Dear Mr. Trudeau

As a follow-up to my admittedly-extensive rant of yesterday, late last night I decided that the next course of action I’d undertake should include a letter to leader of the federal Liberal Party, asking him just what the freakin HELL he might be thinking, opting to support Bill C-51.

Full disclosure: I’m not a Liberal. I’m not a card-carrying NDP-er, either. (I’m definitely not a supporter of Harper’s Cons- but that should surprise no one. Seriously. Not if you’ve spent any time hanging about these parts…).

I’m Old School, when it comes to political affiliation. I vote for the candidate who will best represent his/her constituents in Ottawa/at Queen’s Park/City Hall. Regardless of Party Line. That’s getting harder to do, as, increasingly, Canadian politics (at all levels) are more about what the Party Brass decide to say/do, than responsible representation of the interests of anyone’s home riding. But, difficult or not, it’s still how I decide to mark my ballot in any given election.

It’s how I was taught. By some teachers of pretty significant import and impact.

Today marks one year since we lost Dad. Hard to believe it’s been 12 months. I miss him. All the time. But especially when something like the current political machinations of Harper’s Conservatives raises my ire to the degree it has done recently.

Dad was incredibly involved, you see. And he was a great letter-writer. We have, literally, VOLUMES of missives and responses that he sent and received over the years- mainly (although not exclusively) to politicians and religious leaders/thinkers.

We used to tease him about it- all his letters. Tell him, in jest, that he was likely on a lot of no-fly lists. I’m finding that last cheeky response less-and-less amusing, in light of that little anti-terrorism Bill and all its potentiality for abuse, but I digress.

He wasn’t afraid to make his feelings known.

I’m not sure he was all that concerned whether he received adequate responses- it was extremely important to him to express his concerns, and know that someone- even if it was only an administrative functionary- took the time to read what he had to say.

He was exercising his civic right to demand accountability from our elected leaders- but he also saw the letters as an expression of the requirements for responsible citizenship that go along with the Rights and Freedoms that are mandated under the terms of our Constitution.

In getting through this day, remembering Dad and the lessons he taught and the example he set, that sense of responsibility started weighing a wee bit heavily on my shoulders.

See, I’ve been somewhat complacent, lately. Discouraged and disengaged. For reasons that would never stand up in the Court of Dad, were he around to listen to me whine about the state of the world and the futility of trying to do anything about any of it.

That wouldn’t fly with him. Boy, do I know that for truth.

But… since he’s been gone I’ve lost a big part of my impetus- my push toward the knowledge that I am responsible for seeking social justice and working to right wrongs when I find them. His frequent reminders that we HAVE to be agents of change drove me, often unconsciously, to speak up and speak out. He made it pretty clear that resting on laurels and expecting others to solve the issues of the world ain’t gonna cut it.

So I wrote a letter (okay, an email):

Dear Mr. Trudeau,

Over the course of researching the rhetoric behind the Harper’s Conservative’s proposed institution of the ‘anti-terrorism’ Bill C-51, it has come to my attention that you intend to support the Bill as it is currently written.
 
To say that I find this dismaying is to understate my reaction significantly. I have been unable to find a legitimate justification for this support, outside of one that speaks only to political expediency, rather than the upholding of Canadian freedoms and liberties, so I am writing to you, directly, with the hope that you will be able to provide me with some understanding of your position.
 
Your website features a speech you gave about ‘Canadian Liberty and the Politics of Fear,’  in which, you accuse Harper’s Conservatives of “blurring the lines between ‘genuine’ threats that terrorism poses to national security and simple prejudice.” You accuse the Prime Minister, quite rightly, in my opinion, of playing upon fear and fostering prejudice.
 
I don’t think there can be any counter to the argument that Mr. Harper continues to use the rhetoric of imminent threat to build further anxiety and divisiveness as a means of maintaining ever-decreasing control of a changed political environment. His political practices are deplorable. His policies are unsupportable by actual evidence, given, as he has continually demonstrated, his lack of interest in the input of scientists, sociologists and other scholars who employ experiential, observational and empirical methodologies to discover the truths and cause/effect that underlie issues and require progressive action.
 
Please don’t misunderstand. I agree with all you had to say in your speech. Every point you made represents my own vision of this country I love. 
 
The Toronto Star quotes you as saying, “fear is a dangerous thing. Once it is sanctioned by the state there is no telling where it might lead. It is always a short path to walk from being suspicious of our fellow citizens to taking actions to restrict their liberty.’’
 
I could not possibly agree more wholeheartedly.
 
I am a little confused as to why, in a speech about liberty and freedoms- as supported by that most important of our ideological bills of rights, The Charter of Rights and Freedoms- you would avoid talking about the myriad ways in which a fear-based Bill, that you are politically set on supporting, will impact and significantly diminish those very things.
 
