Sunday, June 28, 2015

On inevitable abuses

Justice James Stribopoulos sees the G20 human rights abuses as highlighting the problems with handing over poorly-defined powers to law enforcement:
In an essay published in a new book on policing during the summit, Justice James Stribopoulos blames the abuses that took place on an absence of specific legislation to “confine, structure and check police discretion” during large events, which he says is “long overdue.”
“Unfortunately, without that, the legal framework that helped facilitate the civil liberties abuses that marked the G20 Summit in Toronto will persist,” he writes in Putting the State on Trial. “And that, I fear, will make a repeat appearance somewhat inevitable.”
And surely the need for checks and balances is even more obvious when it comes to secret police. So let's see how the terror bill passed by the Cons and the Libs does on that front (emphasis added):
Bill C-51 erodes the distinction between CSIS’s traditional intelligence gathering role by giving it broad new powers to engage in law enforcement–type activities. Under Bill C-51, CSIS would be able to take “measures” to reduce threats to the security of Canada. For example, s. 12.1(1) of the proposed act states,
If there are reasonable grounds to believe that a particular activity constitutes a threat to the security of Canada, the Service may take measures, within or outside Canada, to reduce the threat. 
The power under s. 12.1 is broadly defined, giving CSIS virtually unfettered authority to conduct any operation it thinks is in the interest of Canadian security. The definitions are so broad that they could apply to almost anything...
Of course, it may take far more time for any "measures" to become known given that they can be carried out in secret. But we can safely say that C-51 is based on exactly the same philosophy of unfettered authoritarianism that led to the G20 abuses - and it's entirely foreseeable that we'll see the same results.

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