By Laura Tribe
January 11, 2016
Progress! Government agrees to public consultations on C-51
We’ve been asking the Canadian government for public consultation on C-51 for months – and now it looks like it’s going to happen!
Over the weekend, Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale, confirmed that public consultations will be an important part of addressing the dangerous legacy of Bill C-51. According to the Canadian Press, Goodale confirmed ‘the government will give Canadians a chance to have their say before deciding what changes to make’ on Bill C-51.
This is great news! But we have to keep the pressure up to ensure that the consultation happens before any new legislation is tabled. If Canadians aren’t put at the center of this process, from the start, we could easily repeat the mistakes of history that led to C-51 in the first place.
Rest assured, OpenMedia will not stop until the dangerous new powers in C-51 are killed, and we'll be watching closely to make sure they follow through on this promise.
OpenMedia, civil society and experts, and over over 21,000 concerned Canadians have been directly asking Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Goodale for public consultation since the new government was elected. These voices join the over 300,000 Canadians who have spoken up against this dangerous bill at killc51.ca. Way to keep the pressure up!
It is a promising sign to see that Minister Goodale is making C-51 a priority. Goodale has been tasked by Prime Minister Trudeau (along with Minister Wilson-Raybould), with working “to repeal, in collaboration with the Minister of Justice, the problematic elements of Bill C-51 and introduce new legislation that strengthens accountability with respect to national security and better balances collective security with rights and freedoms.”
It’s also encouraging to see that the Canadian government is willing to directly engage Canadians, who are clearly concerned with this problematic bill, on determining the solution.
As we move forward however, it’s important to note that many questions still remain unclear, including:
What will these consultations look like?
Who will be able to participate? (The Canadian Press notes the government “...may also engage in public consultations through ‘tools and techniques that take us beyond the parliamentary precinct.’”)
Will these consultations come before or after new legislation is introduced? (Again, our community has made it clear they want to be consulted before.)
How directly will the outcomes of these consultations impact future legislation?
If Canadians resoundingly say they want Bill C-51 repealed in its entirety, will the Liberals consider this as an option?
As Goodale told CP:
"The subject matter is large, it's complex, the solutions aren't particularly easy to achieve. But our whole point in having consultations is to listen to what we hear. And if the messages indicate that something more needs to be done, obviously we would try to pursue that." [emphasis added]
Organizations campaigning against C-51, including OpenMedia, continue to ask for the bill to be repealed in its entirety, and replacement legislation to introduced as needed, with public input included in drafting balanced measures.
However, concerns remain that the Liberals will proceed on their election platform, and only deliver selected amendments instead of a full repeal. This is why we need to ensure that public consultations address the bill in its entirety, and ALL of the problematic aspects of the bill are raised – to highlight the need for a full repeal, not piecemeal solutions.
We are hopeful that public consultations can bring the full breadth of issues within C-51 into focus, and help shape the government’s next steps.
Thank you to everyone who has supported this campaign along the way – we couldn’t do it without you! You can be assured that OpenMedia (and our incredible community) will continue to pressure the government to clarify the format of these public consultations, and the timeline for when they will begin.
And, of course, we have a few exciting activities planned for this week and next – so stay tuned for updates!
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