Bill C-51 Poses a Serious Threat to Free Expression

This is an abridged version of a longer article that will be published in the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) 2014-15 Review of Free Expression in Canada in early May. Bill C-51 is complex, dangerous, and poses a serious threat to free expression in Canada.

If found to be in violation of the proposed legislation, citizens and visitors could wind up slapped with censorship orders, detained without due process or imprisoned for up to five years.

Under the new legislation, people may find themselves wary to comment on controversial topics, especially terrorism itself, which by any definition is a suppression of freedom of expression conceptually prohibited by the highest law of our land, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Is the federal government giving itself and its agencies more power to fight ISIS-like terrorism, or is it using high-profile tragedies to illegally spy, surveil and silence innocent citizens and its political enemies?

Canadians might be reassured if the Prime Minister were at least willing to acknowledge the need to check the government’s proposed super-powers.