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The government has released public input on reckless Bill C-51—here’s what’s next

Now that the government has made your Bill C-51 feedback public, we’ve got suggestions for your next steps!

You may have heard the big, bright, transparent news from Ottawa — the National Consultation results for Bill C-51— the reckless and irresponsible spying legislation passed by the Harper government — are in and open to public viewing on our government’s website!

This is positive news for a couple of reasons, not least because it took OpenMedia and allied groups months of organizing and pressuring our elected officials (including with our fancy click-to-call tool) to be transparent with Canadians.

Together, we all stood up for online privacy, and against the extreme spying powers that put innocent Canadians under a government microscope while disproportionately targeting communities of colour and activists.

This bill disproportionately targets indigenous communities, environmental activists, dissidents, and Muslims, many of whom are already subjected to questionable and overreaching powers by security officials. This bill will make it easier and ostensibly lawful for government to continue infringing upon the rights of peaceful people.

– The Toronto Coalition to Stop Bill C-51

Thank you to all of you who used our Save Our Security tool to tell the government your thoughts during the consultation process. We were delighted to see all of your feedback included, word for word, within the published consultation records. And we were doubly pleased to see so many of you mentioned the government’s “terrible track record” with Canadians’ privacy — it appeared 6029 times in the results, so you can consider your message delivered.

With this encouraging precedent set around releasing the results of the consultations and alerting Canadians to what their fellow citizens had to say in response to out of control spying that affects us all  — what’s next?

There are many ways to continue to keep holding our government accountable and attentive to the needs of Canadians. We’ve assembled a list of a few recommendations for ongoing action.

  • Share this blog with everyone you know. Bill C-51 may sound like old news to some folks, as it’s been out of mainstream headlines for a while. When the government published the consultation records, they also did so without a public announcement. It’s a good thing concerned groups like ours were watching and waiting.

  • Remember, the government exists to serve you, their electorate. Be sure to interact with them, because they only have jobs doing what they do because of people like you! We recommend you tweet at Minister @RalphGoodale and @Safety_Canada with further thoughts, ideas, and questions. You could also write them some old-fashioned snail mail FOR FREE.

  • Keep your resistance intersectional — this means that all efforts towards a better world are connected. We cannot talk about privacy without talking about money, race, gender, and much more besides, as different people are impacted by surveillance in different ways. This bill has been widely decried for disproportionately affecting particular groups of Canadians. We suggest that you follow @NCCM, @MuslimInst, and Critical Muslim Voices for more news from impacted and concerned communities.

  • And finally — continue consulting, with us! Although the government’s formal consultation is over, this bill is far from being final. We and the many pro-privacy organizations who stand with us won’t back down, and we invite you to stand strong with us. Join our Digital Action Team if you’d like to take leadership and volunteer your time towards making a difference for Canadian online privacy.

  • Become a monthly ally of OpenMedia. Really concerned, but too busy with other causes to contribute your time? If you’ve got the means, let us do this work with you and for you. We’re here to help Canadians whenever we can.

Phew! So many things that you can do to change the course of this bill! Together, we can build a beautiful, effective, protective strategy for privacy and security in Canada. Let’s make sure you can all have a word in, and that your friends, neighbours, bus drivers, and coffee shop crushes can have a say too.

For our part you can count on your OpenMedia team to keep tabs on this file. When we met with the Minister of Public Safety we handed him our best practices for participatory crowdsourced decision-making. We intend to make sure they follow it.

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