Letter: C-51 strips us of our rights

This is a dangerous piece of legislation and is far more of a threat to our freedom than ISIS or al-Qaida ever was.

To the editor:

Every Canadian should be outraged at this latest attack on our human rights and democracy by Stephen Harper and his Conservative government. American legislation following the 9/11 terrorist attacks parallels Bill C-51 as it stripped the basic human rights of Americans. The effect on two Canadians was devastating.

The FBI arrested Canadian Maher Arar at JFK airport on Sept. 26, 2002 as he was traveling from Tunisia to Montreal, returning from a holiday. After Bush labeled him an ”enemy combatant,” he was denied legal counsel, prevented from seeking help from the Canadian embassy, and in a process called “rendition” he was flown to Syria, at that time an American client state. He was imprisoned and tortured for 13 months before it was determined that he had no connection to terrorism and was set free.

Omar Kadr, another Canadian, was arrested in Afghanistan at the age of 15 and imprisoned at Guantanamo in Cuba for eight years without ever being charged with a crime. He was tortured repeatedly, denied access to a lawyer, imprisoned with adults in a place where adult rape of children was rampant, and when he was finally given the right to appear before a military commission, in January of 2008, the UN Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict was denied access to Kadr or to his farcical trial.

The UN attempted to have child soldiers like Kadr declared victims of war, rather than enemy combatants, but the American military ignored that attempt. At that military commission Kadr was given the choice of pleading guilty and spending another eight years behind bars or going back to Guantanamo and spending the rest of his life behind bars.

This is what we have to look forward to if Bill C-51 is adopted in Canada. This is a dangerous piece of legislation and is far more of a threat to our freedom than ISIS or al-Qaida ever was.

Patrick O’Neil,



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