Michael Geist About Full CV Photos Contact Writing Blog Books Chapters Scholarship Reports Newsletters Columns Columns Archive Teaching Regulation of Internet Commerce Technology Law Internship Global Technology Law Speaking Video Podcasts/Audio News Interviews Conferences Government Committee Testimony Keynote Speaking Tech Law Topics ACTA CETA Copyright Internet Governance Jurisdiction Lawful Access Net Neutrality Privacy Spam Surveillance Telecom TPP Connect Join my Facebook page Follow @mgeist Join me on Google+ Subscribe to my RSS feed Email me Connect on LinkedIn Pinned Posts in Pinterest Stop Bill C-51 #IAmCanadian by Mike Gifford (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/riAaQD News Why the Liberal Party Defence of Its Support for Bill C-51 Falls Flat June 19, 2015 Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism bill, became law yesterday as it received royal assent. As polls continue to suggest that the Liberal support for the bill is shifting potential voters to the NDP, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has conducted several interviews defending his position as the “right move for Canadians.” Trudeau’s arguments, which have been echoed by other Liberal MPs such as Marc Garneau, boils down to three key claims: he doesn’t want to play politics with security, there are elements in Bill C-51 he likes including greater information sharing, and he will fix the problems with the bill if elected. For those Canadians looking for an alternative to the Conservative position on Bill C-51, Trudeau’s defence falls flat. First, the claim that the Liberals do not want to play politics with Bill C-51 is simply not credible. Indeed, the decision to support the bill was all about politics. The Conservatives introduced Bill C-51 on January 30, 2015, with both opposition parties saying they were reviewing the legislation and would seek “robust” parliamentary hearings. Several days later, the Liberals had apparently seen enough, indicating that they were ready to support the bill but push for greater oversight. Given that leading experts such as Craig Forcese and Kent Roach took weeks to comprehensively assess the impact of the legislation, it simply was not possible to assess all the implications of the bill in a few days. The decision to support the bill was surely the result of a political calculation based on the fear of being labeled as weak on security. Indeed, Trudeau acknowledged precisely that a month later, telling students at UBC that the government was hoping the opposition would reject the bill so that it could “bash people on security.” Trudeau added that “this conversation might be different if we weren’t months from an election campaign, but we are.” Trudeau also claims that he won’t politicize the issue by calling out the NDP opposition to the bill, stating “you won’t hear me say, ‘Mr. Mulcair, who voted against physical security, doesn’t care about Canadians’ safety.’” Perhaps not, but his MPs have done pretty much that. For example, last month in the House of Commons, MP Joyce Murray responded to criticism of Liberal support for Bill C-51 by stating “I would ask the member whether he would want it on his conscience should there be an attack that leads to deaths of Canadians because of the loopholes that the bill is attempting to fix?” Second, the Liberal position on Bill C-51 has consistently cited the information sharing provisions in the bill as a reason to support it. Yet the information sharing provisions are among the most problematic aspects of the bill drawing criticism from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and numerous experts. In supporting those provisions, the Liberals are not only siding with the government, but they are also rejecting the analysis of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Third, the promise to fix the bill by adding accountability provisions and a sunset provision if elected does not address the fundamental concern with supporting the bill. Since the bill’s introduction, Trudeau has delivered major speeches and policy positions on liberty and freedoms and on fair and open government. There is much to like about those positions. But talking the talk is the easy part. Walking the walk is far harder. Speaking about defending liberty, while voting for a bill that every civil liberties group in the country opposed is difficult to reconcile. Similarly, calling for major parliamentary reforms while effectively giving tacit approval to the shameful hearings on Bill C-51 (chronicled here and here) by supporting the outcome is tough to square. The Conservative record on digital issues is far more balanced than Harper’s critics would like to admit. For most issues, there is good and bad: the government has been a strong supporter of consumer interests on telecom and broadcast policy, it has passed good copyright laws (elements of 2012 reforms) and bad (digital locks, copyright extension in a budget bill), and it has enacted privacy reforms that at that their best provide new safeguards (security breach rules) and at their worst could have been worse (lawful access). Yet Bill C-51 was emblematic of the very worst of the government: constitutionally suspect legislation, the rejection of