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Bill C-51 Could be Used to Stifle Social and Environmental Movements, Accuse Citizen Media Groups of “Supporting Terrorism”

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Bill C-51, if made into law, might make this article and a good part of the activities of my, and other citizen media groups, acts of supporting Terrorism. And some of you engaged citizens reading this, Terrorists. If we get adjoining cells… I hope you don’t snore.

The clear intent of this bill is to stifle social, environmental and Indigenous justice movements in Canada. And in the specific wording of the Bill we see measures designed to treat those that take action on  social issues in Canada like terrorists and those in the growing independent media that cover them as enemy propagandists. It is important to remember when reading the language of the proposed legislation that the terminology used by security services toward activists of any stripe in this country has changed in a way that make this legislation a perfect fit for repression

The Conservatives are counting on Canadians ignorance of the fact that if you attend a rally to save your local forest you have  likely observed, identified and added to the list of « multi-issue extremists ». And this has been a fact for many years. In 2007 the RCMP and other security services started referring to activists in this way.  A peaceful march or banner drop is a « non violent attack strategy ». This is a very deliberate move to be able to easily define those who protest or are socially active within the bounds of the Harper governments anti-terror laws. A non – exhaustive list of groups already deemed a threat and monitored by RCMP would include Idle No More, ForestEthics, Sierra Club, EcoSociety, LeadNow, Dogwood Initiative, Council of Canadians and the People’s Summit, according to documents obtained under FOI requests by Professors Kevin Walby and Jeffrey Monaghan. Documents they obtained further stated that

“The Canadian law enforcement and security intelligence community have noted a growing radicalized faction of environmentalists who advocate the use of criminal activity to promote the protection of the natural environment,” according to a 2011 report obtained by the Vancouver Observer “It is highly probable that environmentalists will continue to mount direct actions targeting Canada’s energy sector, specifically the petroleum sub-sector and the fossil and nuclear fueled electricity generating facilities, with the objectives of: influencing government energy policy, interfering within the energy regulatory process and forcing the energy industry to cease its operations that harm the environment,”

Some of the provisions of the Bill C-51 seem aimed at making it easier to target, and criminalize, organizers individually and disrupt their work. We have a long experience here in Montréal, laboratory for the police state in Canada, of police levelling « conditions » on activists. The conditions used already under Montréal’s anti-constitutional P6 bylaw seem set for export to the rest of Canada. These conditions can prevent activists from meeting with certain people, organizing or attending actions and from physically being in large geographical areas, like the downtown of their own city. The new Bill may even make it illegal for them to talk about, or report on others’ activities. This is intended to destroy resistance communities by depriving them of key organizers and the tools that transformed social movements in the late 20th century.

This Bill, if made law, would for the first time potentially allow the government to rein in the expanding alternative media in this country and clamp down on activists use of social media to either organize or report on actions that involve even the smallest form of civil disobedience. Similar laws generally making it illegal to « glorify or promote terrorism » are already on the books in the UK and Australia even though legal scholars in both countries deplore them.  When you combine this wording with the fact that the government classifies and refers to activists  as extremists,  it would be potentially illegal for me to continue to report on the activities of groups like Idle No More or the anti-pipeline protesters. It could be used to prevent 99media.org and other organizations from live streaming the demonstrations this spring, for the anticipated general mobilization against austerity here in Quebec and elsewhere. I would probably have been jailed for the work I did covering the « Printemps Érable » in 2012. Just for the record Mr Harper, and I think I speak for my entire group here, I will stop reporting on the dedicated activists struggling to make this country and the world better, and leave the street, when you drag my corpse off it. No compromise.

The Government obviously understands the power that independent media, and social media have in nurturing and promoting Indigenous, environmental, and social justice movements and are moving to limit its effect. If allowed to go forward, this legislation, coupled with the masses of anti-terror legislation already put on the books since 9/11, would give the government exceptional power to crush dissent in a « legal » manner.

