maintain a dedicated liaison with NWAC – Native Women’s Association of Canada. The RCMP will also work with
other government departments and agencies to introduce and initiate crime prevention programs within these communities.
For example,” the RCMP will collaborate with
Public Safety Canada and other federal partners to help these communities identify issues and mobilize resources through the Community Safety Plan process.
The RCMP will also track the progress of prevention and intervention initiatives through detachment performance plans to ensure appropriate accountability
of local commanders.”
I am tired of reading the drivel from people such as yourself. You provide NO FACTS to backup your hatred.
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