Anti-Terror Quagmire

Anti-Terror, Post 9-11 and the Muslim Scapegoat 

Immediately following 9/11, Western democracies began seriously scaling back the rights and privileges of their citizens by introducing repressive legislation in the name of national security.  The Canadian Liberal Government at the time introduced the first anti-terror legislation (Bill C-36) within months of September 11th 2001 to a stunned and scared population while training the public to equate Muslims with Terrorism. But what’s happened in Canada since?

Former CSIS agent Michel Juneau-Katsuya has noted that since 9/11, so called Islamic terrorists have not detonated a single bomb in Canada.  However, Canadian born-citizens, have successfully staged 30 bombings. Ten of these were perpetrated by outlaw bikers, the rest came from a motley assortment of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other politically-motivated groups.

While CSIS & the RCMP have quietly admitted that neo-Nazis and white supremacists is a bigger problem than Islamic radicals, the terrorism that is associated with neo-Nazis and white supremacists is absent from news and politics. This has continued to train Canadians to equate terrorism and radicalization exclusively with Muslims and Islam even though Right Wing Extremism (RWE), the result of neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideology and culture is on the rise and so is recruitment, see “Right Wing Extremism in Canada: An Environmental Scan”, by Dr. Barbara Perry and Ryan Scrivens.
Our discussion with Dr. Barbara Perry is here.

When CSIS admits that white supremacy is a bigger threat to public safety. Then why the focus on Muslims? A question that people need to be asking politicians, senators, &
the Ministry of Public Safety & security establishment is: Why is there no discussion on white supremacy in Canada when statistically, it has been proven to be a bigger threat than Islamic Radicals?


Manufacturing Fear

The federal budget for counter-terrorism is $439 million and is said to be allotted to allow for the protection of critical infrastructure, economic infrastructure. The reason given for such a budget allotment was the need for security after one incident by a mentally unstable Zihaf-Bibeau, a person CSIS had been tracking and did not stop nor offer any help. When there is no evidence of Muslims terrorists or terrorism, it is manufactured, this was the first post 9/11 terrorism case that we know of where the RCMP was found of “manufacturing terrorism,” one can only wonder about other terrorism cases being plotted by our security agencies with the millions of dollars in their budget. You can hear expert witness Omid Safi’s analysis of the case in which Justice Bruce concluded in her reasons for the judgment: Simply put, the world has enough terrorists. We do not need the police to create more out of marginalized people who have neither the capacity nor sufficient motivation to do it themselves.”

When 3 white supremacists were arrested for plotting a Valentine’s Day massacre at a Halifax mall – then Justice Minister Peter MacKay restated this contradiction by saying they were “murderous misfits” not “terrorists” because there was no “cultural” element. What? This nonsense coming from misanthropic politicians and gluttonous national security agencies is racist, dangerously so.

We need to ask how our national security agencies had the time and imagination to manufacture terrorism, and more importantly whyIt makes sense when we think about the millions of dollars at stake for these agencies, they  have become the arsonists rushing to put out the fires they start themselves.

Spies, Lies, Crimes and Bill C-51

Andrew Mitrovica writes about the people he researched for his book Covert Entry: Spies, Lies and Crimes Inside Canada’s Secret Service (2002) and talks about his impressions of their incompetence here. These are the same people who have been given more discretion and more power through a lowered threshold of proof needed to use the same and widened definitions of what constitutes ‘terrorist acts’, Faisal Kutty talks about this here, including the targeting of Muslims by these laws. With a focus on an easily identifiable group i.e. Muslims as ‘the terrorists’, fear softens the public to more easily agree to draconian restrictions and compromises of their rights, privileges and privacy.

