Bill C 51 is a blow to civil liberties

This week, the federal Conservative government, with the help of the Liberal Party, passed Bill C-51 in the House of Commons. At a time when Canadians' civil liberties are more important than ever, the Conservative

This week, the federal Conservative government, with the help of the Liberal Party, passed Bill C-51 in the House of Commons.

At a time when Canadians’ civil liberties are more important than ever, the Conservatives and Liberals have voted to undermine our rights and freedoms.

And not only did they vote for C-51 – every NDP amendment to the bill was rejected. These updates, including changes that would delete provisions lumping political dissent with violent extremism, strengthen CSIS oversight by Parliament and mandate a three-year review of the bill with a sunset clause.

Imagine: the NDP asked for the creation of a community outreach and de-radicalization coordinator who could pre-empt some of the systemic issues that alienate the minority of Canadians who turn to extremism, but even this productive idea was thrown out during the bill’s review.

The NDP has been clear all along: C-51 is a flawed bill that forces us, unfairly, to choose between our rights and freedoms. We know where Yukon’s member of Parliament stands on this bill: Ryan Leef voted for it. Meanwhile, Liberal candidate Larry Bagnell has been silent – is it because he would have voted for it too if he had the chance?

I would like to focus on the Liberal position for a moment: their leader, Justin Trudeau, has told us that they don’t like the bill either, but they will only try to amend it if we elect them into power. When University of British Columbia students grilled Justin Trudeau about his party’s support for C-51 at a town hall meeting, he cynically told them that “this conversation might be different if we weren’t months from an election campaign.”

What does this say about the kind of government Larry Bagnell envisions for Canada?

The public have been clear that C-51 is a threat to Canadian civil liberties. Experts from across the political spectrum have denounced C-51 as being more about politics than policy.

An unprecedented public rally, organized in Whitehorse on a day’s notice in opposition to C-51, was a refreshing reminder that we value our civil liberties as Yukoners.

Canada is a loving and hopeful place. Our communities, more than anywhere else, value compassion, mutual support and collective growth – not social isolation and snooping on citizens. Bill C-51 is an affront to those values and to the belief that everybody wins when we work together to ensure our shared prosperity.

We know now that we can’t trust Ryan Leef or Larry Bagnell to stand up for Yukoners on important issues. Yukoners, and Canadians, deserve better.

Dan Bader

President,

New Democratic Party of Canada electoral district association