Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bill C-51 - Conservative 'values'

Uncanny resemblance, isn't it?  Your 'values' not looking too good at the moment, Mr Blaney.

Having rushed the 62 page omnibus anti-terrorism bill C-51 through Parliament, the Cons are now demanding it be rushed through committee as well. They wanted to restrict expert testimony to three Public Safety Committee meetings - with one of them taken up entirely by Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney - but a successful NDP committee fillibuster has now ratcheted it up to eight .

Among the expert witnesses proposed by the NDP are former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci (Almalki, Abou-Elmaati, and Nuredinn inquiry) and former associate Chief Justice of Ontario Dennis O'Connor (Arar inquiry).

Now why wouldn't the Cons want to hear from them?

A report in the Ottawa Citizen yesterday details new documents on how in 2001 the RCMP talked up Ottawa's Abdullah Almalki to the CIA and Syria as a terrorist threat despite having been given CSIS intelligence to the contrary.
An RCMP memo, dated Sept. 5, 2001, generated after a meeting with Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials, said that “CSIS have not uncovered information that would lead them to believe the subject (Almalki) is doing something illegal.”
On Oct. 2, 2001, the RCMP sent a fax to its liaison officers in Islamabad, Rome, Delhi, Washington, London, Berlin and Paris, reporting that CSIS had described Almalki as an “important member” of al-Qaida. Days later, the RCMP liaison officer in Rome sent letters to agencies in several countries, including Syria, labelling Almalki as an “imminent threat” to Canada’s national security.
After Almalki was arrested and was being tortured in Syria, the RCMP helpfully sent along three pages of questions for them to ask him.

One of the provisions of Bill C-51 allows government departments to share private information more widely. 

Maher Arar was likewise renditioned to Syia and tortured based on bad RCMP intel and then RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli and CSIS Asst Director Jack Hooper tried to cover it up.

Hill Times Oct 2, 2006 : CSIS didn't want Arar returned to Canada
"In May and June 2003, the Canadian government intended to send a letter to Syria indicating that it spoke with "one voice"–seeking the powerful support CSIS and the RCMP–to call for Mr. Arar's release. But according to Justice Dennis O'Connor's report, CSIS "was uncomfortable" with a statement in the letter that there was "no evidence" that Mr. Arar had links to al-Qaeda. The agency argued "very strongly" against a letter that it saw as sending the wrong message to U.S. authorities.
"CSIS wanted to make it clear to the Solicitor General that there was 'political jeopardy' in signing a joint letter and that bringing Mr. Arar back to Canada was going to be a political 'hot potato' with American authorities," Justice O'Connor wrote in the report, which cleared Mr. Arar.
Justice O'Connor also revealed in his report that CSIS, "for reasons of its own, preferred that Mr. Arar not return to Canada." While DFAIT drafted its letter to argue for Mr. Arar's release in June 2003, Jack Hooper, assistant director of operations for CSIS, called an assistant deputy minister at DFAIT to explain why it opposed the return of Mr. Arar. CSIS feared that if Mr. Arar returned with a public story of torture it could "impair" deportations from Canada to Syria, according to the report."
Sure, let's give these guys a freer hand to operate in secret without oversight.

Perhaps the committee should hear from Mr. Arar. 
As he points out, if C-51 were in place when he was in Syria, it could have been used legally to prevent his return to Canada. 

A week ago former Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, Joe Clark, and John Turner plus five former Supreme Court Justices, three former Ministers of Justice, four former Solicitors General of Canada, and three former SIRC committee members expressed their dismay with the bill in a G&M editorial pointing out Justice O'Connor's recommendations following the Arar inquiry had not been implemented. They called for greater oversight at a minimum.

In the House on Tuesday, Harper termed Thomas Mulcair's calls for greater oversight and a full review of evidence "ridiculous" :
"I would urge the committee to study the bill as quickly as possible in order to ensure the adoption of these measures to ensure the security and safety of Canadians."
while Blaney "slammed Mulcair for 'attacking the credibility' of CSIS officers".
"These people respect the law, and I call on him to present arguments, and not lies to defend his position."
Greg Fingas provides excellent C-51 links and a column in the Leader-Post on "the risks of allowing CSIS to self-assess the scope of Canadians' Charter rights under C-51". 

From Stephen Lautens : For those of you keeping score at home (updated April 20, 2015) :


and Reddit hub on planning Canada-wide protests.

Friday update : Open letter to Parliament: Amend C-51 or kill it
  A letter from over 100 Canadian law professors. Clear concise objections.


Anonymous said...

Rushing electoral reforms through Parliament, without buy-in from other parties is, the kind of dangerous applications of the electoral practices, that we are likely to find, in third world countries.
Stephen Harper....1996

Anonymous said...

What the fuck is wrong with the Liberals - supporting this slide into fascism?

Anonymous said...

Well with C-51 and the RCMP being fast-tracked into parliament, along with the record use of closure of debate, Harper's continuing contempt of parliament as per Milliken, and I have all but given up on the institution that governs this country.