If this all sounds like sweaty basement internet fantasy to you, then you should familiarize yourself with « Operation Profunc, » an RCMP led operation that for 40 years collected the names of social activists. There were plans to simultaneously arrest them,  imprison them and their families in « relocation camps ».  Don’t worry, keep moving, ze dogs are here for your protection. And any belief that the state wont do it again, is in error.

And it is not enough to trust that replacing the Harper government with beautiful Mr Trudeau will solve everything. Governments nowhere have much of a record of repealing control legislation on the books, no matter what they say. You need look no further than old Barrack “Guantanamo drone strike” Obama.

And if your looking for some hope in the Security Intelligence Review Committee controlling all of this, don’t. Harper’s latest appointment to this group, a man named Ian Holloway, is a former military. He is the current dean of the University of Calgary Law school, not exactly known as a hotbed of human rights. In 1996 he wrote a paper for the Australian Law revue titled, « I Stand For Liberty: Winston Churchill as Social Reformer ». Anyone who believes Winston was a reformer truly wouldn’t even understand the term « social justice ».

So in case I’m not in enough trouble I would heartily advocate calling your MP, calling the guy who wants to be your MP and anyone else and, yes, taking to the streets. Let the powers that be in Canada know that we  are not afraid. And that we will NEVER Trade our liberty for Mr Harper, or anyone’s promise of security.

My friend Clifton Nicholas, Mohawk activist and film maker was called by CSIS. He was questioned simply because he had been to Greece at the invitation of Greek social groups to speak on Canadian native issues. His response to the CSIS agent is beyond priceless.

By William Ray

Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/canada-bill-c-51-could-make-activities-of-activists-and-citizen-media-groups-acts-of-supporting-terrorism/5429060

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Canadian Government Lies over Complicity in CIA Torture

Tuesday’s publication of the US Senate report into the CIA’s brutal interrogation techniques in the aftermath of 9/11 has shed new light on Ottawa’s complicity in acts of torture.

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The response of the Conservative government was in keeping with its long-standing refusal to acknowledge any Canadian involvement in torture. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, answering a question in the House of Commons on Tuesday, declared, “This is a report of the United States Senate. It has nothing to do whatsoever with the government of Canada.”

Foreign minister John Baird reacted to a question from the press on the harm done to Canada’s reputation by its complicity with torture programs by arrogantly declaring, “Canada doesn’t torture. Period! Period!” He walked away without answering a follow-up query.

These are barefaced lies. Successive governments have been implicated in facilitating the brutal and inhumane techniques outlined in the Senate document. Canada acted as a major transit route for US rendition flights that sent captured suspects to third countries or CIA black sites to be tortured. According to the Globe and Mail, a total of 20 US aircraft made 74 stopovers at Canadian airports while on rendition flights. The number of flights was second only to the US itself.

Previously Canadian authorities have admitted that information CSIS used to argue for the indefinite detention of Adil Charkaoui and Mohamed Harkat came from Abu Zubaydah, an al-Qaeda terror suspect who figures prominently in the Senate report. The CIA used Zubaydah as something of a “guinea pig” in its torture campaign, including “waterboarding” him 83 times. For years, Canadian authorities insisted before the courts that there was no reason to think Abu Zubaydah had named Charkaoui and Harkat other than willingly.

The Conservative government’s assertions are also disproved by directives it has itself issued to the police and intelligence agencies that explicitly permit them to use information gained through torture and to supply information to foreign intelligence agencies even if it is likely to lead those named to be tortured. These directives apply to Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the military, Canada’s signals intelligence agency (CSEC), and the border control agency.

According to the federal framework document on which the directives are based, in the event of a “substantial risk” that sharing information with a foreign agency will cause someone to be tortured, consultation with a deputy minister or minister is required to approve it. Guidelines state that the minister must take into account the immediacy of the threat and the danger to Canadian national security interests.

A statement released by the office of Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney was no less disingenuous than Harper. “Our government does not condone the use of torture, and certainly does not engage in it.” But the statement then went on to make clear that information gained through the use of torture would be used by Canadian intelligence. “If we get a tip from any source that Canadian lives are in danger, we will act to save those lives.”

