This past weekend people across Canada took to the streets to express their disagreement with Bill C-51. Why are people upset?
What is Bill C-51?
Bill C-51 creates a new crime of ‘advocating for or promoting terrorism’. By using the terms ‘advocating’ and ‘promoting’ the federal government is expanding the definition of illegal activity to something that is way beyond the scope of the Criminal Code.
The Criminal Code is very specific about the definition of terrorist activities; violent crimes such as hostage taking, seizure of aircraft, bombings, etc.
In 2001, after the events of 9/11, the government thought about enacting a new anti-terror law which would only allow ‘lawful’ protests. Many experts told the government that this would take away the ability for citizens to gather spontaneously. As a result, that amendment was struck down.
Now, in 2015, the federal government is once again pushing for a greater crackdown on citizens’ rights to express themselves by introducing Bill C-51.
Legal experts question the vague wording of Bill C-51 such as “unduly influencing a government in Canada by…unlawful means” and “interference with critical infrastructure” as the word ‘unlawful’ includes anything not officially sanctioned by the government. Interference could also include a peaceful rally with no violence or criminal activity involved or intended.
If Bill C-51 is passed, C.S.I.S. (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) could have the capacity to do the following and more:
- remove web postings or sites it finds threatening*
- drain bank accounts
- engage in disinformation campaigns
- bypass traditional police channels in order to detain suspects
*Recently, a community advocate for the protests against the Kinder Morgan pipeline at Burnaby Mountain was faced with a SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation) lawsuit because he posted dates of gatherings on his website. Such lawsuits would not be necessary in the future, because the government could remove the website and take action against the author.
Will this turn Canada into a Stasi State?
From 1949 to 1989, the Ministry for State Security in East Germany commonly known as the Stasi, spied on its citizens. They employed over 100,000 full time staff and used a vast network of citizens who spied on people using every way possible. The Stasi opened mail, monitored bank accounts, wire-tapped phone lines and bugged private living quarters. The result was over 40 million index cards and 100 miles of documents that detailed the activities of everyday people.
With the passing of Bill C-51, the Canadian government could easily turn Canada into a country where people are under intense surveillance and no longer free to express their opinions.
Profiling and Tracking Canadians
The internet has made profiling and tracking people so much easier and cheaper.
When you use your bank card, text with your mobile phone, log onto a computer, drive a vehicle, or even enter a store, you are leaving behind ‘data tracks’ and ‘data exhaust’. Even energy use data from ‘smart’ meters is being collected and analyzed. All this metadata can be easily combined to determine your habits, your social networks, and even your thought patterns.
For example, if a person anonymously rated half-a-dozen movies out of the top 500, it is possible for that person to be accurately identified 84% of the time, and if the date of the rating is available, almost 100% accurate.
Private Contractors and Other Groups
Entire industries have sprouted up analyzing, gathering, sorting, and reusing personal data. As storage costs keep going down the size and scale of data collection will only increase.
Now peoples’ data is being tracked by private companies beyond the government’s oversight. Edward Snowden was working for a private contractor with access to huge volumes of private information. There are hundreds of thousands of contract workers working with confidential data these days.
Who are they selling this information to? This is where abuse of power comes in.
Like the Stasi, the government can use societies and groups to physically track and follow ordinary citizens as they go about their daily activities. Citizens who irritate the petro-client are subject to heavy surveillance.
Are certain citizen groups assigned to physically follow people in Canada? Is it possible that these groups are under the direction of the RCMP and CSIS? Who is paying for this? Are taxpayers’ dollars being used to fund this?
Living in a client petro-state
The problem is when Canadians are living in a client state, the client decides who and what is a problem.
All the information gathered can be very useful to the client to use for repression and to maintain power. In wartime this can have a horrible result.
Imagine if the Stasi had the information gathering abilities of today. Back then there was no GPS, or mobile phones, and they did not know were people were at all times without physcially following them. They could not predict who was going to become a dissident without infiltrating social networks. Now information can be streamed into algorithmic models and people are being patrolled based on these findings.
In the old days the government was more specific on who they monitored. Now it is everyone. The U.S. government was collecting 1.7 billion emails and phone calls a day in 2010, according to the Washington Post. Imagine five years later.
Canada is becoming less and less of an independent country—culturally, economically, and politically. It is a client state. The energy resources in Canada are a key part of this integration.