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Bill C-51 passes in House of Commons (cbc.ca)
168 points by alfredxing on May 7, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 76 comments

> The new disruption powers could permit CSIS to thwart travel plans, cancel bank transactions and covertly interfere with radical websites. The bill says CSIS needs "reasonable grounds to believe" a security threat exists before taking measures to disrupt it. It requires CSIS to get a court order whenever its proposed disruption violates the charter of rights or breaches Canadian law in any way.

CSIS can now cancel our flights, freeze our bank accounts, and take down our web sites without any due process whatsoever, but don't worry, they need to get a secret court order against us in order to WAIVE our charter rights!

Encouraging someone to commit a terrorist act is now a crime. I expect this will be a very popular law for authorities use their new powers to exempt themselves from.

I'll be surprised if we make it a whole year before this is abused for some completely unrelated purpose such as harassing the administrations critics.

This will have real consequences for freedom of speech online. CSIS has been operating a huge mass surveillance system for a very long time, and today it just grew legal teeth.

'The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.' - Section 1, Charter of Rights and Freedoms

I like how a single crooked judge can now covertly determine what is a free and democratic society. I mean, this was the case before but it had to happen in the public which had some sense of accountability.

Not exactly. The criteria for what constitutes a reasonable limit was established by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1986. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R_v_Oakes

I don't know about Canada, but in the USA precedent is only applicable if it's brought up and the judge decides its relevant.

In non-contested situations (eg: only the government is before the court, there is no opposition attorney) there would be no reason to bring up precedents that don't support the governments position.

This is part of the reason secret courts are so fundamentally wrong.

And blocking a road in protest is now terrorism ("interference with infrastructure").

With the current government Canada is going downhill real fast. Sad, because it's one of the most socially developed countries.

Don't worry, we'll get rid of Harper soon enough. Alberta just dumped a 44-year dynasty, and this is the Conservatives' home ground. Most Canadians are sick of him.

Albertan here.

The NDP win in Alberta has exactly nothing to do with federal politics. In fact, had Mulcair (the federal NDP leader) endorsed the Alberta NDP party it probably would have cost them a lot of votes. He is remembered for demonizing Alberta to cozy up to Quebec voters in the last federal election and remains wildly unpopular in Alberta.

Prentice and the Alberta PC's made a litany of key mistakes in rapid succession. Perhaps foremost was flouting their own legislation that "guaranteed" fixed election dates... again. Why was it too much this time? The PC's had just cut the head off the official opposition party by luring their leader (along with half it's MLA's) across the floor. While Prentice claimed he needed a new mandate for his budget, the true reason for this election's timing was obvious. They thought it would be a cakewalk because their opposition was in complete disarray. This is exactly the kind of election manipulation their own law was supposed to discourage.

The reason the NDP won the election is because voters had decided on "anyone but the PC's" and Rachel Notley was the only leader who didn't look like a clown in the leader's debate. Alberta isn't afraid of big-spending governments because that's precisely what the PC's were. They also expect the NDP to become a much more centrist, business friendly party now that they're in power. Mulcair might be walking with a bounce in his step right now, but he's going to be choking down a lot of sour news about what passes for NDP policy in the West soon enough.

As for federal politics... Harper has now been in power long enough that the West has gotten over feeling giddy about actually mattering in federal politics. A different party with a sound policy and a good leader could easily win a lot of ridings here if they took the province seriously. That means no nepotism, especially regarding the son of a leader famous for flipping the province the bird while riding right on through to the next province on the train. That means no parties that are too afraid to announce their platform. That means no parties that run garbage candidates. (In the last federal election, the NDP ran a grocery clerk from the other end of the province in my riding. She had never been to my city and refused to speak to media. She was nothing more than a name on a ballot.) No federal party that demonizes Alberta as a way of attacking Harper's background (even though he's from Toronto) is going to get a lot of votes here.

Finally, I'd just like to add that the liberals voted with the PC's to pass this bill. The NDP get no credit for opposing the bill because they'd oppose practically anything the other two parties were for.

You're right that the provincial NDP and federal NDP have very little to do with each other.

However, the winds of change are here in Alberta. Not saying we'll vote overwhelmingly NDP in the federal election, but you could see some change. Country-wide, support for the Cons is wavering. They lose a few here, in BC, lose a bunch in Ontario (this is pretty much a given), and they could be in trouble.

The NDP won because the conservative vote was split between two parties (PC and Wildrose) and the voting system is single-member-district plurality (FPTP).

Federally, there is only one conservative party and several viable opposition parties (mainly NDP and Liberal), so I wouldn't be surprised if the Conservatives win the next election, for exactly the same reason.

Unless the Libs and NDP are willing to join a coalition, I dont see how that would happen (or one party gains a majority). That's the problem with two opposition parties, both of whom are centre left/left (ish).

In my opinion, Trudeau isn't overrated and will get enough votes for a minority or a majority.

Sorry if I am wrong, but doesn't he have very little experience in politics? And didn't he partially support bill C-51

C51 voting split down party lines. Cons & Libs for, NDP, Greens and Independent against. Many MPs abstained.


