Bill C-51 Generates Discussion in the Cariboo
Prince George, B.C. – The federal government’s proposed anti-terror legislation, Bill C-51, was a hot topic of discussion at public meetings this past week in 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Quesnel. The meetings were part of a tour organized by the Stand Up for the North Committee, and followed a public meeting in Prince George attended by over 120 people earlier in March.
The hastily-organized meetings attracted about 30 people in 100 Mile House, over 50 people in Williams Lake and 45 in Quesnel. The Stand Up for the North Committee put the tour together to give residents an opportunity to discuss the legislation which has generated widespread opposition across the country.
The main speaker for the tour, Peter Ewart from the Stand Up for the North Committee, commented that, although this legislation directly impacts privacy, freedom of speech, and other fundamental rights of Canadians, and confers huge powers on federal bodies such as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the federal government has been bent on ramming the bill through.
“Once again, far away federal politicians and unelected officials are making major decisions about our rights,” he said, “while we, at the community level, are supposed to be nothing more than bystanders with no say whatsoever.”
According to Ewart, the proposed legislation overreaches and intrudes on the rights of ordinary Canadians. He pointed out that, even though the federal government has been forced into making some small retractions because of opposition from legal experts and a host of others representing a wide range of political opinion, the fundamental flaws in the Bill remain.
He says our rights should be like the rocks that sit on the edge of Pacific Ocean. “It doesn’t matter what storms crash against them or what political currents swirl around them, they should be inalienable, inviolable and sacrosanct. They are our bedrock as individuals and as a nation.”
“Unfortunately,” he says, “we have governments in Ottawa that, in practice, do not really recognize these rights as inalienable, but rather see them only as privileges to be granted, rolled back or overridden at the whim of whatever government happens to be in power.” In his opinion, all of this points to the need for political and electoral renewal which will give the Canadian people more control over government and more say in the decision-making, as well as Constitutional rights that cannot be overridden or ignored.
The Williams Lake audience approved a resolution calling on the federal government to rescind and withdraw Bill C-51 in its entirety. As a next step, participants in each town expressed keen interest in organizing further meetings in the coming months as well as taking the issue into the upcoming federal election.