Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Big City Lib" Channels Paul Calandra

Fresh off his hacktastic support for the indefensible, cowardly Liberal Party support for Bill C-51, "Big City Lib" now channels the cretinous, disgusting harpercon hack Paul Calandra, by chanting that the NDP isn't above the law and should pay back what they spent on the satellite offices.
The NDP should pay its bills just like anyone else.  Until they form government, and then we all ride free until the banks kill the party.  But seriously.  Complying with Law would show folks that the New Democrats knows how to pay off debts like responsible people, rather than just racking them up like a union negotiator handed the company credit card for a night by a half cracked manager as a gesture of good will. Right now the impression you get is that the NDP has done as official opposition what it took the LPC and CPC years in power to achieve: they've become arrogant,  and out of touch.
Compare that with this:
“What’s also very clear to Canadians is the fact that you can’t use House of Commons resources for partisan political purposes, Mr. Speaker,” he said. “That’s why I encourage… the 68 members of the NDP caucus who owe Canadian taxpayers $2.7 million for illegal offices to pay it back.”
However, Calandra repeatedly brought up the NDP controversy instead of answering questions about Duffy.
NDP MP Ève Péclet referenced the autographed photo Harper gave Duffy, lauding the senator as one of his hardest-working appointments.
“What did the prime minister like so much about Mike Duffy’s work?” she asked.
Though Speaker Andrew Scheer reminded the MP that questions should focus on “administrative responsibilities,” Calandra replied anyway.
“Certainly touching on the administration of the House, I think, is very important,” he said. “That’s why there are 68 members of the NDP who owe taxpayers $2.7 million for illegal offices. This member herself owes over $25,000 to the taxpayers.”
 I'm not a die-hard NDP supporter,, but from where I sit, this satellite office "scandal" is about as genuine as the Liberal Party of Canada's other example of teaming up with the harpercons against the NDP, ... that of the case of the partisan NDP flyer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Barry Cooper's Testimony on C-51

So, crazy stephen harper's C-51 is now the law of the land. My schoolyard is your go-to place for bite-sized nuggets of expert and smart-type people's testimony about the bill. (As opposed to the nicer looking, but lengthy scrolling needed at the actual website.)
    Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thanks for the invitation to appear before this committee on such an important matter.

    It will be obvious enough that I'm not a lawyer. I'm a professor of political science at the University of Calgary. Among other things relevant to your deliberations, I've written a book on terrorism as a political religion, major reports on why we need a foreign intelligence service, on the RCMP, and on problems that democracies have in fighting small wars.
    By and large I think Bill C-51 is a useful improvement to Canada's anti-terrorism legislation. I said so in a couple of newspaper columns and I won't repeat myself here. I have some critical and analytical remarks that I expect are more useful for your purposes than half-heartedly praising the government.
Hmm. Well, I call it the GBWT for a reason.
    Let me begin by recalling that the Prime Minister introduced Bill C-51 in Richmond Hill last January with the words, “violent jihadism is not a human right, it's an act of war”. I think this is fundamentally accurate. We are in a different threat environment today than we have been previously. The problem of terrorism is not one of simply violent extremists as President Obama said, but chiefly of violent jihadis.
Yeah. Because violent extremists we can handle. But violent jihadis?? No way! Wait! What?

