Calgary Protest Not Enough to Quash Bill C-51

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Calgary Protest Not Enough to Quash Bill C-51

Bill C-51, the controversial "anti-terror" legislation that many Calgarians and Canadians see as a severe encroachment on the privacy and civil liberties of the nation's citizens and guests, recently passed the House of Commons and seems all but certain to become the law of the land.

This is despite the fact that the bill was tabled in January of this year, and that a major protest was held in Calgary (in addition to protests held throughout Canada) in March of this year, drawing hundreds of concerned Calgarians at City Hall to express their concerns.

Calgary Police estimated the number of protesters in attendance at the peaceful gathering to be over 500; many held signs that poked fun at the law, though all seemed to appreciate the seriousness of the situation.

If Bill C-51 is enacted as a law, it will empower the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to conduct more clandestine operations against those it identifies as suspected terrorists, allowing them to sidestep or subvert the legal checks and balances that are meant to prevent an abuse of power in other law enforcement investigations.

The expanded powers of the CSIS will include the ability to more easily and more lengthily detain those it considers terror suspects, and to monitor these individuals' movements and communications without going through the traditional processes required of agencies such as the Calgary Police.

Perhaps most tellingly, the law could enable the CSIS label protests such as the March 15 gathering in Calgary as disruptive to "economic and financial stability," which would make all in attendance at risk of becoming suspected terrorists open to the same secret investigations, detentions, and extreme prosecutions.