Letters to the editor regarding Bill C-51

A number of letters on the Anti-Terrorism Act, also known as Bill C-51.

Criticizing Bill C-51

I was very impressed by the eloquent argument Mr. Wilks brought forward in his defense of Bill C-51.

According to Wilks, we should believe him when he says that Bill C-51 is great because he read it. I believe that’s an excellent argument.

Mr. Wilks, you know who else read the bill? More than a hundred Canadian professors of law and related disciplines who signed this open letter: www.documentcloud.org/documents/1678018-open-letter-on-bill-c-51.html#document/p1

They concluded that “no MP should in good conscience be voting for Bill C-51.”

You know who else read the bill? The Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien.

In his submission to your committee (available here: www.priv.gc.ca/parl/2015/parl_sub_150305_e.asp) he said that “the scope of the new powers conferred by the Act is excessive, particularly as these powers affect ordinary Canadians, and the safeguards protecting against unreasonable loss of privacy are seriously deficient.”

You know who else read the bill? Law professors Kent Roach and Craig Forcese, who analyzed the bill line by line. They appeared before your committee and warned that Bill C-51 allows the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to be breached, which “is more than new, it is radical, and as the Canadian Bar Association points out, it is untenable.” (www.cdnantiterrorismlawaudit.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/bill-c-51-roach-and-forcese-submissions-to-the-senate-standing-committee/). They also did not have anything good to say about the judicial oversight that you praise: “for the first time, judges are being asked to bless in advance a violation of any or all our Charter rights, in a secret hearing, not subject to appeal, and with only the government side represented.” They continued to say that this is “a radical idea that contorts basic constitutional understandings and the role of the courts.”

The Canadian Bar Association representing 37,000 lawyers, judges, notaries, law teachers and law students, has also condemned Bill C-51. Four former prime ministers, including a Progressive Conservative, five former Supreme Court justices, seven former solicitors general and ministers of justice, three past members of the intelligence review committee, two former privacy commissioners and a retired RCMP watchdog, wrote an open letter (www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/a-close-eye-on-security-makes-canadians-safer/article23069152/) stating that, “Canada needs independent oversight and effective review mechanisms more than ever.” They went on to say that, “Given the secrecy around national security activities, abuses can go undetected and without remedy. This results not only in devastating personal consequences for the individuals, but a profoundly negative impact on Canada’s reputation as a rights-respecting nation.”

But why should we listen to hundreds of experts telling us that something is wrong when Mr. Wilks has read the bill and already decided for us that there is nothing to see.

Mr. Wilks, for your next reading project, may I recommend that you read a good statistics book.

You may be surprised to find that 38 per cent of Canadians supporting Bill C-51 (according to forum research www.poll.forumresearch.com/post/243/one-half-of-those-aware-of-it-disapprove-of-bill-c51) is not a majority. You may also find that the 19 per cent of Canadians who support the bill “as is”, also don’t constitute a majority.

Frank Plavec

Toronto, ON

What the numbers really tell us

When I went to university I majored in science and minored in economics for my first degree. Facts and numbers are important to me — you will often hear me responding to information with, “Show me the science behind that statement.” I also have a real respect for history and believe it should help to inform the present. It is from that perspective that I was musing on yesterday’s federal budget.

There is much to be said for balancing budgets. When I was the Mayor of Cranbrook, we always balanced our budget – municipalities are bound by law to do so, which is why local government is often called the most fiscally responsible level of government.

When I looked at Tuesday’s balanced federal budget, I couldn’t help but be a little cynical, which is not how I approach life in general. That cynicism is based on a couple of things.

How was the budget balanced? $2 billion comes from reducing the government’s contingency fund down to $1 billion. This is the money that governments put aside to cover the costs of natural disasters, or national crises. Another $3.3 billion comes from selling off shares in General Motors Canada.

Let’s put these choices into a context we can all understand. This method of balancing the budget would be the same as you paying your bills using money you received by selling your car at a fire sale price and cashing in your RRSP’s. Your bills might be paid but there is little reason to celebrate!

My second concern with this budget comes from reviewing recent history. The Harper Conservatives ran deficit budgets every year from 2008 to 2014 ranging from a low of $6.1 billion dollars to a record high of $58.2 billion. In the last nine years Stephen Harper has added $4,400 in new debt for every man, woman and child in Canada.

With this record, it is remarkable that anyone in Canada still believes the spin that the Harper Conservatives are good fiscal managers.

Wayne StetskiNDP Candidate for Kootenay-Columbia

MP David Wilks defends Bill C-51

The NDP candidate for Kootenay Columbia has once again published false and misleading information that exhibits his lack of knowledge of parliamentary practices.

He refers to voting patterns that take place in Ottawa. He’s obviously unaware that NDP MPs are told how to vote on each and every vote. In fact the NDP has the worst record in parliament for allowing their members to vote freely.

Conservative MPs vote freely more than any other MPs.  Check how any MP voted and make comparisons for yourself. It’s public record.

I am 100 per cent behind Bill C-51 because I have read the bill extensively and I sat in on the Public Safety and National Security Committee when it went through the committee stage.

The NDP candidate should consider actually reading the bill rather than using the talking points from the NDP.

Here are a few important details he’s missed.

A) Section 2 of the bill, which is the Interpretation Section, says among other things, “For greater certainty, it does not include lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.”

B) As for the sharing of information, the act says, “Whereas information in respect of activities that undermine the security of Canada is to be shared in a manner that is consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the protection of privacy.”

C) Information sharing will be between the Minister of Transportation, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, RCMP, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Most Canadians would think that already occurs but it does not.

D) The NDP candidate is misleading people with regards to the oversight and operations of the above noted agencies. All threat disruption activities must go before a federal court judge to have the application reviewed and either approved or refused.  Who better to review a court document than a federal court judge!  They are the most qualified to review the applications.

E) On top of that, the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) is authorized to review all CSIS operational activity. This will automatically include any threat disruption activity.

F) The RCMP and CBSA already have a significant judicial oversight and nothing changes there.

I invite readers to access C-51 on the internet or call my office for a copy. You will see with your own eyes the NDP strategists are manufacturing ghosts, plain and simple.

C-51 will give those who investigate terrorist threats upon Canada the means to investigate efficiently and effectively.  It will mean that Canadians will be safer because an identified terrorist threat will be disrupted before it can cause bodily harm or death.

Maybe instead of fear mongering on a bill the majority of Canadians support, the NDP should explain to Canadians why Thomas Mulcair will implement a $2 billion carbon tax, which will kill jobs and ruin the economy.

Maybe the NDP candidate should admit the NDP leader will demand that he votes to implement another wasteful and ineffective gun registry.

They should ask small business what they think of the NDP policy of introducing a non-negotiable $15/hour federal minimum wage.

Finally, they should explain the $15/day national daycare program that will only benefit a very small portion of Canadians and how it will be funded.

Oh that’s right, the NDP will have to raise taxes.

David WilksKootenay-Columbia MP