oversight or accountability, embarrassing hearings, exclusion of expert analysis, and the persistent demonizing of critics. The Liberal position on Bill C-51 is similarly reminiscent of the worst fears of past Liberal governments that sought middle of the road positions based on politics rather than principle. Given the way the debate on Bill C-51 unfolded, all parties were forced to pick between being labeled as weak on security or characterized as weak on privacy and civil rights. The Liberals made the wrong choice. Share this: More Related posts: We Can’t Hear You: The Shameful Review of Bill C-51 By the Numbers Real Change on Digital Policy May Take Time Under New Liberal Government The Canadian Privacy and Civil Liberties Punch in the Gut (or Why CSE/CSIS Oversight is Not Enough) Why Internet Privacy Should be a Key Election Issue Tags: anti-terrorism / c-51 / liberals / privacy / trudeau 41 Comments Jim Bliwas says: June 19, 2015 at 8:36 am I suspect a lot of Liberals who are on the progressive end of the spectrum are giving serious thought about voting NDP for all of the reasons you cited. IT_Canuck says: June 19, 2015 at 9:12 am I know I am. I was behind Trudeau for the past few years, but this is making me take a second look at the NDP. Harper has got to go, this much is obvious. Ryan says: June 19, 2015 at 10:57 am I know I am. Or possibly Green, who I probably most strongly align with in my views right now. I’ve only ever voted anyone other than Liberal once before in either federal or provincial (federal NDP the year Martin’s government lost power), but this will be a second time and most of that decision comes down to C-51. Mrs. Green Acres says: June 22, 2015 at 4:28 pm Ditto to the Green party (and not just because of my moniker!) It will be my first time not voting Liberal, and I’m not anywhere close to drinking the Orange Crush Arby says: June 29, 2015 at 5:18 am I get regular emails from the Green Party, no problem. But when I email it with a simple question (Did Bruce Hyer vote for or against Bill C-300? – http://bit.ly/1KpjRBO), I’m ignored. I also seem to recall that once you filter out the green stuff, what remains is rightwing. Do Greens believe in social housing for example? They want my support but don’t have time for me or the courtesy to answer a simple question. Pfft! Bill Owen says: June 19, 2015 at 4:18 pm Trudeau is taking bad cynical advice, or the man who said that the October “Crisis” and martial law was his dad’s “finest hour”. Either that or he figures a secret police force that “disrupt” his enemies, just might come in handy. Do not buy. Jim Lauder says: June 19, 2015 at 5:17 pm Long long time liberal voting NDP this time. Trudeau’s dad must be spinning in his grave. Jimbo Jones says: June 19, 2015 at 6:32 pm You mean his dad who was the only PM in history to declare martial law? Dwight Williams says: June 21, 2015 at 8:25 am Some can argue that that instance of martial law is exactly what led him towards co-creating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Karmic atonement, if you will, freely undertaken. Alex says: July 24, 2015 at 2:15 pm The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was an idea Trudeau stole from Douglas. Douglas had a bill of rights in Saskatchewan before Canada or even the UN had a bill of rights! Thanks Tommy Douglas! All the good things Pierre did were Tommy’s ideas…to bad Pierre half-assed them. Brett says: June 19, 2015 at 6:09 pm Pretty much Thomas says: June 22, 2015 at 1:56 am Yup. Me too. Justin’s position on this had me looking at the NDP platform. To my surprise I found them far more progressive than I thought they were. On many other issues I care about, Health Care, funding of the CBC, evidence based decisions, they had a much stronger positiin than the Liberals. I’d have to say that this C51 fiasco got me to look at the NDP. But upon looking I am mostly happy with what I see. And how can you not take delight in how effective and entertainingly Mulcair eviscerates Harper in Question Period. Compared this to Justin’s lack luster luke warm performance and equally temped Liberal platform and the choice is becoming clear. Sherm says: July 17, 2015 at 2:10 am I always voted for the conservative, but for the first time in my life I Am leaning towards voting NDP. It all comes down to Bill C51, this is the Kind of a bill tailor made for the third world dictatorship countries to embrace. What Harper wants is to change this beautiful democratic country into a police state (Gestapo state) so that canadians would not have the right to protest against the government. Harper definitely has to go, because there is no room for the draconian Bill C 51 in Canada!!! Wheat field_soul says: August 31, 2015 at 12:53 pm I am slightly more conservative than the Liberals and I just don’t know what to do. It seems there is no party in Canada that is right for me. EKB says: June 19, 2015 at 11:08 am I was a Trudeau supporter until Bill C-51. Passing bad legislation despite the myriad of experts telling you so and promising to fix it later when you’re elected is bad decision making, and smacks of hubris. Seriously looking at the NDP now. At least Mulcair has shown himself to be at least somewhat analytical and thoughtful, and