How to Stay Under the Radar When Bill C-51 Becomes Law

Bill C-51 is an omnibus anti-terrorism bill that grants CSIS new information sharing powers and converts CSIS from a covert intelligence gathering organization to a covert enforcement agency.

No wonder Canadians don’t know what the heck is going on!  

Ms Soapbox is here to offer four simple suggestions to keep you out of trouble when Stephen Harper’s majority government finally passes this monstrous piece of legislation.

Get off the grid: Communicate by pencil and paper. Buy a manual typewriter. Stop posting snarky things about Harper on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t want to be identified as a troublemaker and your life will become a nightmare if you’re caught in a CSIS “disruption” operation (see below).

No more rallies, demonstrations, protests or sit-ins: Avoid any form of protest or civil disobedience, especially those organized by environmental or Aboriginal groups.

Why? Because unless you know for certain that the demo organizers got the municipal permits they need to congregate, wave signs or chain themselves to inanimate objects, the protest is not “lawful advocacy, protest or artistic expression” and as such is not immune from CSIS scrutiny (subject to Craig Forcese’s comments below).

If you’re hell bent on camping out with Occupy, waving a placard in the freezing cold outside the Legislature, staging a sit-in at your MP’s constituency office, or going on a wildcat strike, be warned that that your information may be shared with up to 17 government agencies and “any person, for any purpose” (Putin?) if CSIS thinks such activity “undermines the security of Canada” because unlawful protests are not exempt from the information sharing provision.

Craig Forcese says CSIS’s power to share information about protesters and disrupt their activities applies only to unlawful “foreign-influenced activities…that are detrimental to the interests of Canada and are clandestine or deceptive”.* Other analysts do not make this distinction.

In any event, Mr Forcese’s distinction offers little comfort given Mr Harper’s penchant for finding “foreign influencers” buried deep in the bosom of many Canadian charities and NGOs and the willingness of CSIS and the RCMP to undertake covert operations when the spirit moves them whether they have the legal power to do so or not. Play it safe. Avoid them all.

Or be prepared to have your private information held by 17 governmental agencies (including Revenue Canada and the Department of Health) zip from one department to another without your knowledge or consent. It’s like the persecution of First Nations advocate Dr Cindy Blackstock—only this time on steriods.**

Don’t be tarred by association: Cut all ties with activists like Greenpeace, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Assembly of First Nations and their ilk.

Joanna Kerr, executive director of Greenpeace Canada, was one of the first witnesses to appear before the Commons committee reviewing Bill C-51.

She describes her experience in 10 words: Are you now, or have you ever been, a terrorist?***

The Greenpeace panel was not given an opportunity to present its concerns about Bill C-51 or make suggestions on how to prevent violations of constitutional and civil rights. Instead they were hectored by condescending Tory MPs who asked whether they were “fundamentally opposed to taking terrorists off the streets” and suggested that Greenpeace might be “a national security threat”.

Given that the RCMP identified Canada’s environment movement as “a growing and violent threat to Canada’s security” and labelled pipeline opponents (and First Nations) as “violent anti-petroleum extremists” such outrageous allegations cannot be taken lightly.****

Remember what happened to thousands of Americans who were denounced to the House Un-American Committee. They lost their reputations, their livelihoods and sometimes their lives. So keep your head down and your mouth shut. And for God’s sake stop writing cheques to these groups and signing their petitions!

Watch for “threat disruption”: No, it’s not a disturbance in the Force, a glitch in the Matrix or even your idiotic service provider forgetting to throw a switch somewhere, it’s CSIS exercising its power to “disrupt” the activities of someone it suspects of doing something it doesn’t like.

Most people aren’t terrorists, but the government is quick to label people “terrorists” even if they have no clear link to extremists. Our very own Justice Minister, Peter MacKay, suggested the two would-be shooters in the Halifax mall plot were the kind of people who were “susceptible to being motivated” by the Islamic State. Meaning what exactly ????  

CSIS will be given the power to disrupt activities by any means (including breaching one’s Charter rights) short of causing bodily harm, infringing sexual integrity or obstructing justice.

In the McCarthy era, the FBI’s disruption techniques included burglaries, illegal wire taps, planting forged documents, spreading rumours, triggering IRS audits and leaking false information to the press. These techniques are child’s play compared to what CSIS can achieve in the clandestine world of 5 Eyes and PRISM.

Protect yourselves!

Bill C-51 gives CSIS, a covert organization, enhanced information gathering and enforcement powers with no corresponding increase in measures to protect Canadians from violations of privacy or the abuse of their fundamental rights.

Consequently Canadians must take steps to protect themselves.

And if you follow these simple precautions terrorists will no longer “hate our freedoms” because we won’t have any.

Mission Accomplished Mr Harper.





