Anti-terrorism bill really about suppressing aboriginals, critics say

Prominent aboriginal lawyer and activist says Bill C-51 would hand extremists what they want by shackling civil liberties

Warren Toda/EPA/Landov

Warren Toda/EPA/Landov

OTTAWA – The federal government’s omnibus security bill would hand extremists what they want by shackling civil liberties, a prominent aboriginal lawyer and activist says.

There is no way to fix the legislation, which “makes us all suspects,” said Pamela Palmater, chair in indigenous governance at Toronto’s Ryerson University.

“The terrorists will have won,” Palmater said during a meeting of the House of Commons public safety committee, which is hearing more than 50 witnesses on the bill.

“And what is terrorism? Fundamentally, it’s the denial of life, liberty and security of the person. If Canada goes ahead and takes those rights away, terrorists just have to sit back: job done.”

The Conservatives brought in the 62-page bill following the murders of two Canadian soldiers just days apart last October by men whose motives were rooted in extremist thinking.

The legislation would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service the ability to actively disrupt terror plots, make it easier for police to limit the movements of a suspect, expand no-fly list powers, crack down on extremist propaganda and dismantle barriers to exchanging security-related information.

Neither the new disruptive powers nor the information-sharing provisions apply to “lawful” advocacy, protest and dissent, but some critics say these elements of the bill could be used against aboriginal and environmental activists who protest outside the letter of the law.

Related: Here’s both sides of the debate over the anti-terrorism bill, C-51

Palmater told the committee she is already routinely tracked by federal agencies that keep tabs on her involvement in aboriginal issues.

Conservative MP Diane Ablonczy stressed that “jihadi terrorists have declared war on Canada,” and she tried to dispel any notion the bill would be used to target legitimate dissent.

Fellow Conservative LaVar Payne dismissed concerns about the legislation’s information-sharing provisions as “conspiracy theories.”

The bill “isn’t really about terrorism,” but about preserving economic and power relations in Canada, Palmater said.

Citizens have worked too hard to create treaties, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international laws that protect basic human rights to toss it all away “because we wanted to protect some corporate economic interests,” she added.

Her arguments were echoed by Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, who said the bill would dangerously expand powers of Canada’s security agencies without making people any safer.

Phillip, who also called for withdrawal of the bill, accused the Harper government of retooling its policy-making efforts to foster natural-resource extraction.

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Anti-terrorism bill really about suppressing aboriginals, critics say

  1. What a lot of nonsense Bronskill! Every group that feels unsure about their behaviour is complaining, thinking they might be the target, including the aboriginals. Behave yourself and this bill is not a problem for you. Perhaps some of those worried need to be watched! Personally I am in favour of this bill which will give those whom we rely on to keep us safe and who really concerned with potential terrorism a few handles.

    • Blacktop. Couldn’t have said it better. Well done!!

  2. Preamble: September 11, 1973 is the day that Chile (and the world vicariously) learned that the dictionary definition of ‘democracy’ is a non-starter.
    Those silly enough to have voted for this the wrong person met the C.I.A.’s holy inquisition.

    Jump ahead to 1991. David Duke single-handedly inspired the largest non-white voter turnout in his bid to govern Louisiana. In his concession speech he assured us that his views were represented in all countries & governments. We looked at Preston Manning and said really? Fast forward=Stephen Harper.

    As a politically observant Canadian I have always had a pet name for our leaders. For me, J.C. will always be “fearless leader” just as S.H. will always be “my fuehrer”.
    ~G.W.B., emperor of the free-world will always be “the great prophet”, who brought an end to the age of reason. By his truth did we learn the Tower 7 fell in sympathy to the other two, because of the mere existence of S.H. in Iraq :)

    Bare with me as I circle the point.
    Both Canada & Germany, (in the minds of those lobotomised Klingons to the south & northwest of us,) had somehow, despite many hints, picked the wrong leaders.
    So, when Dr. Rice came and some insignificant drew the short straw to give her the Canadian whoopee tour, Paul Martin obediently collapsed his government to make way for the great prophet’s will. In Germany, the chancellor’s wife Doris went shopping with Dr. Rice. (They came back with identical dresses. I feared that Condoleezza had eaten Doris & may have said so in DW at the time.) Seems it was not that sinister, Germany seems had also only elected the wrong person, like us.

    To loosely quote William S. Burroughs in Naked Lunch, “..an unaware operative is an effective operative.” I mean to say by this that my fuehrer is not aware that he is our American babysitter. (goD forbid he find out & reach for the Luger in the drawer only to become the first sitting Canadian to paint the wall with the back of his head).
    -It has been said of the extreme right, that they lack the tools for self-analysis.
    This problem is compounded in that they do not trust the rest of us to non-judgementally hear the truth and, well damnit, help.

    Sadly so, my fuehrer has figuratively brought a box of puzzle pieces that he keeps finding do not fit in the Canadian puzzle block. A million things he must oblige his masters in the endless war on ‘are you now or have you ever been’. I do not begrudge him this.
    It was enough to see the look on that Halle Berry looking Governor General’s face that we used to have, (my goD she was Hhottt!), when she pronounced S.H.’s ascension.
    Without a public tear or even informing the people, we had surrendered to the beast.

    I wasn’t always mad; I was driven made by the aggression of the nanny-state & the insensitivity of my peers, (to misquote Alexei Sayle).
    I know that our real parents are never coming back and I will colour quietly on my blankey, as the grownups provided do the business of keeping the wolf from the door of our daycare.
    But is it too much to ask for them to stop insulting us with their pretending to care with these ‘election’ things? No really, that’s okay, I can ignore that, what I cannot abide is the zee-ising of Canadian English. I know it is a by-product of American spell check, but leave us this shred of a fantasy of sovereignty.

    what? Is that the grey men at the door already? God Save The King! ..i was a patriot.

      • My people. Fear not the day when guilt & innocence are retired notions of ‘old think’. We are passed that now. It is all shades of grey.
        The Americans have no allies, only counties & persons they have not bombed recently.
        They will get back to us eventually, …if they do not run out of steam, or so is the global hope of all who know her name. They have worn out the good name of Canada & soon none will remember when we were not accomplice. But they are like a plastercene gremlin crawling up an endless cheese-grater. Will they make the top of olly-olly-austen-free & have all shaved off parts restored before they are too worn away to finish the climb? We shall live or die with that truth when it comes.
        ~if you doubt this, remember 4/17. (Tarnak Farm). A most liberal yank said, “Its almost as bad as if Americans had been killed.” How generous.
        We know they value no human life but their own. (Canucks are for now at least five-eighths an American.)
        22 american vets suicide per day (last I heard). Is this an acceptable rate of disillusionment? So when can I start smoking in the elevator again? When queried on Air France, as the watcher of the safety exit (mostly for the leg room), “..if the wing is on fire, can I smoke?” he said “yes”.
        Wake me up when the wing catches fire. I do my best werk in the dark!

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