we have a good local candidate. If the Greens had a snowball’s chance in our changing climate to win, they might be in the running for my vote too. CtC says: June 19, 2015 at 12:16 pm Depending on what riding you live in, the Greens do have good chances of electing a number of strong MPs. I have a lot more trust in Green MPs pushing to repeal C-51 than others. Ronda Zwierz says: June 19, 2015 at 12:37 pm I can’t support any party that agrees with “preventive detention”. The Magna Carta is 800 years old and ‘habeus corpus’ specifically states that no one will be jailed without a reason. It’s one of the basics of our system of laws, yet C51 allows people to be jailed because someone thinks they “may” commit a crime, with no charges, no proof, no warrants, nothing. They can be held for several days without knowing why they are there and without access to a lawyer. This is one of the provisions of C51 that Trudeau agrees with. Thomas says: June 22, 2015 at 2:02 am Yup. Completely disgusting. This article nails it. Time to put both teams in the penalty box. Thank Goodness we have a multiparty system. Time to call in another team and if they don’t get it. Boot them out and get tge Greens in. Eventually maybe, if they figure it out, they’ll realize its important to listen to Canadians and Charter Rights matter. Albin says: June 19, 2015 at 4:25 pm It was political cowardice, full stop. That said, I’d expect the Liberals in government or the Liberals in concert with an NDP minority, to substantially amend the law. They just don’t want to be labeled “soft on terror”, being whipped into quivering panic by the hard men in government. My own concern is less about the privacy elements than about the implicit transformation of CSIS from an intel gathering agency into a gestapo, reporting to the PMO. “Oversight” is not nearly enough – a secret police force is unacceptable (and hopefully unconstitutional) in and of itself. Thomas says: June 22, 2015 at 2:06 am My feeling if Mulcair can stand up to the Harper and his hench men as he has done so many times, he can stand up to the CSIS bosses too. I just don’t see Justin (the boy wonder) doing that. Arby says: June 29, 2015 at 5:24 am You trust Muclair? Okay. Personally, I could never support a party that supports Bill C-51 and/or Israel’s regular mass murder of Palestinians and/or free trade deals. I know. That’s leaves us nowhere. Well, That’s where we are. There are no people’s parties and few people’s champions. There’s no help coming from earth. What the hell is up with the captchas? Please do something else! Are those spaces to included or not? Who has time for this crap?! Pingback: Examining Liberal Party Position on Anti-Terror | Mind Bending Politics Michael And Ingrid Heroux says: June 19, 2015 at 5:57 pm We voted for the NDP ever since Glen Clark. evil white racist says: June 19, 2015 at 7:24 pm The liberals supported this bill yet still use it to demonize the opposition who introduced it. If you go to the liberal parties latest page on their website which features an article about wanting to introduce mandatory voting for all canadians, they say that Harper is a dictator over reaching his power, this is hilarious because Trudeau once praised China for their “basic dictatorship”, they support every dictatorial policy the conservative push and then some(mandatory voting, mass redistribution of wealth via carbon taxation etc) Dontmatta says: August 13, 2015 at 11:22 pm China is different than canada. The culture is different. When u see it on that spectrum yes they are doing a good job being a dictatorship country cuz thats how china has always been. :/ David Collier-Brown says: June 19, 2015 at 8:16 pm It was a classic Reform-party booby-trap for any opposition party. If a party supported it, they were indistinguishable from the “conservatives”. If not, they were soft on terrorism. Heads I win, tails you lose. Pat says: June 19, 2015 at 8:44 pm To paraphrase SunTzu, “do not fight a battle you cannot win”. Indeed, this was one of those and no matter the stance of the Liberals or NDP, they would lose, yet chose to fight it (by supporting it or opposing it) making themselves look impotent. And some people still think Harper isn’t sly. At the very least though, the Liberals should have grown a backbone and resisted this bill if they truly thought it not in the best interests of Canada. Some might side with them and some against them but at least you would be able to respect them for having principles and sticking to them. Oh well, too late for that. Jason K says: June 19, 2015 at 10:29 pm I disagree! Even with the backlash, the Liberals have had ample opportunity to correct thier stance on the bill, instead they continue to push preventative arrests, and lowering the evidence threshold to that of accusations. None of which were supported by the experts in committee. I was sure society made it very unacceptable to continue Witch hunts. We learned from that, and the Liberal platform isn’t charter compliant, with lots of opportunity for the party to change its position. What kind of leader will you be, if you are afraid of your political opponents? The Liberals have nothing to fear, but fear itself. I was expecting much more from the party