    That being said, I recognize that, as in any law of general application, Bill C-51 has aroused the anxieties of Canadians concerned with peaceful and sometimes not-so-peaceful protests and how this activity will be treated under the provisions of this bill. However, the chief conflict I would say is not between the police and criminals. In order to understand the main threat to Canadian security, it's important to look first at how the opposition understand themselves, and they say they're at war.
Did Cooper just say that "not-so-peaceful" protesters are "criminals"?
    In a study published last year by Clark McCauley and Sophie Moskalenko, the authors deal with the importance of the jihadi narrative, which they argued moves often isolated individuals from radical opinion to radical action.
    Two things are important here. The first is a four-part jihadi narrative. First, Islam is under attack; second, jihadis are defending Islam; third, their actions, which we call terrorism, constitute religiously justified warfare; and fourth, the duty of Muslims is to support their actions. Second, about five percent of British Muslims, where this study was conducted, agree entirely with this narrative. Eighty percent agree with the first element that Islam is under attack, and the authors think that this is a low estimate.
Here's the thing: This would all be irrelevant if not for the constant violent meddling of the USA in the Middle East, and for the decades-long (more decades than I've been alive) campaign to demonize Arab animosity towards Zionist imperialism. And, forgive me if I'm wrong, but it reads to me as if Cooper is being somewhat of a sleaze-bag by stating the finding that 80% of British Muslims believe their religion is under attack (which it is) as being the first part of the "jihadi narrative." I don't suppose the number of Christians who think that they're "under attack" would be counted as potential foot-soldiers in the terrorist armies? 
    I mention this at the outset because the liberties of Canadians are threatened a lot more by Islamic states than by CSIS or the RCMP. 
Well, I think Barry Cooper just removed himself from the "People To Be Taken Seriously" list. When you consider the number of Canadians killed by the RCMP, or beaten by the RCMP, or attacked by the RCMP or spied on by CSIS or rendered to torture chambers by the RCMP, ... when you consider the spying and harassment of First Nations peoples, environmentalists, poor people's groups, immigrants, ... and compare that to the death toll from Islamic terrorism, and when you consider how much Islamic terrorism is created by our domestic and foreign policies, ... well, it's no contest that CSIS and the RCMP endanger more Canadians (both pre and post C-51) than do the terrorists. This isn't a question for debate anymore and anyone who wants to pretend it is, is either a liar or a fool or both.
Bill C-51 contemplates changing CSIS into something more than a security intelligence service but less than a foreign intelligence service. Forcese and Roach, from whom you'll be hearing later, are both critics of Bill C-51 and call this a kinetic service, and that seems accurate enough.
    For what it's worth, I support a dedicated foreign intelligence service with real spies dedicated to stealing secrets from other countries.
Well, isn't that crazy and stupid. Why, in this day and age, after two World Wars and a Cold War and all the shitty wars before and after those conflicts, do we feel there is a need to "steal" from other countries? Certainly there is a need to have a service that defends us from the attempts of other countries to steal our secrets, but it is not being dangerously naive to say that Canada has no need to steal from other countries and potentially cause international conflict.(You know, for some reason, even though Cooper hails from the University of Calgary, I'd thought I connected good work with his name. But if this testimony is any indication, it must be a false memory and Cooper is yet another example of the sort of right-wing ideologue/hacks that the U of C is infamous for.
This new CSIS may be a step down this road, but if so, it needs to eventually deal with the fundamental problem of catching spies or neutralizing threats that require an entirely different skill set than espionage and associated extra-legal or illegal operations.
    Historically, the separation of spying and spy-catching has been the rule among democratic regimes because the operational focus and organizational culture of such operations are so different. What a newly kinetic CSIS will be like is not at all clear, which introduces the second problem that seems to me equally intractable. It's not possible—it's not possible—to harmonize the purpose of the police with that of security intelligence, though it may be possible to manage their incompatibilities.
    Part 1 of Bill C-51 on information or intelligence sharing seems to address this tension between CSIS and the RCMP. Let me say that intelligence sharing is useful and even necessary, and part 1 is a good start.
I'm not fundamentally opposed to information sharing to defend from terrorism. I even admitted that some of what Public Safety Minister Blaney said in his words on the topic sounded plausible. But as we have seen with the cases of Maher Arar and Abdullah Almalki, information sharing can have disastrous consequences. To say that C-51 is a "good start" on this is like saying that missing the first step at the top of a high staircase is "a good first step."
   That said, the underlying tension has not disappeared for the simple reason that intelligence and police organizations have distinct and sometimes conflicting purposes. Police want to arrest suspects and gain convictions in court. Intelligence organizations want to play suspects for additional intelligence. Police need to be scrupulous in following legally correct procedures of gathering evidence, for example, to ensure convictions. Intelligence operatives, who are not primarily interested in convictions, do not.
Don't forget the whole topic of human rights Dr. Cooper!
    This tension cannot really be dissolved since it goes to the heart of these different kinds of organizations. How CSIS and the RCMP will ensure that disruptive or kinetic activities of the former do not also disrupt the criminal investigations of the latter is a problem. Personally, I would hope that CSIS intelligence gathering, except in emergencies, trumps their kinetic activity, which in turn trumps the RCMP. This is more or less what Bill C-44 proposes, I believe. If so, I'd say that it reflects the appropriate priorities of the two organizations. 
Okay ...
    One other thing I would mention deals with oversight and review. As with the distinct purposes of police and security services, there is a distinction to be made here as well. Where CSIS’s contemplated activities would violate the law, a Federal Court judge must pre-approve these with a warrant. This adds something to oversight by taking it outside the executive chain of command. I would reserve judgment as to whether we need additional oversight beyond search and surveillance warrants until we see how the proposed structure works. But how will we know how it works? 

Dr. Cooper must have been living under a rock for the past decade or so. We've learned that in the USA, courts established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act have acted as basically rubber stamps since their inception. Canadian Internet Service Providers have cheerfully handed over customers' personal information to the police without warrants being required.And now Barry Coooper wants us to wait and see what CSIS does with its new powers to "disrupt" activity, before talking about proposing oversight??? Da fuck???

    This is a matter not of oversight but of review, of after-action audits similar to what SIRC, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, is currently supposed to do with CSIS. I say “supposed to do” because, as I am sure you know, this review agency is underfunded and understaffed. Worse, if there is to be a whole-of-government approach to security and intelligence sharing, as contemplated by Bill C-51, and which, as I said, is a laudable objective, then there needs to be a whole-of-government approach to reviewing what the government agencies do.
    Currently, for example, Canada Border Services Agency, which conducts both police and intelligence work, is not reviewed by anybody. This is bad bureaucratic practice, to say the least. I would suggest, therefore, an expansion of the SIRC model but, as is the case in the U.K. and Australia, I would add to the specialists and the technical officers, and people like Mr. Atkey, sitting MPs from both sides to the House. This seems to work fairly well in Australia, so far as I know. Obviously the MPs, like other SIRC members, would have to be sworn to secrecy.
    I would point out two further things:
     First, secrecy in the review of intelligence operations is as inevitable as it is in spying and conducting security intelligence. No country can conduct intelligence operations, whether defensive or offensive, in public.

No country should be conducting offensive intelligence operations at all! But I hope you noticed how even Barry Cooper described SIRC as "underfunded and understaffed." Blaney, MacKay and their stooges on this committee are absolutely shameless.

Second, Increasing oversight it not as important as increasing after-action reviews. The reason is that more oversight amounts to more interference with the executive in matters where intelligence activities are often time-sensitive. Furthermore, after-action reports will influence future expectations, which is a kind of internal oversight, by providing appraisals of how the various security services behave.
    Bill C-51, in short, is a good first step but it can be improved.
    Finally, thank you for your attention. I'd be happy to answer a few questions later if I can. I hope I've not said too much.

This is all drivel and nonsense. There is no need for any country to conduct offensive spying operations. There is very little oversight for CSIS and the RCMP. When they are found guilty of particularly heinous abuses, they get to have secret inquiries that are an insult to their victims. The GBWT is a self-inflicted wound caused by Israeli and oil imperialism and the military-industrial-security complex. They're all sitting there talking bullshit about problems of their own making. Assholes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Another Leisurely Look at the C-51 Hearings

Look, I know that the bill passed. Just like I know nobody is reading this! But I'm finding this an informative, entertaining diversion. So I'ze gonna keep on doin' it.

