One of my first tasks as the new reporter for this newspaper was a street side poll.
With all the recent controversy over Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s newly proposed anti-terrorism bill it felt fitting to ask the people of Rossland what they thought of Bill C-51. After all, Nelson and Castlegar held their own rallies just last week to show the discomfort the new legislature brought them.
For a couple of hours, I roamed Columbia Ave. asking anyone that would listen, what their position on the proposed bill was. The answers, or lack thereof, was quite surprising.
Not only did most people have no stance on the bill, they had no knowledge of the act or what it proposed.
Now, I’m not here to wag my finger and say “shame on you” or anything. I realize people may have legitimate reasons why they are out of the loop on this, but hopefully this piece can help shed some light on the matter, albeit a slightly skewed light.
Bill C-51 if passed, may never directly affect you or anyone you know, but it will be bad for Canada.
First, some background.
C-51 was formally introduced to the public at the beginning of 2015, in the wake of October’s Parliament Hill shootings. The bill aims to encourage and facilitate information sharing between federal institutions in order to protect Canada against activities that undermine its security.
In short, Harper and his government would like to see more power in the hands of law enforcement and security institutions such as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
The prime minister promises this anti-terrorism act will make Canadians and Canada safer as a whole. In reality it allows the government to keep an ever-watchful eye on Canadian citizens.
This may sound like paranoid thinking to some, but a very vocal majority thinks this is going too far, myself included.
By all means, do what you can to prevent terrorism if it is such a large threat within this country, but a large sweeping bill such as this most certainly should not be forced upon the people with only a few months’ notice. It seems the government is trying to push this act through before anything arises to impede its progress.
Furthermore, C-51 does a poor job of defining what exactly terrorism is and many believe this bill could infringe upon the rights to peaceful protest and free speech.
Of course, there is much more to this bill, but I hope this piece prompts you to take a look for yourself and form your own opinion whether your government is looking out for you in the end.