Last week, I found out that my government is spying on me, Canada ranked worst in the developed world for response to climate change, Canadians rose up against pipeline proposals all across the country, and the media reported precious little of any of it. What happened to the Canada we know and love? Where is the country that holds its head high in the world, a respected leader on human rights and environmental issues?
It was a Victoria day like any other until I found out the Canadian government has been vigorously spying on several Canadian organizations that work for environmental protections and democratic rights. My colleagues and I had been wary of being spied on for a long time, but having it confirmed still took the wind out of me.
All countries with adequate resources have intelligence agencies like CSEC and CSIS. Countries have oversight mechanisms to assure these agencies' political masters -- including legislators from both government and opposition parties -- that the agencies are not breaking the laws of their country or otherwise operating outside their mandate. Canada has no such oversight mechanisms. Or, rather, Canada's mechanisms are so feeble and after-the-fact that nobody can assure ordinary Canadian citizens that their own intelligence agencies are being held to account.
The idea of a stranger listening to our phone calls, monitoring our Internet searches, reading our emails, trawling our social media accounts. These things are not only possible, but thanks to government fear mongering feeding our increased tolerance for supervision in a post-9/11 world, they're also entirely legal. Welcome to modern Canada.
Those who have been doubly hurt by the Boston bombing and the recent arrest of the two alleged Canadian terrorists on Monday, are the vast majority of hard-working, law-abiding Muslim Canadians. Because once again, Canadian Muslim men, or Canadian converts to Islam, are seen to be planning, organizing or actively engaging in terrorist activities.
Personal learnings from the Countering Violent Extremism portfolio echoed the sentiments that Justin Trudeau expressed following the Boston Bombings -- to get to the root cause to prevent future attacks. Last year I had the chance to work with the Department of Public Safety on National Security Policy, and if there's one thing that you need to focus on in preventing any kind of violence from happening -- whether it be localized gun violence or terrorism -- it's the root cause. Mind you, gun violence and extremism are two very different animals, but what they do share in common is an immature and ridiculous sense of expression through violence.
The Canadian government has recently announced a plan to establish grants of $1 million to academic institutions to "study" terrorist threats to Canada. Twenty-seven years after the worst attack on Canadian interests -- the Air India bombing -- and more than a decade after 9/11, the best this government has been able to come up with is $10 million to fund academics to study what we already know?
It's good that the Ministry of Public Safety has decided to introduce amendments to the existing Anti-Terrorism Act of Canada. Even so, such measures may engender considerable controversy under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.