If I recall his dad didn't have much experience either. I personally don't believe career politician make the best politician.

Even if Harper goes (and if he doesn't I call shenanigans) the bill has been passed. The damage has been done. If liberals win it is highly unlikely they would remove that bill, and if NDP wins still i doubt they will abolish the bill. At best you can hope for NDP to win and submit revisions to the bill for more oversight.

I'm no Harper fan, but he hasn't been anywhere as arrogant as Prentice had become in the last few weeks.

The question is will whoever comes to power reverse all of this, or will you get a "choice" that is just as much pro-mass surveillance and pro-unaccountability for abuses like in the US?

> "reasonable grounds to believe"

(approx) 57% of Americans believe in the devil, so this provision in the bill doesn't really fill me with any confidence :(

That is democracy. 57>50

The silver lining of all these entirely misguided and ineffective laws is that it's going to push the non-"terrorist"[0], law abiding, good people towards Tor and other secure communications, inherently strengthening them.

The terrorists and pedophiles are already on there anyway. And the powers that be can't do anything about it.

We seriously need more computer scientists in politics, or even better, we need computer sciences and technical literacy to be requirements for anyone getting a college degree, no matter what they're studying.

[0]: terrorist in quotes because I don't believe in the word. Terrorism is doublespeak, and it always has been.

I'm in complete agreement with you that this will provide much needed motivation for adoption of technical security.

I have to wonder though, does technical literacy or computer science training really cause a person to respect basic civil liberties?

The people who built the mass surveillance apparatus must be just as much a part of the technical community as anyone here.

It would help avoid the stupid nonsense calls for "backdoors to encryption," because people with such an education would realize that "backdoors to encryption" is identical to "no encryption whatsoever."

| [0]: terrorist in quotes because I don't believe in the word. Terrorism is doublespeak, and it always has been.

Under C-51, you just broke the law if you are Canadian.

heh, what part?

The part where a judge can decide you did

What does understanding how computers work have to do with your political views about how people should be able to use computers?

I'm giving these politicians the benefit of the doubt and assuming they truly believe these laws could be effective, and that they truly want what's best for their country.

But these laws obviously are not going to be effective. The people we have to worry about, the extremists, the perverts, the druggies, they're not able to be controlled anyway. What good is a law that locks someone's bank account and takes down someone's website when you don't know who they are and you don't know where their server is?

The point is: They're misinformed if they think this is actually going to thwart terrorism, or extremism, or communications of anyone who is actually discussing sensitive things. And they need to be educated, so that they can understand that.

There was a recent article on HN on how government is now actively harassing tor exit nodes.

that's an issue with the state of tor, not an issue with tor itself. It can and will improve.

France has also just passed measures giving the government broad powers of surveillance. Of course, they are also trying to provide reassurance that these new powers won't be abused. Haven't we heard this story before?

In the cold war days, everyone was racing to get the bomb. Nowadays, it seems everyone is racing to get the powers of mass surveillance.

Looks like democracy has well and truly failed in Canada. Just wow. Look at that oversight. I think it is just a matter of time until this bill is used to target people for acts other than terrorism. With this kind of power comes misuse. If you're Canadian, be careful what you say online because it might be used to stop you flying or worse, imprisoned.

The problem is as usual the culture. If most of the people truly don't want this then it's just a matter of time until they do mass protests/revolt, etc.

However, if the government manages to control everything quickly - Putin-style - and then through the brain-washing mass-media manages to change the culture and make people believe that what they are doing is good and right, then yeah, you're screwed. Look at China - most people there seem to actually believe that "censorship works" in "keeping the society united" or whatever bullshit the government is feeding them.

That's the real danger. Not some random dictator coming to power. But a change of culture and beliefs in the population.

Protesting is illegal in Canada. Just look at the recent protests and what hapened in Quebec w/r to education protests.

I'm actually wondering why the politicians voted for the bill today. Federal elections are only a few months away, and surely with such a large show of backlash from the public and the media, they would be more mindful of the effect of this on their chances of getting re-elected? What's the use in passing a bill if it means you potentially won't get to take advantage and/or abuse it for more than a couple of months?

Most governments around the world have secretly declared war to the people long ago... but just now they are declaring it openly, trying to hide the intent saying those are for terrorists, but redefining how a terrorist looks like. Now is pretty late.

That's unbelievable, considering how much push back there has been...

Can anything be done to influence the senate?

It's really quite rare that the Senate will reject a bill that has passed in the House, seeing as members of the Senate are appointed by the elected parties.

There is now a petition to try to influence the senate:


This bill was backed by both the cons and the liberals, not sure the senate will sway to much.

I have not met one single person who thought Bill C-51 was a good idea.

I know we can't govern by conscensus, but I think that when there is so much controversy around a law there should be a referendum, seems to work for Switzerland.

Why not an election? If voters still vote for both parties, then there isn't really controversy, it's just the people you know who share your ideas.

Because I feel that we would constantly be in the middle of an election.

