Harper’s police state law

On Monday, February 9th, 2015 in Articles by Elizabeth

I remember the events of October 22. While I was in lock-down on Parliament Hill, I remember who hid in a closet and who ran toward gun fire. The guy in the closet is now planning to concentrate the powers of the state in his own hands while converting the Canadian spy agency into a secret police with virtually unlimited powers. And, at the same time, he has decided to demote the security team that performed its role heroically, the House of Commons Security, led by former Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers, and put the RCMP in charge of Parliament Hill. Of the two moves, clearly creating a secret police is the most dangerous, but upending the Constitutional principle that the government reports to Parliament is no small matter (and, as a Member of Parliament, I would prefer security to be in the hands of the people who paid attention that day and not the RCMP who somehow missed an armed man running past their multiple idling vehicles.)

Here is what Stephen Harper wants Canadians to think:

We are at war. We face a massive terrorist threat. We must be very, very afraid and we must not question any law brought in allegedly to fight terrorism. Anyone who raises finicky, lily-livered concerns about civil liberties is a fellow-traveller of ISIS.

Here’s the truth:

We are not at war. We are at peace. (Would Harper’s most trusted lieutenant and Minister of Foreign Affairs quit if we were really at war?)

Acts of terrorism are a threat. They are criminal acts of horrific cruelty and sadism. Luring of disenfranchised, disenchanted, alienated Canadians into their barbaric crusade must be addressed, but the new law, C-51, is not primarily an anti-terrorism law. And legal experts are already pointing out it “undermines more promising avenues of addressing terrorism.” (Bill C-51 backgrounder, Professors Kent Roach and Craig Forcese)

In terms of Canada’s future, the climate crisis is a much larger threat.

We must not be afraid. We must be smart. It’s really hard to think when paralyzed by fear. Any thinking person will stand up and oppose C-51 with every ounce of their strength.

Harper claims to believe Canada is a freedom-loving country. If he’s right, he miscalculated in hoping we could be scared out of our wits.

We already have anti-terror laws. Terrorism, treason, sedition, espionage, proliferating of nuclear and biological weapons and other offences repeated in C-51 are already illegal. The police already have expanded powers in relation to terrorism. RCMP have powers to disrupt terrorist plots. That’s how they broke the Toronto 18, the VIA rail plot and ISIS sympathizers in Ottawa before they could move their plots into action. Full marks to the RCMP for these proactive successes. Those suspected of terrorism already have a second set of Kafa-esque laws to allow their detention through security certificates. Oversight of the operations of CSIS was reduced in the 2012 omnibus bill C-38. Put simply, Canada has already significantly intruded on Charter rights to give the RCMP, CSIS and Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) broader powers and less over-sight. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know that CSEC has been gathering millions of internet communications every day from Canadians – even though CSEC’s mandate was supposed to apply only to foreign activities. Under project “Levitation,” CSEC collects as many as 15 million records of uploads and downloads every day.

No one from the security establishment has made a case for requiring expanded powers.

C-51, the so-called Anti-Terrorism Act, creates new powers for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS. CSIS was created to keep the RCMP policing functions separate from intelligence work after the fiasco of burning down the barn in an FLQ sting operation. This bill gives CSIS the power to do anything. (Okay, not anything. It specifically says CSIS cannot directly kill or harm people or “violate the sexual integrity of an individual,” but otherwise, CSIS will have a vague set of sweeping powers).
CSIS will be able to conduct any operation it thinks is in the interests of protecting the security of Canada. The definition of “undermining the security of Canada” is more a list of suggestions than a definition, using the word “including” before listing nine types of threats. Using “including” as the heading for its list leaves open the possibility that CSIS may think something else should have been on that list.

Most listed activities are already illegal, such as treason, espionage, causing serious harm, etc. To this is added “interference with critical infrastructure,” raising legitimate concerns that the bill is targeted at First Nations and environmental groups opposing pipelines. There is a caveat in the Act: “For greater certainty, it does not include lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.”

I have now twice asked the public safety and justice ministers in Question Period to clarify if the act will apply to non-lawful, non-violent civil disobedience, such as blockading along a pipeline route. Neither Stephen Blaney nor Peter MacKay would provide that assurance.

This act could apply to Rosa Parks sitting in the “Whites Only” section of the bus. It could apply to anyone who talked with her about it ahead of time. It could apply to journalists who wrote she should be commended for breaking the law.

The vaguest of those things that undermine the security of Canada reads as follows: “Interference with the capability of the Government of Canada in relation to intelligence, defence, border operations, public safety, the administration of justice, diplomatic or consular relations or the economic or financial stability of Canada.”

That list of vague activities has the same status as terrorism in launching CSIS operatives into a murky world with powers to “take measures, within or outside Canada, to reduce the threat.”

