Today, the political landscape has changed. We have a government that promised to conduct public hearings on several issues and to listen attentively to the demands of the population. Nevertheless, when it comes to solid gestures and courageous actions, there seems no political appetite to tackle Bill C-51.
While we may find that there are some dangerous strangers, to decide that we should make negative assumptions about everyone we do not know is downright foolish. It is time to go back to celebrating the fact that our Canada is a welcoming and tolerant country in which we raise our children to respect and include all of us.
We have seen how "Islamicism" has become a convenient tool for the government to employ a more aggressive foreign policy. Although it's easy for Canadian Muslims to lay blame on the Conservatives and Stephen Harper for such discriminatory and exploitative tactics (and doing so would be justifiable), it would also be disingenuous. The current situation is simply a culmination of years of political apathy from the Muslim community whose voter turnout is consistently below the national average.
This is how Conservative MP Laurie Hawn responded to the now 140 plus businesses who have raised concerns in a letter published by the National Post about reckless spying Bill C-51: "[They] should seriously reconsider their business model and their lack of commitment to the values that bind us as Canadians."
In the space of a few short months since Bill C-51 was announced, hundreds of thousands of people have taken action to stop it: signing petitions, writing letters to local newspapers, phoning and writing to their member of Parliament, and hitting the streets in nationwide demonstrations in over 70 communities across Canada.
Bill C-51 is an omnibus anti-terrorism bill that grants CSIS new information sharing powers and converts CSIS from a covert intelligence gathering organization to a covert enforcement agency. Ms. Soapbox is here to offer four simple suggestions to keep you out of trouble when Stephen Harper's majority government finally passes this monstrous piece of legislation.
Take Taber, Alberta. They have just consolidated a few bylaws that will make gathering in groups of three or more a potentially punishable offence. They will also give people who swear, scream or shout in public a ticket. And please don't even think about spitting in Taber. A fine will await you. I can just see the next picnic in Taber.
Bill 10 as a response to Bill 202 makes it clear that students can have any range of clubs they wish, except if it applies to homosexuals, then restrictions apply. Such clubs require school board approval and there is no guarantee that approvals will occur. If a school board or its parents are intolerant in anyway, a board can easily disapprove any homosexual tolerating clubs.
It was five years ago today that Richard Colvin delivered his explosive testimony to a House of Commons committee examining Canada's role in the torture of Afghan detainees. In no uncertain terms, he told the House committee on November 18, 2009, that Canadian Forces personnel were capturing Afghans and turning them over to Afghan authorities to be tortured in contravention of the Geneva Conventions. Indeed, Canada's war in Afghanistan was a shameful episode in our history. There was damage inflicted in Afghanistan and damage done to our democracy and civil liberties at home -- things we ought to reflect on as we now get involved in the new Iraq war.
Has your child ever seen a picket line? If you plan to shop at a Walmart in the U.S. you and your child may well see one this weekend. If your children ask what is happening, how will you explain it? The Canadian Civil Liberties Education Trust and TVO Parents can help you make the most of that "teachable moment" with a discussion about rights and freedoms.
These are worrying times for privacy in Canada. We've seen shocking revelations in recent months about the ways secretive Canadian government spy agencies like CSEC may be monitoring the everyday Internet usage of law-abiding Canadians -- and storing your private information in giant, unsecured databases.
Thousands of Canadians are speaking out to defend their privacy rights, after recent revelations that an ultra-secretive government agency is spying on our everyday online activities. This agency, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), was revealed to be systematically collecting the private information of law-abiding citizens, including Canadians, from around the world. This is real.
If we want our own children to learn to be courageous defenders of rights, we must first engage them in thinking critically about those rights. While adults may feel uncomfortable talking to children about the place of religion in society, we can still teach our children that people whose beliefs and practices differ from their own are deserving of respect and understanding.
In a society that values liberty, a whistleblower should be a hero. A whistleblower should not be forced to choose between their personal well-being and coming forward. Edward Snowden's insider announcement on the scope of the NSA's ability to gather, archive, and analyze information should come as no shock to the more cynical among us. It was easy enough to assume, but now we're staring down the truth of it. If we don't find a way to pressure the powers that be to give up some of their hidden power, contrary to all of their self-aggrandizing instincts, we're in for a very stark decline into a classically dystopian future.