THE ANTI TERROR ACT – IS IT “PUBLIC SECURITY” OR THE ROAD TO FASCISM?
Four former prime ministers and several retired Supreme Court members are among almost two dozen prominent Canadians calling for stronger security oversight.
The joint statement published Thursday was signed by Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, Joe Clark, John Turner and 18 others involved in security matters over the years. They include five former Supreme Court justices, seven former Liberal solicitors general and ministers of justice, three past members of the intelligence review committee, two former privacy commissioners and a retired RCMP watchdog.
They note that detailed recommendations for a new intelligence watchdog regime — put forward in 2006 by the federal inquiry into the Maher Arar torture affair — were not implemented. Efforts to enhance parliamentary oversight of national security agencies have also been unsuccessful, they point out.
Several groups including Amnesty International, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims welcomed the statement. The government’s recently tabled anti-terrorism bill, which would give CSIS the power to disrupt plots, was debated Thursday at second reading in the House of Commons. Opposition MPs accused the government of rushing the bill through Parliament. They said the new powers would allow security agencies to go after the government’s enemies, such as environmentalists.
Former CSIS officer Francois Lavigne is alarmed by the Conservative government’s new anti-terror bill. He believes the measures proposed in C-51 are unnecessary, a threat to the rights of Canadians and that the prime minister is using fascist techniques to push the bill. Mr. Lavigne started his career with the RCMP security service in 1983, before the CSIS was established…..
He spent years tracking dangerous radicals without the powers the government wants to give to CSIS. “I find it a little convenient that in the past few years that these radicalized people are the biggest threat to ever hit us,” he said. “There are more people dying because of drunk drivers or because of gang violence.”
Despite hailing new anti-terror legislation as fundamental to the fight against “the most dangerous enemies our world has ever faced,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not attend either of two days of debate on the bill in the House of Commons this week.
The independent watchdog Stephen Harper points to as providing the necessary oversight of Canada’s spy agency, CSIS, is operating with fewer resources than it had when his government took power nearly a decade ago.
“We already have a rigorous system of oversight on our national security and police agencies,” the prime minister told the Commons earlier this month…..
In 2006, SIRC employed 20 lawyers, researchers and support staff. That number fell to 14 last year. The organization now has 16, because two positions were added after the government abolished the inspector general’s office inside CSIS. That office played a key role in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the agency.
(From 1999, but with this kind of thing going on, how do we know for sure what the truth is about terrorism in Canada?)
The Mounties bombed an oil installation as part of a dirty tricks campaign in their investigation into sabotage in the Alberta’s oil patch.
The revelation came at the bail hearing Thursday of two farmers who the Crown says have turned their complaints that oil industry pollution is making their families ill into acts of vandalism and mischief.
Their lawyer produced evidence that the RCMP bombed a wellsite and that they did it with the full support of the energy company that owned it. The Crown admits the allegations are true.
Dear Prime Minister:
Many Americans love Canada and the specific benefits that have come to our country from our northern neighbor’s many achievements (see Canada Firsts by Nader, Conacher and Milleron). Unfortunately, your latest proposed legislation — the new anti-terrorism act — is being described by leading Canadian civil liberties scholars as hazardous to Canadian democracy.
Canadian charities are under attack. Environmental, human rights and international development charities, organizations struggling to address poverty and women’s issues are examples of non-governmental organizations that have lost their ability to issue charitable tax credits under the Income Tax Act. Either that or they face the threat of a loss as a result of ongoing Canada Revenue Agency audits.
These groups have one thing in common. They turned a spotlight onto Harper government policies or advocated for public policy change that might alleviate society’s gravest ills.
JOBS AND ECONOMY
iPolitics – Babbling while the economy falls to its knees
This government has adopted an austerity-led growth strategy. We got the austerity — we just didn’t get the growth. Annual economic growth has fallen in every single year since 2010. Forecasters, including the Bank of Canada, are lowering their growth forecasts for 2015 to below 2 per cent, a far cry from the almost 2.5 per cent they were forecasting only a few months ago. The Canadian economy is in a deep freeze, and the only thing Oliver and Prime Minister Harper can think to do is more of what they’ve done: cut spending….
And what’s all this nonsense about “growth and long-term prosperity”? The International Monetary Fund has been warning for months that the global economy and the Canadian economy are entering a period of deep stagnation, high unemployment and growing income inequality. Potential economic growth in Canada has fallen from almost 3 per cent per year a decade ago to under 2 per cent now. The Conservative government’s economic growth strategy was a gamble on a single commodity and a desperate drive to build pipelines. They had no backup plan.
So, what does a government facing re-election do when its top agenda item, economic management, is in tatters? It changes the channel to something else, something that plays into the anxieties of Canadians and helps them forget about the Harper government’s shortcomings on the economy.
Enter terrorism. A recent Nanos poll has found that 66 per cent of Canadians believe we are war with terrorists, and the prime minister wants to tap into that sentiment.
The subject matter may be different, but the prime minister’s strategy for owning the national security file is the same as with the economy. Hammer home your message, no matter how inaccurate, and hope voters lose sight of the facts. This means passing unnecessary anti-terrorism laws. This means putting out “24/7” videos that build up the prime minister’s anti-terrorism image. And it means acting like a tough guy in front of Putin.
The latest federal spending estimates show that four federal government departments have been given another $11 million for advertising as the current fiscal year-end approaches.
The ad spending splurge comes amid large campaigns promoting Conservative family tax measures that have not yet been approved by Parliament and aggressive Defence department recruitment ads that dovetail with current Conservative anti-terrorism messaging.
In total, the Conservative government has now committed $65 million to advertising this fiscal year, which ends March 31.
“In my opinion, the reason that the changes are being made is just to reduce the oversight of Environment Canada, who is the administrator of that section of the [Fisheries] Act and allow the industry more free access to some of the higher-risk chemicals” used to kill sea lice.
These chemicals are a concern for many in the wild seafood business, like Stewart Lamont, the managing director of Tangier Lobster. “Potentially it’s a huge concern because of the potential lethal impacts on lobster and other wild fisheries,” said Lamont.
Almost three years after its sweeping reforms to the employment insurance system and Old Age Security, the federal government has released public correspondence sent to the Prime Minister’s Office on the changes – with the PMO flooded by angry emails and letters from Canadians.
Many of the emails sent to the office said the government’s changes to employment insurance and the Old Age Security pension were an attack on hardworking Canadians and middle-class voters.
CANADA IN THE WORLD
Canada has formally opposed Palestinian attempts to join 15 different United Nations treaties and conventions — a position that puts the federal government on the wrong side of history and at odds with its citizenry, the Palestinian envoy in Ottawa says….
Canada also opposes the Palestinian bid to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), a treaty that Canada itself signed in 2008 but has yet to ratify. While the Canadian government has yet to formally deposit any ratification documents on the CCM with the UN, it has nonetheless managed to register its objection to the Palestinian desire to ratify it….
Israel’s 72-hour bombardment of south Lebanon with cluster bombs in the final hours of its 2006 summer war with Hezbollah terrorists spurred the international effort to create the treaty banning the weapons.
BACK IN COURT
Toronto Star – Court challenge launched against Conservatives’ election law overhaul
Two advocacy groups are asking the courts to set aside new Conservative election rules that will make it more difficult for thousands of Canadians to vote in this year’s federal election.
The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students have filed evidence to support a constitutional challenge of the 2014 reforms, dubbed the Fair Elections Act by the Harper government.
They say new voter identification rules contravene Section 3 of the charter, which states everyone has the right to vote, as well as the equality provisions in the Constitution.