Saturday, April 18, 2015

Top 6 ways you will be affected by Bill C-51

By Megan Drysdale -- Friday, April 17, 2015

Since Bill C-51 was introduced, an abundance of analyses and commentaries have been published, examining the contents and broad reach of the proposed legislation. The general threats to your rights are widely reported on, but what do these threats actually mean for you?

Here are six ways that Bill C-51 could affect your day-to-day life:

Your private information will no longer be private

Your confidential information and interactions with the government will now be fair game for sharing between departments for many broad reasons, of which terrorism is only one. The bill explicitly permits someone who received information under the bill to use and disclose it “to any person, for any purpose.” Looking at the list of recipient institutions, this could include information about your health, passport applications and personal taxes, among other things. And despite claiming to not target Canadians, Canada’s intelligence agency CSE is also given access to your information in this bill.

Innocent words can be interpreted as terrorism

Bill C-51 broadens the scope of propagation crimes to include advocating or promoting “terrorism offences in general.” The wording of the bill is broad enough that a terrorist purpose is not required. Speaking privately about solutions to controversial conflicts or debating an academic opinion that “may” cause a listener to commit a terrorist offence could count as an indictable offence for you, regardless of your own intentions. “Being reckless,” as the bill describes it, can lead to up to five years in prison.

Online posts will be censored

Under the bill, internet service providers and telecom providers would be required to remove any content that a judge considers terrorist propaganda, as well as anything that makes terrorist propaganda available. Linking to a video from a group like ISIS or Boko Haram could be blocked and taken down from your web and social media sites – even if you condemn the materials in your post. The bill would also allow for you to be identified and located for posting materials, despite your right to remain anonymous online.

Protesting could put you under government surveillance

Any activities that undermine the security of Canada, broadly stated to include interfering with critical infrastructure or the economic stability of Canada, are offences under Bill C-51. Lawful protests are excluded, but any protests and strikes that lack the proper permits would be fair game. Standing up to protect Aboriginal lands, protesting oil sands or pipelines, and being involved in RCMP-targeted environmental groups could lead to you being placed under increased surveillance or arrest if any of your activities are deemed “unlawful” – a term that could include not securing the appropriate noise by-law exemption for loud megaphone use after 7pm.

Your travel may be restricted without explanation

Bill C-51 expands the Passenger Protect Program so that the government can add anyone to the no-fly list that they suspect might engage in terrorism. People on the list could be denied boarding passes without being given a reason, and the threshold for inclusion on the list would be lowered from “immediate threat” to “reasonable grounds to suspect.” If you are placed on the list, attempts to be removed would involve a court procedure that lets the government request secret hearings that exclude you and your lawyer.

Your material possessions may be seized

Canadian customs officers will have increased powers to search your belongings and seize anything they consider terrorist propaganda, including “writings, signs, visible representations or audio recordings.” These search powers could include computer and phone searches, and would give border officials free reign to decide which materials to confiscate without oversight. A book or DVD with interviews or information about terrorist groups could be seized.

Want to learn more about this dangerous legislation? Check out our list of resources.

Take action:

Sign the petition: Join the almost 200,000 Canadians who have spoken out against Bill C-51

Email your MP: Tell your elected representative why you oppose this dangerous bill

Call your MP: Tell your MP to vote against Bill C-51Megan Drysdale is CJFE’s Editorial and Events Assistant.

Monday, April 13, 2015

For Immediate Release: Canadians use social media and local gatherings to educate neighbours and MPs as #StopC51 Week of Education kicks off

With many MPs home in their ridings in advance of crucial vote, over 50 online and offline activities will take place across Canada 

April 13, 2015 - With opposition to the government's controversial Bill C-51 surging, Canadians across the country are coming together to launch a Week of Education about the reckless, dangerous, and ineffective legislation. Canadians have planned over 50 activities, including a range of social media tools aimed at educating fellow Canadians and their MPs about why the bill is wrong for Canada.

The Week of Education kicks off with a social media "Thunderclap"that has gone viral, with a reach of over 1.7 million people including support from high-profile Canadians such as renowned authorMargaret Atwood and tech entrepreneur Tim Bray. Online tools and details about events taking place across Canada can be found at

The Week of Education, supported by dozens of community groups across Canada, comes with many MPs at home in their ridings in advance of a crucial final House of Commons vote on Bill C-51. This morning, over 100 groups and experts published an open letter to Prime Minister Harper calling for Bill C-51's immediate dismissal, as it fundamentally fails to balance protecting Canadians with our Charter rights. 56% of Canadians now oppose the bill, according to a Forum Research poll published days ago.