It is no secret that Canada, more than any other country, has integrated its intelligence and military services with those of its southern neighbour. Ottawa has been Washington’s unflinching ally for decades.

Canada’s intelligence services are a key component of the global five eyes alliance, which includes the American NSA, and the intelligence agencies of Britain, New Zealand and Australia. Speaking to CBC, a former CSIS agent explained that links were even more direct with the CIA, since CSIS liaison officers work in CIA headquarters, while CIA officials do likewise in Ottawa.

Criticizing Canada’s ties to the US intelligence apparatus, Ottawa-based human rights lawyer Paul Champ told the media, “I don’t think that anyone in the intelligence community in the world, at least in democratic countries, can wake up tomorrow and tell themselves that their relationship with the United States and the CIA can remain the same. Until and unless the United States shows that there’s going to be real accountability for these criminal acts, I think our relationship with the CIA has to be very closely monitored and reviewed at all times.”

In reality, a diametrically opposed approach is being taken by Canada’s ruling elite. Showing its contempt for democratic rights, Canada’s parliament is in the process of substantially expanding the powers of the spy agencies. Under an antiterrorism bill currently making its way through parliament, CSIS is explicitly authorized to share information with the members of the “Five Eyes” and to conduct investigations abroad.

This policy has the full backing of all of the parliamentary parties. The latest reforms to counterterrorist legislation have been backed at the committee stage by both the Liberals and Official Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP). In the wake of the torture report, the NDP merely called on the Harper government to revoke the directives issued in 2011 permitting the five government agencies to use information gained via torture. No call for a serious investigation, let alone the prosecution, of individuals implicated in torture was made.

A series of cases involving Canadian nationals demonstrate that Canada’s intelligence agencies not only assisted the US rendition program, but also developed its own version of the practice. This involved Canada’s national-security agencies encouraging the detention of Canadian terror suspects who were travelling abroad by third countries. These countries included authoritarian regimes where the prohibitions on detention without charge and the mistreatment of prisoners contained in Canadian law did not apply. The job of interrogating suspects, frequently with the use of torture techniques, was in this way subcontracted by Ottawa, which made intelligence gathered in Canada available to the country concerned.

Canadian intelligence passed information to the US on Maher Arar, A Syrian-born Canadian citizen who was arrested in New York in 2002. Arar was then flown to Syria, where he was imprisoned for a year and tortured. During this time, Canadian intelligence gave information to the Syrian regime to be used in his interrogation, including a list of questions he was to answer. False confessions were extracted from him that he had participated in an Al-Qaeda plot. Recognizing the injustice done to him, he was awarded over $10 million in a court appeal following his release.

Another infamous case is that of Omar Khadr, who was arrested in Afghanistan as a 15-year-old and transferred by the US to Guantanamo Bay where he was tortured. Canadian agents visited him at the prison camp to carry out their own interrogation, even though they were fully aware that he had been subject to sleep deprivation immediately prior to their visit. Despite strong government opposition, he has since been returned to Canada. The Harper government is currently engaged in an attempt to have the Supreme Court overturn a lower court decision to consider him as a young offender, because were it to stand, Khadr would likely be released.

Canada’s military is also complicit in torture. Canadian forces in Afghanistan passed detainees on to both the US and Afghan troops, although Ottawa and the military knew there was a strong likelihood they would be tortured. Approximately 400 detainees were handed over by Canadian troops to the Afghan army, while 40 were transferred to US custody, according to a report in the Toronto Star. This is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, which make it illegal to transfer persons to authorities where there is a reasonable belief that they will be tortured.

The Harper government repeatedly blocked efforts to investigate the full extent of Canadian involvement in torture in Afghanistan. Citing national security considerations, it prevented a parliamentary committee from accessing documents from the Canadian Armed Forces authorizing the transfers. Officials who could have provided more information on what went on, such as one of Ottawa’s leading diplomats in Afghanistan, Richard Colvin, were threatened with prosecution if they spoke publicly.

