Guest Blog: BCGEU Treasurer Paul Finch

March 12, 2015
Bill C-51: The “secret police” law must be stopped.

Bill C-51, the federal government’s controversial new "secret police" law, is a sweeping piece of legislation that would undermine our civil liberties and enable government agencies to share your sensitive data with no oversight and no accountability.

The federal government is trying to recklessly push through this unnecessary bill without due debate. This stifles our democratic process.

That’s why thousands of concerned citizens across Canada will gather in more than 55 events on Saturday, March 14 to protest Bill C-51. I will be speaking at the Vancouver event and I hope that you’ll join me. It is an important issue for our union to stand behind: BCGEU has a long and proud history of fighting for social justice and protection of democracy.

If passed, Bill C-51 would allow intelligence agencies to violate our charter rights and blur the line between freedom and security. The repercussions for Canadians would be profound.

In fact, the proposed bill — the so-called Anti-Terrorism Act — would allow authorities to investigate anyone who challenges the government’s social, economic or environmental policies. This means that the laws would change to enable authorities to detain people merely on suspicion —including citizens who have committed no crime.

Perhaps one of the more insidious aspects to Bill C-51 is how it would disproportionately infringe upon the rights of social justice advocates who are already subjected to overreaching powers by authorities, including Aboriginal peoples and environmental activists.

The Snowden revelations have shown the vast scope of illegal surveillance being conducted on all Canadians. Left unchecked, or worse legalized in part by this legislation, our fundamental right to privacy would be abrogated. This right to privacy is fundamental to free association, and is a crucial part of our democratic system.

Opposition to the bill includes a growing number of prominent Canadians and diverse organizations including former Canadian Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, Joe Clark, John Turner, five former Supreme Court justices, former privacy commissioners, Amnesty International, Council of Canadians, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, David Suzuki Foundation, the Official Opposition New Democratic Party, the Green Party, and more than 100 law professors across Canada.

With an imminent federal election, the federal government is focusing its efforts on this unnecessary bill while neglecting the issues that really matter to working Canadians: things like improvements to health care, accessible and affordable child care, raising the minimum wage, and strengthening public services.

Canadians should not have to choose between security and their rights. Reject these scare tactics. Bill C-51 is reckless, irresponsible, dangerously vague and ineffective. It must be stopped.

Join concerned Canadians across the country this Saturday, March 14 for the National Day of Action Against Bill C-51. In BC, 14 protests will be taking place: Vancouver, Castlegar, Courtenay, Nelson, Salt Spring Island, Nanaimo, Prince George, Cranbrook, Clearwater, Kamloops, Vernon, Port Moody, Campbell River and Smithers.