I think the short little clip of Mulcair walking down the aisle following the Pat Martin underwear jib recently really shows how having an opposition is near completely useless during this and recently closed sessions of parliament. Might as well apply their parliamentarian incomes to open up a tv/radio/web special where they just point out every single flaw with the process, the individuals in government, all the non-competitive contracts, the lies, the obfuscations, the crimes...a totally repugnant group of people.

Anonymous said...

this one:


Alison said...

Anon @3:22 & 3:23 : Really? You have a problem with 2 minutes of levity in the House? That's your line in the sand?
Pay the fuck attention to what's at stake here. Without the opposition's dogged opposition to this omnibus terrorism bill, it would slide into law without the rest of us hearing any more about it. All those links in the post to people opposing this bill are courtesy of the opposition buying enough time for more Canadians to learn what the Cons are up to here. Maybe you could try clicking a few of them before you comment next time.

Alison said...

Anon@3:14 : Here is Justin Trudeau explaining his position on C-51 on As It Happens today :

Carol Off : You're going to vote for it anyway. You're going to vote for it even without the oversight that three former Liberal prime ministers have insisted must be there, that's lacking in this. You're still going to vote for it.

Trudeau : The government has a majority and our concern is not making it more of a partisan issue that they can jam people on and instead high-lighting the fact that this is something that all Canadians are calling for in a responsible way and the number of Canadians, including Conservatives and Progressive Conservatives across this country, who do have concerns about the increased powers of the state are going to be making this government think twice about barreling ahead with legislation about which Canadians have concerns.

Off : But it's not a partisan issue, Mr. Trudeau, it's a values issue. It's about what values you have as a Liberal leader.

Trudeau : Yes, the values of protecting Canadians, of giving concrete measures around increased strengths for a no-fly list, around a better use of preventatory arrests and preventatory detainment - and also a better co-ordination between spy agencies and police means that Canadians will be kept safer with this law. We have concerns about oversight and we will be offering Canadians to bring in proper oversight, proper review, and narrowing of the definitions if this government doesn't do that. But we're not at this point going to vote against something that does make Canadians more safe. To do that would be to be playing partisan politics in a way that I'm not interested in doing. The most important responsibility of any government is to uphold the safety of Canadians while remaining true to our values. That's what we are calling on this government to do and that's what we will do if this government fails to do so.

Off : Are you supporting this because the polls indicate that it's popular?

Trudeau : We have been consistently supporting this bill since before any of the recent polls came out. It's important to support things that are going to keep Canadians more safe. That's the bottom line on this and I understand there are concerns that people have and concerns that we share which is why we are emphasizing the need for proper oversight, proper review, and a narrowing of the scope of definitions. But we will not make it conditional on this bill - we're months away from a federal election and if Canadians are unhappy with what the government that they elected in a majority position is doing, then it is our hope that they will make a wiser choice in the next election. But that's not about partisanship; that's about offering Canadians a choice of a better government.

Alison said...

continued ...
Off : You know right now, Mr. Trudeau, Canadians are looking at you and trying to see whether they would vote for you or not - that you are an option that they are considering, but they don't know what you're about. They don't know what you stand for.

Trudeau : I highly recommend that people pick up my book Common Ground and I'm not just plugging a book - I'm actually talking about the fact that I share how this country shaped my values and my perspective and how it shaped my view for the future. Any profits from the book will go to the Canadian Red Cross which has been extraordinary in helping out people across the country in times of extreme difficulty as I saw a couple of summers ago in High River and in Lac Megantic. But the fact is that fundamentally people need to know that the values that they are hoping to see in their leaders are reflected in their choices and that is something that I've been very open, very transparent and responsible about. I'm not just responding to polls or pressure from opponents - I'm doing - I'm focused on doing what is right for Canadians now and in the future and that's what people are responding to right across the country.

Off : But people shouldn't have to read a book to know whether or not you are the right material for prime minister. They should be able to see it in the decisions you make including how you respond to Bill C-51. They should be able to see it in how you conduct yourself and what kinds of legislation you support or you oppose, and people say that Bill C-51 and nor standing up against it is, as Reg Whitaker said, is gutless.

Trudeau : I respectfully disagree. I think that the importance of keeping Canadians safe is the most important responsibility that any Canadian politician or any representative faces. I'm sorry you disagree with that, Carol, but the fact of the matter is my job is to make sure a balance is being struck between protecting Canadians and upholding our values and principles and as I've said we support the measures in this bill that will keep Canadians safe in the short term and we will bring in proper oversight and proper accountability and proper review and proper narrowing of the scope of this in the coming months. We will offer it to Canadians in an election campaign and I look forward to working with Canadians after the next election to make sure that that happens.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the transcript. Carol Off totally exposed Trudeau's "conservative values." Trouble is, liberals will try to avoid embarrassing him now by avoiding the whole issue of C-51.

lungta said...

hoping to get conservatives to oppose it after the fact justin?
if harper can do anything
it certainly is silencing opposition with in the ranks
and don't expect the cons to give back anything or be non-partisan
and after what? winning? losing?
the bill is now, being done now and your supposed to be there ensuring over site now
to me it echos the same
except justin says safe and harper says security

Anonymous said...