So, Saudi Arabia pumping out enough oil to cause the dropping price? Global currency speculators? Judges’ decisions the PM doesn’t like? Calling this section vague is an understatement. And CSIS only needs to go before a judge for a warrant in cases where it decided for itself that its actions will violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Then it goes to a judge for a secret warrant process. The warrant can allow break and enter to take anything and to install anything.

Here’s what I could do with this section as Prime Minister. Climate change is surely a threat to public safety and the economic stability of Canada. So let’s launch CSIS at messing with the heads of all those in the fossil fuel business. Install malware. Implicate them in bogus child porno charges. Break and enter and see if they have been hiding the patents for photovoltaic, electric vehicles, better batteries. A secret police at the PM’s beck and call. Of course, if I ever were Prime Minister, one of the first things I would do is to repeal this act.

It’s not enough to call for better citizen oversight as one opposition party urges. And it is certainly an act of egregious cowardice for the other opposition party to support this bill.

It is trite to say that when we surrender our freedoms, the terrorists win. Even to level that charge at this bill is to fall into the Harper trap of making this bill about terrorism. It’s not. It’s about creating a secret police. It’s the death of freedom.

Originally published in The Tyee.

Print this page

  • Peter March

    Well, we’ll see what the Supreme Court thinks if any of this rubbish is implemented.

  • Cris Paunescu

    Even going by Ms May very low standards, this article is despicable. Her mention of the closet is so low you need a high speed elevator to reach it’s underground level.

    Aside from that, Ms May’s criticism of this bill has no value whatsoever, not only because just about everything she stated here is wrong, but most important because she came to the conclusion this bill is bad even BEFORE it was created.

    On the day of the shooting she tweeted about Harper using this to bring in “draconian legislation”. As she was challenged on this, she pathetically stated “I didn’t know what draconian means”.

    The Liberals stated they will support the bill. The dippers said they will study it and state their position. May has rejected it before she had any time for study.

    Why? Simple – she is going for the “anything but Harper” vote, in the hopes that her party will have more than one elected and one turncoat member. She has to do something given the disaster she brought about in the last election, or her days as leader of the party are numbered.

    Incidentally, Hyer is very quiet on this, I thought in the Green Party there was freedom to chose whatever position MPs liked?
    Where are you, Mr Hyer, and what do you think about this?

    • TheTruthExposer

      PC PM is Helper of Satan Israel & USA (United Satans of America).

      • Jeff C

        To Cris P. and Truth Exposer, I offer the following:

        1) One of the tools used in the USA to bring it to the state it is in today is the principle of “Divide and Conquer”. I believe one of the overriding -and under analyzed- goals of the right wing movement ( and somewhat on the left! ) in the US and Canada is to have the left and right wings of the populace go at each other, thereby diverting that energy away from any effective political action. Divide and conquer. One way to foment that division is to introduce something so bold and controversial that it will induce extreme emotions in those who pay attention to it. I believe C-51 serves this unstated purpose. Please stay calm, be rational and respectful, and think your way through this.

        2) Extremism is an issue in all quarters of politics. Truth and rationality and respect are the skills required to mitigate extremism. Your posts above are flirting with the extreme. Please consider a way to direct your passions in a respectful and rational tone. Irrationality will be our undoing ( see point#1 ).


        Jeff C.

        • Cris Paunescu

          Hi Jeff,

          Nobody is more guilty of a divisive approach lately than Justin Trudeau. I hope you’re familiar with his latest comments.
          Also, Ms May qualifies, with her “stop Harper at any cost” approach. She is the one promoting a coalition to defeat the Tories – with herself as the balance of power.
          She is also guilty of fear mongering at a level not seen (at least by me) in Canadian politics in the last 25 years.

          Not sure how my post qualifies as “flirting with the extreme”. I only stated that – in my opinion – Ms May has very low standards. I can back it up with facts.

          As for “truth exposer” – his words speak a lot better than mine.

          For C51, I would like to ask you which parts do you think “will induce extreme emotion”. Please don’t say “all of it”

          Unless you have concerns that it will prevent you from growing garlic [joking, not criticizing - check out the Rebel Media interview with C51 opponents (by default May's supporters) in Toronto - it's absolutely fantastic]

          Thanks for your post,

    • Bri

      Low Standards? She is the only MP who has read every bill that comes before Parliament. Why not mention the closet incident? Harper is the one who has perfected personal attack ads in Canada. Bill C-51 is akin to America’s ‘Patriot Act’. If we are at war, it was Harper that took us there.

      • Cris Paunescu

        Ms May is an activist, nothing else. In her position as an MP she is supposed to have Canada’s best interests at heart. She doesn’t.
        She says and does anything, no matter how outrageous, to spread fear of the current government and gather a handful of extra votes.