A UN report in 2012 issued a further condemnation of this practice, accusing the Canadian government of “complicity in torture.” The UN committee also called on Ottawa to pay compensation to three torture victims, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abu Almaati and Muayyed Nureddin, who had been the subject of a public inquiry over their arrests in Egypt and Syria. These cases provided yet more examples of how Canadian intelligence worked directly with authoritarian regimes, first to have their nationals detained, and then abused using torture methods to extract confessions.

Copyright © Roger Jordan, World Socialist Web Site, 2014

Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/canadian-government-lies-over-complicity-in-cia-torture/5419718

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Reflections on a violent day in Ottawa
October 23, 2014, 12:51 pm
Filed under: "canada", Stephen Harper | Tags: , , ,

I often find it hard to feel empathy for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But when I saw the grim picture of him talking on the phone following the end of his confinement in the locked down House of Commons yesterday, I sensed in him a vulnerability he rarely exhibits. Harper, like his fellow MPs, Parliamentary staff, media, visitors and children in the downstairs daycare, had likely hunkered down behind locked doors, no doubt traumatized by uncertainty when an armed gunman entered the building. Because no one knew who the gunman was after, all were potential targets. For half a day, everyone on lockdown no doubt felt the fear, despair, sadness and fragile sense of mortality that people in Iraq and Syria have experienced daily for decades, an extra punch of which they will soon receive at the hands of Canadian CF-18 bombers.

It’s the kind of trauma not to be wished upon anyone, and I hope all affected will get the kind of counselling and therapeutic support necessary to deal with what may emerge as multiple cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), otherwise known as the condition that you get denied proper treatment for when you are a returning Canadian military veteran.

Like those in Afghanistan who suffered 13 years of Canadian bombardment (upwards of a billion Canadian bullets fired), night raids, transfers to torture, and the daily indignities of life under military occupation, those Parliamentarians with the power to declare war — and send somebody else overseas to fight it for them — felt, in a relatively limited fashion, what it’s like for millions of the world’s war-weary populations. The image of a cowering John Baird or Jason Kenney hiding in a barricaded office must have proven a stark contrast to the swaggering, macho manner in which these men urged Canada to declare war on ISIS, further fuelling the flames of fear and hatred against Muslims.

Out-of-the-blue violence

Thankfully, most of yesterday’s hostages to violence in Parliament went home last night to warm houses with showers, uninterrupted electricity supply, food in the fridge, and the knowledge that this horror is unlikely to happen tomorrow and four or five times for the remainder of the month or periodically for the rest of their lives. But had this happened in Iraq, such relative safety would not be guaranteed, in part due to Canada’s role in obliterating that nation’s economy, electricity and water supply, and health-care system, first though intensive bombing in 1991, military enforcement of a decade’s worth of brutal sanctions that killed a million Iraqis, and renewed support and participation in the 2003 invasion that was made possible by Canadian weapons, technical components, navy personnel and equipment, embedded troops, and high-ranking military officials. It was also out of Iraq’s torturing prisons during the occupation that numerous ISIS leaders emerged.

The tragic murder of a young Canadian reservist and the Parliamentary shootout was all the more shocking because of its sudden, seemingly out-of-the-blue fashion. In the same way, on a daily basis in tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Yemen, in Somalia, children in schools, celebrants at weddings, and other individuals and families are suddenly, shockingly killed by a Hellfire missile fired from a remote control-operated drone, likely with the Canadian-built targeting camera courtesy of L-3 Wescam in Burlington, Ontario.

What is being treated as Canada’s 9/11 is a day that recalls the comments made half a century ago by the great Malcolm X, who commented that the assassination of President Kennedy was a case of “chickens coming home to roost,” a result of a “climate of hate” fostered by a U.S. political and corporate establishment regularly overthrowing governments and assassinating (or plotting against) a variety of leaders from Patrice Lumumba to Fidel Castro. At the time, Malcolm X was vilified for speaking the truth, one that America was not ready to accept, just as many Canadians may be unwilling to do now.