Like, I figured out why harpercon stooge (Payne?) "shared his time" with fellow harpercon stooge Roxanne James. It's because if he, himself had monologued for his entire alloted time, someone would have pointed it out. So they divided it up into two self-serving monopolizations of the Committee's time and avoided having to actually debate with the adults with less of a fuss.

What am I going to read today?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

C-51 Meeting Two - Back to the Shit

So, last time, Megan Leslie of the NDP got to have an adult conversation with the spokespersons from the BCCLA and Greenpeace. Now we're back to a harpercon, so things will probably descend into madness and stupidity ...

    Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I thank the witnesses for coming to talk about this very important bill.

    I will be sharing my time with Ms. James and I'd like to let her go ahead of me, before I finish up.

    Thank you, LaVar.
    And thank you, Mr. Chair, and thanks to our witnesses.
    I just want to correct some of the misconceptions I've heard so far in this committee. I'll start with information sharing.
    There seems to be an implied belief that someone who is protesting lawfully, or perhaps unlawfully because they don't necessarily have a municipal permit, would somehow come under the scrutiny of being spied on. That is absolutely not the case. 
Aside from the fact that protesters are already being spied on, harassed and attacked, Ms. James has a good point. However, not putting those facts aside, and acknowledging them, shows that Ms. James is completely full of shit and either a total ignoramus or a shameless liar.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

C-51 Meeting 54 Megan Leslie Asks Questions

After harpercon Rick Norlock made an ass of himself asking the representatives from the BCCLA and Greenpeace if they were "fundamentally opposed ... [get it? fundamentally/fundamentalist??? huh? ya geddit??] ... to getting terrorists off the streets," let's see if Megan Leslie of the NDP can restore dignity and sanity to this process.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

    Thank you very much to our witnesses.
    I'm the environment critic for the NDP, so I really want to focus on section 2 and the specific exclusion for lawful activity. However, before I get to that, I do want to ask a quick question of Greenpeace, because you're an international organization. You're Greenpeace Canada, but you know what's going on with your colleagues around the world.
    How do the laws proposed in Bill C-51 compare to what Greenpeace faces in other countries?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

C-51 Hearings: In Which Rick Norlock Shows Himself To Be A Stupid Asshole

Now, Carmen Cheung, Joanna Kerr and Ron Atkey will take questions from the Committee. (I've heard that the CPC committee members were hostile and contemptuous of critics of their piece-of-shit bill, so let's see ...

    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and through you to the witnesses. Thank you for attending today.

    My first line of questioning will go to the BC Civil Liberties Association. Your website, like you, describes Bill C-51 as unnecessary. It goes on to articulate that your group thinks it is unfair. One of the elements of the bill that is attacked is the issue of preventative arrest. This is an item that national security experts and law enforcement officials have stated will be of enormous value in a number of cases, so it has a high benefit in terms of preventative law and a low cost, as it applies to a limited number of individuals.

Oh! Well! If you're only going deprive a limited number of individuals of their constitutional rights, then it's fine. Why don't we start with you fuck-face?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Osgoode Hall Law Prof., Ron Atkey (speaking for himself)

    Members of the committee, I'm honoured to be invited to appear before you regarding this important bill, which has certainly captured the attention of so many Canadians from across the country and internationally
    My interest and background concerning this subject is set forth in my short form resumé that is attached to my speaking notes in both official languages. In the interests of time, I'm going to omit that information from my opening statement, although you should feel free to ask any questions.
    Given that the government and one opposition party have already indicated support in principle for this bill, I want to indicate that I am not here to destroy the bill. Rather, I want to assist in proposing some practical amendments that would improve it and perhaps save its constitutional legitimacy and integrity. Like so many others in Canada, I accept, based on known evidence, that the current terrorist threat to Canada's security is real and that enhanced measures are necessary for major agencies such as CSIS, RCMP, CBSA, and Transport Canada to combat this threat through lawful means.
Well, personally, I don't think any new powers are needed to deal with this problem. Aside from two guys who would have benefited more from the mental health services that our system used to provide, the police have been able to thwart those two guys plotting to blow-up a VIA train with the powers they have now. Most everything else, including the "Toronto 18" were self-manufactured threats. But whatever ..
    In the few minutes I have today, I want to deal with five important matters. First, is constitutionality and the independence of the judiciary. Second, I'm going to touch on freedom of expression; third, on the issue of fairness; fourth, on effective review by SIRC and others; and fifth, on parliamentary overview, which is something you should consider.
    Constitutionality and the independence of the judiciary go right to the major flaw in the bill. Part 4 authorizes the Federal Court to issue a warrant to CSIS to take measures that may contravene a right or freedom guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This provision, in my view, is clearly unconstitutional and will be struck down by the courts.
    The existing charter already has a built-in limitations clause authorizing reasonable limits where necessary in a free and democratic society, and proportionality applies to those limits based on almost 33 years of charter jurisprudence. If Parliament wants to invoke the notwithstanding clause, it is free to do so under this Constitution, although no federal Parliament has had the courage or need to do so since the charter was proclaimed in 1982.
    I ask you, why provoke an avoidable constitutional challenge? Canadian judges are fiercely independent and are not agents of the government who can be mandated to authorize measures at all costs to protect against terrorist threats. Federal court judges have carefully authorized or rejected wiretap applications since 1984, under existing section 21 of the CSIS Act. I have seen or reviewed some of those applications and judicial decisions. The process of judicial control of wiretap warrants applications works today.
Yeah. It seems that the harpercons are labouring under the delusion that Charter rights apply to "Canada" in only a general sense, and that target individuals only enjoy them as "privileges" that can be revoked upon demand for the "greater good."
    Why, in drafting new parallel provisions in proposed sections 12.1 and 21.1 of Bill C-51 respecting additional measures, do you need to instruct the judges to totally ignore the charter and to allow CSIS to violate constitutional obligations in order to take these additional measures beyond wiretaps? This notion of Parliament authorizing a charter breach, short of using the notwithstanding clause, is clearly unconstitutional and is not consistent with our constitutional tradition and the way in which section 1 of the charter operates.
    You can avoid this constitutional mess by redrafting proposed section 21.1 of Bill C-51 to provide that any warrant that permits CSIS to take measures thereunder will not contravene a right or freedom guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
That's a tall order. They WANT to take our rights and freedoms away! That's the whole point!
    I have a bit to say on freedom of expression, but in the interests of time I'm going to jump over that and urge that you consult the documents tabled and positions represented before you by my colleagues, Craig Forcese, from the University of Ottawa law school, and Kent Roach, from the University of Toronto. They have dealt with this in detail, and I don't have the time to go through it today.
    Similarly the provision of fairness, which is guaranteed by section 7 of the charter, states:

    Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
    This, ladies and gentlemen, is the provision and constitutional requirement of fairness. It's embodied in the special advocates, and I happen to be a special advocate, so I know a bit about that role. I think there is a role for special advocates to provide fairness in a number of the warrant proceedings, a number of the no-fly list proceedings, and you should actively consider that. 
    I do want to jump right into some of the issues that I know are before you and which I know something about, and that's the question of effective review by SIRC and others.
Ah yes! SIRC! The great hope for us all, according to Blaney and MacKay.
    Now, I have publicly defended the structure of SIRC, which was established in 1984 as the CSIS watchdog. I had the honour to be the first chair. It was effective at the beginning, even though there were growing pains as CSIS broke off from the RCMP and struggled initially to incorporate women and outsiders. 
Wow! This guy was the first chair of SIRC! Interesting!
The SIRC structure has worked where the only body being reviewed was CSIS and the monitoring of CSIS's extraordinary powers was manageable. That was 1984. Things have changed over 30 years.
    First, the CSIS budget, personnel, and powers have grown exponentially while the watchdog budget remains pretty much the same. It is unfair to dramatically expand CSIS powers to conduct disruptive or international activities to fight terrorism at home and abroad while leaving the watchdog frozen in time. Failure of the government to address this issue in the context of Bill C-51 is irresponsible. The public has a right to be concerned whether SIRC can do the job going forward.
So there's an insider with a fairly compelling argument as to why SIRC is insufficient for its new responsibilities. Blaney's blithering sounds even worse now.
    Second, this debate on Bill C-51 has caused the public to reflect unfavourably on the scattered and uneven nature of review concerning a variety of federal agencies involved in security matters. There have been concerns about the extent of independent review of the RCMP and CSEC, and the absence of independent review of such important agencies as CBSA, Transport Canada, DFAIT, CIC, and 20-odd other federal agencies, not to mention provincial and municipal police forces involved in security intelligence work. 
Oh yeah. Oversight and accountability aren't Canadian values. To a great extent, our system was designed by old white dudes who basically trusted themselves not to be too crazy. The whole story of stephen harper is that he's seen openings for action that relied on morals and ideals, and he's driven a steamroller through them. (I'm not saying that previous political rulers were saints or anything. Just that harper is a complete psychopath who makes them, almost all of them, look like wise, elder statesmen.)
    Whether we need to adopt a federal security czar to supervise, monitor, and coordinate security agencies, as is done in the U.S., or to develop a super-SIRC with expanded powers of review and accompanying budget, or to have statutory gateways to achieve accountability, as recommended by the O'Connor report in 2006, this is an issue that cannot be left aside as Parliament gallops ahead on Bill C-51.
    This is not a question of oversight, which has become misused as a term. Responsibility for the planning and conduct of anti-terrorist activities in accordance with the law remains, in the first instance, subject to ministerial approval and approval of warrants by judges based on court applications submitted by appropriate agencies under the detailed requirements of the relevant legislation. This is oversight. Review bodies do not approve operations in advance, but they do ensure accountability after the event, to ensure that hopefully all agencies exercising security functions are effective and operate within the law. They engage the public through exhaustive annual reports tabled in Parliament with a minimum of redactions, redactions that are necessary for protecting individuals or methods of operation.
Go back and read the nonsense spewed by Blaney and MacKay after this!
    Let me conclude by talking about parliamentary overview. What are the responsibilities of Parliament other than to ensure that Bill C-51 is improved to allow the legislation to go forward and to assist government agencies to deal effectively with the terrorist threat while protecting fundamental rights and freedoms under the charter?
    Members, I have been both a parliamentarian and a watchdog, a professional watchdog. The answer to whether Parliament or a specialized agency should have the power to review our security agencies is easy for me. Canadians should have both. Under our system of government, Parliament is the ultimate watchdog and is directly accountable to the people. The party having the most number of seats at each general election usually is called on to form the government, but Parliament itself remains the watchdog.
    There is nothing inconsistent in having specialized security-cleared watchdogs created by Parliament covering the effectiveness and legality of various agencies involved in security work and having a committee of security-cleared parliamentarians charged to oversee the whole system—that is, to take a prompt overview of the situation when problems occur, which they inevitably will in this business, and to delegate the investigative responsibility to the appropriate specialized watchdog.
Yeah, but harper has already shown his contempt for his fellow parliamentarians when he burped about how "national security" trumped any right of the people's representatives to see how we were treating our prisoners in Afghanistan and if we were adhering to our obligations of international law and humanity.
     Indeed, there are three bills currently before Parliament calling for a committee of parliamentarians on national security. The one I like the best is Bill S-220, introduced by former Conservative Senator Hugh Segal. It calls for a committee of nine—three from the Senate, six from the House—to be appointed by the government but after consultation with opposition parties and approval of the appointment by a resolution of their respective houses.
    There are provisions for appropriate security and confidentiality of each member of those committees, and the mandate would be to review the legislative regulatory policy and administrative framework for the intelligence and national security in Canada.
    Why not absorb Bill S-220 into this discussion and provide for it to come into force on January 1, 2016? In this way, I think Parliament could fulfill its position as an effective watchdog, and you could have a five-year review process in place for this bill, which would start four years after the bill becomes law so the review could be effective, and Parliament could have a major role in the operation.
    Thank you.
That's all for today folks! I know you could just go to the website yourselves, but then you'd miss my sterling commentary!

