Bill C-51: The C Stands for ‘Conniving’

Canada’s proposed anti-terrorism law, Bill C-51 (“The ‘C’ Stands for ‘Could Happen’”) is receiving wide support across the country. There are some, though, who say it doesn’t go far enough, while others feel the Harper government is both exploiting and propagating a climate of fear.

I feel the bill doesn’t go far enough in defining how fearful I should be.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has told Canadians that a “great evil has been descending on the world… violent jihadism.” Not a pretty-big evil but a great evil. I’m no evil expert, but I suspect he’s talking at least an 8 or 9 out of 10 evil. “How was the evil?” people ask concerning the violent jihadism. “It was great,” Canadians respond, and considering that the traditional Canadian answer is, “Pretty good,” that’s something.

The feds have addressed this evil by rushing through Parliament Bill C-51 (“The ‘C” Stands for ‘Circumvent’”), which will allow Canada’s spy agency, CSIS, to disrupt threats to the security of Canada or its institutions, even by means that violate the Charter of Rights and Freedom. The government and/or CSIS can act if it perceives that a threat may (not will) occur, with virtually no additional oversight for any of these actions.

Clearly, to introduce such severe measures above and beyond the existing measures that are already doing a pretty darn good job of ferreting out threats to national security (although, to be fair, they were probably only so-so evils), we must be living in scary times.

But still I wish I knew just how scared I should be.

Should I feel the paralyzing fear that prevents me from going out in public in case terrorists are lurking around every corner, even though statistically I have a far greater risk of being killed by heart disease caused by eating the fast food available at every corner, which is non-violent consumer jihadism, though in suggesting this I’ve made it clear that I really have very little idea what “jihadism” actually means?

Should it be the irrational fear of everyone who is Muslim or looks kind of Muslim or defends Muslims or has ever visited a Muslim country or Googled “Muslim” or mumbled something that sounds like “Muslim”?

Or should it be the paranoid fear of never knowing if something I said or did or petitioned or marched in or posted online could be perceived as a threat to Canada? Or a threat to hockey, because that’s a Canadian institution, and Stephen Harper loves hockey, and I once described hockey as “soccer made needlessly difficult” – I mean I read that somewhere. I only read it, I swear!

Or maybe I should feel the political fear of, say, the federal Liberals, who are worried that if they come out in opposition to C-51 they will be accused of being soft on terrorism, like, really, if they love terrorism so much, why don’t they marry terrorism.

Or maybe it should be the fear of persecution that Canada’s Muslim community must feel when they walk outside given the general climate of xenophobia being fostered by our leaders for their own political gain. But heck, I’m white and Christian-ish, so this is probably not the right kind of fear for me.

Perhaps instead I should be filled with the intellectual fear that by demonizing Muslims we are further alienating the more vulnerable among them and perpetuating radicalization, ironically feeding the very terrorist threats that despite our best efforts will continue to pop up here and there, but (let’s be rational) not likely often enough to justify sacrificing our own privacy and civil liberties.

Or maybe I should fear simplistic, pandering clichés, like “the terrorists hate our freedoms.” That’s what we’re told. They hate our freedoms the way some people hate broccoli, even though maybe they’ve never tried our freedoms. Maybe they should try our freedoms lightly steamed with ginger and oyster sauce. Maybe the freedoms they tried that one time were neglected for too long and had gone all yellow and gross. “Oh, sorry. These freedoms are disgusting,” someone said, and they threw them away. We should never throw away our freedoms. At very least, we should compost them.

Or maybe I should simply be afraid that Canadians will fall for the manipulative window-dressing of Bill C-51 (“The ‘C’ Stands for ‘Cavalier’”), which will lead to the re-election of the Harper Conservatives, thereby allowing them to continue their campaign to erode the overall character of Canada. Because that’s really scary.

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About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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46 Responses to Bill C-51: The C Stands for ‘Conniving’

  1. BuntyMcC says:

    Be afraid, be very afraid. Loved this. I am going to share this on Facebook.

  2. colemining says:

    Love this, Ross. Completely on point. I’m so surprised this isn’t the focus of far more discussions than it is. Your last paragraph succinctly sums up one of my largest, current fears, I sincerely hope that our national character isn’t lost beyond redemption.

  3. What an excellent piece, Ross. Your last paragraph is spot on; I couldn’t agree with you more. I find it hard to believe that so many agree with C- 51(the c stands for crap) but I suppose people are reacting to last fall’s events in an emotional way and Harper is nothing if not opportunistic.

  4. This is why satire is so powerful. Your ability to get laughs while pointing out the C is for crazy aspects of this law hit the bullseye. Having been down this road before (US post-9/11) I am still shocked how few Americans stood up to question the fear mongering taking place by politicians and media. Good luck tilting at this windmill. I hope you Canadians show more sense than we did.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I think Quixotic is the appropriate adjective indeed. I hesitate tackling the more serious matters, Canadian ones at that, but it’s the only (little) weapon I have. Tilt!
      Glad you appreciated it.

  5. ksbeth says:

    a quick spiral downward into fear. great piece, ross.

  6. Yahooey says:

    I’m hoping that there’s something in there where the supreme court will tell him “we’re not allowed to be that scared.” And maybe that’ll delay it long enough for Harper to get voted out.

    Said with the lyrics “Well you can put your hands in your head” playing in the background.

