COLUMN: Concerns over Bill C-51 not addressed

Time allowed for debate does not match the magnitude of the changes being implemented.

The sweetness of freedom, shouldn’t be taken for granted.

It’s only when it’s lost, that we truly understand it.

C51, you say you strengthen our security.

You, yourself endanger and threaten civil liberty.

Amongst other flaws, you lack oversight authority.

Masters of your fate have a government majority.

They tell me that I will be stopping terrorism.

They tell me that I will prevent extremism.

They say that I will be preventing attacks,

And stopping threats in their tracks.

Stopping threats in their tracks.

Will you protect our freedom of expression?

Will you protect innocents from detention?

Can you prevent all the previous mistakes

Of people suffering in rendition, being tortured and detained?

Of people like Arar who suffered so much pain?

Will you protect our Charter Rights and Freedoms

That we hold so near our heart, that we cherish, maintain?

Will you protect our rights to protest and picket

To stand up for indigenous, enviro campaigns?

– Japreet Lehal

Bill C-51 (Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015) has now passed. From its introduction in January until now, there have been protests across Canada against this legislation. Canadians from different regions and backgrounds have voiced their concerns.

Amongst its numerous criticisms, the issue of oversight has been quite prominent in the debate. Yet, there has not been enough constructive conversation or dialogue on this matter. In fact, the time allowed for debate does not match the magnitude of the changes being implemented.

Terror threats and dangers to national security must be addressed. However, this does not mean that governments should overhaul and redefine the basic rights and freedoms that Canadians enjoy.

Thousands of Canadians from coast to coast, individuals who have previously served as Supreme Court justices and prime ministers, experts in the legal field, and university professors have all expressed opposition to the legislation.

Some amendments were made to the Bill, but in my opinion, they do not fully address the myriad concerns.

As professors and researchers have also emphasized, the  legislation might not even properly achieve its intended purpose. In fact, they state in an open letter that “Bill C-51 could actually be counter-productive in that it could easily get in the way of effective policing, intelligence-gathering and prosecutorial activity.”

Dr. Lorne Sossin, a professor and Dean at Osgoode Hall Law School, emphasizes the importance and need for oversight.

Law professors Kent Roach and Craig Forcese raise the issue about problems in the legislation related to civil liberties, freedom of expression, air travel and the transfer of information.

It is easy and convenient for the government to simply re-write our laws, considering its legislative majority. However, it must consider the significance of the changes. Bill C-51 does not address the many concerns that have been brought to light since it was first introduced.

Support for Nepal

On a different, but very sad note, the earthquake in Nepal has led to destruction, displacement and the loss of life for thousands of individuals. Donations provided to registered Canadian charities by May 25 will be doubled by the Canadian government, under its Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund.

Further information on this can be found by consulting the following link: http://bit.ly/1IjChlg

I kindly request all Canadians to help.

Japreet Lehal is a student at Simon Fraser University. He writes regularly for The Leader.

 

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