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C-51 - A turning point

This post would normally go to my other blog, paroxysms.ca, but since the gravity of the situation is so great, it gets promoted to the main personal blog.

Earlier today, the Conservative Party of Canada and the Liberal Party of Canada passed the flawed bill C-51, a bill that gives CSIS a whole new set of new powers without oversight. Many people have talked about the new bill, but other than calling it the Secret Police bill, it's really unclear as to how the bill affects the average Canadian. Of course, this is tricky, because the very nature of this bill is to crack down on various communities, not necessarily on terrorism, and is by nature a very vile, racist piece of legislation.

As a Canadian Citizen, the primary time you interact with the federal government is when you file taxes. Most of the time, natural-born Canadians aren't interacting with the government directly. However, if you decide to fly on a plane, you interact with CATSA (Canadian TSA) and if you fly internationally back into Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency. If you go to a National Park, like Banff or Jasper, you once again interact with a federal employee, and so on. All these interactions can now be shared between departments to form a more complete profile of you by CSIS. Of course, this isn't the worst of it. The worst happens once you become a person of interest to the RCMP or CSIS

A person of interest is someone who is under active surveillance by Canada's Police and Intelligence Agencies. Before C-51, the RCMP would be unable to gather a complete profile on a person and would be forced for days to watch someone. They wouldn't be able to get their legal name, nor would they be able to do very much in the way of intelligence gathering. It took the RCMP months to figure out that I worked at Nitobi instead of Spartacus Books, for example, and it wasn't until they asked the CBSA when the CBSA detained me for the second time that they got my name right. I'm pretty certain that they didn't know how much I made at my job, or who my co-wokers are. However, now that they can share information with the Canada Revenue Agency, they can find that information without a problem, and then begin investigating all my co-workers if I was still under surveillance as a person of interest. These rabbit holes of information are too tempting to these agencies and it is far too easy for these groups to find patterns where none exist, or conflate rumors completely out of proportion.

Now, if you think that's bad, remember that I am white and I had it pretty easy. Now, think about someone who is Native or who immigrated to Canada. Their interactions with the government are greater than mine, and depending on their backround the Government is far more intrusive into their lives. Right now the people who are most at risk by C-51 information sharing are people in Muslim communities. Because of the paper trail between these agencies, it's easy for false leads to emerge and for people who have done nothing wrong other than have a conversation with the wrong person to end up with a Security Certificate, or worse, put into indefinite detention. The information sharing by the various government agencies was already happening for events through the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre, it is now going to increase its scope to individuals, and it will be these communities that will feel the brunt of this new legislation.

This legislation is entirely about fear, and this is a power grab to capitalize on that fear. Allowing CSIS and CSEC to go on the offensive and take down websites that it deems a threat to Canada without oversight is about fear, especially when it is prefaced with a fasicst comment from the Member of Parliament for Edmonton Center questioning the loyalty of the Canadian tech industry (and yes, as someone who chose to stay in Canada after the acquisition by Adobe, that SEVERELY pisses me off, but I'm going to save that for another post).