  7. Thank you, Ross, for putting this down so clearly. I’ve had multiple discussions about the various aspects, but you were able to state the overall quite efficiently. Definitely forwarding this on.

  8. Excellent post. I know nothing about the C-51, or I should say I KNEW nothing about it. Now that I’ve read your post I’m pretty sure I know everything that needs to be known about it.

  9. downingno9 says:

    Reblogged this on downingno9 and commented:
    Reblogged because it’s a brilliant piece of satire with its scope much wider than Canada. The second last paragraph had me crying with laughter.
    Unfortunately it carries too much truth. 9/11 attackers were living in Germany – tasting freedom. It didn’t agree with them. Growing up in non-democracies seemed to have caused them low tolerance for good food. What I don’t understand is the guys growing up in the west turning against their home countries to join a silly quest.

  10. Ned's Blog says:

    Have we learned nothing from the Bush-Cheney years? And by “we” I mean those of us who always kept the idea of moving to Canada in our back pockets should our civil liberties erode to the point we can’t even wrap our heads in a towel after a shower because it could be a terrorist threat?
    Say it ain’t so!

  11. markbialczak says:

    You and I have the same things to fear at home and abroad, Ross. Way to put it with a capital C, stands for, Caught it perfectly, you did.

  12. Hey, who do you guys think you are? Us? (i.e., U.S.) We’ll send Dick (Dark Overlord) Cheney up there and he’ll tell you how to run that paranoia smoke and mirror show. That dude wrote the book on it. You need to get yourself a color-code for terror. Do you remember that? We had a scale that told us how fearful to be. The different designations were in color. It really helped sort out or feelings. Get one of those, why don’t you?

    I took my daughter to a New York Knicks game last night. They played the Toronto Raptors. Before the game, a girl sang the Canadian nation anthem. Yours is prettier than ours.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Our guy has the Cheney book memorized.
      Lucky you to catch the Knicks on a winning night. Poor Raptors are struggling right now, but a good team. An odd thing to have one Canadian NBA team. They get the whole nation behind them (when they’re winning). It was like a matter of national honour to get Kyle Lowry in the All-Star Game, this kid from Philadelphia. But why not, eh? We can’t all be hockey fans.
      The lyrics to “O Canada” are on the bland side, but it sure is easier to sing. The French lyrics are more moving and romantic.

  13. List of X says:

    C-51 makes me think of Catch-22 and/or C-4, taken a bit further. (Now that I mentioned bomb-making materials on your blog, this will give you something more to be fearful of. )
    “Terrorists hate our freedoms” is what I tell myself when I go through a TSA checkpoint.

  14. jcmindset says:

    Totally love it:-)

  15. Paul says:

    You nailed it Ross. Swapping freedom for security is a slippery slope. In the really big picture though, it is typical of a capitalist democracy – more and more wealth goes to fewer and fewer until those with the wealth and power will remove freedoms to secure their wealth. I suppose that dynamic also applies between societies. This will eventually end with democracies degenerating into dictatorships, as those with the wealth and power put someone in charge who will protect their wealth and power. The sky is not falling Ross – it takes centuries or longer for this to happen, but it is an inevitable direction unless we stop it. And we can see the beginnings. I sincerely believe that capitalist democracies are the best form of politico-economic organizations humans have yet developed – but they are not perfect and require oversight to keep them healthy – an oversight that we are not providing. Socrates pointed this out 2,500 years ago and any serious thinkers since have come to the same conclusion.

    Sorry- I digress. I feel the same as you Ross – there is an uneasy feeling about this new legislation , a feeling that it leads somewhere we do not wish to tread. As you do, I have faith in our justice system to keep the politicians in line. They have done a good job so far.

    Great post Ross – sorry i was so long joining the discussion.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      What rattles me is the supposed vast support this legislation is receiving. Yet I know no one who’s comfortable with it. Who are these people?
      Thanks for your wise thoughts, Paul. I’m depressed now.

      • Paul says:

        We’re a pretty trusting crew – we Canadians – and although our gov’t has committed some serious breaches of freedom over the centuries (e.g. First Nations schools and moving communities or the incarceration of all Asians in WW2) most of us have never had it happen to us and can’t(or won’t) believe it will happen. Much like putting the frog in the pot of water and slowly raising the temperature until it boils – we do not notice the small incremental losses of freedom. But we are only one among many countries on this journey and we are behind many others – partly because of the newness of our democracy and partly because we have chosen a more socialized form that ameliorates the effect by spreading the wealth better. In the coming centuries there will be some political nightmares to deal with Ross, but I think we will see the issues in other countries first and be able to learn from them.

        I have a knack for throwing a gloom over proceedings and I apologize. We have come a long, long way to making a civilization that is free and open – albeit one that still needs work. We are doing well, I think, and yet have much further to go – and that will include some times of unrest or even revolution, as it always has in human history. It is solid for us and our children Ross, all we can really do is prepare those coming after in the best way we can – each of us in our own way, be it pointing out bad policy with humor or working as a civil servant. Ultimately, I have faith that humans have more good than other in their souls and that we will persevere.

        Meanwhile, your humorous pointing out of our failings (a method that allows you to bring to light otherwise undiscussable topics) surely is a contribution that is of great value Ross. Thank you for that and for brightening up the day with a laugh.

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