of the charter. Pat says: June 20, 2015 at 8:28 pm “…the Liberals have had ample opportunity to correct thier stance on the bill…” Yes, they have. The problem with that is then you are accused of back-peddling. The Conservatives will then have a field day with the election commercials which will go something like…”the Liberals cannot make up their minds as to what they stand for. One day they support keeping you safer and the next they are against it. Do you want people who can’t make up their minds on how to keep you safe running your country”? And we all know that’s the Conservative’s favourite type of commercial. Unless there have been consultations or public discussions, you cannot go back on your stance as you have no reason to do so other than to pander to the public. Then, you just tell me that you have no spine. In any case, I do stick to David’s (and mine) opinion that this was a fight that the Conservatives could not lose as “Joe public” did not know or care about the bill (hence did not know or care about what it truly entailed) and any opposition was “anti-security”. Russell McOrmond says: June 21, 2015 at 9:51 am You appear to be agreeing with those of us who believe the current Liberals lead by their inexperienced “leader” have no spine when it comes to the powerful public relations machine of the Harper Conservatives. This would make them weak in opposition, and even weaker in government. My solution would of course be to allow the more mature and seasoned leadership of the NDP and the Greens take that on, with the help of a strong team behind them, as both have had far more years dealing with this type of opposition. They even demonstrated with C-51 that they are willing and capable of taking on the “when did you stop beating your wife” type political commentary. While the Greens will not form government nor official opposition (they will be lucky to gain official party status), Elizabeth May knows what it is like to do the right thing in the face of massive opposition (and sometimes even ridicule). Nobody has convinced me that the lawful access aspects of C-51, which the Liberals seem to agree with, make us more rather than less safe from the *isms and *ists of the world. Them changing their mind on this wouldn’t be back-peddling about C-51, but back-peddling from a policy direction Liberals supported even when they were in government. It’s time to move-on, and let the Liberals fade away… Jason K says: June 21, 2015 at 8:31 pm @Pat – You are suggesting the Liberals are afraid of thier political opponents. Makes me wonder what kind of leadership Trudeau would bring if he’s basing his policy decisions around the fear he has with his political opponents, let alone our international adversaries. I think Canadians have had just about enough of policy being developed as a result of fear rather than empirical evidence. I would suggest you do a Google search on: “US congressional hearings + NSA”. No empirical evidence has surfaced in anyway that lawful access has prevented any terror attacks. It’s not needed, and does nothing to stem the roots of radicalism. The Liberal platform on c51 isn’t credible! https://mindbendingpolitics.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/examining-liberal-party-position-on-anti-terror/ Read the link! Edward Ruberto says: June 20, 2015 at 12:27 am I have a question for the NDP… If they win the next election. Will they bring in their own Security type Bill? Because since C-51 is law now whether we like it or not and if the NDP are going to scrap it then they will have to come up with their own bill. They will have to introduce a new Security bill of their own. As much as I don’t like C-51 we are all going to have to realize that a strong security bill which protects Canadian Freedoms and Rights is what we need. I hope the Liberals if thye get in make the changes they said they would do. But again only with a majority or cooperation of one of the other parties in a Minority Government. KeithBram says: June 20, 2015 at 12:54 pm Not sure new legislation is needed; I don’t see anything in C-51 that would have prevented the October attacks. But if there is to be a replacement for C-51, I hope the criticisms of this bill are taken to heart and fully considered while drafting it. Jeff says: June 20, 2015 at 8:55 am I’m traditionally conservative but was voting liberal because Harper strikes me as a meglo maniac, but now I will vote ndp Russell McOrmond says: June 20, 2015 at 9:57 am While I held my nose and voted for the Liberal nominated candidate in my riding in the past, I won’t be doing that this election. I would be far more happy with an NDP or Conservative government with an NDP or Conservative official opposition than the Liberals being either government or official opposition. I recognize the Greens may gain seats, but won’t be either government or official opposition. I believe it would be better for Canada’s future if the Liberals were returned with so few seats that they folded the party and allowed any remaining MPs to join more appropriate parties. Contrary to what the Liberals often claim, they are the party of fear: fear of allowing vote splitting (a bug in the Canadian electoral system the Liberals have helped delay fixing) to