Target: Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Goal: Don’t allow mass spying on Canadians in an effort to thwart terrorist activity.
Canada’s attempt to crack down on potential terrorist threats could make dissenting citizens the targets of invasive investigations. In an effort to protect the country from terrorism, Canada’s C-51 bill could criminalize speech the country’s national intelligence service, CSIS, deems potentially threatening, in addition to expanding the organization’s powers. The bill encourages mass spying on the Canadian population to thwart terrorist activity, rather than targeted investigations that studies have shown to be more effective than screening lots of data. Passing this bill would be a huge threat to personal privacy and, like similar plans, would do little to actually end terrorist threats.
After terror attacks in Paris and Canada, anti-terrorism plans are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. It’s the government’s responsibility to protect its citizens from terrorism, but invasive methods like those outlined in C-51 are not the right answer. Free speech and due process are important tenets to a free society, and allowing this bill to threaten those concepts in exchange for security is giving CSIS too much power. The bill allows CSIS to make arrests for terrorist plots they believe “may be carried out,” rather than “will be carried out,” making the definition that much looser. While this may be done in the name of preventing terrorism, many environmental groups—including those opposed to the Keystone pipeline—are already considered enviro-terrorists by some, meaning they could be suspect under C-51.
Passing this bill would strip Canadians of their right to privacy. Fighting terrorism is important, but doing so at the cost of free speech and due process has been demonstrated to be ineffective and harmful to democracy. Don’t let this bill pass and threaten the safety and security of dissenting voices in Canada—encourage Prime Minister Harper to reconsider his endorsement of this plan and understand that protection of free speech is vital to freedom.
Dear Prime Minister Harper,
Terrorist attacks around the world have left people wondering how we can stop these events before they happen. Canada’s C-51 bill may be intended to end terrorism in the country, but it paints with strokes too broad—by investigating everybody, government organizations are frequently overwhelmed with data and left unable to deal with real threats as they investigate everything.
Allowing governments to spy on their people in this way is an invasion of privacy and free speech. If all it takes for a statement to be classified as terrorism is for somebody to believe that it may be a threat, the door is open for dissenting voices of all kinds to be silenced. Stifling free speech is not the answer to ending terrorism, particularly as these efforts would affect everyone, not just possible terrorists.
While we sympathize with your desire to end terror threats that may hurt Canadian citizens, Bill C-51 is not the right path. It allows too much possibility for the arrest and silencing of innocent people, and trading freedom for security is a frightening step toward totalitarianism. Please reconsider your support for this bill and pursue other methods of fighting terrorism that do not include the silencing of all dissenting voices.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Canoe1967 via Wikimedia Commons