Canadians educate neighbours and MPs in #StopC51 Week of Education

Monday, April 13, 2015
With many MPs home in their ridings in advance of crucial vote, over 50 online and offline activities will take place right across Canada to raise awareness of the contents of Bill C-51
April 13, 2015 (Toronto, ON) – With opposition to the government’s controversial Bill C-51 surging, Canadians across the country are coming together to launch a Week of Education about the reckless, dangerous, and ineffective legislation. Canadians have planned over 50 activities, including a range of social media tools aimed at educating fellow Canadians and their MPs about why the bill is wrong for Canada. The Week of Education kicks off with a social media “Thunderclap” that has gone viral, with a reach of over 1.7 million people including support from high-profile Canadians such as renowned author Margaret Atwood and tech entrepreneur Tim Bray. Online tools and details about events taking place across Canada can be found at StopC51.ca/education. The Week of Education, supported by dozens of community groups across Canada, comes with many MPs at home in their ridings in advance of a crucial final House of Commons vote on Bill C-51. This morning, over 100 groups and experts published an open letter to Prime Minister Harper calling for Bill C-51’s immediate dismissal, as it fundamentally fails to balance protecting Canadians with our Charter rights. 56% of Canadians now oppose the bill, according to a Forum Research poll published days ago. “It has become abundantly clear that the more Canadians learn about what’s in this bill, the less they like it–that’s why public opinion is changing so fast,” says Steve Anderson, OpenMedia’s Executive Director. “It’s amazing to see Canadians of all stripes spontaneously coming together to educate each other and their MPs about the threats posed by Bill C-51.” Anderson continued: “This bill is inherently flawed, and our elected officials should not be allowed to deceive Canadians into thinking they’re making significant changes when in fact they are rushing the bill through at record speed. It’s time for the government to properly consult Canadians, including the country’s own Privacy Commissioner, about the implications of this bill, and start over.” “This bill aims to provide a false sense of security,” agrees Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director at the National Council of Canadian Muslims. “Law enforcement agencies currently have many tools at their disposal to protect Canadians. The government has failed to show why this overreaching legislation is even required; it would do better by working to empower diverse communities in challenging radicalization towards extremist violence, rather than risk marginalizing those same groups.” Tom Henheffer, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression’s Executive Director says, “C-51 will do little to stop terrorism, but it will trample Canadians’ rights. The bill is dangerous and must stopped, and Canadians are standing up to tell our government we won't allow our fundamental freedoms to be taken away." Kelly Dowdell, Campaign Manager for Leadnow, said: "We've seen this tactic from the Harper Conservatives before. They present legislation that is broadly rejected by experts and the public, respond with a few amendments, and then rush it through to a vote. On issues as important as our security, privacy, and freedom, we deserve better. It’s time to scrap Bill C-51, and start over." Connie Fournier, Founder of Free Dominion, said: "Opposition to Bill C-51 spans the entire political spectrum. As principled conservatives, we stand with Canadians of all political stripes in denouncing this dangerous legislation. Because it has not been meaningfully amended, we expect our elected representatives to do the right thing and vote it down." Tamir Israel, Staff Lawyer, CIPPIC, said: “With Bill C-51, Canada is embarking down an unfortunate path that we will regret. Its tone and tenor is antithetical to Canada’s inclusive culture, and the powers it grants our spy agencies are both excessive and unnecessary. Worse – the Bill fails to include any meaningful safeguards. It needs to be sent back to the drawing board. Katitza Rodriguez, International Human Rights Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said: “"Proposals within Bill C-51 contain excessively broad definitions that make the bill's interpretation dangerously subjective. This is a surefire way to chill speech and endanger innocent social media users whose posts could be misinterpreted." Andrew Clement, Professor, University of Toronto, said: “Bill C-51 is antithetical to core principles of Canadian democracy. Its new information sharing provisions undermine fundamental privacy rights. It's expansive and vague definition of terrorist threat