Bill C-51 was given royal ascent by in the Spring of 2015 when it was passed by the Conservatives and Liberals, making it law and now known as the Anti Terrorism Act 2015.  C-51 was introduced in response to a violent act by an individual that CSIS had been tracking, and is an extension of the draconian legislation passed since 2001 the government’s first anti-terror legislation (C-36), and has increasingly limited civil liberties and privacy as well as traditional definitions of terrorism and methods of dissent in Canada since. Senator Jaffer talks about the absurdity of this Act being introduced because of one individuals actions here. C-51 introduces broad and sweeping changes to security and policing powers that breach normative legal standards and procedures and implicate the judiciary in granting unconstitutional measures to agencies like the RCMP and CSIS without appropriate oversight mechanisms or recourse.

The Liberal-Con

Drawing by Michael de Adder

If it wasn’t obvious already, then the case of Bill C-51 is definitive proof, the Conservatives and Liberals are simply, two sides of the same coin. It is important not to forget that without the support and votes of Trudeau’s Liberals, Bill C-51 could not have passed into law. The Liberals also voted for the Harper conservative government’s Bill S-7, the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices, widely seen as another piece of racist and inflammatory legislation. Despite the fact that these bills were highly controversial and clearly did not have the will of the public on their side, despite the Liberals acknowledging that there were problematic elements and while they were introduced by the Conservatives, voted for them. And now that these bills have become law are continuing to be actively enforced by the Trudeau government.

Let us also acknowledge that Justin Trudeau has increasingly turned his back on promises made, most glaringly in the arena of climate change and Indigenous relations by approving unnecessary and destructive projects such as Site C and Kinder Morgan despite lack of consultations and more importantly consent from the Indigenous communities whose land and health are directly affected. The Trudeau government has also clearly stated that any resistance to these projects will be met with military/militarized force. Does this sound familiar?

Public Consultations on Bill C-51/Anti Terrorism Act 2015

Currently, the Liberals are inviting members of the public to engage in an open consultation on National Security until Dec 2016. Many ask why it’s even necessary to have a consultation on the violation of human rights and infringements of the charter?
But even though the formal consultation process has ended, you can still tell the government what you think!

That is why Canadians are telling the Liberal Government right now during the Consultations in no uncertain terms that the Anti Terrorism legislation is a flawed Act and should be completely repealed.  Bill C-51 was introduced by the Harper Government on an ugly wave of Islamophobia and the Liberals should not take the current approach of amending the Act. The government must repeal this legislation and make no further changes to all laws pertaining to national security and terrorism without a comprehensive and full consultation with the public.  The government should support private members Bill 303 tabled in September 2016 seeking to repeal all aspects of Bill c-51.

Much of the mainstream civil society association and organizations in Canada have shared grave concerns about how Bill C-51 the ATA 2015 a/effects all Canadians. Scores of public figures – from former Canadian Prime Ministers to journalists, academics, lawyers, as well as hundreds of community organizations everyone from the Canadian Bar Association to the Privacy Commissioner, to business leaders have called the newest iteration of Canada’s terror laws extreme and dangerous, with exceptionally broad definitions and dystopian language with far reaching consequences and little oversight. This is unacceptable.

Call to Action:

Take a look around, formulate your opinions, read, listen and talk with people – check out some of the audio we’ve posted – spend a day and clarify your position and participate in the Public Consultations on National Security before December 15!

1] We want you to participate in the government’s’ on-line consultations.  Visit the Call to Action and consider what we’re suggesting, modify the text or copy paste it and send as an email to the consultation, there are lots of ways to participate as we’ve outlined here.

2] Right now there is a petition with over 300,000 signatures asking the government to revoke Bill C-51/ATA 2016. Lets take that number into the millions. It’s literally going to take 30 sec its that easy.  Going Here add your voice rev up that number.