I’m sure you will understand my complete and utter confusion at the fact that you have stated that you will support Bill C-51. Despite the reality that it contradicts everything you said in your speech, and everything that I have come to understand, in years of watching you develop into a worthy leader and usually-astute statesman, that you claim to stand for.
 
Hoping to be able to ‘amend’ something that should never see the light of day after it is passed is counter to anything remotely like a reasonable response to a seriously wrong-footed and anti-Canadian piece of proposed legislation.
 
The potential for short-term political advantage (not that I’m convinced that support of this Bill would provide anything of the sort) does not negate the ethical issues involved in temporizing to any extent around the issue of the revocation of civil liberties.
 
Particularly when the Conservatives’ latest form of fear-mongering isn’t sourced in any real knowledge of the mandates, motivations and medieval mindset of groups like the Islamic State. Further thoughts on that specific aspect of the faultiness of the reasoning behind the Bill can be found here:
 

In your published remarks about Bill C-51 (February 4, 2015) you have also said: “What I am reminded of, each day, is that keeping Canadians safe – in a way that is consistent with Canadian values – is one of our highest responsibilities as leaders and elected officials. In order to do that, we must ensure both the security of Canadians and the protection of their rights and freedoms.”

As an engaged, invested and concerned Canadian citizen, I respectfully request a response that outlines how supporting the institution of Bill C-51 can, in any way, remain consistent with our values and the protection of our rights and freedoms.

I look forward to hearing from you. I seek only to understand.

Respectfully yours,

cole davidson, PhD, Religion and Culture

Toronto, ON

 

I received this (stock) response (although I have to give ’em props for the rapidity of the reply):

Thank you for taking the time to share your opinion on Bill C-51, the government’s Anti-Terrorism Act.

Bill C-51 includes significant measures that will help keep Canadians safe, and, for this reason, the Liberal Party of Canada will support this legislation. We welcome the measures that build on the existing powers of preventative arrest, make better use of no-fly lists, and allow for immediate and more coordinated information sharing by government departments and agencies. The individual freedoms we cherish as Canadians cannot exist without collective security.

However, we hear the concerns of you and other Canadians about Bill C-51 and will propose amendments on oversight, review, and narrowing the overly broad definition of national security.

Responsible government requires an understanding of balance. When a government asks its citizens to give up even a small portion of their liberty, it is that government’s highest responsibility to guarantee that its new powers will not be abused.

Canada is the only nation of its kind without national security oversight being carried out by parliamentarians and our amendments will address this issue. Specifically, the Liberal Party of Canada will bring forward amendments to (1) focus and clarify the overly broad scope of the new powers which has concerned so many Canadians; (2) create a national security oversight body of parliamentarians, as have every one of Canada’s partners in the Five Eyes alliance (US, UK, NZ, and Australia); and (3) require a mandatory review of Bill C-51, in its entirety, after three years.

If the Conservative government is serious in its approach, it must set aside partisanship in order to keep Canadians safe while protecting our rights and values. The government can either act with the understanding that Canadians want both greater oversight and greater accountability—or they will give us the opportunity to offer that in our election platform.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your opinion. It is through dialogue with Canadians like you that we can continue to ensure that the policies we support and create are representative of the values and needs of Canadians.

Kind regards,

Jon
Liberal Party of Canada

 

Yeah, sorry Jon. That, like all those citizens who might end up on a list under Bill C-51, ain’t gonna fly. Especially since it quotes back at me bits that I quoted in the original blog post that caused me to look askance at the whole thing.

You’ve disappointed me, Liberal Party of Canada.

What would Dad do now?

That’ll require a little thought, and perhaps a dram raised in love, and in memory of his always-positive example. Hard as it might be to live up to.

 

But here’s a start…

 

If you haven’t done so already, please sign one of the many petitions to stop Bill C-51.

 

Like this one:

http://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/reject-fear-stop-stephen-harper-s-secret-police-bill

 

And/or this one:

https://stopc51.ca/

 

‘Now you’re standing there tongue tied
You’d better learn your lesson well
Hide what you have to hide
And tell what you have to tell
You’ll see your problems multiplied
If you continually decide
To faithfully pursue
The policy of truth
Never again
Is what you swore
The time before’
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17 comments on “Dear Mr. Trudeau

  1. All too often with politics today I am reminded of the Yeats’ poem that includes the following:

    “The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.”

    • colemining says:

      ‘Turning and turning in the widening gyre
      The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
      Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
      Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
      The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
      The ceremony of innocence is drowned.’

      One of my favourite poems by my favourite poet. His visions remain haunting in their intensity. I shudder to think what ‘rough beast’ even now ‘slouches toward Bethlehem to be born’. Still get chills when I think of this one.

