A Chilly Climate for Dissent

C-51 — The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness — Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 — Third reading (first time debated)

Length of speeches, pursuant to Standing Orders 43 and 74:

The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition — unlimited time and speeches are subject to a 10-minute question and comment period.

First Member of each recognized party in the first round of speeches — 20 minutes maximum and speeches are subject to a 10-minute question and comment period.

During the 5 hours of debate following the first round of speeches — 20 minutes maximum and speeches are subject to a 10-minute question and comment period.

After the period of debate referred to above — 10 minutes maximum and speeches are subject to a 5-minute question and comment period.

Voting — not later than 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders, pursuant to Order made Thursday, April 30, 2015, under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3).

Length of bells, pursuant to Order made Tuesday, January 29, 2013 — 30 minutes maximum (if a recorded division is requested).

And with thus minuted, Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act 2015 is voted on today (or not, see below) with the government’s comfortable majority being used to impose the most criticized legislation in many years and empower extraordinary police and spy agency powers to entrap and intimidate.   As Michael Geist has noted, it is so wide-ranging that it diminishes the privacy of Canadians and allows a much more intrusive government in all aspects of everyday life.   Many others note that the Canadian spy agency “CSIS would be able to seek house arrest and electronic monitoring of people who aren’t even charged with terrorism crimes but who the state believes “may” commit them”.  A sad day for democracy and just what terrorists want (critical news article – Nelson Daily).

-Rob Shields (University of Alberta)

Update May 5: And then it was deferred.  I enjoyed the amendment put by Mr. Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca), seconded by Mr. Kellway (Beaches—East York), — That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

“this House decline to give third reading to Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, because it:

(a) threatens our way of life by asking Canadians to choose between their security and their freedoms;

(b) provides the Canadian Security Intelligence Service with a sweeping new mandate without equally increasing oversight, despite concerns raised by almost every witness who testified before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, as well as concerns raised by former Liberal prime ministers, ministers of justice and solicitors general;

(c) does not include the type of concrete, effective measures that have been proven to work, such as providing support to communities that are struggling to counter radicalization;

(d) was not adequately studied by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, which did not allow the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to appear as a witness, or schedule enough meetings to hear from many other Canadians who requested to appear;

(e) was not fully debated in the House of Commons, where discussion was curtailed by time allocation;

(f) was condemned by legal experts, civil liberties advocates, privacy commissioners, First Nations leadership and business leaders, for the threats it poses to our rights and freedoms, and our economy; and

(g) does not include a single amendment proposed by members of the Official Opposition or the Liberal Party, despite the widespread concern about the bill and the dozens of amendments proposed by witnesses.”

The Green Party of Canada summarizes the paradoxes in numbers:

Green Party of Canada

Update May 17: The bill passed third reading in the House of Commons on May 6 2015 with support from the Conservative government and Liberal Party and the New Democrats and Green Party  voting against.  Public opinion has shifted from support to more than half those polled against the legislation (see Forum Research here / alternate link)).