"It has become abundantly clear that the more Canadians learn about what's in this bill, the less they like it - that's why public opinion is changing so fast," says Steve Anderson, OpenMedia's Executive Director. "It's amazing to see Canadians of all stripes spontaneously coming together to educate each other and their MPs about the threats posed by Bill C-51."

Anderson continues, "This bill is inherently flawed, and our elected officials should not be allowed to deceive Canadians into thinking they're making significant changes when in fact they are rushing the bill through at record speed. It's time for the government to properly consult Canadians, including the country's own Privacy Commissioner, about the implications of this bill, and start over."

"This bill, which aims to address the understandable fears of Canadians, provides a false sense of security," agrees Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director at the National Council of Canadian Muslims. "Law enforcement agencies currently have many tools at their disposal to protect Canadians. The government has failed to show why this overreaching legislation is even required; it would do better by working to empower diverse communities in challenging radicalization towards extremist violence, rather than risk marginalizing those same groups."

Tom Henheffer, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression's Executive Director says, "C-51 will do little to stop terrorism, but it will trample Canadians' rights. The bill is dangerous and must be stopped, and Canadians are standing up to tell our government we won't allow our fundamental freedoms to be taken away."

Kelly Dowdell, Campaign Manager for Leadnow, says: "We've seen this tactic from the Harper Conservatives before. They present legislation that is broadly rejected by experts and the public, respond with a few amendments, and then rush it through to a vote. On issues as important as our security, privacy, and freedom, we deserve better. It's time to scrap Bill C-51, and start over."

Tamir Israel, Staff Lawyer, CIPPIC, says, "With Bill C-51, Canada is embarking down an unfortunate path that we will regret. Its tone and tenor is antithetical to Canada's inclusive culture, and the powers it grants our spy agencies are both excessive and unnecessary. Worse - the Bill fails to include any meaningful safeguards. It needs to be sent back to the drawing board."

Katitza Rodriguez, International Human Rights Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says, "Proposals within Bill C-51 contain excessively broad definitions that make the bill's interpretation dangerously subjective. This is a surefire way to chill speech and endanger innocent social media users whose posts could be misinterpreted."

Andrew Clement, Professor, University of Toronto, says, "Bill C-51 is antithetical to core principles of Canadian democracy. Its new information sharing provisions undermine fundamental privacy rights. It's expansive and vague definition of terrorist threat risks criminalizing or at least chilling controversial discussions that are vital to effective democracy. In combination with the burgeoning surveillance capabilities of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSE), the new powers given to CSIS provide the legal and operational basis for Canada becoming a police state."

Tim McSorley, Communications Co-ordinator, Voices-Voix, says, "The ability to speak out and advocate for change in Canada is a cornerstone of our democracy. With Bill C-51, the Conservative government proposes legislation that will only further restrict spaces for dissent, criticism and civil disobedience. If adopted, this bill will erode rights and freedoms that Canadians have fought so hard to achieve."

For more quotes from concerned Canadians, click here for full release.

Bill C-51 has been widely criticized by experts and Canadians as reckless, dangerous, and ineffective. Analysts say the law will detrimentally impact our social frameworks, democratic values, and fundamental rights. While the government has admitted C-51 is flawed, and has adopted minor amendments, there is increasing consensus that the legislation remains unsalvageable and should be scrapped.

While concerns with C-51 are diverse and vary, supporting organizations agree that the bill is:

1. Reckless: It turns CSIS into a 'secret police' force with little oversight or accountability.[1][2]

2. Dangerous: It opens the door for violations of our Charter Rights[3] including censorship of free expression online.[4]

3. Ineffective: It will lead to dragnet surveillance and information sharing on innocent Canadians that even Stephen Harper has admitted is ineffective.[5][6]

The Week of Education is supported by dozens of organizations and community groups across Canada, including; OpenMedia, Leadnow, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, Privacy and Access Council of Canada, Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), YouthVote Canada, BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, and many more.

Canadians can learn more about the '#StopC51 Week of Education' at, or attend any of the following local events planned across the country, including:

Toronto (Full week of activities), Brantford, Calgary, Edmonton, Elliot Lake, Guelph, Halifax, Kamloops, Lethbridge, London, Montreal,Moosejaw, Newfoundland, Newmarket, Ottawa (day of action),Ottawa (What Muslims Need to Know about Bill C-51), Peterborough,Regina, Sarnia, Sudbury, Vancouver, Victoria, Vernon, Winnipeg, and dozens of others that have sprung up to support the campaign.


Ihsaan Gardee
Executive Director, National Council of Canadian Muslims
(613) 254-9704 or cell, (613) 853-4111

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