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Updated: Our National Security Consultation series

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A Different Shade of Green Paper: What the government forgot to mention

The federal government recently announced the launch of the much-anticipated National Security Consultation.  This is an unprecedented opportunity for Canadians to weigh in on the recent radical changes to our national security landscape (eg. “C-51”) and our  long-standing deficits in national security transparency and accountability.

We know that these are issues that deeply engage Canadians.  We also know that they are complex.  In order to help “prompt discussion and debate about Canada’s national security framework” the federal government has released a “Green Paper” document as a backgrounder.  The bad news is that, in the main, it reads like it was drafted by a public relations firm tasked with selling the current state of extraordinary, unaccountable powers.   Hmmmm…. Not perhaps the most helpful resource. 

So, here’s what we’re going to do.  We are going to help create a National Security Different-Shade-of-Green Paper that you may want to consider in creating your submission to the national security consultation. Read the blogs below, and scroll to the bottom to see how you can participate in the consultation.

 Blog series

Click on each circle to go to the full blog post in “A Different Shade of Green Paper:  What the government forgot to mention”. 

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The bottom line

Here’s what we need:

  • a parliamentary oversight committee that has real powers to do its job;
  • integrated expert review and monitoring;
  • the repeal of “Bill C-51”; and,
  • measured and evidence-based legislation going forward.
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The bottom line

But if you do nothing else in relation to the consultation, please consider this one-step vote for human decency that will take you less than 30 seconds.

Send the text below to ps.nsconsultation-consultationsn.sp@canada.ca

No complicity in torture.  Canada must revoke the Ministerial Directives allowing for collaboration and information sharing with foreign government agencies even if the information conveyed is derived from torture, or torture may result.  Canada must pass a law to create a clear prohibition on sharing information likely to be derived from, or at risk of leading to, torture.

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The bottom line

Bill C-51 modified the Canadian ‘no-fly’ regime to be more like the US model. While it is next to impossible for you to gain access to your own listing, the Act allows your listing to be shared with foreign governments, with no statutory limits on how that information can be used.

Canada should repeal the Secure Air Travel Act and keep suspected terrorists away from airplanes using the existing tools under the criminal law.

It is not the case that there may never be justification for preventing someone from boarding a plane.  The question is, how – and on what grounds – is this to be done? We say the tools of the existing criminal law are best suited to protecting both public safety and individuals’ security.

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The bottom line

The new offence of advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general should be repealed.  We can see no security interest in further criminalizing expression beyond what was already an offence prior to the new law.

The Criminal Code makes it illegal to counsel anyone to commit a terrorism offence, and considering that terrorism offences include acts that fall well short of violence, this already captures a broad range of terrorism-related expression.

The potential sweep of the new terrorist speech offence presents not only a serious chill on speech, but a genuine risk of unintentionally undermining security.

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The bottom line

The recent expansion of CSIS powers is unprincipled, dangerous and unnecessary.

Bill C-51 gave CSIS vast powers to operate outside the confines of the regular law in near total secrecy.  These provisions must be repealed.

While a democracy can incorporate the need for an intelligence agency to operate with considerable secrecy, there is no place in a democracy for a secret police.  Full stop.

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The bottom line

The Information Sharing Act was ill advised when it was introduced, it is even more so now that we have some insight into the shocking state of the current security intelligence data collections of personal information.  The unprecedented surveillance that the Act enables will facilitate precisely the kind of profiling that is both dangerous to individuals and communities and ineffective at increasing public safety.

The Act should be repealed and replaced with the careful and measured approach that was called for in the first place to ensure needed information sharing for national security purposes and appropriate and meaningful protection for lawful Canadians’ personal information.

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The bottom line

While Canadians read news reports of how previously expanded police surveillance powers (warrants for GPS monitoring and tracking) have been undermining  press freedom, the federal government is gearing up to expand police and intelligence surveillance powers even further.

To the dismay of Canadians hoping to have good faith discussions about dangerously expanded and unaccountable state powers, the government’s Green Paper for the National Security Consultation includes a sales pitch for a laundry list of further expanded state surveillance powers.

How to participate

Online: Visit the government’s online consultation site to provide your feedback online on any or all of the 10 topic areas for the consultation.

OR email your responses to Email: ps.nsconsultation-consultationsn.sp@canada.ca

OR check out this helpful tool from the folks at Open Media that will allow you to submit your answers directly to the consultation AND cc’ all the members of the Public Safety Community. Find it at www.saveoursecurity.ca 

In-person: Public Safety Canada and the Department of Justice Canada will be organizing in-person events to consult with Canadians between September 8thand December 1st, 2016. Details regarding dates and locations will be provided as the events are confirmed.

You’ve got till Dec. 15th to make online submissions to the consultation.

 

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