If fundamental freedoms can be enjoyed only selectively, provided you don't say the "wrong" thing, and provided that you don't belong to the "wrong" religion, they are worthless.
Badawi has been languishing in a Saudi prison since his first arrest in 2012, and his subsequent sentencing in 2014 to 10 years imprisonment and 1000 lashes, itself constitutive of torture and a standing violation of international human rights law. Raif Badawi's "crime"? Establishing an online forum and exercising his right to freedom of expression.
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.
Unbeknownst to many, a gag was put on free expression across British Columbia. When the B.C. government called the byelections in the districts of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, public communication about many important issues suddenly became "election advertising."
There's a lot at stake here -- if Canada continues on the path the current government has set it on, then harmful policies on surveillance, Internet censorship, and Big Telecom dominance could be locked in place for a generation, and hold back our digital economy. Canadians deserve better.
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.
No federal government in recent memory -- possibly ever -- has precipitated more fights with its appointed watchdog officials or special interest advocacy groups than the current one. It's an issue largely fuelled by Harper's insatiable appetite to control the flow of information and the substance of political debate. It is no surprise, then, that the Canadian Association of Journalists has twice given Harper its "Code of Silence" award, handed to a government or publicly funded agency "for keeping secret what it should make accessible."
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.
Huge numbers of Canadians, including key Ottawa decision-makers, are pushing back hard against the government's Bill C-51, which proposes unprecedented new powers for Canada's security agencies. The bill effectively turns CSIS into a secret police force and would place every Canadian under a government microscope.