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By: Julianna Mundle

Bill C-51, otherwise known as the “Anti-Terrorism Bill,” was implemented in January 2015. The purpose of this bill, according to the Conservative Harper government, is to protect Canadians from terrorism. Critics have argued that this bill is racist, ineffective and violates sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, the flaws of the bill have already been discussed at length so here I will outline the stances of non-Conservatives parties on the bill and why it should affect your decision on Oct. 19.

Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party, stated in a speech in February 2015 that he is a firm believer that the “individual freedoms” enjoyed by the people of Canada “cannot exist without collective security.” If collective security is the curbing of individual rights for the safety of all, then how does Trudeau believe them to be complimentary? Possible amendments have been introduced by the Liberals, including reducing the authority held by the CSIS, as the organization’s new found status gives them the power to infringe upon the privacy rights of Canadians, as stipulated in the Charter. However, it is still unclear how they plan to limit the power that the CSIS possesses, as the basis of Bill C-51 is to empower the organization.

Let us put the Liberals aside for a minute and investigate the platform of the New Democratic Party and the Green Party.

The NDP has stated that they intend to implement stronger privacy protections throughout the bill and ensure that regular reports are made to the House of Commons by the Security Intelligence Review Committee. These strategies might be able to lead to a monitoring system. It will only work, however, if taken seriously.

Last but certainly not least, the Green Party. Elizabeth May, the party’s leader, has accepted the fact that this bill, as flawed as it is, cannot be fixed entirely. She explains that it can however be amended to ensure that the rights of Canadian citizens and permanent residents are protected.  The first part of her “60 amendments,” as stated in detail on the party’s website, is to denounce the bill. The amendments clearly and concisely condemn the rights violated by Bill C-51 and provide suitable solutions. May stated that “C-51 creates a dangerous scenario with a complete lack of due process and the ability for Canadian officials to share the information on the list with virtually no caveats.”

Political leaders of the three major parties have shied away from this issue and have spent their time attacking each other. This bill actively curbs individual freedoms and freedom of expression, along with sharing the personal information of Canadians, along with expanding the opportunity of abuse within CSIS.

This is a piece of legislation that affects you, and should absolutely be part of your vote. Bill C-51 is the elephant in the room for this year’s election, because it has not been focused on nearly enough. We have to take the next step and vote for those who want to change it.

Photo Credit: CNW Group/Maclean’s

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