Monday, June 8, 2015

C-51 Hearings: Statement of Ms. Joanna Kerr of Greenpeace Canada

 Here we go:
    Thank you, Mr. Chair, for giving us the opportunity to express our views on Bill C-51, which is critically important.

     I am Joanna Kerr, executive director for Greenpeace Canada. I am here today with Keith Stewart, who is in charge of the Greenpeace Climate and Energy campaign.

    In my global roles as chief executive of ActionAid International, policy director with Oxfam Canada, and now with Greenpeace, I have seen first-hand the power of protest and dissent in effecting real, transformative change for the betterment of people and the planet.
    I'd really like to start with a few very simple questions. Would women have the vote today if the suffragettes had not engaged in widespread non-violent protest? Would racial desegregation in the U.S. have occurred without sit-ins, march-ins, public protests, and peaceful sustainable resistance to unfair laws? Would despotic governments have been overthrown around the world without people merging onto the streets and holding ground? Would decolonization have happened without non-violent direct action?
    All of these movements and those against slavery and apartheid, to name but a few, employed peaceful but actually unlawful means to confront unjust laws and practice and challenge society's views of right and wrong. They expedited change, which was urgently needed. That is the kind of change that is required today if we are to address the formidable threat that is posed by climate change.

So far, unproblematic. But I can almost hear the alarm bells that went off in the hollow skulls of the harpercons when she began to mention "climate change."

     Greenpeace's mission was forged in non-violent direct action, and we have used it to great effect over 40 years. We were instrumental in ending nuclear tests in the waters of the South Pacific, in ending scientific and commercial whaling, in ending toxic dumping in the world's oceans and getting a treaty to curb acid rain, and in the protections now afforded Canada's Great Bear rainforest. None of these critical environmental protections would exist without peaceful confrontation—what we refer to as non-violent direct action.
     Do we really believe the interests of national security will be served by restricting these fundamental options for civil protest, be it against injustice, corruption, racism, or pollution? Because that is what Bill C-51 proposes in the name of national security.

But Blaney and others have explicitly stated that this will not be the case! Although the facts of the matter are clear that C-51 will give them the power to attack such demonstrators as Kerr is describing. Blaney and harper etc., want these powers but they will not use them.

    Professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach have shown that the bill could be used to target democratic protests engaged in such struggles. Based on public statements by cabinet ministers, as well as leaked RCMP and government documents, there is strong reason to suspect that these powers could and would be used against those advocating for clean water, for precious ecosystems, and an end to catastrophic climate change.

Good to mention to these harpercon liars how she knows that the federal police force has already targeted environmentalists as potential terrorist threats. (I suppose if John Manley were to find the CCCE shut-out of the political loop and his organization's membership being inconvenienced by democratic legislation, that he'd consider tossing molatov cocktails. Better lump him in with the Al Qaedas and the Nazis. (Waitaminnit! Peter MacKay doesn't think Nazis are terrorists!) 

     We are very concerned that the draft legislation appears to target environmental and first nation climate activists as a threat to security. To borrow a line from David Suzuki:

    Pollution and climate change caused by excessive burning of fossil fuels are [the] real threats, not the people who warn that we must take these threats seriously. And while we must also respond to terrorism with the strong tools already in place, we have to remember that our rights and freedoms, not fear, are what keep us strong.
    Greenpeace joins many others in having serious concerns with this legislation. More than a hundred legal experts wrote an open letter to Parliament calling on you to amend or kill this bill on the grounds that it is a danger to the rule of law, to protected rights, and to the health of Canada's democracy. They argue that it may be ineffective in countering terrorism and also could actually frustrate anti-terrorism efforts. We share their concerns.

Testify! (Oh wait. That's what you're doing. Sorry. Carry on.)

    Today I would like to focus on what this bill could mean for democratic debate in this country.
     The government says the sweeping new powers to be granted to CSIS would not be used to target its political opponents. If that is so, then as legislators you have an obligation to write the legislation so that it cannot be used in that way. This was a key finding of a 2009 United Kingdom parliamentary review of the relationship between policing and protest movements. It stated that “the better approach is to draft legislation itself in sufficiently precise terms so as to constrain and guide police discretion, rather than to rely on decision makers to exercise a broad discretion compatibly with human rights”.

Well, duh!

    Your British colleagues went on to note that “We are concerned by the reports we have received of police using counter-terrorism powers on peaceful protesters,” and to urge that amendments be made to make clear “that counter-terrorism powers should not be used against peaceful protesters.”
    As University of Ottawa law professor Craig Forcese has pointed out, the anti-terrorism law with its reference to “foreign influenced activities within or relating to Canada that are detrimental to the interests of Canada” could be used in the case of “a foreign environmental foundation funding a Canadian environmental group's secret efforts to plan a protest (done without proper permits) in opposition [for example] to the Keystone Pipeline Project...”.
    We have already seen evidence of this. Government ministers have already characterized anti-pipeline protesters as foreign-funded radicals and even money-launderers. A copy of the federal government's oil sands advocacy strategy obtained by Greenpeace under access to information legislation identified environmental and aboriginal groups as “adversaries”, while oil companies were listed as “allies”.

Kinda looks scary 'eh? Sitting up there in plain English.

