Liberals’ Broken Promise To Fix National Security Laws Risks Our Rights

The Liberal government has broken another election promise, this time to address deep-seated problems in our country’s national security laws. As a result, the government is failing to protect us against mass surveillance, secret policing and other national security activities that threaten our most basic rights and freedoms.

With their flagship national security law, Bill C-59, the Liberal government had committed to checking off a key platform plank: eliminating the worst aspects of the Conservatives’ highly contested Bill C-51 and putting rights and freedoms at the heart of our national security laws.

That bill, officially the National Security Act, 2017, just finished a marathon study at the House Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, to little fanfare.

Normally, committee studies don’t draw a lot of attention: committees are usually limited in what they can change, and are dominated by the governing party; opposition amendments seldom get through.

This committee study would be different, promised Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. In a little-used parliamentary procedure, the government sent Bill C-59 to committee earlier than usual, allowing MPs (in theory) to make more substantial and consequential changes to the bill. It was presented as a goodwill gesture and a sign of the government’s commitment to amending a bill that had already raised red flags.

Promises of openness don’t result in change

After dozens of hours of testimony, thousands of pages of briefs and hundreds of proposed changes from a wide-range of organizations, last week we got the result: Of more than 100 opposition amendments proposed, a total of four were adopted. I sat through the hours of debate on each clause of the bill. Systematically, opposition motions were rejected, on often the flimsiest grounds. No amendments were made that didn’t go in the direction that the government had already set out.

Nearly all the “problematic” aspects of Bill C-51 remain unfixed.

With the complexity of the bill and the scope of testimonies delivered to the committee, you would think a verdict on this bill would be difficult. It isn’t: No substantial changes were made to Bill C-59 at committee, especially regarding protecting our rights and freedoms, despite promises of openness to doing so.

From mass surveillance to continuing the unfair, ineffective No Fly List, and from secret “threat disruption activities” to new cyber-attack powers, nearly all aspects of Bill C-59 remain the same. And nearly all the “problematic” aspects of Bill C-51 remain unfixed.

Government avoids fixing Bill

Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada Travel


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