Thursday, April 23, 2015

Back to C-51 Committee Testimony

And, we're back, for (perhaps) a brief look at the testimony of Steve "the perv" Blaney, and Peter "Zorro" MacKay, as both these idiots lied to us about their fascist surveillance legislation, C-51.

I skimmed this a few days ago, and I'm pretty sure the stuff you're going to look at today is sycophantic drivel from their fellow sleaze-bag "Conservatives." But, still, it's important to see how debased our political culture is. So without further ado ...
    Thank you very much, Minister MacKay.

    Colleagues, we will now go to our rounds of questioning with a first round of seven minutes. We will start with the parliamentary secretary, Mrs. James.

    Thank you, Ministers, for appearing, and thank you as well to the officials who are here.
    Canadians would expect, Minister Blaney, when one branch of government comes across information pertinent to national security and the protection of Canadians, that agency would be able to communicate that information freely to another agency, such as the RCMP or CSIS. However, that is clearly not the case today. 

Well, clearly, you haven't been listening today or paying attention for the past 15 years! The National Security Minister communicates with the Minister of Transport, and, clearly, Citizenship and Immigration must be communicating with SOMEONE in order to deny the passports to so many people. Furthermore, CSIS and the RCMP are obviously sharing information with the National Security Agency in the USA, because as Wikileaks and Edward Snowden showed us, we're being spied upon all dee fooking time! But go on ...

I have to tell you that I was probably one of those Canadians who thought this was already being done, so with regard to information sharing, I find this legislation to be absolutely critical.

I don't. Because I think the terrorist threat is really the GBWT. But even if it weren't, ... why should it be easier for Health Canada to share information with CSIS? This from a government that took the psychiatric counseling records for a veterans' ombudsman to try to use it to discredit him. (It's amazing how selective the memories of these right-wing monsters are, isn't it?)

    Minister Blaney and Minister MacKay, in your opening remarks, both of you talked about identifying gaps that were brought forward by our national security agencies.

     Minister Blaney, could you expand on some of these gaps, focusing on information sharing, and why this part of the legislation is so important?

    Maybe I could begin with two examples of what is the current situation now.
    As we heard recently, in Montreal two young girls allegedly said that they left the country to commit terrorist attacks abroad. They showed up at the passport office and they asked for an accelerated process within 48 hours. They said that they had lost their passports. They said that they wanted to go to the Middle East, to a region, as you are well aware, where there are many conflicts. This information should raise some concerns in terms of national security. Canada is not and does not want to become an exporter of terrorism. As we speak, this information cannot be shared with relevant authorities such as the RCMP or the security agency, CSIS. This bill would enact the department to undertake this kind of action.
Well, I suppose that makes a little bit of sense. I suppose it's better that we fight the terrorists here, instead of over there. (Wait a minnit!) But, as long as it doesn't gum-up the anti-terrorist works, ... you know, every time somebody from the Middle East, or Venezuela, or wherever they decide our official enemies are, asks for a replacement passport, it goes to a CSIS or RCMP officer (already overworked with reports of the torture sessions of Canadians citizens at some black-site overseas, or cajoling some crackhead to blow-up a bomb somewhere) to sit in the files. I can, in all seriousness, see the value of communication between Citizenship and Immigration and Public Safety and National Security, ... except it should be pretty clear such cooperation already exists.
    The other example is on the other side. Take a wounded person who goes to a consulate in the Middle East, is willing to come back, and is seeking some information. Being obviously wounded or having spent some weeks out there in the desert, this may raise some reasonable doubts, but again, this information may not be shared with the police officers or the Canada Border Services Agency, nor with our intelligence. An individual, a potential high-terrorist traveller who has had combat experience, could come back into our country, and we could hardly prevent it.
Okay. That isn't stupid on the face of it.
    These two examples demonstrate clearly the need to make sure that the left hand of government knows what the right hand is doing, but in doing so, let me assure you that there are many mechanisms to protect privacy and also the Constitution.
Do, go on ...
     First, I think I've stated clearly that it has to be information that would undermine the security of Canada. Before the information is transferred, there has to be a risk, and it has to be transferred to an organization that is relevant. Again, this is not new information. This is information that is already being collected by the government but is not being shared.
Why does this idiot keep saying this? Is he saying that if a Canadian showed up at the Canadian embassy in Beirut with gunshot wounds, that the embassy wouldn't and couldn't (under C-51) alert CSIS? Leaving that aside, ... he keeps saying that only information about genuine security risks would be shared, but we've already got plenty of evidence of innocent Canadians being harassed, spied upon and even tortured by their own government's "security" services.

