YOUTH VOICE: The sweetness of freedom

Since its introduction in January, we have seen protests across Canada against Bill C-51.

The sweetness of freedom shouldn’t be taken for granted,

It’s only when it’s lost that we truly understand it

C-51 you say you strengthen our security

You yourself endanger and threaten civil liberty

Amongst other flaws you lack oversight authority

Masters of your fate have a government majority

 

They tell me that I will be stopping terrorism,

They tell me that I will prevent extremism,

They say that I will be preventing attacks

And stopping threats in their tracks

Stopping threats in their tracks

 

Will you protect, our freedom of expression?

Will you protect, innocents from detention?

Can you prevent all the previous mistakes

Of people suffering in rendition being tortured and detained?

And people like Arar who suffered so much pain

Will you protect our Charter Rights and Freedoms

That we hold so near our heart that we cherish, maintain?

Will you protect our rights to protest and picket

To stand up for indigenous, enviro campaigns?

 

The sweetness of freedom shouldn’t be taken for granted,

It’s only when it’s lost that we truly understand it

When writing this column, the vote on Bill C-51 – the Anti-Terrorism Act – was yet to occur but expected to pass.

Since its introduction in January, we have seen protests across Canada against this legislation. Canadians from different regions and backgrounds voiced their concerns. Amongst its numerous criticisms, the issue of oversight has been prominent. Yet, there has not been enough constructive conversation on this matter.

In fact, the time for the debate does not match the magnitude of the changes being brought in.

Terror threats and dangers to national security should be addressed. However, this does not mean governments redefine the basic rights and freedoms that Canadians enjoy.

The fact that thousands of Canadians from coast-to-coast – individuals who had previously served as Supreme Court Justices and prime ministers and experts in the legal field – opposed the legislation in some form or another should have sent a clear signal to our government that something was not right.

Some amendments were made, but these do not fully address the many concerns.

In fact, open letters have been issued by academics and former judicial and political leaders. As professors and researchers have emphasized, the legislation might not even properly achieve its very purpose.

In an open letter, they say “Bill C-51 could actually be counter-productive in that it could easily get in the way of effective policing, intelligence-gathering and prosecutorial activity.”

It is easy and convenient for the government to simply rewrite our laws, considering its legislative majority. However, it should consider the significance of the changes it is making.

The legislation it is bringing in does not address the many concerns that have been brought to light in the short time span since it was first introduced.

Support for Nepal

On a sad note, the earthquake in Nepal has led to devastation, displacement and loss of life for thousands of individuals. Donations provided to registered Canadian charities by May 25 will be doubled by the Canadian government, under its Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund. Visit the Nepal Earthquake relief fund at  www.international.gc.ca

I kindly request all Canadians to help.

Japreet Lehal, a student at Simon Fraser University, writes monthly for Peace Arch News.