risks criminalizing or at least chilling controversial discussions that are vital to effective democracy. In combination with the burgeoning surveillance capabilities of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSE), the new powers given to CSIS provide the legal and operational basis for Canada becoming a police state.” Tim McSorley, Communications Co-ordinator, Voices-Voix, said: “The ability to speak out and advocate for change in Canada is a cornerstone of our democracy. With Bill C-51, the Conservative government proposes legislation that will only further restrict spaces for dissent, criticism and civil disobedience. If adopted, this bill will erode rights and freedoms that Canadians have fought so hard to achieve.” Veronica Campbell Co-founder of Youth Vote Canada, said: "Young people are vulnerable to radicalization when they feel isolated, misunderstood and unable to express themselves. Bill C-51 creates a culture of fear and further isolates those who look to engage in democracy through alternative avenues such as protests and demonstrations. Creating new legislation while disregarding the need for accountability through oversight, is irresponsible and will only lead to an increase in the growing disillusionment young people feel towards a system that is taking away freedoms, instead of adding to them.” Chris Wiseman, organizer with the Toronto Action Committee, said: "We want a Liberal party that stands up for liberal rights, and a Conservative party that preserves our democracy instead of attacking it. We want our democracy back, and we won't take no for an answer. No more manipulating with—and being manipulated by—fear." Elliot Coombe, President, TSP International Inc., said: “Terrorism is a real and constant threat to every free democracy. But while they can attack us, they can't legislate away our freedoms. They can only try to scare us into doing that ourselves. With C-51, they're succeeding.” Martin Pennock, Pirate Party Spokesperson said: "In the wake of recent terrorist attacks, where our emotional wounds are still fresh, we must not abandon our most basic commitments to freedom of speech and democracy. These are what make Canada such a great country. To scale back our liberties even in the slightest is to give the terrorists exactly what they want." Bill C-51 has been widely criticized by experts and Canadians as reckless, dangerous, and ineffective. Analysts say the law will detrimentally impact our social frameworks, democratic values, and fundamental rights. While the government has admitted C-51 is flawed, and has adopted minor amendments, there is increasing consensus that the legislation remains unsalvageable and should be scrapped. While concerns with C-51 are diverse and vary, supporting organizations agree that the bill is:
  1. Reckless: It turns CSIS into a ‘secret police’ force with little oversight or accountability.[1][2]
  2. Dangerous: It opens the door for violations of our Charter Rights[3] including censorship of free expression online.[4]
  3. Ineffective: It will lead to dragnet surveillance and information sharing on innocent Canadians that even Stephen Harper has admitted is ineffective.[5][6]
The Week of Education is supported by dozens of organizations and community groups across Canada, including; OpenMedia, Leadnow, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, Privacy and Access Council of Canada, Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), YouthVote Canada, BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, and many more. Canadians can learn more about the ‘#StopC51 Week of Education’ at https://StopC51.ca/Education, or attend any of the following local events planned across the country, including: Toronto (Full week of activities), Brantford, Calgary, Edmonton, Elliot Lake, Guelph, Kamloops, Lethbridge, London, Montreal, Moosejaw, Newfoundland, Newmarket, Ottawa (day of action), Ottawa (What Muslims Need to Know about Bill C-51), Peterborough, Regina, Sarnia, Sudbury, Vancouver, Victoria, Vernon, Winnipeg, and dozens of others that have sprung up to support the campaign. About OpenMedia OpenMedia is an award-winning community-based organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy by engaging hundreds of thousands of people in protecting our online rights. Through campaigns such as StopTheMeter.ca and StopSpying.ca, OpenMedia.ca has engaged over half-a-million Canadians, and has influenced public policy and federal law.
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For media requests or more information, contact: David Christopher Communications Manager, OpenMedia (778) 232-1858 david@openmedia.ca Laura Tribe National and Digital Programs Lead, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) (647) 523-2921 ltribe@cjfe.org

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