    It’s more detrimental than just name-calling. The 2012 omnibus budget bill not only rewrote Canada’s environmental legislation to reduce public involvement in decision-making, but also gave the Canada Revenue Agency millions of new dollars to conduct audits of charitable organizations that disagree with government policy.
    The Voices-Voix Coalition has documented more than 100 cases of recent attacks against those who have simply raised their voices to criticize government policy. Last month, the newspaper La Presse obtained a copy of a secret RCMP critical infrastructure intelligence assessment that names Greenpeace, Tides Canada, and the Sierra Club as part of “a growing, highly organized and well-financed anti-Canada petroleum movement that consists of peaceful activists, militants and violent extremists who are opposed to society’s reliance on fossil fuels.”
    Remarkably, this RCMP report downplays climate change. It says that these groups “assert climate change is now the most serious global threat, and that climate change is a direct consequence of elevated anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions which, they believe, are directly linked to the continued use of fossil fuels” and that by highlighting “the perceived environmental threat from the continued use of fossil fuels” we are fuelling a “broadly based anti-petroleum opposition”.
    While the RCMP questions the legitimacy of the threat of climate change, the Pentagon has called climate change a “threat multiplier”. The most recent U.S. national security strategy identified climate change as a threat on a par with terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and disease. The World Bank says that it “is a fundamental threat to sustainable development and the fight against poverty.” An article published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found “that human influences on the climate system are implicated in the current Syrian conflict.”
    Perhaps most worrying in light of Bill C-51, the RCMP document categorizes civil disobedience and unlawful protest as being “beyond peaceful actions,” conflating peaceful activists with those who engage in violence in the category of “anti-petroleum” extremists. 

Just like fellow Oil Industry servant, Ezra Levant, who attempted to blame the Lac-Mégantic disaster on eco-activist sabotage. When it finally became undeniable that it was corporate greed, Conservative deregulation and profit-driven criminality, Levant just left his slanders and smears hanging there like a fart. 

    To be clear, we believe the threat of climate change must be addressed through peaceful, democratic means. If for any reason someone causes another person harm or damages infrastructure or property, that person should and would, under current laws, face legal consequences.

    The vast majority of people calling for a debate on fossil fuels and climate change, including those who engage in civil disobedience, aren’t violent anti-petroleum extremists. They are schoolchildren and grandmothers. They are ranchers and parents. They are people from all walks of life who care—

    Ms. Kerr, you're over time. Would you wrap up, please.

    They care about their family.
    The word “lawful” was struck from the current anti-terrorism law, following expert testimony in 2001, so that unlawful activity such as trespassing or minor property damage would not be conflated with terrorism.

    I want to ask you again, in closing, do you believe that the interests of national security will be served by restricting fundamental, often vital, options for citizen expression and civil protest? We absolutely do not. We ask you to think through—

    You're well over time. I'm sorry, but I still have to have some time constraints here. Thank you very much.
    We will now go to Mr. Atkey, please, for 10 minutes.

Excellent testimony. I wonder how it went over for the harpercon swine?


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Another Wayne Easter Digression

Before getting on to more actual testimony, ... Wayne Easter has something to say.
    Mr. Chair, I'm not exactly sure of the procedure here, but when the Minister of Justice appeared at the last committee meeting, he said some not too pleasant things about the British oversight committee. Quite honestly, the Minister of Justice was talking about history and was not up to date.

    I have before me a report that was tabled in the British Parliament by their Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, which explains what they do and shows how fast they act. The problem, Mr. Chair, is that it's 200 pages long. It goes through the concerns they originally had and how they upgraded that intelligence committee with the Justice and Security Act 2013.
    I think it would be important for committee members to have a copy of this report. It does show the good work they do and basically refutes what the Minister of Justice said about how they do it. However, it's not bilingual.
    I would like to table it before the committee, or at least the summary of it, which I can get translated if that is the way we want to go about this. I understand the need for it to be bilingual.
     I'm at your disposal, Mr. Chair. How do I get this tabled so that the committee has access to it, because it is pertinent and basically refutes the misinformation that the Minister of Justice gave this committee about how their oversight committee operates?
There's some back and forth, but it's entered. I can't find any mention of a specific report at the parliamentary web pages.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Choked-Up With Emotion About the Residential Schools Commission

I thought that the historic event deserved some sort of commentary, but I don't have the time to do it justice and I didn't want to type some half-thought through statement.

The thing is weighing on me. So many thoughts spinning around in my head.

According to Vice, the First Nations had to pay for it themselves out of their compensation package.
It is an appropriate end to a troubled commission. From the start, the TRC has been plagued by confusion, particularly regarding its relationship with the federal government. One of the most common misconceptions about the TRC is that it was initiated by the government of Canada. In fact, it was part of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. But what is that?

In 2007, on behalf of the approximately 80,000 living former students, the Indian Residential School Survivors Society successfully sued the Government of Canada and the churches that operated the schools on their behalf. It took six years of negotiation, and remains the largest class-action lawsuit in Canadian history. While the government agreed to the compensation, it was the former students themselves who insisted on a truth commission. In 2008, the TRC was established, drawing its budget from that overall settlement. In other words, as TRC Commissioner Justice Murray Sinclair put it, "The Commission functions with survivor money."
I hope "Idle No More" has a strategy to integrate their protests with the upcoming election.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Meeting 2 of C-51 Hearings

Here we are! Let's get to it!
    Good morning, colleagues, and welcome to our witnesses here today.

    We have a group of witnesses here for the first hour, then further witnesses for the second hour, and then another table of witnesses this evening. We will start with opening statements by our witnesses here today. We would remind you that you're entitled to a maximum of 10 minutes, but should you be able to be a bit more brief, that would give more opportunity for the committee to have a dialogue with you.
    At this particular point, we welcome Carmen Cheung, the senior counsel from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. From Greenpeace Canada, we have Joanna Kerr, executive director, and Keith Stewart, head of the energy campaign. As an individual, we have Ron Atkey, professor from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. Welcome to all of our witnesses today.
    We'll start with opening statements now.
    Ms. Cheung, you have the floor.
There was a point of order from Wayne Easter here that I'll deal with in a separate section. 

