from 16 december 2001
blue vol II, # 15 edition
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Anti Terrorist Law: Bill C-36 & Bill C-35

an open letter to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

by Murray Lumley

I wrote another letter to our federal Justice Minister on the anti-terrorism Bill 36. It has been passed by the House of Commons [11.28.01] and is now being considered by our Senate.
- Murray Lumley, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Government of Canada Introduces Anti-Terrorism Act

The Government of Canada is determined to take steps to combat terrorism and terrorist activities at home and abroad. Tough new anti-terrorism measures strike an appropriate balance between respecting Canadian values of fairness and respect for human rights while helping to ensure that Canadians and the global community are better protected.
The package: creates measures to identify, prosecute, convict and punish terrorist groups; provides new investigative tools to law enforcement and national security agencies; and ensures that Canadian values of respect and fairness are preserved and the root causes of hatred are addressed through stronger laws against hate crimes and propaganda. 

Bill C-36 

An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Official Secrets Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and other Acts, and to enact measures respecting the registration of charities, in order to combat terrorism. Honourable Anne McLellan
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6
November 22, 2001

Dear Ms. McLellan:

I am writing to voice my very grave concerns about the proposed Anti Terrorist Law, Bill C-36, and its accompanying legislation, Bill C-35.

I had opportunity to attend a public forum at McMaster University, Hamilton, on the subject of these bills at which learned and knowledgeable professors and lawyers, as well as youth and ordinary citizens spoke of the dangers to citizens’ rights if these bills are passed into law by Parliament.

Points brought out against these bills:

  1. These proposed bills are not about fighting terrorism - the type of actions carried out on September 11 would not be prevented by anything in these bills. Further, no new legislation is necessary. The people who carried out these actions could have been arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit crimes, under legislation already available, if police and security forces had uncovered the plots. Instead these bills are about ‘the state’ (Canada, a province, a municipality or any other country) ‘making hay’ in the shadow of the twin towers. These bills are part of the pendulum swing away from the guarantees of human rights contained in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and are a continuation of the anti-gang legislation that has been building over the past few years. Your statement that Bill C-36 is ‘charter proof’ only provides for minimum standards for the legislation which is not good enough.

  2. We are told that Bill C-36, which asks us to willingly restrict our freedoms, will provide more security against terrorism. If this is true, then Israel and Northern Ireland should be the safest places on Earth!

  3. Some of the problem elements of Bill C-36 are: new police powers including ‘preventive arrests’ (which are already being done at protests, even to journalists, under present legislation) - arrests on suspicion for 72 hours (South Africa apartheid laws started with 72 hour detention on suspicion and eventually moved to indefinite detention - a slippery slope!) ; increased electronic surveillance; the denial of the fundamental right to remain silent; expanded use of closed court hearings.

  4. This bill if passed will produce an even greater ‘chill’ effect against the following groups of people some of whom are already marginalized. Many will be further marginalized and criminalized by this legislation:

    1. Youth and other dissenters who are being brutally targetted by police at anti-economic globalization rallies even under present laws.
    2. Canadians of Middle Eastern or even South Asian origin who have already suffered discrimination, racial profiling and attacks on their places of worship, are afraid to speak out on any issue. (More than 1000 Muslim men have been detained in the U.S. with very few charged. But what of their reputations? Is this a new McCarthyism?)
    3. First Nations people who will be targetted even more for using the few tools they have left to resist the continued encroachment of their lands, remaining resources and even their lives as has been seen in Oka, Quebec, Ipperwash, ON, Burnt Church, N.B. Saskatchewan (police dropping native men outside of town to freeze to death), and now in Sun Peaks, B.C. Canada’s jails are filled now with First Nations people, way out of proportion to their numbers in the population.
    4. Nurses or any union members carrying out what is deemed an illegal strike could be labelled terrorists and suffer the consequences of the this new legislation.

  5. Creation of a ‘police state’. The RCMP has already been convicted of wrong doing in the 1970’s when it often incompetently targetted for surveillance First Nations groups, peace groups, leftists and others like the East Timor advocacy group. Canada’s constitution of 1982 with the enshrinement of First Nations treaty rights and the creation of CSIS was supposed to correct improper surveillnace of civil society organizations. This new legislation will again allow all kinds of societal groups to be watched without their knowledge.

  6. Bill C-35 proposes first of all to extend diplomatic immunity to include foreign officials in Canada, even if they are known criminals, terrorists or mass murderers such as a Suharto or a Pinochet. By protecting foreign government representatives from prosecution under Canadian laws, Bill C-35 directly contradicts Bill C-36!

    Secondly Bill C-35 will serve to consolidate and extend the power of the RCMP to thwart protests against foreign government officials who will soon be given special immunity from Canadian laws. In other words Bill C-35 will allow the RCMP - a police force, (not a court of law or a legislature) to control and limit the kind of dissent allowed at a demonstration like we’ve seen in Windsor, Quebec or Ottawa. Bill C-35 is a blatant attempt to ‘chill’ the right to public dissent.

Canadian Parliament I have a concern about ‘state terrorism’. On September 11, more than 30,000 of the world’s children died of starvation or disease perhaps caused by a lack of clean water. Article 25 (1) of The U.N. Universal Declarationof Human Rights states that, "everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services." Gandhi said that "poverty is the worst form of violence."

If the member states of the U.N. do not act to ensure the necessities of life for all of its citizens, is this not a form of terrorism? There are many states that have treated (and still do) their citizens far worse than Canada does. But the government of Canada, with thousands of homeless on the streets of its cities still does not have a national housing policy. The government of Canada, instead of ensuring that its First Nations people have the lands and resources necessary for their livelihood, sends its police forces to assault, harrass, jail and lie about them, failing to seriously negotiate while permitting the theft of remaining resources. Is this not ‘state terrorism’?

Senator Douglas Roche, at the YMCA Peace Breakfast this week in Hamilton told his audience of an ‘absolutely outrageous statistic’. The total bill for all the members and agencies of the U.N., paid for by the member states, comes to $10 billion. These same states spend $800 billion on their militaries - a ratio of 80 to 1 supposedly for security! Is this not a form of ‘state terrorism’?

Finally, a young man at the forum spoke of the fact that no government legislation can give or take away human rights; as members of the human family we are all born with rights as the Declaration of Independence states - "all men are created equal, ...they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ...Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

The ‘governed’ have not given you consent to limit their freedom through Bills C-36 and C-35 and these bills will not end terrorism. Only a free and open society, where everyone’s rights are respected and where we are responsible to and for one another, can give the security that we are looking for.

Do not implement Bills C-36 and C-35!

- Sincerely, Murray D. Lumley

cc: Prime Minister Jean Chretien; M.P. John Bryden; Opposition Leader Stockwell Day; P.C. Leader Joe Clark; Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe; NDP Leader Alexa McDonough

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