Saturday, April 18, 2015

C-51 Hearings: MacKay's Opening Remarks

So, I'd never heard of Steven Blaney before he became Public Security minister. The harpercons have had a lot of defections and resignations lately, and Blaney appears (to me, who is not the most attentive watcher of the Ottawa gossip scene) to have been plucked from obscurity based on his ability to utter stupid platitudes in both English and French.

If the quality of thinking demonstrated in his opening remarks to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security are any indication, he's not that talented (or sane) an individual.

According to Craig Forcese, Peter MacKay did a better job in his testimony than Blaney:
Minister MacKay generally distinguished himself and his department with detailed and nuanced analysis of his portions of C-51. This is not to say that every position he argued was persuasive. Nor is it to say that he addressed all issues that demand answers. But his presentation stood in stark contrast to that of Minister Blaney.
However, from Forcese's own article, it's possible that MacKay did better because he didn't have as much drivel to defend. And even then, he evaded honestly confronting important issues:
For his part, Minister MacKay mounted a sterling defence of the new speech crime. That defence, though, was confined to rebutting concerns that the new crime is an ambiguous Frankenstein monster, cutting and pasting an array of legal concepts and deploying them in an uncertain new manner. It was also directed at defending the idea that there is some “gap” in the law that needs to be filled by this new offence.
We continue to think it wrong to assert that anyone can know with certainty what the outer reaches of this confusing offence will be. We also are not persuaded there is much of a gap left open by our existing law. And if there is a gap, the obvious solution is to fill only it, not craft an offence that (even when measured by what it clearly reaches) is overbroad. For instance, the new offence reaches the sort of mainstream speech we describe here, and also may harm counter-violent extremism programs in the manner we describe here.
Now, before I begin going through MacKay's remarks (which I haven't read yet) I want to clear-up a couple of things.

At one point in his ravings before the committee, Blaney states:
Further, the leader of the NDP made allegations that I feel as Minister of Public Safety are unacceptable, because he said that CSIS, the security intelligence, has broken the law. This is an insult to the men and women who are protecting Canadians on a daily basis, who are risking their lives in unsafe places, Mr. Chairman. For 30 years there has been the report of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which has always provided the certificate demonstrating that they complied with our Canadian law. I ask the member to bring coherent arguments, but not insult those who are protecting us. I ask him to apologize and to keep the debate among politicians focused on facts, truth, and reality. 
And I commented yesterday that that was quite rich of the minister to say that. Because as I pointed out here (to give only one example where I've belaboured this point), for the harpercons to routinely pull the "they hate us for our freedoms canard" when the evidence clearly shows that the terrorists are targeting us specifically for our interventions on the side of the USA in Afghanistan and other majority-Muslim countries, is deliberate denial of reality. 

If they want their lie about how the safety of Canadians is their highest priority, then they should obviously stop doing things that makes us the target of terrorists. And I'm prepared to debate whether we should stay out of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, the Ukraine, etc., etc., because my argument isn't that Canada should cower and keep its head down because the big, bad terrorists might get us. My argument is that Canada is governed by criminal scum, that our interventions are on the side of the criminal scum atop the US political structure, and that they do more harm than good. Given that, and given the fact that these cynical interventions also invite terrorist reprisals, it's incumbent upon people like Blaney, if they want the debate focused on facts, truth and reality, to include the fact, truth and reality that their adventures bring the wrath of terrorists upon us, and that this detracts from their stated desire to keep Canadians safe.

By the same token, Mr. Blaney should stop mewling about the fee-feez of Canadian security agents when Thomas Mulcair accuses them of having broken the law. Some of these assholes, besides murdering Polish immigrants at Vancouver Airport, bungling (at best) the Picton investigation, and spying on environmentalists and First Nations activists on behalf of big oil, are responsible for the torture of at least five Canadian citizens.

I said this here, about "what separates us" where I noted that both myself and that extreme right-wing scribbler leveled the same accusations at each other, but proved that I was right and he was wrong. It's the same thing with Blaney. He claims he wants to argue from facts, accuses Mulcair of not doing so, but it is easily demonstrated that he's coughing up lumps of shit every time he opens his mouth to speak.

So when we get to someone like Peter MacKay, it's my personal opinion that he's a dim-bulb. A beneficiary of his father's political career in the service of one of the two capitalist-friendly parties that contend for power in this country. A beneficiary of patronage and privilege. Take this fellow out of this cosseted little world and he'd be nothing. I've watched his career for years, but with little interest, and can't recall having ever been impressed with anything other than his mediocrity and his cowardice.

