canadian journalists for free expression
It had said "admitting Trump for any occasion, summit or state visit presents a threat to Canadian values of pluralism and inclusion."
On the anniversary of filing a Charter challenge to Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression is calling on Canadians to send a message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government that it's past time to restore our constitutional freedoms and repeal the unconstitutional aspects of this dangerous and ineffective legislation.
Free expression is democracy. Without it, political choice is a farce. You can have all the elections you want and they will mean nothing without the secure right to express, share information and advocate for your views. Canada's federal government has been no friend of the right to know since Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power.
Bill C-51, dubbed the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015, should cause Canadians deep concern. Its provisions, if passed into law, would jeopardize many of our most basic rights and liberties and would only serve to undermine the health of our democracy. Any limits imposed by Parliament on our basic rights and fundamental freedoms must be "reasonable"; they must not be overly broad; and they must be "demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. On the thirty-third anniversary of the signing of the Charter, we should demand that Parliament scrap Bill C-51 altogether.
Bill C-51 is complex, dangerous, and poses a serious threat to free expression in Canada. If found to be in violation of the proposed legislation, citizens and visitors could wind up slapped with censorship orders, detained without due process or imprisoned for up to five years. Is the federal government giving itself and its agencies more power to fight ISIS-like terrorism, or is it using high-profile tragedies to illegally spy, surveil and silence innocent citizens and its political enemies? Silencing Canadians with the threat of prosecution is tantamount to a chilling or denial of freedom of expression and association, among other Charter rights.
Not terrorists, white-collar crooks, or climate change -- it seems the real threat to Canadian society hides behind a much friendlier face: charities. Or to be more specific, charities critical of the Canadian government. This week it was made public that the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) is auditing PEN Canada for its "political activities." In 2012, the Canadian government earmarked $8 million of the CRA's budget for auditing political activities, and then upped that amount again to $13 million. In a time of austerity, there is still a plenty of money to go after enemies of our federal government.
We need a strong voice from Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. If members across the country take an interest in the integrity of the organization, they can elect a board that would oppose a close relationship with corporate Canada.
After 65 years, Canada doesn't do too badly on the right to speak freely, but terribly when it comes to the flow of information from our governments about what they have done. Proud Canadians should blush in horror when they learn that last year the country ranked number 55 out of 93 countries that have laws that allow requests for documents about what their governments have done. Canada ranks so low because our law passed 31 years ago needs a major overhaul. Journalists, people interested in public policy, and others have been asking for years for changes to make the law and the Access to Information (ATI) process really work. Why?