When the Leadnow community takes action together, we can win.
Over 100,000 of you signed the petition rejecting Harper’s secret police bill and calling for greater oversight of Canada’s spy agencies. Thanks to you, we were able to work with key civil society groups to flood the streets with thousands of people speaking out against this dangerous and reckless bill. You then called decison makers en masse to demand action, and told this new government what C-51 reforms should look like during its consultations — and they heard you.
The government’s announced key reforms to C-51 — including more robust oversight on the activities of Canada’s spy agencies. But there’s more work to be done — and we need all hands on deck.
It’s finally here. Yesterday, the Liberals unveiled their amendments to C-51 — Harper’s secret police bill. These changes are part of a larger package that contain all of the Liberals’ proposed reforms to national security.
The Liberals have made some key changes to Harper’s dangerous and reckless law: changes that the Leadnow community campaigned on for over two years, like greater civilian oversight of Canada’s spy agencies. However, the bill also retains and even expands measures that should raise concern, like the ability of spy agencies to sidestep Charter rights, and overly broad information sharing that puts your privacy at risk.[2-4]
While there’s still a lot of unpack, Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has said the bill is open to feedback — and even more changes. Like any new piece of legislation, it has a long way to go before becoming law. It will be debated in the House of Commons, and there will be opportunities to engage on this issue and push for greater reform.
Your campaign against C-51 was a major Leadnow campaign. With the Liberals’ reforms now on the table, we need to hear from you about where we go from here. So – what do you think?
The new Liberal bill is big and complex. It’s 139 pages of dense text that will take days for experts to sift through and fully understand the implications. But from initial analysis, it’s clear that while the bill is better than C-51 — it is still worrisome. Here’s a glimpse of some of what we know:
- Creates a federal “super-watchdog” agency that will monitor and review all of Canada’s security and spy agencies in order to strengthen oversight, and keep them in check. Increased oversight and accountability for Canada’s spy agencies was the central feature of your Reject Fear campaign, and is the signature part the Liberals’ reforms.
- Addresses the extreme scope of C-51’s “terrorist propaganda” provision — one that was so vague and overly broad that it could have been used to stifle free speech and criminalize political dissent.
- CSIS’ ability to “disrupt threats” under C-51 has been limited but not eliminated. It could still allow the spy agency to breach Charter rights with a court warrant.
- The bill still permits preventative arrests and detention without charge.
- The broad and invasive information-sharing powers across government agencies hasn’t been properly addressed. New powers to collect and store metadata (like online communications and phone logs that can be intercepted in enormous amounts) puts your privacy at risk. This is scary stuff because it could give the state a powerful instrument of control over the public.[10-11]
The Leadnow community has been campaigning against the reckless and dangerous provisions of C-51 for over two years. The intense pressure that you, along with an array of other civil society groups, placed on the government is what pushed them to reform its worst parts.
Now, we need to decide whether this is good enough, or whether we continue pushing for stronger protections and more reform. Leadnow has always been driven by our members, so the decision is yours. What do you think?
Thanks for all you do,
Francis, Brittany, and Logan, on behalf of the Leadnow team
 The roses and thorns of Canada’s new national security bill, http://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/the-roses-and-thorns-of-canadas-new-national-security-bill/
 New watchdog agency to keep the eyes on the spies, https://www.pressreader.com/canada/toronto-star/20170621/281749859353275
 See 
 See 
 Power & Politics, Tuesday June 20, http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/972320323508
 See 
 Reject fear: stop Harper’s ‘secret police’ bill, https://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/reject-fear-stop-stephen-harper-s-secret-police-bill
 CCCLA finds promise and peril in C-59, the new anti-terror bill https://ccla.org/ccla-finds-promise-peril-c-59-new-anti-terror-bill/
 See 
 Five eyes wide open, How Bill C-59 Mixes Oversight with Expansive Cyber-Security Powers, http://www.michaelgeist.ca/2017/06/billc59/, Spy bill allows government security agency to collect ‘publicly available’ info on Canadians, https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/06/21/spy-bill-allows-government-security-agency-to-collect-publicly-available-info-on-canadians.html