Here he goes ...
  Mr. Chair and colleagues, it's an honour to be here before you. I thank you for your important work. I am honoured to be here with my colleague, Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney and officials from both of our departments, Public Safety and Justice.
    As you know, we're here to discuss Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism act. This bill concentrates on the very real subject matter of terrorism, which is an increased global concern. The Government of Canada is taking steps, and you are taking steps, to examine the tools necessary and available to our intelligence and law enforcement agencies to respond effectively to this threat.,
Again, they make this threat seem inexplicable, inexorable and insidious. But it's just blow-back from various US foreign policy initiatives. (People like MacKay go ape-shit when you say that. Partly because they genuinely believe it's "anti-American" and mainly because it exposes them for the bungling turds that they are.)

    This bill represents the outcome that is crucially important in this assessment. I'm going to focus my remarks, as Minister Blaney has said, on the Criminal Code amendments found in part 3 of the bill. 
    Since 2001, the Criminal Code has helped us combat terrorism specifically, especially in terms of offences related to various forms of participation in and facilitation of a terrorist activity and in terms of charging a person for engaging in such an activity. Those measures were reinforced in 2013 with the addition of new offences related to the movements of terrorists and nuclear terrorism.
     Mr. Chair, the threat environment in Canada we know is global and volatile and consistently evolving. Accordingly, this investigative package of enforcement tools available to the criminal justice system should be commensurate to detect, stop, and prosecute those responsible. Of course, the Criminal Code reforms that are found in Bill C-51 do just that. It is an effort to modernize, to keep pace. As Minister Blaney has said, this is about giving law enforcement the ability to meet this evolving threat, and to put them in a position to detect, deter, and prevent the type of terrorism that we see and sadly expect in the 21st century.
It really is physically painful to have to read such cretinism.

    I'll speak now to those parts of the bill that fall directly under the purview of the Department of Justice.
    First, section 83.3 of the Criminal Code, which targets individuals who may be involved in a terrorism activity either directly or indirectly, currently requires two tests to be met for a court to impose a recognizance against an individual. 
Let's just pause and remember that this shit-head can't even coherently define what "terrorism" means. Neo-nazi white supremacists plotting to shoot-up a shopping mall isn't terrorism for some reason, whereas ... well, whereas nothing. This idiot is just clumsily trying to scare Canadian society into a certain form of docility and, sadly, our collective intelligence is low enough that he's been succeeding at it so far.
This bill proposes to lower the threshold of both these tests, from requiring police to have reasonable grounds to believe that a terrorist activity “will—with emphasis on “will”—be carried out”, to “may be carried out”—imminent, to possible—and from reasonable grounds to suspect that conditions are necessary to prevent the carrying out of terrorism activity, to “likely to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity”.
Right. This bimbo doesn't even know what makes terrorism "terrorism" but he wants to expand this hazy concept so that police can arrest people who, it is "likely" that they "may" be "directly or indirectly involved" in "terrorism."

It would have renewed my faith in Canadian democracy if, right at that point, everyone in the committee rose up and grabbed MacKay and tarred and feathered him. Alas!
     Lowering the threshold seeks to make it easier to obtain the recognizance, for police to do so and then appear before a judge. It's important to emphasize the judicial oversight component of this.
Spoken by a man who viscerally loathes judicial oversight.
    Bill C-51 would also increase the maximum period of time that a judge can remand an individual awaiting a recognizance hearing from a total of two days to six days, with the 24-hour police detention period remaining the same. In other words, it would expand that period of time in which investigations can occur and certain conditions can be in place to protect the public, so up to seven days.
So, give the authorities more time to try to cook up some terrorist allegations against people. Or at least just go through all their possessions with a fine-toothed comb. You'd think if they had a case against someone, that two-days of arbitrary arrest would be enough, right?
    This bill also proposes to strengthen the existing terrorism peace bond in the Criminal Code. The bill proposes to lower the threshold from the current requirement that a person must fear on reasonable grounds that someone “will” commit a terrorism offence, to fear that they “may” commit a terrorism offence. This change seeks to make it easier to obtain the peace bond. There is a scale here. We are lowering the threshold to allow the police, with judicial oversight, to put in place conditions to protect the public based on evidence. It would also extend the maximum duration of the peace bond from two to five years for those previously convicted of a terrorism offence.
What is the difference between "If you go outside today you WILL get killed" and "If you go outside today you MAY get killed"? That's a pretty big difference, wouldn't you say? (I'm assuming you're a sane person of reasonable intelligence.)