    Thank you, Chair.
    Good morning. It is a privilege to appear before the committee again. On behalf of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, I'd like to thank you all for your invitation to speak today.
    The BCCLA is a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Vancouver, British Columbia. For over 50 years the mandate of the BCCLA has been to promote, defend, sustain, and extend civil liberties and human rights in Canada.
    We have submitted for the committee's consideration a written brief setting out our chief concerns with Bill C-51, and hope that as the committee examines this bill it will consider not only whether its provisions are constitutionally compliant but whether they are also efficacious and just.
    We raise six chief concerns with the bill. Given our limited time here I can only canvass them in my opening remarks, but I do hope that the committee will refer to our written submission, which sets out our views in greater detail.
    First, it is our submission that the security of Canada information sharing act is fundamentally flawed and should not be enacted. It endorses a radical conception of security unprecedented in Canadian law, and an unbounded scope of what it means to undermine Canadian security. Based on these expansive concepts, the act authorizes warrantless information sharing across government and dissemination outside of government. As the Privacy Commissioner has pointed out in his letter to this committee, such widespread and relatively unfettered access to personal information poses serious dangers for individual privacy. We and others have also suggested that such massive data collection and information sharing may not necessarily benefit security, either. Moreover, the act deepens an already serious deficit in national security accountability.
    Professors Kent Roach and Craig Forcese have extensively detailed the legal problems with this proposed act, so we will not repeat them here.

    Paul Champ, who is appearing on behalf of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group later today, will discuss in greater detail the human rights concerns raised by the information sharing act. We share the ICLMG's concerns. We add only the following observation. To those who might say that this proposed act poses little threat to freedom of expression and dissent, recent examples show that government already takes a very wide view as to what constitutes a threat to Canada's security. We need only to look at CSIS and RCMP monitoring of non-violent protests undertaken by first nations and environmental groups. 
Exactly. (Emphasis added.)
    Second, it is our submission that the secure air travel act should be rejected. As a threshold matter, we question the efficacy of no-fly schemes in general. Travellers on such lists are deemed too dangerous to fly yet too harmless to arrest. It is our view that if law enforcement officials have enough information to determine that an individual poses a threat to aviation security or that they are planning to board a plan in order to commit a terrorism offence, the officials are also likely to have enough information to lay charges or to seek a recognizance order with conditions. If it is indeed necessary to impose a travel ban, then the criminal law is already well equipped to allow the government to seek a court order to that effect.
In retrospect, this seems obvious. What sort of individual, what sort of plot, could be discovered that would make someone worthy of a no-fly list, but unworthy of arrest? Where is the line on the spectrum from innocent to chargeable that the no-fly list would sit? If a terrorist plotter were to find themselves on a no-fly list, that would surely alert them to the fact that they're under surveillance, so tipping the hand of an investigation can't be the issue.
    But even if no-fly schemes do improve aviation security, the system proposed here suffers from serious procedural deficiencies. The proposed act creates a system where travellers have no concrete way of knowing whether they are on the no-fly list, where the reasons for listings are largely kept secret, and where the judicial process for reviewing delisting applications can be held in secret. This is a dangerous lack of due process. While travellers can't access information relating to their own listing, the proposed act does allow the government to share its no-fly list with other countries, with no statutory limitations on how that information can be used by a foreign state. Canada's experience with mistakenly labelling individuals as security threats and providing that information to foreign governments should counsel against such carte blanche approaches to foreign information sharing.
Taking up her last point first; Yes indeed, sharing our security agencies' "suspicions" with foreign agencies has been documented as having been disastrous (and expensive). You'll notice, if you read the first day's testimony, that no harpercon hack or stooge made any reference whatsoever to CSIS's serial fuck-ups which resulted in the prolonged torture of our fellow Canadian citizens.
With regards to her other points, I must be biased, in that I'm not an authoritarian goon who is also deluded in seeing "terrorism" as the great cause of our era, because her concerns make perfect sense to me.

No-fly lists create this perpetual status of "not quite innocent in the eyes of the law" with no real means for a citizen to get out of. Supposedly one is put on a no-fly list when they're at the stage of "dangerous but not really going to do anything yet." That is the criteria for getting on the no-fly list. Why does the government think you're such a person? You don't really know. You can apply to be taken off the list, but the decision is made behind closed doors.

As calculatedly duplicitous as people like Steven Blaney and Peter MacKay are, it's also important to remember that they're imbeciles. In his heart of hearts, Blaney might convince himself that good judges will not allow good people to be on no-fly lists for bad reasons. But Blaney forgets that the law is not about whether it's "good" but about how it's written. The Supreme Court of Canada doesn't constantly overturn harpercon legislation because it is not "good" but because its wording violates the wording of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The intention might be good, but sloppy wording can make well intended legislation dangerous. The criteria for being harassed by the state under Bil C-51 is dangerously vague. The threat level exceedingly low. I'm paraphrasing here, because I'm lazy, and not testifying before this committee and not writing legislation, but basically, all the government has to do is establish that they feel someone is likely to pose a threat to Canada's current state, for that person to be subject to all the oppressive measures in the Bill.

    Third, we oppose the creation of an advocating or promoting terrorism offence in the Criminal Code. We see no security interest in further criminalizing expression beyond what is already proscribed by law. The Criminal Code already makes it illegal to counsel anyone to commit a terrorism offence. Considering that terrorism offences include acts that fall well short of violence, such as preparing to commit terrorist acts or supporting terrorist activity, this already captures a broad range of terrorism-related expression.

