Montrealers march against expansiveness of proposed C-51 legislation
“I don’t want to live in a police state,” said McGill Engineering student Andrew Doyle. He’s come draped in the Canadian flag, a makeshift placard atop a hockey stick functioning as a protest sign. He was one of hundreds of protesters circling around Jarry park before arriving back at Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau’s office.
“None of the parties are fighting back hard enough against it. I don’t think it’s necessary at all. We don’t need greater spying powers by our spying agencies. “Why put everybody under mass surveillance?” Doyle said.
Saturday’s march in Montreal was part of a country-wide series of protests against Bill C-51 which, if passed, will give greater anti-terrorism powers to Canada’s security agencies and police. The legislation will create new offenses for speech in support of terrorism and expand preventative powers in an effort to ‘reduce threats to the security of Canada.’ It has been criticized for being overreaching and vague. The Conservative government claims it is needed and will not lead to abuses of power.
Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau has come out in support of it, thus explaining the ire be- hind some chanting protesters, who called out “Harper terrorist, Trudeau complicit.”
Doyle agreed that terrorism was a threat, but was against sacrificing one’s privacy in the pursuit of protection. “You’re more likely to be killed in Canada by a moose than a terrorist,” he added.
A short visit by National Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair at Saturday’s march re- iterated the party’s opposition to the bill. Mulcair said the legislation could “seriously endanger our right to protest peacefully” and stand against political or economic policies.
“They haven’t really justified why it’s necessary and even if it were necessary,” agreed Ot- tawa law student Jacob Saltiel. “Would it be worthwhile to give up so much of our freedoms and liberties in exchange for protection we don’t need? These people who are causing problems are of- ten on our radar of our security agency with the powers that they already have, so expanding these powers further isn’t warranted.”
A good portion of the num- bers were made up of students, younger people, and more than a few children. Still, Doyle feels the student turnout was insufficient. “I feel like it’s not in the stu- dent discourse at all right now, and that’s not likely to change. I’m just hoping the other parties take note,” said Doyle.
Actions against bill C-51 are set to continue throughout the coming days. For its part, the Harper government is speeding up the debate process ahead of the vote.