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.

c51 sign
Anti C-51 rally in Toronto (image

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 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.

Yours truly,

Jason C. McLean

* Top image: Election night screengrab

* This post originally appeared on, republished with permission from the author

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”

Violations of the Fourth Amendment have been rising in the last couple decades, particularly since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Every part of this constitutional amendment has been debased in the last ten years and for the most part, the people it’s supposed to protect don’t care.

uncle-sam-622x777These truths came to the forefront of the national dialog this past week with the leaking of the National Security Agency‘s controversial data mining programs. First reported by Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian; the NSA had been obtaining millions of phone records every day.

A couple days later the Washington Post revealed that the NSA program “PRISM” had tapped into personal data from several major tech companies, including Google, Apple and AOL. This same week, the Supreme Court came to another 5-4 decision in Maryland v. King which found DNA testing to be constitutional upon any arrest.

Just like the Justice Department’s subpoenas of Journalist’s phone records, the NSA’s actions here don’t qualify as a scandal, although it is just as shameful. Many of these spy programs started under George W. Bush and are legal under the USA Patriot Act.

What makes these programs shameful in my view is that they shouldn’t be legal in the first place. The Patriot Act effectively overrode the privacy we held dear under the Fourth Amendment. To add insult to injury, Barack Obama promised to change things back in 2007.

“That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more (spying) on citizens… No more tracking citizens…” Instead of repealing the patriot act or allowing it to expire, Obama extended it in 2011.

Before I move on, I’d like to address the Supreme Court decision on DNA collection. DNA can be critical in prosecuting criminals and clearing suspects. The question is should it be allowed to be taken without a warrant or the suspect’s permission?

In the 1980s The Supreme Court affirmed that corporations could patent living organisms, the DNA of which would become corporate property. If that’s true, DNA is personal property and according to the Fourth Amendment you need a warrant to search or seize it. Just a little bit of hypocrisy on the Court’s part in my view.

Back to the NSA, is the government listening in on every phone call? No. Is the government reading every one of our emails? No. Does this mean we should sit idly by and surrender our privacy in the name of security? No.

Few people are very surprised by the National Security Agency’s data mining, but what’s troubling is the few who care. Everyone seems to have some kind of Facebook disease. We’ve gotten so used to sites like Facebook and Google using our information to direct their advertisers toward us more effectively, that we’ve lost all desire to keep our data to ourselves.

I have many friends who refuse to sign up to these sites simply due to privacy concerns. Herein lays the difference; people who sign on to Facebook know about their policies and can choose to stay away, the NSA is not giving people a choice. If you’re feeling patriotic, by all means let them collect your data.

Quiet Mike’s writers have covered this topic in recent days and the feedback has been mostly positive, but as always there are differences of opinion. The most common response in favor of the data mining is the classic “who cares, you’re fine if you have nothing to hide.”

patriot-act-surveillanceThat’s a fairly apathetic, but dangerous comment. People with that type of opinion are basically saying it’s OK for the government to supersede their rights. Furthermore, it’s my experience that almost everyone has something to hide, whether it’s an adulterer, a drug user or a political activist. The NSA’s actions are classified, who’s to say whether the data will be used against you eventually.

The Patriot Act was passed on a bi-partisan vote with little debate, only a handful of politicians who bothered to read it and only one Senator voting against it. I’m not surprised to see supposed Liberals and conservatives defending it still.

What really gets my blood boiling is those who are so quick to defend a false interpretation of the Second Amendment by opposing background checks for gun purchases, but are just as quick to see the death of the Fourth Amendment. It’s as if they think the Patriot Act is kind of patriotic act.

As most of my readers know, I’m a Canadian and according to some people I have no business writing about American affairs whether I have the knowledge to do so or not. Well, this story does affect me and my fellow countrymen, the NSA is not restricted to the US and neither is their practices.

How much privacy should we be willing to give up in the name of security? If we are complacent in giving up the little things now, it won’t be long until they ask for more and more.