Speaking of bullies… how is that Bill C-51 coming along for Stephen Harper?
It seems there’s always something particularly ironic to dwell on every time Anti-Bullying Day – also known as Pink Shirt Day – comes around.
This year it’s the anti-terrorism bill that the Harpo-squad is pushing through Parliament. It’s a long and ambiguous bill that even experts in security-related law are having difficulty reading and understanding.
The Harpo-Cons are making it even more difficult by limiting the amount of time that our representatives have to debate the bill’s merits and deficiencies before it passes through the House.
But worst of all – and this part should scare you even if you already check under the bed for terrorists every night before you recite your prayers asking for your god’s protection – it doesn’t actually define what a terrorist is.
For instance, drunk drivers aren’t terrorists, although they have killed literally 100 times more Canadians than bona fide (albeit ill-defined) terrorists have.
The peak year for terrorism in Canada was 1985, when the Air India bombers dispatched 329 lives, while alcohol-related traffic fatalities numbered 714 in 2009 – a modest year for drinking drivers.
Cancer takes upwards of 75,000 Canadian lives each year. When the final tally is realized, it is expected that lung cancer alone will have taken 26,100 lives in 2014. The vast majority of those deaths can be directly attributed to smoking – but neither those who produce nor those who sell tobacco products will be recognized as terrorists under Bill C-51.
Guns can provide us with some terrifying statistics. For instance, of the 500 or so homicides that occur in Canada, more than 150 per year are committed with the use of guns. Of course, we have been made well aware by such great luminaries as Charlton Heston that “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
Many of the people who kill people with their guns are the people themselves. There were 586 suicides with guns in Canada in 2006.
Canada’s youth suicide rate involving guns is near or at the highest in the world. But the bullies who terrorize many of those children to death are not technically terrorists.
Nor is a government that inadequately addresses mental illness that kills or maims minds both young and old in this country.
On average, one in four Canadians owns a gun. But it’s only the statistics that inspire terror. Neither guns nor their owners – including those afraid to register their weapons – will be defined as terrorists in the Harpo-Cons’ new law.
Without an actual definition of “terrorist,” but some ambiguously discussed parameters, there are people who are terrified that their currently legal actions could be construed as terrorism.
For instance, Bill C-51 may be able to reach its tentacles into any form of protest that could have an impact on Canada’s economic welfare.
That provision, it is argued, could be used to stop protests against tar sands, oil pipelines or fracking.
Meanwhile, it is also argued that none of the provisions in the law would have aided in preventing any terrorist acts that have actually occurred in Canada.
It took authorities a year to announce that West Edmonton Mall is supposedly in danger of a terrorist attack.
How many people did that announcement protect? Or is the protection imminent by scaring us into accepting a new law to protect us?
Who are the real terrorists, anyway?
Bob Groeneveld is editor of the Langley Advance and Maple Ridge Times, sister papers to the Now.