So, now the cat is out of the sewer. Trudeau is really Mini Me Harpernut, or The Hair With No Brain that walks.
Better he comes out of Harpers underwear now than later.


Anonymous said...

As to my previous comment and pointing to the video, yes levity is important, absolutely.
I was mostly pointing to Mulcair's hands up in the air, shaking his head as in "WTH" and walking out of the commons. Felt like that was a pretty good depiction of how it must feel to walk into the House and Senate and just engage in delay tactics. Parliament is at its core not functioning as a check and balance to executive power, but is rather just a checklist for the CPC. Feels like the NDP and GPC likely have many days where they see what is going on there and wonder, not just openly, but in their heads that what they witness everyday is sheer dysfunction. Committee work is the only lever the opposition has to do any kind of work and only through filibuster. They should seriously consider making a mockery of the entire system as that would bring far more media attention to the dysfunction and thus, scrutiny to the legislative body. More Dewar face palms, and less trying to reason with them or trying to explain to Canadians.

It's not that I am going to turn myself off to everything going on, quite the opposite actually as I feel like things are coming to a head in many ways not just as an election year. I think C-51 is mostly a fait-accompli and spending any more time on this issue is playing directly into the CPC's hands as they can continue referring to all these threats that keep popping up. While I don't support Trudeau's stance on supporting C-51, I do understand why he would rather support something and promise changes if he gets elected then to oppose it on principle. It is a question about what would best help get elected and at this point the most valuable issue is not C-51 or the budget but simply having the CPC removed from power while also opening the NDP up for criticism for not supporting it (which is a lowly tactic). C-51 is not an issue the CPC are going to lose on, but the quicker they can bring it back to the economy, stinking trade deals, and worse global politicking is the only means of having an actual meaningful debate of all issues.

As to the powers that be, simply look up the people on the advisory council who are advising the government on this bill and related issues (security and public safety) and look into their record. A lot of them, you might say, are simply legitimizing their track records.

Keep on keepin' on Alison

Anonymous said...

Day of Action Against Bill C-51 Saturday March 14

cocoabean said...

There are no "terrorists".
There are no "threats".
No one cares about "our" values.
No one cares about "our freedoms".
But there are many who hate "our" government.
And there are no reasons whatsoever for further expanding government powers and further restricting individual liberties.

West End Bob said...

EXCELLENT Carol Off/justin trudeau exchange, M'Lady - Thankx!

justin sounds more and like democratic barry obama: Lotsa feel-good talk but when push comes to shove "gutless" (to quote Reg Whitaker) when it comes to real action.

harper-light indeed . . . .

Anonymous said...

Anon10:45 It comes down to whether you think the most important issue is getting JT elected or standing up to shit Harper does.

Anonymous said...

they're not mutually exclusive.

The procedural matter that is being referred back to the house is going to reduce the amount of time the expert witnesses will have to appear. I believe this week is going to be eaten up in the media spin cycle as they're not sitting. Next week is going to start off with a ruling from the speaker of the house who will find the committee over-ruling the chair is best left up to the committee members to deal with. Then it'll be time to decide on the difference between 8 and 40+ experts being called to speak on the bill. Has anyone picked up on any of the experts expected to be presented? Is Blaney still taking the equivalent of an entire day to present his diatribe and even though he's already had time to polish it over the airwaves?

Trudeau is already appearing as conniving and contrived as Harper. I suppose he won't have as many two-faced lies captured on video as Harper has from his days in opposition....though we've not seen much coming from JT.

I don't see how a latent movement of concerned citizens marching and slipping down the streets is going to make a difference as there's been many marches and demonstrations around the country and on parliament hill on a number of crucial policy-decisions while they've been in power and it hasn't phased them. I was on the hill during the omnibus marathon voting session and I watched the CPC members, and my own local MP leering a short distance away and then drifting away. They were curious to see the crowd, but not quite so concerned by what they were in the process of doing or by the number of people that had assembled on a nice and warm late afternoon in spring.

They'll have it past before then and the budget/CPC election platform is what they'll be jimmying down our throats next.

sorry for taking over your comments file Alison

Alison said...

Oh please don't apologize. You made a perfectly civil comment three comments back and rather than counter it I went off on you instead. My bad manners.

Protests. I think the problem is that we expected it to be easier than this to hold on to whatever small gains we've achieved towards a better society. That organizing wouldn't always be some version of Sisyphus. OWS, for all its lack of a clear message and organizational underpinning and follow-through - for all its messiness, still managed to shift the dialogue from austerity to income disparity. It's a slow go. You can't predict where the spark will come from.

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