      Thanks, CBC. Trying to work out next steps- but the posts have gotten a few people to sign petitions, at least. And ‘voter support’ of the Bill seems to be plummeting, so perhaps something positive will come out of the chatter after all. Will keep pushing against the madness. ‘Surely some revelation is at hand…’

  2. bethbyrnes says:

    Until Dubya stole the 2000 election, I used to vote by candidate, not party here. Sadly, since that time, our R party has gone so far to the right that the inmates are running that asylum and now I wouldn’t dream of pulling the lever for one of them.

    And, I am a huge letter writer too – emails and snail mail. I always get a stock response. Except, I got a personal letter once from NY Mayor Ed Koch, after I wrote to support him in his attempt to do something good for the people of the city. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, my Senators, have cleverly constructed email responses that make it seem as if they actually read my emails to them, when I suspect it was someone far lower on the chain.

    We too have a habit here of allowing stupid things to go forward and then trying to fix them later. So everything you have written here, resonates with me, except it is nicer, gentler and kinder in Canada.

    My continued sympathies for having lost someone so close and dear. He lives on in your excellent thinking and writing, Cole.

    Thank the gods for your blog!! A spot of sanity.

    • colemining says:

      Thank you, Beth. Such lovely words of support! My sister sent me a text last night- ‘Your letter to Mr. Trudeau was great- a true homage to Dad’. Pretty high praise, indeed. I need to stop wallowing in my frustration with willful stupidity and get back to representing his legacy more responsibly.

      To that end, I am moving forward with my letter-writing- sending the letter to my MP- as his constituent I’ll be expecting something more than a form letter, for sure- and a few other places. And I tweeted the blog post directly to Mr. Trudeau- so perhaps that will see some results.

      I think, as citizens, we need to keep up the pressure- even if the letters/petitions/protests don’t seem to garner much progressive change. One never knows who might be paying attention- and who might pass on a nugget or two that will make a difference.

      Our PM is now petitioning parliament to extend our ‘mission’ in Iraq- and possibly extend said ‘mission’. The transparency of this guy’s motivation is so striking, I seriously canNOT understand how EVERYone can’t see it and react accordingly.

      I’m starting to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to adequately address all the acts of idiocy. xo

      • bethbyrnes says:

        All of it is making my mind explode these days, Cole. Imagine if you were living here with the nonsense we are enduring!

      • colemining says:

        I can’t even imagine, Beth. I’m having enough issues coping with the reality that all too many Canadians seem to also fall into Bill Maher’s extreme description.

        Stupidity is one thing- but, as hard as it is to deal with willful ignorance, I find it harder to cope with the fact that people who should know better aren’t doing anything to hold our leaders to account. The inability to wrap limited brain cells around issues of more complexity than who should be voted off the latest dancing contest television show? That I get. I don’t like it, but I get it. Intelligent, educated, otherwise-conscientious people who remain inactive since they ‘don’t see the point in complaining’? Them, I can’t defend.

        xo

  3. D. Parker says:

    Brilliant!!!
    I find the constant state of ‘electioning’ politics in Canada depressing. No one is leading, no one cares about the people, just the votes. People aren’t thinking about what’s best for the country or the citizens, just soundbites and gotcha moments.
    Thank you for sharing, I hope your words strike a chord. 🙂
    Hope you can find time to drop by the Blog Party http://yadadarcyyada.com/2015/03/17/march-madness-spring-fling-blog-party/ and share your amazing blog with others. 🙂

    • colemining says:

      Thank you, Donna. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one at the end of my rope with this whole ‘pitching to the election’ thing that’s happening. It’s the topic of my next post, actually (we’ll see when that gets posted- perhaps I’ll bring that one to your Blog Party!).

      I’ll keep pushing- and hope that some of what I’m saying strikes some chords with others who might otherwise have sat by and let our politicians carry out business as usual without any input from the electorate that got them where they are… xo

  4. […] My blogging buddy, I call him CBC, made an insightful comment in response to my latest rants against the current actions- and lack of response to questions about those actions- of our elected government officials yesterday. […]

  5. Jack says:

    I’m really concerned about the impact of preventative arrests. Guilty till proven innocent doesn’t fly with me.

    • colemining says:

      Hi there! Thanks so much Terribly true- ‘preventative’ arrests are about as un-Canadian as it gets, IMHO. There are a lot of things to be concerned about with this Bill. I hope we can work together and make sure that our elected government remembers who put them there.

  6. I concur with you. And with your sister. Your dad raised a freedom fighter to be proud of.x

  7. […] MP- who never did answer my letter (written after receiving the inadequate response I talked about here), inquiring about just what the Hell he was thinking in backing the current, but soon-to-be-former, […]

  8. […] hijab and niqab. ‘This is not Canada,’ he said. You know I’ve had my issues with Mr. Trudeau, at times, but that point is […]

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