     Are we to let silos be used by terrorists to harm Canadians? Frankly, I think this is totally irresponsible. That's why when I speak to people in my riding or elsewhere, people are asking me why we have not done this before and why we are not sharing the information in a respectful and lawful process.
     Well, this is what we do. Also, it is important to specify—and it's in the bill—that the information has to be done in respect of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and also the protection of privacy. This is actually in the enactment of the act. We already have much legislation, but we felt it was important to specify this in the bill.
    I can comment further, but I think you want to ask more questions.
Just remember that all his weeping and wailing there is for a bullshit threat. We can't learn shit about oil spills, freight rail deregulation, allowing armed US Customs agents into Canada with extraterritoriality, but they can learn everything about us.

    There has been some concern from the opposition and from the Green Party with respect to a proposed section in the information sharing act that clearly states that the information sharing would not relate to lawful advocacy, protest, dissent, and artistic expression. The concern seems to be surrounding the word “lawful”.

    I just have to ask a very simple question. How bizarre would it be for a government to legislate this type of bill and include the ability for unlawful advocacy? I have to ask that question because obviously, between “lawful” and “unlawful” there is a big difference.

    Thank you for the opportunity you are giving me to clarify what is in the bill and what is not.
    Once again, there is the security of Canada information sharing act, whereby information that could undermine the security of Canada could be transferred. This has nothing to do with the other parts of the act, such as the threat diminishment part, which relies on the current definition of terrorist activities. It has no impact at all on this aspect. The only thing the legislator is doing in crafting this bill is mandating that any information that could undermine the security of Canada has to be sent to the recipient institution.
    Of course, there is another safeguard here, because if the information is received, it has to be relevant to that specific department. That is another safeguard, if I can put it that way.
    Once again, to get back to your definition, there are lawful activities and there are unlawful activities. This morning I gave the example of a protest that did not have a municipal permit. That is not, I would argue, included in this bill, which deals with undermining the security of Canada. Once again, it could be an illegal activity, but the information would not necessarily be shared, because it does not undermine the security of Canada.

    I think we clearly see this morning that there are lawful activities, that there could be illegal activity that does not undermine the security of Canada, and that there are those activities that we feel are important to share or to specify in the bill. There are some examples in the bill, such as espionage, sabotage—

    Minister Blaney, we'll have to cut you off. You'll have an opportunity to go further a little later, but we're over the time.
    We'll go now to Mr. Garrison, for seven minutes, please.
And that wraps up what I'll deal with today.
And by "deal" I mean go to someone else besides the self-serving liar, Steve Blaney. So, by "unlawful" Blaney claims not to mean protests held without a municipal permit. (Smashing those things is being nicely handled by the provinces!) He also says that things can be illegal and not undermine the security of Canada. Any counter-arguments Mr. Forcese?
Violating regulatory or muncipal rules is bad.  People should be fined, and possibly prosecuted.  That is why we have police, and open, transparent courts, with due process and appeal rights.
But the question before Parliament now is whether peaceful democratic protest movements should be a security issue, handled covertly, when, e.g., they don't have the right muncipal permits for their protests.  And specifically, should such a movement fall within the ambit of the new "undermine" definition, or the expanded CSIS powers under the existing "threat" definition. 
Given the experience in 2001 and the legal views expressed by the government of the day, we have to conclude that if the government continues to include the qualifier "lawful" in its exceptions, it does so with eyes wide open.  It really does mean to include, e.g., "illegal strike[s] that takes as part of its form a demonstration in the streets—and this is an example that has been used by some in the trade union movement" within its "undermine the security of Canada" concept in the information sharing rules. 
And it is comfortable with the idea that, if other elements of the "threat" definition are met (e.g., as with the Keystone hypothetical above), democratic protest movements with tactics that do not square in every way with even municipal law may properly be the subject of CSIS investigation and possibly even disruption.
I take no view on whether CSIS would ever have the resources or the complete lack of internal governance checks and balances to actually proceed in this manner.  That is not my point.  My point is this: when we craft national security law, we craft it to deter bad judgment.  We do not craft it to be so sweeping and ambiguous that it must depend for its proper exercise in a democracy on perfect government judgment.  Very few governments are perfect.  And even if you think this one is, what about the next one?
I'll let Mr. Forcese have the last word because he's not an authoritarian liar who owes his Minister-status to election fraud.

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