How to turn yourself into a bill-fighting superhero

Let’s get rid of C-51 once and for all.

Scott McLelland / The Runner

Bill C-51 is a terrible piece of legislation.

It was drawn up in a ridiculously short time in a moment of national tragedy and fear, without the reflection or consideration required for legislation that seeks to provide a means of exemption to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This will give unprecedented surveillance power to a government body for which oversight is practically nonexistent. Its wording is so vague that it effectively leaves the qualifications for a “terrorist” up to the interpretation of the reader. That’s not what this article is about, though.

I could run through all of the obvious flaws and red flags in Bill C-51, but those have been covered elsewhere in this publication. I myself made my feelings about enhanced surveillance measures clear back in November when C-51 was still just a twinkle in Stephen Harper’s eye. What follows is what the average Canadian can do to help fight bad legislation like C-51.

Email your Member of Parliament

Your MP is supposed to represent you in Ottawa. Let them know that your vote hangs in the balance. While it’s true that MPs are more likely to tow the party line, a barrage of emails about a particular issue does send a message that will hopefully make its way to the policy makers. Even if your MP is a Conservative or Liberal who has received a directive on this issue, pressure from the people who put an MP in office will certainly make the MP think twice about going along with it. Those concerns will ideally make their way up the ladder. Should you have an NDP MP, then these letters will let them know that this is not a fight to sit out.

Talk about it

I’m still encountering people in my day-to-day life that have no idea what C-51 is or what its implications are. There are also those who feel that the perceived security afforded by this bill outweighs the infringement of rights. Often the best way to get through to these people is a simple (and respectful) conversation about the issue. Engage your friends, family, classmates and co-workers in an informed, persuasive and respectful manner and you might just add a few voices to the fight to keep our rights.

Protest

On March 14, Canadians across the country turned up by the thousands to make opposition to C-51 clear and more importantly visible. This was a great start, but it can’t end there. Protests don’t always seem effective, but they keep the issue visible and thus on the minds of people who see the protests on the street or in the media. We gained a lot of momentum with the Day of Action but we can’t afford to fade into the background now. More protests are being planned continuously. Check social media to find the ones near you.

One thing to keep in mind is not to protest like a jerk. At the Vancouver protest people had the bright idea to block traffic after the protest proper. Behaviour like this only serves to weaken our arguments and cause people to ignore and disregard us. Be visible, but also respectful.

Vote!

For the love of all that is good and holy, when the day comes make damn sure that you take the time to cast your ballot. Should the bill pass, (and there’s a good chance it will) we will still have the opportunity to prove that passing it was a mistake by removing the government that passed it with one that will repeal it. Unfortunately, the demographic that supports this legislation is also the one that’s most reliable to turn up to the polls. We can remedy this by making sure this is the election where Canada turns around its abysmal voting turnout.
The problem is that for the most part, Canadians are not utilizing the tools that they have. Measures like Bill C-51 come to exist because politicians expect us not to speak up about it. It’s time show them otherwise.

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