NOTE: The cartoons appeared on the VotetoStopHarper FB page. If you’d like to “like” the page here’s the link: 

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21 Responses to How to Stay Under the Radar When Bill C-51 Becomes Law

  1. Andrea Bosse says:

    Thanks so much Susan for this post. It’s absolutely critical that the people voice their opposition to this draconian legislation. There are numerous petitions circulating on-line. Please sign one or more of them! Here is the url for one. The organization leadnow is also seeking donations to step up their campaign.
    There is also a petition on
    You can also call or write your MP. The politicians need to know that there are political consequences to giving CSIS carte blanche to violate Canadians’ rights.

    • Thanks for the links Andrea. I’m signing every petition that crosses my desk. I’ve written to Stephen Harper and my MP Joan-I-do-what-the-PM-tells-me-Croakatt. I’m also sending emails to Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau telling them to do whatever they can to stop this bill. Public support is dropping for this odious piece of legislation. It started at 82% in support, it’s now down to 38%. We may be able to force through significant amendments if we keep the pressure up.

    • “You can fool the people sometime but you can’t fool the people all the time, get up stand up, stand up for your rights.” It’s pretty simple really, isn’t it.

      • anonymous says:

        It is pretty simple, Susan. The cowards have disappeared into the fog and the brave are beginning to emerge from the shadows.

  2. Phil Elder says:

    An extremely powerful denunciation of Bill C-51. A reasonable government would withdraw this pernicious and threatening piece of legislation. As it is, we have to hope that the NDP gets elected this fall, as I’m inclined to think Mr. Trudeau’s promise to amend the law if he wins is impracticable. It is too flawed for that.

    • Kathleen Lowrey says:

      It’s worse than impracticable — it’s completely craven. He didn’t want to be on the wrong side of a piece of legislation that for a while had a lot of public support. It didn’t matter that the legislation was clearly and obviously Orwellian, dystopian, double plus ungoodian — pick your descriptor. I can’t understand how the guy has any supporters.

      • Kathleen, Mr Trudeau fell into the classic trap of staking a critical policy on public opinion; there’s nowhere to hide if public opinion shifts. I can’t wait to see how he’s going to spin his “support” now that 62% of the public is against it. Surely there’s a word for this, double plus stoopidian?

      • Kathleen Lowrey says:

        🙂 I like that term.

  3. Old entity says:

    T’anint funny McGee. Been there done that with the MacDonald Royal Commission into RCMP wrong doing. 10 years of lives ruined, jobs lost, families broken, and barns burned across Canada. This time there will be no Commissions, Royal or otherwise.

    • You said it Old entity. This would be the very same RCMP who are expected to cooperate with the new enforcement arm of CSIS and interpret the Criminal Code changes created by Bill C-51 which gives them even more power and less accountability than they had before. It’s a recipe for disaster.

  4. I agree Phil. Law professors Kent Roach and Craig Forcese’s backgrounder on the new Criminal Code offense of promoting terrorism offenses “in general” runs to 35 pages and that’s just one of the many flawed provisions in Bill C-51. Just think what it would take to address the provisions that permit judges to violate someone’s Charter rights, the wholesale loss of privacy, the lack of oversight and review and the utter lack of accountability (which was weak to begin with).
    If the NDP hadn’t pressed for more time for committee review, Bill C-51 would have been “reviewed” in 3 days with 18 witnesses. The committee is up to 8 days and 48 witnesses, although not Daniel Therrien, Harper’s own Privacy Commissioner, who said “All Canadians–not only terrorism suspects–will be caught in this web.”

  5. Abby Bushby says:

    Thank you Susan Wright. Great analysis, clarity of writing and courage. Here’s what I wrote to introduce your post on my facebook timeline share.

    Well written, by prophetic lawyer Susan Wright. The political cartoonist stayed anonymous. With Bill C-51 I fear people will be censuring themselves. before they speak, or hiding their names when making spot-on-the-mark criticisms. I’m not willing to live in a culture of fear myself, and I don’t want that for any socially-engaged person in Canada.

    • Abby, thank you for sharing the blog on your timeline! The more people who understand how oppressive Bill C-51 is the better. You’ve identified exactly the problem this legislation creates–Harper won’t have to censor us because we’ll be censor ourselves. All we can say to all those who speak out against this legislation is welcome to Harper’s watchlist, you’re in great company!

  6. Ted Woynillowicz says:

    C 51 connection here:

    “The revelations, reported Monday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, shine a light for the first time on how Canada has adopted aggressive tactics to attack, sabotage and infiltrate targeted computer systems.” A quote from the link above well worth reading.

    Backgrounder – good to see the CBC/Intercept cooperation. A while ago, CBC handed the spying file to Terry Milewski who did what he could to stonewall the Snowden story that resulted in a break in the relationship CBC was culitvating with journalist Glenn Greenwald. Glad to see that saga over.

    • Ted, the last time CSEC hit the news was when Snowden revealed that CSEC tracked thousands of airline travellors, including Canadians, waiting in Canadian airports, coffee shots, hotels etc. CSEC is not allowed to spy on Canadians and had a devil of a time explaining how Canadian data wasn’t swept up in its web. I blogged about this at My point was where’s the oversight? Canada is the only country in 5 Eyes (the US, Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada) that doesn’t require parliamentary oversight for such spying activity. Instead the oversight function is performed by a retired judge and his small staff who report to the Minister of Defence (nothing like reporting directly to the agency you’re expected to criticize to ensure objectivity).

