Prime Minister-Designate Trudeau,
Hi, first off I would like to congratulate you on your sweeping victory. Canadians clearly had enough of Stephen Harper and his policies and put their trust in you to rectify the wrongs our soon-to-be former leader wrought on our country.
To be completely honest, I did not vote for you. In fact I urged others to vote for the NDP rather vocally. While I have found myself supporting that party in the past, this time it was due almost exclusively to their promise to repeal C-51, Harper’s so-called anti-terror legislation, completely.
I am aware that you voted for this legislation, helping it become law. At the same time, you promised to make changes to it, which was not enough to get my vote. However, you and the Liberal Party got enough votes from my fellow Canadians that now we are left with your promise as our only way to eliminate at least some of this disastrous piece of legislation.
Some Positive Signs
You’re off to a good start. I have to admit that so far you seem to be sticking to your promises. You even made it clear that reforming C-51 is a priority. In particular, I like that you are considering making changes to the vagueness surrounding the “terrorist propaganda” section.
As someone who frequently writes opinion pieces online, I would hate for one of my pieces supporting, say, Idle No More, to land me in jail for five years and result in this site being taken down. While you may not be inclined to apply C-51 in such a way, the fact that a government that was so inclined could do so is completely horrifying.
It is equally frightening that attacking the economic interests of Canada or another country can be considered terrorism. Urging economic boycott is one of the most effective tactics activists have in their arsenal. Also, while I know you don’t agree with me about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and have tweeted as much, at least you can agree that my writing a post supporting then shouldn’t land me in jail for half a decade.
Adding parliamentary oversight and sunset clauses is also a very good idea, so is having public consultation. But why not go further?
Canadians Don’t Need It. You Don’t Need It
I don’t think there was any need for C-51 to begin with, as what happened in Ottawa was closer to a school shooting than an act of terrorism. We should have been looking at mental health and gun issues instead of passing sweeping anti-terror legislation. But after hearing you talk about the need for balancing our security with our rights and freedoms during a debate, I realize you’re probably not going to change your mind on this.
Though, after laying a wreath for Corporal Nathan Cirillo this year, you didn’t repeat your claim that what happened in Ottawa last year was an act of terrorism. It gives me hope. Now that you don’t have to fight Harper in an election, maybe you are starting to realize that all of his claims were not only full of it but counter to what the Canadian people want.
Since you want to be the Prime Minister of all Canadians and not just those who voted for you, I hope that you will take advantage of an opportunity that now presents itself. Instead of trying to reform C-51, surprise everyone and repeal it. I know there were some things in there you feel are worth keeping. Why not simultaneously pass your own security law with them included?
You have a majority government, you can do this. You can honour the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and get this Harper stain off of your administration before it has a chance to set in. You also will live up to your election promise of balancing security and rights in the process. You’re already planning on repealing C-24, why not get rid of its companion legislation at the same time?
Petition Already Underway
In case you needed more incentive to do the right thing, there is already a petition underway, courtesy of the people at OpenMedia.ca asking you to kill C-51. While the public may have been behind the bill initially, that quickly changed as they found out what was really in this piece of legislation.
You and your party learned this, too. In fact, it almost cost you the election. As I’m sure you’re aware, you won the election in spite of having voted for C-51, not because of it.
Now is the time to listen to the public and do the right thing. Opponents of C-51 didn’t remain silent during the campaign and there is no sign that we will now that power is changing hands.
Now, Prime Minister-Designate Trudeau, is the time to be on the right side of history. I have faith and hope that you will do the right thing and get rid of Harper’s omnibus disaster C-51 once and for all.
Jason C. McLean
* Top image: Election night screengrab