Editorial – The Social and Cultural Significance of Borscht

Part III (aka Rushing to Response is Stupid)

So. Bill C-51. Titled simply as Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015. It’s now onto its second reading in our parliament, after which it moves on to committee for amendments, then back for a third reading, after which it moves on to the Senate for their rubber stamp, and then the Governor General, for his.

The Conservative Party of Canada (I still refuse to call them simply “Conservatives” in deference to those people of Canada who actually are) is pushing to abbreviate any debate on the bill, and has been less than forthcoming with any questions regarding it.

The Official opposition, the NDP, have signalled that they intent to vote against the bill at every stage. The Liberal party has signalled that they will vote to accept it, but seek amendments and if no amendments are made, will make changing the bill part of their platform they intend to bring to the campaign in October of this year.

To be fair, there are some things that are good about this bill. Some of the items with respect to different departments of our government being able to share information with law enforcement and vice versa make sense. After all, if that information has already been legally obtained by the government, why should the left hand not know what the right hand is doing.

But then there’s the rest of it. Things like how this bill enacts a “no-fly” list that is completely in the hands of the Justice Minister. A position appointed from the people elected to our parliament. Not necessarily anybody with any significant background in terrorist activities, liberty protection, or even law, but just somebody who the Prime Minister of the day thought should have that cabinet position. The list has no over-sight. The Minister can designate anybody to add names to the list, again, with no over-sight. And if you happen to be on the list, your only appeal is to the Minister, who can simply ignore it for 90 days, after which you can appeal to a court justice, likely someone appointed by the Minister, and to who the Minister can provide evidence that never has to be revealed to you.

So say you plan to go to some sort of protest, maybe against the government, maybe against a pipeline, maybe against kittens, who knows. The justice minister can instruct the airlines to tell their ticket agents to add anybody who wants to go to such a thing be immediately added to the no-fly list and prohibited from flying. And that’s that. Nobody needs to tell you anything for at least 90 days while the Minister ignores your first appeal. Or maybe he grants it, two weeks after the protest is done. Either way, mission accomplished, and, according to this bill, all perfectly legally.

Of course, if you ask the CPC, that’s not at all the intent of this legislation and the minister has no intention of using it that way. Well that’s great. Can they say as much for the next minister? Or the one after that? One thing I’ve found is that when we grant a person the power to do something, sooner or later someone is going to exercise that power. But right now there’s still a chance. Write your MP. Stop this thing.

And enjoy the read!

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