Canadian citizens, politicians fear vagueness of ‘anti-terror bill’
By Angela Espinoza, News Editor
Rallies dubbed as the Day of Action which opposed the proposed Bill C-51, also known as the “anti-terror bill,” took place all over Canada during the week of March 9.
The bill, were it to be passed, has been described by critics as giving police throughout Canada “broader powers.” Many have voiced concern over the “vagueness” of descriptions in the bill, fearing that any public discussion or criticism of government powers could result in detainment by police in Canada. Public fears of a Canadian “secret police” being formed and providing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service with additional powers have also resulted from the bill. The bill would also allow information to be shared between various branches of federal departments in Canada.
The Vancouver-based protest occurred at the Vancouver Art Gallery on March 14, where over 1,000 people crowded around the square. Protestors marched peacefully throughout the city while chanting at the gallery and in the streets with statements such as “Down with Harper.”
According to the Province, a Facebook page associated with protests of Bill C-51 reportedly had 40 events occurring throughout the country that week; however, the Globe and Mail reported that the number of events was actually 55.
The vice-president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Chief Bob Chamberlain, said in a public statement at the gallery, “We, as citizens of a democracy, would fully expect the government to look out for our best interests, to safeguard our rights, to ensure that we have opportunities in order to express our concerns in whatever venue and whatever manner that we see fit.”
In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Toronto protestor Ayesha Khan stated, “It creates an environment where you’re guilty until proven innocent and that’s not who we are in Canada. We have stronger values than that.”
Some have discussed the complexities of the issue for both sides, as BC Premier Christy Clark stated on a March 12 episode of CBC’s Power and Politics: “I think the federal government needs to be paying close attention to security for obvious reasons. I mean, we are engaged very much in the Middle East at the moment. And I think, you know, people want to know that they and their leaders are safe in the country.
“I do think, though, it is important to remember that we have to keep our personal freedoms alive and whole,” added Clark.
Reportedly members of the NDP party and others in Parliament have disapproved of how the presentation of the bill has been handled.
At the Montreal protest, NDP leader Thomas Muclair publicly stated, “C-51 is a bill that could seriously endanger our right to protest peacefully, to stand up against a government or an infrastructure or an economic policy.”