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,
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.
cole davidson, PhD, Religion and Culture
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.
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:
And/or this one:
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
Is what you swore
The time before’