      The lack of oversight problem rears its ugly head again with CSIS. CSIS is subject to review by the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), not a parliamentary committee. According to an open letter signed by over 100 law profs and academics SIRC’s $3 million budget has not changed since 2005. Its staff dropped from 20 to 17 in the same period. Bill C-51 greatly expands CSIS’s powers without a corresponding increase in SIRC’s ability to perform its oversight function…but then again, maybe that’s exactly what Harper intended. He’s going to beef up covert security both within and outside Canada and doesn’t want anyone calling him on it, especially when things go sideways. Slick, but not in the least bit democratic.

  7. Carlos Beca says:

    I did not know it is this bad. It is obvious that if it gets approved it will be abused by both CSIS and Harper. It is clear this man is anything but a democrat with delusions. His speech about Iran made me laugh. We are already as Canadians hoping for a more democratic state. He certainly is an Ayatholla of his own religious beliefs or thinks he is.
    From what you are saying, I was not too far from the truth when I said in the past that we are definitely on the CSIS list. If not already, will be soon. Hard to believe how the frog boiling syndrome can be so well exploited by devious individuals like the ones that occupy the current government.
    This will certainly not stop me from saying what I think needs to be said. If it gets to be a problem I can deal with it when I get there. If we bend to these idiots we will never get back what they want to take. The trick is to not allow it to happen, which could be a difficult job when 50% of the population does not even bother to vote.

    • Carlos, your reference to the frog boiling syndrome is well taken. Canadians have been hauled down this path for decades. CSIS has been around since 1985. It’s had no parliamentary oversight since its inception. SIRC is gamely trying to perform its oversight function with a fewer and fewer resources. And let’s not forget, SIRC’s role is one of “review” only. Reviews take place after the fact, oversight occurs in the moment. Given the tremendous harm that can befall Canadians, the lives that can be destroyed, the rights that can be trampled, this is utterly wrong. So we need to keep signing those petitions and sending those letters in to the PM and his staff.
      By the way, the PM’s manager of “executive communications” responded to my letter today. He said: “Please be assured that your comments have been carefully noted. I have taken the liberty of forwarding your e-mail to Minister Blaney, who, I am certain, will wish to give your views every consideration.” I’m sure he will…he’ll enter my name in big bold letters on the watchlist. (It’s probably right next to yours Carlos 🙂 )

      • Carlos Beca says:

        🙂 🙂
        How dare you write a letter against ‘Precious Leader’s Bill 51’ – you are in for trouble young lady 🙂 🙂 and running for the NDP that group of left wing nuts? Hmmm you are definitely on the list.

  8. GoinFawr says:

    I don’t get the fuss about C-51; I mean didn’t ~80% of Canadians polled support this bill (without so much as even reading it)?

    Since I personally wasn’t asked, I surmise the question was framed on the survey something like this:

    Are you
    a) a reprehensible, indictable, unconscionable criminal cheerleader for terrorism who needs to be stopped short yesterday?
    b) a person with nothing to hide who supports reason, peace, glorious ‘conservatism’ and bill C-51

    Isn’t it telling how the ruling cons trumpet ‘democracy’ when uninformed (surely most cdn’s polled have yet to actually read C-51) tallies seem to back their most onerous agendas, but not even slightly interested when the overwhelming majority consistently and repeatedly advocate (knowledgeably, considering the ever growing body of peer-reviewed studies on the subject) for something as simple as GMO labeling?

    There is one possibly heartening side to this bill: should the next federal election by some miracle result in a new, non-Bilderberg/Demarais endorsed gov’t, the definition of ‘terrorism’ or ‘treason’ just may be interpreted, thanks to the deliberate and expansive imprecision of C-51’s language, to include acts of selling-out Canadian sovereignty to foreign bank interests via debt peonage. Of course I am not holding my breath or anything, but wouldn’t it be delicious if the very same tool could be turned to bite the over-reaching heavy hand that created it?


    • GowinFar, I suspect you nailed the poll questions. It’s either that or another example of Harperesque group think, along the lines of what my own witless MP, Joan Crockatt believes–“I do whatever the PM tells me to do” (because he’s god or something, I guess).

      Here’s an example of such blind obedience from Parliamentary Secretary Roxanne James who says the criticism is the result of “widespread misinformation” and that if you asked people to point out what section, paragraph, or clause in C-51 infringes their freedoms they wouldn’t be able to do it because “it simply is not in the bill”.

      Apparently Ms James is unaware of the submissions of people like national security law experts Craig Forcese and Kent Roach who go through C-51 section by section, paragraph by paragraph and clause by clause outlining exactly why these provisions infringe freedoms and even go so far as to provide suggestions on how to address such infringements by amending the language.
      It will be interesting to see whether this gong show hurts Harper enough to change the game in Ottawa post October. Fingers crossed and letters and petitions flying out the door in the hopes that that may come to pass!

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