The shape of Liberal reform of C-51 is becoming increasingly clear, and as I predicted, it doesn’t meaningfully address the most important issues with the law. There are, however, the slightest glimmers of hope for anti-C-51 advocates – which I’ll get to after the doom and gloom, so as to leave you with at least a bit of optimism.
But first, the bad news.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, in his interview last week with the CBC’s Rosemary Barton (who, by the way, is to be congratulated for her appointment as permanent host of CBC’s Power and Politics after doing a fantastic job during last year’s election), gave some indication of what the Liberal approach to C-51 will be:
Goodale is travelling to London next week for meetings on counter-terrorism, violent extremism and cybersecurity. He will also be gathering information about United Kingdom’s Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament as he prepares to adopt a similar model for Canadian parliamentarians…
The Security Intelligence Review Committee, a civilian oversight body, will remain with an enhanced mandate.
Goodale said the government is committed to repealing key elements of the anti-terrorism legislation known as Bill C-51, including protecting civil protests and better defining “propaganda” and the expanded no-fly list. [my bold]
So, to recap: a parliamentary committee to oversee surveillance agencies, a beefing-up of SIRC, the protection of “civil” protests, and better definitions and parameters for “propaganda” and the no-fly list. Goodale also made clear that the Liberals would make good on a specific pledge to ensure that the law-breaking “disruption” that security agencies are allowed to engage in under C-51 would not include actions which violate people’s Charter rights.
That’s broadly in line with what I was predicting months ago, especially the tightly limited action on police/surveillance agency “disruption”, better known as legalized law-breaking.
But as more details emerge about the new oversight committee which is the centrepiece of the Liberals’s “reformist” agenda on C-51, I’m getting increasingly dour about the whole thing. Continue Reading