The Prime Minister has promised that Bill C-51 will not be used to stop lawful protests —- the words are right in the Bill — or squash legitimate opposition, His trained seals, sorry, caucus members, dutifully recite their talking points or send out inflammatory polls in their 10-per-centers (paid for by all Canadians). Meanwhile, in Montreal, the police use truncheons and teargas to break up student protests against austerity after declaring the protest unlawful because protest leaders had failed to file a complete route with the police before setting out on their march. As if the police agents in their ranks didn’t know exactly where they were going.
That’s how it works. Lawful protest is fine but we’ll make sure it is damn easy to declare the protest unlawful — just watch us. Then the RCMP and CSIS can properly do their job and intimidate the populace into silence or into chanting slogans of support. It is precisely because of this pernicious possibility that the words ‘lawful protest’ were removed from the Canadian laws brought in after 9/11. Cooler heads prevailed and the government of the day realized that there has to be a balance between security and the rights we were trying to secure.
Cooler heads no longer prevail in Ottawa. Instead we are governed by a bunch of hotheads who let their emotions overwhelm their reason. They let fear and anger top the desire to make things better rather than worse. This is a government that claims to be based on law and order but they seem to only be able to focus on the second part — order — while flouting the law or deforming it into an instrument of their own desires. The Canadian constitution calls on our governments to promote peace, order and good government but again our current PM seems to only care about the order part of that admonition. It’s a shame we don’t have people running the place who can deal with more than one thing at a time.
There are exceptions. Michael Chong, who earlier this year tried to get a private members bill passed to limit the powers of the PM (it was gutted by the government and now languishes in the Senate), has broken ranks with his colleagues to call for greater oversight as part of C-51. He was once a promising junior Minister who quit when he couldn’t stomach the machinations of the PMO. Now he sits on the backbench. One wonders where he’ll be when election time rolls around.
Still, MPs like Chong give me hope that Parliament is not completely broken , that it can be fixed by a different PM and a different attitude in Ottawa, But first Canadians will have to wake up from this dream, this nightmare, and face the reality of authoritarianism growing like a fungus in Ottawa. And we all know how a fungus grows — in the dark, fed lots of bullshit.
And that’s ten minutes.