Castlegar residents fight Bill C-51

Castlegar residents fight Bill C-51

Government’s anti-terror legislation faces a backlash, but will it make a difference?

Thousands of concerned citizens took to the streets Saturday to oppose Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government’s anti-terrorism bill.

In defiance of Bill C-51, rallies were held in many communities across Canada, including Castlegar.

Gathered outside city hall and the RCMP building, near 100 people hoisted signs along with their voices, in objection to the proposed legislation.

“We are here today to tell our government we will not become a police state,” said Gail Hunnisett, reading from a letter by local MP Alex Atamanenko.

“We need to tell Harper and his Conservatives that we will not be intimidated by his fear tactics. Please keep up the struggle, the future of our democracy depends on it.”

Bill C-51 was introduced by the Conservatives in January. Harper insists it will play a vital role in stopping terror plots well before they unfold but opponents believe it is an insidious way for the government to tighten its grip on ordinary citizens.

They say the legislation would grant CSIS unprecedented powers, including the ability to hold secret trials for “offenders,” expand no-fly lists and collect and share data on individuals with ease.

A major concern raised at Saturday’s rally was who decides what constitutes as terrorist activity and who is a  terrorist.

 

a terrorist.

“Who defines terrorism?” asked Cindy McCallum Miller, a long-time union activist for Canada’s postal workers who said she had fallen victim to CSIS privacy invasions. Several years ago it was discovered CSIS had been monitoring the activities and even going through personal garbage of postal workers, she said.

“Are those of you that criticize the government potential threats? Those who fight to protect our food sovereignty and water?

“If we oppose trade deals that allow foreign companies to come in and decimate our public services are we terrorists?”

“Is this [the prime minister’s] way of making sure Monsanto imposes GMO food, private companies control our drinking water and pipelines flow without opposition? I think so. I don’t think there’s any coincidence about this act coming at a time when there’s a groundswell of Canadians standing up and saying no to his policies.

“Many trust our government because they assume an elected government is going to do the right thing and follow the laws of the country. Unfortunately we have seen time after time that Stephen Harper and his government disregard the laws of this country and are trying to create a situation where laws don’t matter; where brute totalitarianism will be the call of the day.”

Miller added: “Do not be too shy to bring this up with friends and family for fear of being too political. If we don’t get too political now we won’t have the right to be too political later.”

Miller’s speech was met with thunderous applause.

One organizer for the Castlegar rally, Antoinette Halberstadt, compared C-51 to apartheid.

“Bill C-51 sends chills down my spine, as it opens the door to a ‘security’ apparatus worse than the one that scarred and even killed my fellow South African friends during the apartheid era that jailed Nelson Mandela.

“Also in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’, the State used the politics of fear for laws like this to stifle legitimate criticism and curb democratic debate. Having spent weeks reading the research of top Canadian lawyers, constitutional experts, past CSIS operatives and former prime ministers, including Conservatives, I couldn’t sit idle,” she said.

One citizen rose to the stand, anger and frustration clear in his voice: “People around the world used to love Canadians, but now, because of our foreign policy we’ve made ourselves hated in the world,” he said.

“We went to Afghanistan and attacked a country that had done us no harm because some of our allies, supposedly our friends, asked us to. Now we’ve sent fighter planes overseas to bomb and kill.

“I would like to ask you, is the man a terrorist if he takes a pistol and shoots ten people or if he takes a fighter plane and wipes out a whole village.”

“We have to take a better look at this thing,” he continued. “They’re creating terror in the world as an excuse to take our freedoms away. Who is the terrorist? Is it our government that’s going over and bombing and killing and making other people hate us?”

 

Just Posted

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Image: Castleview Care Centre’s Safety Den presentation
Castlegar’s Castleview Care Centre wins safety innovation competition

The Dragon’s Den-style competition was sponsored by Safecare BC

SD20 now has an electric bus. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay-Columbia School District 20 adds electric bus to fleet

Bus will be incorporated into Castlegar route for next school year

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

Cougars who kill pets are a potential threat to humans, Conservation Officer Kyle Bueckert said. File photo
Wildlife officials stymied after West Kootenay cougar sighting posted only to Facebook

Conservation Officers are reminding the public to phone RAPP-line when they spot dangerous wildlife

t
How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Lorraine Gibson, 90, received a COVID-19 immunization at the South Surrey Park and Ride vaccination clinic. (File photo: Aaron Hinks)
Surrey has had 25% of B.C.’s total COVID-19 cases

Surrey recorded 4,012 cases in May

Most Read