I don't agree 100% with any party. This issue is a good example, lots of people who would vote PC or Liberal in an election but would probably vote agaisnt Bill C-51 in a referendum.

"It also increases the exchange of federal security information, broadens no-fly list powers and creates a new criminal offence of encouraging someone to carry out a terrorist attack"... Unless you're an agent of the state, in which case its terrorism hunting

> covertly interfere with radical websites

What are the grounds to be considered a "radical website"?

I helped volunteer to build the Toronto Cryptoparty website, so this concerns me as a Canadian citizen. Especially as encryption becomes further villianized by the government and media.

Here is a list of who voted yea or nay.


I love how the liberals were saying they are for the bill but it requires some modification, and yet they all vote for it anyways.

Just an awful day for Canada. Whats the point of the government if they don't listen to the people. I can't see more than 1% of the population wanting this. Should elect a government that listens to the people.

Try 35-38% overall, and 72% of conservatives: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/04/10/bill-c-51-poll-anti-.... The government is listening to the people that elected them.

The people didn't want it in the first place - it wasn't like 72% of conservatives came up and said "hey we need a spying bill". Please. Idiots are just voting for their party or what the millions of dollars of propaganda tells them to, while decades of "think of the children" monologues echo through their minds.

Ah yes, the whole "you can't refute my baseless assertions about what people want with poll numbers because sheeple" argument.

It's not baseless. The reason he gave is incorrect, but it's not baseless. It's a problem with the First Past the Post election style, where there is a clear imbalance between the Seats you get an the % of people who voted for you.

If you can give me a logical reason why 38% gives you anywhere close to a majority mandate, especially one that is used to pass multiple dangerous omnibus bills, then I can recommend a great career for you at the CPC.

I don't think most people would agree with such bills if they truly understood them and the potential for abuse.

What they usually hear is "this bill will stop terrorism - well, that's good enough for me!" and don't research the issue any further.

Most people would especially be furious to learn that such bills don't in fact stop terrorism and they are just lied to so the governments gets more power. But because they don't have a good understanding of the issue themselves they just think that's just some "liberal propaganda trying to remove our small government (ironically) guys from power", or whatever.

I put in volunteer time helping with handing out information and educating the public (as well as collecting petition signatures / mail your mp letters... fat lot of good that did). This is an accurate description of what I experienced when talking with people in the street. People start off dismissive but once they learn about the problems with the bill, the vast majority would say they were opposed.

Meanwhile the government has been spewing fear mongering propaganda since the Bill came out

Or, they reasonably calculate that the risk/reward is in their favor? Even if the law is used 100% to suppress political dissent, it's not like the government is going to target people expressing mainstream conservative viewpoints.

It may not target them but the funny thing about this kind of law is - hang on, you're discussing government policy on a critical site? That's a watch-listin'!

I'm Canadian but haven't been there much. It appears that there are a lot of simpleton Canadians that voted for the current government and probably think this kinda thing is OK.

So this is how liberty dies....with thunderous applause.

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

T. S. Eliot


This Bill has brought the grassroots out of the soil, myself included - lots of the people I've been working with were not politically active until C51 was tabled. The NDP win in Alberta is making people realize that change is possible. The NDP stand a real chance of winning a majority government this fall.

Orphan Black (set in Toronto) could incorporate this bill into a storyline, to raise awareness of possible futures.

I have not followed canadian politics. Could someone give a tiny synopsis - Has there been some major political shift there recently or what?

This (quite recent) HN post: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9416549 and the top comment on it explain C-51 quite well.

Current Canadian politics summary: Stephen Harper.

What surprised me was the the Liberal party helped pass it.

Politics I believe. The liberals knew it was going to get passed one way or another, and if they voted against it, the Conservatives would use the "supporting terrorism and pedophilia" attack on them in the coming election.

But it's push left leaning voters to NDP. This cuts into the Liberals base something fierce, so unless Trudeau is trying to split the conservative vote (which seems insane) then they've severely stumbled.

They said they'd back it with modifications, no modifications were made, and they voted Yes anyways. What message he was trying to send to voters backing down so easily?

I agree. Presumably they have their talking points lined up, this isn't one of them, and they know if they vote with the Conservatives it's a non-issue. That said, it's still really disappointing.

Be careful of what you say here... it could get you put on a no fly list, or result in your website evapourating.


some mentally ill guy goes crazy, President of Canada hides in closet, patriot act cloned.

Canada doesn't have a President. Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister and Head of Government. Elizabeth II is the Head of State.

In theory...

When was the last time that the monarch of the Governor General dissolved the assembly?

She actually did it in 2008.

The GG did not stepped in, did not dissolve the assembly.

She was asked to make a decision, and sided with the government agaisnt the will of the majority of elected representative.

We will never know if she tried to do the right thing to save us from an election (saving money), or just tried not to make waves. We will never know what what would have been the result of an election had it happened in this particular condition.

she didn't do jack shit, spent tax dollars buying a new Gucci bag and vacationing in luxury, showing up on Remembrance Day pretending to be the queen and getting paid for it, she couldn't be bothered with actual work.

Sadly, upgraded.

It was ready before that.

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