Monday, April 13, 2015

For Immediate Release: Canadians use social media and local gatherings to educate neighbours and MPs as #StopC51 Week of Education kicks off


With many MPs home in their ridings in advance of crucial vote, over 50 online and offline activities will take place across Canada 


April 13, 2015 - With opposition to the government's controversial Bill C-51 surging, Canadians across the country are coming together to launch a Week of Education about the reckless, dangerous, and ineffective legislation. Canadians have planned over 50 activities, including a range of social media tools aimed at educating fellow Canadians and their MPs about why the bill is wrong for Canada.

The Week of Education kicks off with a social media "Thunderclap"that has gone viral, with a reach of over 1.7 million people including support from high-profile Canadians such as renowned authorMargaret Atwood and tech entrepreneur Tim Bray. Online tools and details about events taking place across Canada can be found at https://StopC51.ca/Education.

The Week of Education, supported by dozens of community groups across Canada, comes with many MPs at home in their ridings in advance of a crucial final House of Commons vote on Bill C-51. This morning, over 100 groups and experts published an open letter to Prime Minister Harper calling for Bill C-51's immediate dismissal, as it fundamentally fails to balance protecting Canadians with our Charter rights. 56% of Canadians now oppose the bill, according to a Forum Research poll published days ago.

"It has become abundantly clear that the more Canadians learn about what's in this bill, the less they like it - that's why public opinion is changing so fast," says Steve Anderson, OpenMedia's Executive Director. "It's amazing to see Canadians of all stripes spontaneously coming together to educate each other and their MPs about the threats posed by Bill C-51."

Anderson continues, "This bill is inherently flawed, and our elected officials should not be allowed to deceive Canadians into thinking they're making significant changes when in fact they are rushing the bill through at record speed. It's time for the government to properly consult Canadians, including the country's own Privacy Commissioner, about the implications of this bill, and start over."

"This bill, which aims to address the understandable fears of Canadians, provides a false sense of security," agrees Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director at the National Council of Canadian Muslims. "Law enforcement agencies currently have many tools at their disposal to protect Canadians. The government has failed to show why this overreaching legislation is even required; it would do better by working to empower diverse communities in challenging radicalization towards extremist violence, rather than risk marginalizing those same groups."

Tom Henheffer, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression's Executive Director says, "C-51 will do little to stop terrorism, but it will trample Canadians' rights. The bill is dangerous and must be stopped, and Canadians are standing up to tell our government we won't allow our fundamental freedoms to be taken away."

Kelly Dowdell, Campaign Manager for Leadnow, says: "We've seen this tactic from the Harper Conservatives before. They present legislation that is broadly rejected by experts and the public, respond with a few amendments, and then rush it through to a vote. On issues as important as our security, privacy, and freedom, we deserve better. It's time to scrap Bill C-51, and start over."

Tamir Israel, Staff Lawyer, CIPPIC, says, "With Bill C-51, Canada is embarking down an unfortunate path that we will regret. Its tone and tenor is antithetical to Canada's inclusive culture, and the powers it grants our spy agencies are both excessive and unnecessary. Worse - the Bill fails to include any meaningful safeguards. It needs to be sent back to the drawing board."

Katitza Rodriguez, International Human Rights Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says, "Proposals within Bill C-51 contain excessively broad definitions that make the bill's interpretation dangerously subjective. This is a surefire way to chill speech and endanger innocent social media users whose posts could be misinterpreted."

Andrew Clement, Professor, University of Toronto, says, "Bill C-51 is antithetical to core principles of Canadian democracy. Its new information sharing provisions undermine fundamental privacy rights. It's expansive and vague definition of terrorist threat risks criminalizing or at least chilling controversial discussions that are vital to effective democracy. In combination with the burgeoning surveillance capabilities of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSE), the new powers given to CSIS provide the legal and operational basis for Canada becoming a police state."

Tim McSorley, Communications Co-ordinator, Voices-Voix, says, "The ability to speak out and advocate for change in Canada is a cornerstone of our democracy. With Bill C-51, the Conservative government proposes legislation that will only further restrict spaces for dissent, criticism and civil disobedience. If adopted, this bill will erode rights and freedoms that Canadians have fought so hard to achieve."

For more quotes from concerned Canadians, click here for full release.

Bill C-51 has been widely criticized by experts and Canadians as reckless, dangerous, and ineffective. Analysts say the law will detrimentally impact our social frameworks, democratic values, and fundamental rights. While the government has admitted C-51 is flawed, and has adopted minor amendments, there is increasing consensus that the legislation remains unsalvageable and should be scrapped.

While concerns with C-51 are diverse and vary, supporting organizations agree that the bill is:

1. Reckless: It turns CSIS into a 'secret police' force with little oversight or accountability.[1][2]

2. Dangerous: It opens the door for violations of our Charter Rights[3] including censorship of free expression online.[4]

3. Ineffective: It will lead to dragnet surveillance and information sharing on innocent Canadians that even Stephen Harper has admitted is ineffective.[5][6]

The Week of Education is supported by dozens of organizations and community groups across Canada, including; OpenMedia, Leadnow, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, Privacy and Access Council of Canada, Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), YouthVote Canada, BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, and many more.

Canadians can learn more about the '#StopC51 Week of Education' athttps://StopC51.ca/Education, or attend any of the following local events planned across the country, including:

Toronto (Full week of activities), Brantford, Calgary, Edmonton, Elliot Lake, Guelph, Halifax, Kamloops, Lethbridge, London, Montreal,Moosejaw, Newfoundland, Newmarket, Ottawa (day of action),Ottawa (What Muslims Need to Know about Bill C-51), Peterborough,Regina, Sarnia, Sudbury, Vancouver, Victoria, Vernon, Winnipeg, and dozens of others that have sprung up to support the campaign.

Contact

Ihsaan Gardee
Executive Director, National Council of Canadian Muslims
(613) 254-9704 or cell, (613) 853-4111

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