(MRCH 26) – The Harper government’s response to the testimony of Mi’kmaq activist, lawyer and professor Pam Palmater on Bill C-51 was an example of crude irrationalism and diversion from substantive issues. Dr. Palmater explained in her submission to the committee that, despite having never been arrested or charged with a crime, or having advocated violence, freedom of information requests show that she is being actively monitored and investigated by CSIS, the RCMP and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
Palmater pointed out that even without the adoption of Bill C-51 provision that remove limitations on information sharing or increase power for spy agencies, she along with many other activists from the First Nations and other movements are treated as national security threats and spied on for their political views and defence of rights.
Ms. Palmater’s testimony that she is already being spied on and having her information shared for being political was not acknowledged whatsoever by Ablonczy or other Conservative MPs.
RELATED: Testimony of Mi’kmaq activist Pam Palmater at committee studying Bill C-51 (Complete Text)
Instead she was ignored by Conservative committee members for most of the remaining time before MP Diane Ablonczy implied that Palmater had not read the bill and used up the little remaining time to recite the offenses in the first section of Bill C-51 considered “activities that undermine the security of Canada” which will serve as justification for sharing information between government departments and agencies.
Ablonczy read out the section of Bill C-51 that excludes “lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression” from the definition of activities that undermine the security of Canada, even though witnesses have pointed out that the wording “lawful” creates the possibility that even violating municipal codes by holding an unauthorized protest would be sufficient to justify government and police concern.
She concluded her reading by saying “We know that Jihadi terrorists have declared war on Canada … I am sure that all of us, regardless of our perspectives on this bill, would not want those threats to be carried out.”
Ablonczy then asked another witness, Steve Irwin of the Toronto Police Service whether elements of the bill “would lead to activists such as Ms. Palmater being targeted by the activities of our security forces under Section 2 of the bill and the nine activities I just read. It’s a tough one, I know,” she added.
“There’s a lot that goes through my mind, having been to most major demonstrations in the city of Toronto,” he immediately replied. Irwin stated that “it will require governments and the powers that be to be very cognizant,” but was not able to deny that activists would be targeted under the language of the bill.
Finally, having used up all her time for questioning, Ablonczy suggested that Palmater should “put her legal training to work,” and “help us to understand” how the bill might impact her. The Chair told Palmater her time was up but he would let her answer anyway. She was given slightly over a minute before being cut off.
*The final two meetings can be viewed live or after they have taken place at the Committee web site click here
Source: Democratic Renewal, March 26, 2015, No. 45
For further reading: Pam Palmater tells committee to withdraw anti-terrorism bill, APTN News