     Furthermore, for both recognizance with conditions and peace bonds, the court would be authorized to impose sureties and to require judges to consider geographical conditions and passport surrender, so behavioural controls, if you will. The penalties for breaches of these court orders would also be increased from the current two years maximum to four years. 
So, if it's found, for certain, after an investigation, that you "might" "support or facilitate" a "terrorist" act, somehow, somewhere, your freedom of movement can be restricted and your right to travel abroad (a constitutional right) denied altogether. Thanks to the brilliant legal brain of Peter Fucking MacKay, who doesn't even know what "terrorism" is.
     Bill C-51 would also propose to amend the Criminal Code to create a new indictable offence for knowingly advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general. The offence would require that the person either know that any of those offences will be committed or be reckless as to whether any of those offences may be committed as a result of that communication. This new offence would be punishable with up to five years' imprisonment. The new offence would fill what we believe to be a current gap in the law and would respond to a current threat that exists. 
Ah! This is the new offence that Forcese was talking about!

    Currently it's a crime to counsel someone to commit a specific crime like murder. It is not a crime, however, to counsel somebody to commit a broad category of criminal activity like terrorism, one lacking specific detail as to which offence is being encouraged to be committed. 
Right. It's illegal to counsel someone to murder. It's illegal to counsel someone to set fire to a building. I assume it's illegal to counsel someone to derail a train. Or detonate a bomb. Or storm Parliament Hill with a firearm. But when it comes to the politically useful (and usefully elastic) offence of "terrorism" Peter MacKay whines in frustration because some of the things that he regards as "terrorism" (impeding the building of bitumen pipelines, calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, etc.,) aren't illegal (or as "terroristically illegal" as he'd like them to be). Solution? This monstrous piece of legislation.
Therefore, the focus of the proposed new offence is to cover the situation where the active encouragement lacks the specific detail that would link the encouragement to the commission of a specific terrorism offence, although in the circumstances it is clear that someone is actively encouraging to commit any of the terrorism offences in the Criminal Code. In other words, it would not matter whether a specific terrorism offence is advocated or promoted for criminal liability to attach. To be clear, this is not a glorification of terrorism offence.
So, to actively encouraging the commission of "any of the terrorism offences in the Criminal Code" when they want to put into the Criminal Code that actions harming the integrity of the Canadian economy are "terrorism" is completely innocuous. But have no fear, civil liberties weenies! Muslim Canadians can still shout "Allahu Akbar!" upon hearing of a terrorist outrage, and not be arrested. Unless, of course, their traitorous outburst encourages other acts of "terrorism" and then they've gone from glorifying terrorism to encouraging terrorism and all bets are off.

What a fucking idiot this man is.
    Related to this new offence is the proposal to create two new warrants of seizure in relation to terrorist propaganda. One is for terrorist propaganda in a tangible form such as a poster or a flyer, and the other is for removing terrorist propaganda disseminated and stored in a website located in Canada.
I'm already terrified. Do you see where this is going? I mean, you know how paranoid and propagandistic stephen harper is, right? Goes through Facebook posts of people attending his rallies. If they "liked" an opponent, he has the RCMP bar those people from his events, in case they spoil the effect of widespread love and adulation. It's the same totalitarian mindset that's in this bill. Now, even the internet will be purged of competing political beliefs. Anti-Tar Sands? Terrorism. Off the net. BDS campaign? Terrorism. Off the net. First Nations calls to reject Canadian government laws? Terrorism. Off the net. And on and on it goes. Let's hope some opposition MP's ask MacKay some pointed questions.
    Obviously, we work within our own jurisdiction. This does not afford us the ability to capture this material from outside the country. 
Yeah. No shit Sherlock.
    Similar powers already exist for other materials that Parliament has determined to be harmful, including hate propaganda and child pornography. It mirrors Criminal Code sections already in existence
I believe your party legalized "hate speech" so I'm not sure about what you just said about hate propaganda. And, yes, child pornography is illegal. As is counseling someone to commit any other specific crime. As you already said. That's not the point. You're expanding things to include stated support of encouragement to a "broad category of criminal activity" that falls under the amorphous concept of "terrorism."

