The Illusion Of Choice

surveillance-cameras

 

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” – Benjamin Franklin

I know that I am but one of millions who long for the day the Harper regime is electorally deposed.  That day cannot come soon enough.  Yet, along with countless others, I am also aware that merely electing a Liberal or NDP government may only mean a change in style, not substance, given the many positions they hold in common with Dear Leader.

The anti-terror measures of Bill C-51 is one very worrisome case in point.

In the Toronto Star, Thomas Walkom makes the following observations:

Both New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal chieftain Justin Trudeau danced warily around the substance of Bill C-51.

They had nothing to say about measures that would criminalize speech the government deemed pro-terrorist.

They had no views on proposals that would give 17 security agencies access to any information in any government department on any Canadian.

They said nothing about a section of the bill that would permit the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to engage in illegal and unconstitutional dirty tricks.

Indeed, the only criticism of Bill C-51 levelled by the Liberals and New Democrats to date is that it doesn’t provide parliamentary oversight of security agencies that have been given these new powers.

Which is another way of saying to Harper: We don’t mind if you erode civil liberties, as long as you let a few of us in on what you’re up to.

Wary of being labelled ‘soft on terrorism,’ the leaders of the two parties vying to replace Harper are revealing once more that the quest for power takes primacy over what is best for Canadians.  No questions about why such measure are needed.  No queries about what the inadequacy of existing laws might be.  Only silent consent with a soupçon of carping at the periphery.

Contrast that cowardice with the brave and consistent integrity of Green Party leader Elizabeth May.  She said Monday in the Commons that it would turn CSIS into a “secret police force” and asked if the bill’s remarkably broad definition of crimes against the security of Canada included anti-pipeline protests.  She received no answer.

And so the charade goes on.

But where are the rest of us on this issue?  Despite a very compelling warning by Edward Snowden as well as objections by The Canadian Civil Liberties Union and others, far too many of us seem content to shrug our shoulders and dismiss concerns with a simple, “I’m not a terrorist, so why should I worry?”  An attitude fraught with pitfalls.

But I guess there is at least one undeniable inference to be drawn from all of this: human beings are remarkably consistent in their ability to ignore the lessons of history.

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Follow Lorne on twitter: @lornepw

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