allow some “frightening” other party to get in. It is time for Canadians to not get duped by the Liberal campaign of fear. Jason K says: June 20, 2015 at 1:40 pm A really good question to pose to the Liberals, What’s your policy on copyright reform. Dion attacked fair use a few years ago to try and shield the party from political attacks. Media companies followed suit last year with the same ideology in which MG debunked. I have a gut feeling if Liberals get in we’re going to see quite the draconian copyright reform. They need to be really pushed on their copyright policy during the election. They need to come out with it. Ole Juul says: June 21, 2015 at 4:13 am “It was a classic Reform-party booby-trap for any opposition party. If a party supported it, they were indistinguishable from the “conservatives”. If not, they were soft on terrorism.” Right on, David. The key is that terrorism is undefined. Unfortunately, the press is afraid to unravel that one. Golestan says: June 21, 2015 at 11:49 pm I have never voted NDP in my life, always voted for the Liberals with one exception, when I supported Mulroney, because I thought he would bring the budget deficit under control,- fat chance! Wanna repeal (spy-) Bill C-51 – vote NDP, the only party of the big 3 committed to do that Wanna participate in AIIB, the world’s largest economic association – vote NDP, the only party committed to do that* Wanna have the best chance to curtail the influence of big internationals like Monsanto, Bayer and Merck – vote NDP Wanna have the best chance to get rid of Harper – vote NDP Harper sporting already the lowest growth rate of all PMs since WWII Missed that boat. Just go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_Infrastructure_Investment_Bank and scroll down to the membership list. All the large European Countries are there as founding members, but Canada isn’t. The NDP pledged to join the AIIB when elected, but the Conservatives and ‘Just-not-ready-Trudeau missed it completely. So much for the NDP being the one, which is not competent in economics. Darryl Moore says: June 22, 2015 at 8:09 am I was willing to overlook his blunder with Eve Adams ( What was with that? ), and even sticking his nose into riding nominations after he said he wouldn’t, but I cannot be so generous with C-51. The choice for me will be between Green and NDP this election. Harvey says: June 22, 2015 at 4:32 pm i agree with Darrell, except that voting Green will not help to get rid of Harper, only a vote for the NDP will get rid of Harper Brian says: September 27, 2015 at 4:00 am NO one in their right mind would have voted for the Gestapo==Secret Police==Bill C51 easy to figure out ABCL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AhhC0sngPo Recent Posts The Trouble with the TPP, Day 20: Unenforceable Net Neutrality Rules January 29, 2016 The Trouble with the TPP, Day 19: No Canadian Side Agreements to Advance Tech Sector January 28, 2016 Why Canadian Telecom Companies Must Defend Your Right to Privacy January 28, 2016 Why Telecoms Must Defend Your Right to Privacy January 28, 2016 The Trouble with the TPP, Day 18: Failure to Protect Canadian Cultural Policy January 27, 2016 Recent Columns Why Canadian Telecom Companies Must Defend Your Right to Privacy January 28, 2016 The Battle Over the Future of Broadband in Canada: Mayors Tory & Watson v. Nenshi January 12, 2016 Tech Law in 2016: Previewing Some of the Tough Policy Choices January 5, 2016 The Letters of the Law: 2015 in Technology Law and Policy December 30, 2015 The Battle Over Uber: Mapping Out a Regulatory Compromise December 15, 2015 Recent Talks × × × The Trouble With the TPP Day 1: U.S. Blocks Balancing Objectives Day 2: Locking in Digital Locks Day 3: Copyright Term Extension Day 4: Copyright Notice and Takedown Rules Day 5: Rights Holders "Shall" vs. Users "May" Day 6: Price of Entry Day 7: Patent Term Extensions Day 8: Locking In Biologics Protection Day 9: Limits on Medical Devices & Pharma Data Collection Day 10: Criminalization of Trade Secret Law Day 11: Weak Privacy Standards Day 12: Restrictions on Data Localization Requirements Day 13: Ban on Data Transfer Restrictions Day 14: No U.S. Assurances to Canada on Privacy Day 15: Weak Anti-Spam Law Standards Day 16: Intervening in Internet Governance Day 17: Weak E-commerce Rules Day 18: Failure to Protect Canadian Cultural Policy Day 19: No Canadian Side Agreements to Advance Tech Sector Open Books Law, Privacy and Surveillance in Canada in the Post-Snowden Era (University of Ottawa Press, 2015) The Copyright Pentalogy: How the Supreme Court of Canada Shook the Foundations of Canadian Copyright Law (University of Ottawa Press, 2013) From "Radical Extremism" to "Balanced Copyright": Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda (Irwin Law, 2010) In the Public Interest: The Future of Canadian Copyright Law (Irwin Law, 2005) Get Postings via Email Like me on Facebook Archives June 2015 S M T W T F S « May Jul » 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 Michael Geist firstname.lastname@example.org This web site is licensed under a Creative Commons License, although certain works referenced herein may be separately licensed. 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