    Most parents, I think, would know we are doing this in the best interest of removing material that could be used to radicalize or recruit a young person. In fact, in talking to people about this particular section of the Criminal Code, some were alarmed to know that we don't already have the ability to remove this offensive material.
Yeah. Wanna know something Minister MacKay? A lot of Muslims become "radicalized" by watching videos about the murder of women and children by occupation forces in the countries under occupation. The gratuitous violence against civilians. The racist behaviour of appalling shit-heads like "American Sniper" Chris Kyle. The stuff you suppress so that you and Don Cherry can strut about like nincompoops who think they're war heroes. OUR CRIMES. OUR TERRORISM. That's the main contributor to their "radicalization."

And, notice how he said "some were alarmed to know we don't already have the ability to remove this offensive material"? Yes, well, "some people" think that property is theft. "Some people" think that premarital sex should be illegal. Why is that at all relevant? "Some people want the death penalty for kids who run on their lawns. Let's accommodate them!" (?)
    Finally, changes are proposed to better protect those involved in national security prosecutions and proceedings. Among other things, these changes would provide better discretion of the courts to make orders that reflect the security needs of witnesses. In particular, we're talking about participants in the justice system who might find themselves vulnerable as a result of the individuals we are dealing with. This is not unlike what we've seen in prosecutions of gangs or organized crime. It takes into account their role in relation to national security matters while at all times respecting the fair trial rights of the accused.
We already have this. I assume MacKay just wants blanket protections from any sort of accountability.

    These legislative proposals and those of my colleague Minister Blaney are reasonable and are a proportionate response to the threat of terrorism in Canada. 
Bullshit. You're completely full of shit MacKay. A total liar.
They contain a number of safeguards, including judicial oversight and discretion for the many tools we have discussed and presented here this morning, the requirement to obtain Attorney General consent before proceedings, 
Right. Someone as stupid and authoritarian as you, you mean. Notice he's said little about the safeguards in his opening remarks. Probably because the less said about the inadequate safeguards for his totalitarian police-state bill, the better.
and annual reporting requirements on the use of recognizance with conditions. These are tabled in Parliament, as I did recently in December. Also, these peace bond and recognizance conditions are subject to sunsetting; that is to say that the law, when it came into effect in 2007, will be reviewed with respect to those recognizance and peace bond conditions in 2017. 
And you'll get around to completely eviscerating Parliament's powers later. And, in the meantime, your standard SOP of "Contempt of Parliament" will have to suffice.
    In providing these new, enhanced and judicially approved measures which respond to terrorism at home and abroad, we believe we are doing so within the existing and overarching legal framework that respects the charter and includes important checks and balances.
Blah, blah, blah.
    To conclude, from a criminal justice perspective, this bill will address gaps in the law, only target extremely serious conduct, and clearly define offence elements in a high level of mens rea
You've already shown how that's not the case. Sorry.

    Mr. Chair, I would just end with a quote from the Queen and Khawaja, which is an Ontario Court of Appeal case where, writing for the majority, Mr. Justice Moldaver, as he then was, said:
To be sure, terrorism is a crime unto itself. It has no equal. It does not stop at, nor is it limited to, the senseless destruction of people and property. It is far more insidious in that it attacks our very way of life and seeks to destroy the fundamental values to which we ascribe – values that form the essence of our constitutional democracy. 

    Mr. Chair, I thank you for your important deliberations on this legislation. We look forward to the committee's questions. Again, we're very appreciative of the work that you're undertaking.

    Thank you.
You know, I no longer obtain the slightest bit of entertainment value when encountering the shamelessness of right-wing scum. What "fundamental values" do you suppose MacKay means when he says those words? He hates Parliament. He hates Canada's natural environment. He hates freedom of speech. He hates free and fair elections. He hates honest government. He hates transparency. He hates the rule of law.
All of these hatreds, he'd demonstrated time and time again. His only defence is that he's so stupid and shallow that it's impossible for him to reflect upon the significance of his actual thoughts and behaviour for the platitudes he utters when called up to perform in situations like this. 


b_nichol said...

Thanks thwap for your analysis (thus far). You have far more patience than I do for this deplorable, mindless obfuscation from the harper ministers. Like you, I cannot even derive any entertainment value out of these hearings, only anger and a sense that the entire gov't caucus is either completely incompetent, or worse, they’re doing it on purpose, eg. Diane Ablonzy’s remarks on “'principles of fundamental justice,' whatever that is”. Arrgh! Hulk smash!

PS, forgot to post this Thursday after you mentioned Blaney’s stupid “hate us for our values” testimony.

thwap said...


I'm glad to hear you're getting something out of this.

I plan on continuing for want of anything else to blog about.

That's a great David Cross bit. I've used it here recently. It's fucking awesome he said that in America, then, at the time.