The growing opposition of Canadians to Bill C-51, the "secret police" legislation, has forced the Conservative government to accept some amendments. Canadians must keep up the pressure.
Ottawa (30 March 2015) — After weeks of growing opposition, the Conservative government has agreed to accept up to ten amendments to Bill C-51, the controversial legislation dubbed by many as the "secret police" bill. However, many feel that what the government will consider acceptable amendments will not address the Canadians' concerns about the affect the bill will have on privacy rights and democratic rights.
"The government should accept that Bill C-51 is so flawed that they need to scrap it and start again," said James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "In this way they can hear from Canadians about what they want to see as a government response to the threat of terrorism."
Massive pressure forcing changes
The government's about-face on the legislation comes after one of the largest national campaigns in Canadian history. "More than 100,000 Canadians raised their voices against this poorly drafted and ill-conceived legislation," said Clancy.
"Support among Canadians for the bill has dropped dramatically in the past couple of weeks. Even traditionally Conservative voters felt that this government had gone too far."
What amendments are being discussed
While the details about the proposed amendments have not been disclosed, news reports suggest that amendments will
- limit the types of protests that would be subject to the security and surveillance measures set out in the bill;
- clarify language to make clear that CSIS agents will not have the power of arrest.
What really needs to change
The National Union of Public and General Employees joins with other organizations in arguing that there absolutely must be
- Parliamentary oversight that is consistent with what our global counterparts have;
- Meaningful judicial safeguards regarding information disclosure on law-abiding Canadians.
In addition, there are a number of other amendments that have been proposed by experts that must be considered (for example, see here).
"Given all the amendments that were proposed by the experts, I find it highly unlikely that the Conservatives will make all the necessary amendments to Bill C-51," said Clancy. "We must continue to demand that this Bill be scrapped and we start again, following full public consultation."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE