A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Casualty of War?

This week has seen a multitude of individuals expressing concern that the Harper Regime will use the so called “terrorist attack” upon parliament to further increase the ability of the RCMP and CSIS to investigate Canadian citizens whilst reducing the already minimal oversight over their activities.

There is little doubt that any country must protect its citizens, infrastructure and institutions from those who would use violence and destruction for whatever reason. To do so without restraints, without recourse for the accused or without checks upon those charged with this power is however very dangerous for our democracy, finding the right balance is the difficulty. It is to be hoped that a full and open debate in the House of Commons will take place on ANY changes proposed in reaction to this isolated event, that no closure upon said debate takes place and that the Con Regime does not use their majority to 'force' through flawed or inappropriate legislation as is their usual way of operating.

A few clips from various news articles in the past week perhaps put things in perspective......
As the government moves to strengthen the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, two of five chairs sit empty on the watchdog agency that oversees the spy service.

The Security Intelligence Review Committee says it faced "significant delays" in receiving requested documentation over the last year and had to press CSIS to obtain complete and consistent answers to several questions. In its annual report to Parliament, the review committee — which has a right to see all CSIS records — says it was "seriously misled" by the spy service in one complaint investigation.

Legislation just introduced proposes to “Allow the use of evidence gleaned from confidential sources without having to identify them in court proceedings, even to the judge.”
The proposed legislation amends the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, as well as the Access to Information Act and the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act.

Canada’s privacy watchdog believes police and national security agencies have sufficient powers to deal with the threat of domestic and international terrorism. Federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien opposes giving security agenices any more power, as "I think already many tools were provided to the police, including preventative arrests."

Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault pointed to an “information asymmetry” when it comes to national security measures — the government has all the relevant information, and Canadians are asked to approve of new measures without that information.

The Privacy and Information Commissioners of Canada call on the federal Government:

•To adopt an evidence-based approach as to the need for any new legislative  proposal granting additional powers for intelligence and law enforcement agencies;
•To engage Canadians in an open and transparent dialogue on whether new measures are required, and if so, on their nature, scope, and impact on rights and freedoms;
To ensure that effective oversight be included in any legislation establishing additional powers for intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Canadians both expect and are entitled to equal protection for their privacy and access rights and for their security. We must uphold these fundamental rights that lie at the heart of Canada’s democracy.”

Harper said. “....... more often than not, security and rights find themselves on the same side of the ledger and Canadians do not have effective rights unless we can ensure their security. And that is what we intend to do.”

As always Elizabeth May strikes the right ballance

All of us who work day to day with the guards from the House of Commons Security team will never take their presence for granted again. I do not believe the gunman can be described as a “terrorist.” It was the act of a deeply disturbed man with mental health issues and drug addictions. But while we should not associate the attack with the word “terrorism,” we should mark the heroic multiple acts of bravery that morning.

If Democracy is a casualty of the “war” on terror then the “terrorists” have already won.

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


The Mound of Sound said...

In today's Sydney Morning Herald there's an eye-opener about America's Patriot Act and how this tool to thwart terrorism is being mainly used to circumvent constitutional protections in drug investigations.

When speaking about expanding Canada's counter-terrorism apparatus Harper has used code words - "radicals" and "extremists." These are the same terms Harper & Co. routinely use to berate First Nations and environmentalists opposed to his bitumen pipelines. Against this law-abiding dissent Harper already has arrayed a task force made up of personnel from the RCMP, CSIS and other security agencies.

Rural said...

The difficulty Mound, is in getting the facts about what such 'security forces' have been, or will be, authorized to use. It is however quite clear that maintaining that maintaining democracy and parliamentary oversight is not high upon the Harper regimes agenda.