Some of the problems with Bill C-51 the Anti Terrorism Act 2015

Bill C-51 amalgamates powers and actions that previously separated the RCMP and CSIS – Micheal Vonn, Policy Director of the BCCLA [BC Civil Liberties Association] says this law gives new powers to CSIS that allow them disruption powers which in effect create a secret police in Canada.  You can read more from about what Micheal Vonn says about Secret Trials and NoFly Lists and the chill on free speech that undermines diverse activities from de-radicalization to journalism, and hear Micheal’s  discussion .  The Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and The Canadian Civil Liberties Association have filed a challenge with the Ontario Superior Court on the grounds that specific sections of Bill C-51 violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a manner that is not justified in a free and democratic society. There are several challenges brought forward by civil liberties organizations and associations across the country.  The Privacy Commissioner warned that this Act allows for information sharing across 17 government bureaucracies and this raises huge privacy concerns. The act also “conscripts judges” to authorize Charter violations and unlawful acts to security agencies like CSIS, says the Canadian Bar Association, 2015.

Recently we learned about the wire tapping incident in Quebec, by the Montreal police and the Sureté du Quebec who were spying on journalists after obtaining a warrant from a judge has a chilling a/effect on journalism and undermines democracy.  CJFE, together with a coalition of media and free expression organizations, is intervening in the ongoing court battle between the RCMP and VICE News. Its not just journalists CSIS has been illegally spying and retaining of ordinary peoples electronic data, people who posed no threat for over a period of 1o years as it was recently learned CSIS has been doing and gotten away with a slap on the wrist. You can hear David Christopher of Open Media talk’s about privacy concerns a/effecting ordinary Canadians here.

All too familiar to Indigenous peoples and increasingly for Muslims post 9/11, Bill C-51/ATA 2016 normalizes extraordinary legal measures for all Canadians, public interest lawyer Fathima Cader talks about this here.  Her latest article is “Speaker’s Corner: Time to challenge counterterrorism programs” discussing the ATA’s new terrorism offences and the interplay with the RCMP’s terrible ‘Counter Violent Extremism’ (CVE) programs. Rahat Kurd also discusses the normalization of surveillance state for Muslims, here.

Civil society organizations across the country have been raising the alarm about these new laws. And why so many ordinary Canadians are concerned about the evaporation of Canada’s rights and freedoms regime. Sukanya Pillay of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association & Carmen Cheung (at the time of recording with the BC Civil Liberties Association), talk about this here.

Unity must be based on what is right! – Many Canadians are asking the government to repeal C-51/ATA 2015 in its entirety. This legislation is dangerous, it targets an already racialized community of Muslims, terrorizes Canadian society by fronting  Muslims as a straw-man terrorist while robbing Canadians of rights, and privileges, civil liberties, privacy. Now with lowered evidentiary thresholds the suspicion terrorism can now constitute a wide variety of activity and also targets Indigenous land defenders and environment protectors and those who democratically dissent.

This is why it is vital to organize family and friends and participate in the government’s online Consultation on National Security happening until Dec 15, 2016. It is vital people participate in large numbers so tell your families, friends and associates, point them to resources that inform, hear what mainstream civil liberties organizations in Canada have to say and why they’ve been sounding the alarm about this legislation.

The government is asking for public input and they say that “by participating in this online consultation, your insight will help inform the development of future legislation, policies or programs.”

Take them to task – this is something particularly Muslims and other racialized groups having had a historical memory of what these kinds of laws have meant for their communities, can sink their teeth and fully participate in ‘chewing the government out on the Anti-Terror Act 2015’ and telling them to repeal the Act in in its entirety and and create evidence based legislation after a comprehensive public consultation engagement.

Much of the mainstream civil society association and organizations in Canada have shared grave concerns about how Bill C-51 the ATA 2015 a/effects all Canadians. Scores of public figures – from former Canadian Prime Ministers to journalists, academics, lawyers, as well as hundreds of community organizations everyone from the Canadian Bar Association to the Privacy Commissioner, to business leaders have called the newest iteration of Canada’s terror laws extreme and dangerous, with exceptionally broad definitions and dystopian language with far reaching catchment of ordinary activities.

Muslims overtly, and covertly Indigenous Land Defenders and Environmentalists and indeed all Canadians are being targeted by this legislation. Everyone has an obligation to fight against unjust laws and struggle to change them within the given frameworks and processes.  Participating in this Public Consultation on National Security is one process that can lead to reform and justice through public pressure .