Indeed, how many Canadians reading that last paragraph would step back and say, “That’s them, not us”? The horrible sound of gunfire in Parliament must have sounded a small bit of like some opening moments during the Canadian-supported coup against the democratically elected Chilean government of Salvador Allende in 1973, one of many coups Canada has given support to (including more recently the coups in Honduras, Egypt, Haiti, etc.). One reporter gasped that it was simply incongruous to see SWAT teams escorting her through the Parliament in which she worked, and yet Canadian policy throughout much of the world forces her counterparts to walk that ring of heavily armed men on a daily basis.

Rather than viewing yesterday’s tragic events as a wake-up call to seriously examine Canada’s negative role on the world stage and the inevitable “climate of hate” to which we are contributing, we can expect nothing less than a ride on the Platitude Express, which embarked within minutes of the first bullets being fired.

The Platitude Express

From endless references to the “loss of innocence” to the pronouncements that “things will never be the same” (especially in the “hallowed halls” of Parliament), we are witnessing the cranking up of our self-loving myth machine into high gear.

In this climate, do not expect our finest hour. Yesterday’s events will be used as the springboard to call for greater militarization of the national culture and justification for unending war against ISIL/ISIS or any other convenient enemy-du-jour. This will lead to further increases in war spending, despite the fact that the War Dept. was supposed to come up with $2 billion in cuts. The wars in Ukraine and Iraq — costs for which are being kept secret, without much protest — will easily double that. These events will also be used to attack anyone who questions Canada’s role in wars past or present.

New repressive laws

The events of yesterday will likely also have a congealing impact on Parliamentarians who, understandably, shared a trauma together. Wednesday was supposed to be the Harper government’s opportunity to unleash a new round of legislative measures designed to give CSIS and the RCMP even more freedom to trade information with torturers, monitor people overseas, take part in extraordinary rendition programs, and be completely immune from prosecution and oversight by the creation of a special class privilege that would assert the right of CSIS agents and informers not to be questioned about their activities in any court of law, public or secret.

But after yesterday, what opposition leader who wants to appear prime ministerial will feel comfortable saying no to such an agenda? The Conservatives will no doubt frame the issue with the familiar refrain, “you’re either with the terrorists or against them.”

Perhaps the most immediate impact will be felt in certain communities targeted for racial and religious profiling. While Canadian soldiers have been told to stay indoors and not show themselves in public, individuals of South Asian or Middle Eastern heritage, and certainly anyone who may be a Muslim or perceived as one, may have second thoughts about being out in public. These communities will be the subject of demands from the media and some “community leaders” to “out” radicalized young people, to call in “suspicious” behavior (undefined), and to report their neighbours to CSIS or the Mounties. They will find greater difficulty travelling, and they will learn first-hand about something called the Passenger Protect Program (or no-fly list).

This is especially so since, while we do not know much about the shooter, media have been quick to point out that although he was a Canadian, he was of “Algerian” heritage, and a recent convert to Islam. Both are completely irrelevant factors, but so commonly part of the daily anti-terror discourse that no second thought is given to the consequences of bringing it up.

The game is no longer far away

Glenn Greenwald adequately summed things up by asking why Canada, a nation that has been at war for 13 years and counting, would be shocked that someone might actually (however unjustifiably), do what he felt was needed to fight back. But as a country that wages war but has never suffered from war the way Russia or France or Syria or Iraq have, we have always been insulated against the consequences of our actions, buoyed by a mythology that allows us to wear Canadian flags on backpacking trips through Europe.

By day’s end, Harper addressed the nation, his discourse unchanged from the bellicose rumblings of last week as he rammed through a Parliamentary vote to bomb Iraq and Syria: “Canada will never be intimidated…redouble our efforts…savagery…no safe haven…”

After a long day focused on these gripping events in the nation’s capital, I have to wonder if this direct experience of fear and trauma will force us to examine our own addiction to violence as the solution to conflict. Yesterday provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our insidious contribution to the climate of hate, and the chance to disengage from our increasingly militarized culture.

Source:http://rabble.ca/columnists/2014/10/reflections-on-violent-day-ottawa

Matthew Behrens is a freelance writer and social justice advocate who co-ordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network. He has worked closely with the targets of Canadian and U.S. ‘national security’ profiling for many years.

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