Opinion: What Bill C-51 means for you

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Most of us aren’t doing anything wrong. Why should we care about the Conservative government’s new Anti-Terror Bill, Bill C-51, that passed through Senate last week? We’ve already given Facebook, and several other apps, access to our location at all times, our entire address book, text messages, photos and videos.

For some reason, this seems different. None of us really agreed to the terms and the conditions. The Conservative government, with the support of the Liberals, pushed the bill through despite protests, 270,749 signatures on a petition and criticisms from the official opposition as well as experts in the field.

It’s a balancing act. On one side we have our rights and freedoms, and the other side we have safety and security. It’s the job of our elected government to find the equilibrium. But in this case, safety and security is tipping the scale.

So, how will Bill C-51 will affect you?

Traveling

The no fly-zone has always been a measure of protection but since this bill passed, a curtain has been drawn over this entire area of government. No one knows how many people are on the list, or even who is on the list. You’ll only find out about your status if you show up at the airport, only to be denied entry on the plane.

Anyone can be added on the list if they’re under any suspicion but getting off the list is a complicated and, sometimes secretive, process. Also, Border Security officers will be granted more power to search and seize your belongings, including your computer or your telephone.

Free speech

If you write a blog that triggers someone to commit an act of terror, regardless of their mental state or political affiliations, then you will be held responsible and given either a fine or a prison sentence.

This includes those who work in academia. If a political science professor accidentally uses one unfortunate phrase that becomes the tipping point, they could potentially end up in prison for a maximum sentence of five years.

Anything a judge considers terrorist propaganda will also be removed from the Internet by telecom providers or Internet service providers. For instance, a media outlet could be forced to take down a report on ISIS, even if it condemns the group.

Protesting

In a democracy, we can use our right to protest against anything we stand against. But not anymore.

This bill will affect anyone who “undermines the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada or the lives or the security of the people of Canada,” including union members, environmentalists, Aboriginal rights activists or basically anyone who stands in the way of national security.

You could even be arrested if the government has reason to think that you might commit a terrorist act or you may be a threat in the future. According to Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, “any protests and strikes that lack the proper permits would be fair game… [and] that could include not securing the appropriate noise by-law exemption for loud megaphone use after 7 p.m.”

Privacy

The bill allows government employees to share your records between any of the 17 government institutions like Health Canada, Passport Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency.

Government employees, for instance, will no longer face punishment for snooping through personal information and sharing it, the more they share the better since they need to cover all their bases in case of a security breach.

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About the author

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Sarine Gulerian Sarine is an Editorial Assistant at the Vancity Buzz. Her interests vary from abstract philosophical concepts, politics, and social issues to brand new school supplies and Tina Fey.
@Sarinegulerian

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