        It wasn’t Harper who “took us there”. Canada has obligations on the international stage, be it NATO or just one of our allies in need. We’ve been at war before – Canadians are brave people. Canada will deal with terrorism to the best of her abilities.

        The problem is with Ms May calling this legislation “draconian” before it was even written. It’s with Ms May criticizing it before taking the time to study it – there are people who are experts at laws, terrorism, armed forces, atc that she needs to consult because – unlike what she wants us to believe – she doesn’t know it all.
        Even the NDP (who is usually against any armed intervention) took the time to study the Bill – and with them nobody would be surprised if they rejected it on the first say.

        Oh, and it was Ms May who introduced the “9/11 truther” petition recently because “it’s my obligation as an MP”. No, it isn’t. And it was’t a petition by her constituents either.
        But then again. Ms May is the one who stated regarding ocean sewage dumping in BC “it’s not my constituency”.

        Yes Bri, she has very low standards. If you are current with her recent comments, her standards got even lower.

  • Lee McFadyen

    Bill C 15 brings to mind Martin Niemölle’s poem

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    Whether or not Prime Minister Harper ‘hid’ is of little importance, Your comment “not only because just about everything she stated here is wrong,” is your interpretation of what you understand about the Bill, mine is different. And this is part of the problem. Too much of the bill is vague.

    And yes, just like most Canadians, or people the world over, I abhor terrorism. I also will not let my life be run by fear campaigns such as the one currently appearing on Facebook. An ad placed by the Conservative Party.

    • Ev

      INDEED….here here!

  • Ev

    Ms. May is a very good lawyer and a smart woman as well! I am sure she has had a VERY GOOD read of this Bill…and yes, understands it’s ambiguity which is why it must be defeated!

  • amajh

    The opening of ‘hiding in the closet’ is unfortunate and could well be a turn off to read further. I am not a Harper fan however I would think the ‘hiding’ had more to do with protocol than anything else. The statement is inflammatory – meant to be? The facts of this bill are frightening.. more powerful I think to leave nasty personal comments out of it.

    • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

      Wasn’t he in the closet?

    • Jane Paquette

      While I wouldn’t wish physical harm to anyone, this action is hardly something a true leader would do.

      • Don Gravelle

        I would not wish harm to anyone either, but if I awakened one morning and the headlines read “Harper is no longer with us”, I would jump for joy.

    • Don Gravelle

      I would like to think that it would take more than that phrase to turn you off from reading further.

    • wildgoose2

      What a crock. Hairball Harper pushed a paraplegic and some frightened women in front a door and hid in a broom closet and the mention of it turns you off? Get a life and grow some balls. Harper showed exactly who he was when he did this.

  • Robert Ede

    Ms May is a fulsome advocate and I hope she gets a 5yr sunset clause added to c.51.
    However, IMHO, the current Salafist/Wahabbist “Crusade for a Caliphate” is much more serious than any of north americans expected/suspected/ could imagine.

    PS Global/Climate Change is caused by the Sun – stop pushing useless carbon-reduction schemes and cap-trade N/S wealth re-distributions.

    • Don Gravelle

      Unworthy of a reply, but what the Hell, you need to get outside more.

    • TheTruthExposer

      Ppl r so stoned & numb to make such comments so arrogant ignorant or have no knowledge of their Christian & Jewish history of genocide & atrocities which they have not left any country on this earth. Even today using Deception, Lies, False Flag Operations, Entrapping Pasties & saying they are Jealous, disguising or hiding behind, we are Fighting For Freedom, Democracy, Women and Human Rights. Pls check ur history b4 making such comments.

    • Jo. Unrau

      Robert Ede, you are delusional. We are causing climate change with our destruction of the planet.

  • Vestias

    I am plesased to see people who hold the same rights as I we only have one life and we have the right to live life to human rights

  • Jane Paquette

    I’ve read that within the act is a section that allows a person to be stripped of citizenship even if they are Canadian by birth. How is this possible?

    • TheTruthExposer

      Very good question, this the kind of things PC PM Harper is putting in Cdn laws which is scary in fact against basic human rights

  • TheTruthExposer

    Worse is happening In Burma against Muslims. Please write & sign petition. http://www.burmamuslims.org/

  • TheTruthExposer

    Canada is now doing the same thing what USA did 911 NY attack, a False Flag Operation entrapment of pasties all to promote suspicious, hatred, character assassinate Islam & Muslims, in order to disfranchise, silence Muslims & bring locals aboard to get free rein to go to wars in Muslim countries, to invade, occupy by bombing, killing murdering raping not just women but their resources to steal like USA, UK & West are doing in Iraq & Afghanistan. All for Oil & Zionist Apartheid Israeli Ideology to capture & rule Muslim Arab Lands. Muslims Cdns, USA, UK & Western general public should stand to their morally corrupt & mentally sick pro-Israeli Zionist Jews leaders start taking them to court by suing them in local, national & international courts for spreading hatred, entrapment, spreading lies, waging wars, genocide & atrocities. Just look at western history from slavery, scalping of Natives, Sodomizing by Priests, Spanish inquisition, WWI WWII, Nuking civilian cities killing millions, using chemicals on human beings in Vietnam, Korea, Guld Wars, while murdering reporters & civilians thru Drine Attacks.

