Legislating the death of freedom

By Joanna Farley

In the last few weeks, I’ve come to realize something incredibly sad. If the Liberal government passes Bills C-36 and C-35 into law, I will no longer have many of the rights I immigrated to this country for.

The proposed legislation states that any Canadian who commits or merely considers an act that endangers others commits terrorism. Such an act could be religiously, politically or ideologically motivated. At the same time, Bill C-35 protects foreign nationals complying with Bill C-36, and declares any Canadian who threatens them or their property is a terrorist.

While these bills were conceived to end terrorism, they only remove civil liberties. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that no one can be discriminated against for their political, religious or ideological views. C-36 would strip us of these rights.

In the past few weeks, the government came under fire for the anti-democratic nature of the bills and recently added a sunset clause to certain sections of Bill C-36. They also changed the wording so protesting and striking would not be considered terrorism. This clause means particular powers will cease to exist after five years. But why not the entirety of both bills?

The bills were written in haste, in the weeks following the tragic events of September 11, when grief and anger ruled our thinking.

The United States has completely sunset their new anti-terrorism laws. They realize that five years from now our world will be a different place and rational laws can’t be created under conditions of tragedy.

Canada sees no reason to do this. We do not realize the world changes constantly and what is used to fight terrorism now will likely be ineffective in five years. Instead, the Liberal government plans to effect draconian measures that would destroy our freedoms and rights.

Our right to dissent would be limited, as printing information stridently against political groups could be considered terrorism, as could associating with certain individuals. Anyone considered a "friend" to a terrorist could be jailed for up to 14 years and have all their property seized. These associates could include your family, any groups you belonged to, and those you consider dear.

Bill C-36 would remove the writ of habeas corpus, deny attorney-client confidentiality and strip a defendant of the right to know the charges against them until their trial. The government will be able to order complete media blackouts on any issues of "national security."

Under Bill C-36, government and police power would be absolute, essentially turning our country from a democracy to a repressive dictatorship. The Liberal government is already showing signs of this, as their e-mail to people who sent in complaints about Bill C-36 informs them they are "under review." In other words, a Canadian who objects to losing his/her civil rights is worth investigating as a terrorist.

The worst effect of the new bills, if passed, is we will lose the war on terrorism. If we discourage terrorism by scaring every Canadian into never protesting injustice or ideas they do not support, if we trade our freedom for so-called security by giving up our rights to protect our nation, then we have already lost. If we change our way of life by revoking democracy, we have shown that the terrorists and their horrific actions can make us change, make us bow beneath their onslaught.

If we pass bills C-36 and C-35, Canada as we know it dies, and we give an ideological victory to the

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