    Similarly, the participating, facilitating, instructing, and harbouring provisions already contemplate recruitment and instruction to commit terrorist acts as criminal offences. In the Khawaja case, the Supreme Court of Canada also considered the constitutionality of the definition of terrorist activity in the Criminal Code, and allowed it to include threats of violence.  

    This new offence, then, would criminalize expression far removed from acts of terror or violence. It would make criminals of individuals whose sentiments may never even leave the confines of their own living room, so long as their listener is someone who might commit a terrorism offence. The new offence contains no requirement that the speaker actually intend a terrorism offence to be committed, and it contains no requirement that the listener commit a terrorism offence either.
    Endorsing acts of terror may be upsetting to some and repulsive to many. But freedom of expression is what creates a democratic society in which we can debate the merits of ideas, even those that, as individuals, we find deeply offensive. A democracy is based on the premise that individual citizens have the capacity to govern themselves, to understand and to evaluate different perspectives with which they are confronted, to deliberate their merits, and to ultimately decide which viewpoints to adopt and which to discard. Accordingly, we urge this committee to reject the creation of this new offence.
Under Bill C-51, someone who says they can understand it when the Palestinians fire rockets into Israel, or become suicide bombers, is now subject to  preventative arrest; invasions of privacy, and being put on a no-fly list. Meanwhile, Paul Calandra's 100% support for Israel carpet-bombing Palestinian civilians is exempt. Shit. Even someone who supports Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions against Israel is on their way to becoming a terrorist in the eyes of this gang of lunatics who call themselves our government.
    Fourth, we submit that this committee should reject the proposed preventative detention amendments. Bill C-51 expands a troubling regime of preventative detention by lowering already low thresholds for detaining individuals on mere suspicion of dangerousness. When this committee debated the reintroduction of the preventative detention provisions currently in the Criminal Code, we expressed serious concerns about the necessity for such sweeping arrest and detention powers. While we continue to believe that it is preferable to charge terrorism suspects under the criminal law so that they are afforded appropriate due process protections, the fact remains that the government already has extraordinary powers at its disposal.
    The question that this committee and all Canadians should be asking is not what additional powers should be granted to government to protect public safety, but how well existing powers are being used and whether the existing criminal law is being properly enforced.
This is true. Listening to Blaney and MacKay, it sounds as if there is at present, nothing the government can do to deal with threats to national security unless we pass this bill. In reality, they can already do a lot. Even conduct surveillance on someone who they can only establish is "an Arab running around."
    Fifth, we believe that the proposed amendments to the CSIS Act are unwise and unnecessary and should be rejected. By giving CSIS the power to engage in threat disruption, Bill C-51 blurs the line between spying and policing, carefully drawn following the McDonald commission. This threat reduction power is a policing power. It is a policing power made extraordinarily broad by virtue of the expansive definition of threats to the security of Canada contained in section 2 of the CSIS Act, a definition that was constructed to set out the mandate of an agency responsible for collecting and evaluating information, not a policing authority. It is a policing power made dangerous, given the secrecy that accompanies national security activities. Rights violations may be more difficult to detect, and once detected, more difficult to remedy, and it is a power that seems wholly unnecessary. Government has provided little evidence for why this expanded power should be granted to CSIS or why CSIS should have any policing powers at all.
Especially when you remember that Bill C-51 is also about sharing of information. Why not smooth the path for CSIS to alert the RCMP about their discoveries? (Besides the fact that the denizens of both agencies distrust and loath one another.)
    We are deeply troubled by the proposed CSIS warrant powers in this bill and the proposition that Canada's courts should be tasked with authorizing measures that violate constitutional rights. As many others have observed, this profoundly misconstrues the role of the court in our constitutional system. Asking the court to authorize violations of fundamental rights, such as those protected by the charter, is simply offensive to the rule of law.
"Your honour; we know that as a Canadian citizen, this person supposedly enjoys the protections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but we have some secret evidence we'd like to show you, that says you should sign-on to depriving this person of those protections."

"Well, I ..."

"Oh yes! I forgot to say that we did NOT get this information from anyone who was tortured, and we PROMISE (cross our hearts and hope to die) that we won't exceed the limits of the warrant you give us."
     Over the past decade, we have seen the effects of an approach to national security that privileges bare legality, and at worst, descends into illegality. The consequences for the rule of law and human rights have been profound. Meanwhile, it remains an open question whether the gloves-off approach to national security has made Canada or any of our allies any safer.
That's irrelevant to this government. They don't care if we die from eating tainted meat, exploding tanker cars, homelessness, cancer, etc., ... except so far as that affects their reelection prospects. This is all about grabbing power to suppress dissent. Our foreign policy attracts what terrorism or extremism we do suffer from, and they're not about to change that.
    Finally, Bill C-51 ignores the Supreme Court of Canada's teachings that the government cannot rely on secret evidence in security certificate proceedings without providing some way for the named person to know the case to be met and a procedure by which the evidence could be tested.
     The proposed amendments to IRPA that would limit the scope of materials produced to special advocates should be rejected. It is difficult to conceive what sort of information is being exempted by these provisions. By definition, the information is neither relevant to the government's case against the person nor is it information to be considered by a judge when determining whether the certificate is reasonable. It begs the question of why this information is being placed before a judge at all, and leads us to conclude that this class of information may be so problematic that, rather than being exempted from disclosure, it must be made available to special advocates to review and potentially challenge.
It sounds like something incoherent and pointless enough for Steven Blaney to have thought of!
    It is difficult to comment on national security powers without also discussing the need for real accountability and review.
     I know that I am out of time, so I will just end by saying this. We cannot afford to enact this bill, because we cannot afford to further expand the reach of the scope of our national security activities without taking steps to ameliorate what is now a staggering accountability deficit.
    Thank you again for this opportunity and for this committee's work. I look forward to your questions.
That'll be for tomorrow. I'll take some time to digest this testimony myself.