    • Grogs

      You’re a moron

      • TheTruthExposer

        Yeh, bcause u did not the truth.

  • K.L

    As a quick response to Cris Paunescu’s comment, and as someone who is deep in the realm of English studies I’d like to point out that as Ms. May actually QUOTES the act in question it’s probably a safe bet that she’s read it. And even given her rapid response to Harper’s proposal any person with even the most basic knowledge of history must be aware that any act following on the heels of a crisis must be either a symptom of panic or a callous and despicable attempt to play on the public’s fear. Moments of crisis are the openings for dictatorship and totalitarianism; fear is the wedge they use to force their way in. Here in Canada we have come to take the security of our democracy for granted and. Between C-51 and the lingering issue of the Robocalls it’s time to admit that Canadian democracy is far from secure and that the time has come to start actively defending it. If we leave it to fate and the Conservatives, we might soon find that it’s no longer there.

  • Yelda Miedema

    Well stated Ms May! Thank you!

  • Oldislander

    This proposed bill is a case of the cure being worse than the disease. To begin with, there is no evidence that individuals involved in violent acts in Ottawa were connected to any terrorist organization; in fact; they appear to be nothing more than a couple of mentally unbalanced individuals with guns. While guns and mentally challenged people are a volatile mix, it does not warrant a knee jerk reaction from Harper or an opportunity to abuse the situation in order to attack groups legally opposed to his policies.

  • Sys

    I urge everyone to read Glenn Greenwald’s book , “No Place To Hide” if you have any doubt’s about how dangerous Bill C 51 is ” and how it endangers our freedom and democracy itself!!! Thank you Elizabeth for standing up for our rights…and what is important!

  • riccotelaly

    We are at risk because we have joined America’s wars of aggression. Conservative and Liberal; government until Harper were all smarter than that.
    Now ISIS contains members from Syria, who were financed and armed by the USA. Iraq and Libya had no Al Qaeda members until America destroyed those counties. And Iraq was destroyed by a concerted effort to lie about what Iraq was guilty of. Apparently nothing, other than selling oil in euros.

    The USA’s foreign policy is insane. They lie about nearly everything and have just been exposed again in United States of America v.Jeffrey Alexander Sterling. “In the courtroom, one CIA witness after another described Operation Merlin as a vitally important program requiring strict secrecy. Yet the government revealed a great deal of information about Operation Merlin during the trial—including CIA documents that showed the U.S. government to be committed to deception about the Iranian nuclear program.”
    Harper has put Canada at risk. We don’t need Bill C51. We need a PM who will tell the USA that we beg to differ and go back to our earlier and saner positions.

  • Melody

    I’ve signed every petition I can find, what else can I do to stand up to resist the passing of this Bill?

  • Jo. Unrau

    If Harper has his way we will no longer be a democracy. It seems that Ms. May & the Greens are the only ones who really care about Canada & Canadians. We want to keep our freedom as Canadians.

  • NoName
  • Brian Mack

    Got my vote!

  • Yvonne Fukada

    Thank you Elizabeth May. Please continue to speak up!

  • Whatstheagenda

    Thanks for standing up to the Harper fear mongers. His George Bush style “you are either with us or against us” stance completely smothers any chance for logical discussion…which is what he wants. If people actually look at his power grab and see how innocent citizens rights are being trampled, he would be exposed as somebody would is against democracy rather than for it.

How you can help

Follow Me

facebook-icon Facebook Twitter YouTube Digg


Learn how to support Elizabeth May with her work in Parliament ALT

Latest Articles

Island Tides: Movement for Oceans
June 22nd, 2017

Policy Magazine: The Slow Pace of Parliament
June 21st, 2017

Hill Times: The Liberals’ climate plan? A chocolate cake diet
June 7th, 2017

Policy Magazine: A Green Balance of Power in BC
May 15th, 2017

Island Tides: Another Liberal promise about to be broken on Canada’s navigable waters?
April 27th, 2017

Island Tides: Report from the world’s largest ever gathering of Greens!
April 13th, 2017

Green Party Logo

Constituency Office

1-9711 Fourth St
Sidney, BC  V8L 2Y8

Phone: 250-657-2000
Fax: 250-657-2004

E-mail: elizabeth.may.c1a@parl.gc.ca

Parliament Hill Office

518 Confederation Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6

Phone: 613-996-1119
Fax: 613-996-0850

E-mail: elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca

Jobs & Volunteering

Click here for the latest opportunities