Harper's cynical fear-mongering and Islamophobic rantings to push through the oppressive Bill C-51 have not gone unchallenged. On March 14, tens of thousands of Canadians rallied in 70 cities across Canada to oppose the bill. It is a serious assault on Canadian civil liberties and will criminalize dissent. Here is Ken Stone's presentation at the Hamilton & District Labour Council held in the Council chambers of Hamilton City Hall.
Thursday March 19, 2015, 21:39 DST
Updated March 20, 2015, 11:46 DST
Brothers and Sisters:
On behalf of the Hamilton Coalition To Stop the War, I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak at this overflowing town hall meeting to discuss the importance of stopping Bill C-51, Harper's latest anti-terror legislation.
I wish to debunk Harper's main justification for Bill C-51, namely that there's a credible domestic & foreign terrorist threat to Canadians. I differ on this point from our esteemed MPs (who have shared their opposition to the bill with us tonight) and our knowledgeable keynote speaker (the Executive-Director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association). This is what I have to say:
1. Concerning domestic terrorism: if there were really a serious threat, why is that virtually every instance of homegrown terrorism with which Harper's orchestrated the passage of Bill C-51 (and bills like it) was a sting operation? The Toronto 18, the CN Rail incident, the plan to blow up the US Consulate... in almost every case, the organizer of the plot is a police agent who lures gullible young and/or mentally ill Arab or Muslim men into a conspiracy which is publicly exposed at a time propitious to the Harper government's legislative agenda. All the Arab and Muslim dupes are then arrested to the thunderous applause of many politicians and the mainstream media. The idea that there is a credible domestic terrorist threat is a fabrication, brothers and sisters, a racist and Islamophobic fabrication, intended to create a climate of fear and hatred, in which Canadians will tolerate more of their tax dollars being spent on the military and security apparatus, rather than on the things Canadians really need: healthcare, childcare, post-secondary education, rapid transit, and so on. This climate of fear, racism, and Islamophobia also enables the Harper government shamefully to introduce Bill C-51 to criminalize dissent in Canada.
2. Concerning international terrorism: the truth is that Stephen Harper is the greatest promoter of international terrorism in Canada. In an article I wrote for Global Research.ca (http://www.globalresearch.ca/canadas-harper-government-supports-covert-mercenary-war-on-syria-funds-al-qaeda-afiliated-rebels/5357781), I showed the Harper government, in December 2011, organized a pre-conference for the organization that came into being two months later called “The Friends of Syria” Group of countries (FSG). The FSG organized a covert war of aggression, using terrorist mercenaries, against the sovereign state of Syria... in complete violation of international law, and without United Nations approval. The mercenaries hired to topple President Assad were termed “moderate Syrian rebels.” They were paraded around Ottawa. They were given millions of your tax dollars.
But they were hardly moderate. In four years of war in Syria, these mercenaries beheaded journalists and Christian priests, and committed heinous war crimes – with your tax dollars - which they brazenly posted on Youtube. Over 200,000 Syrians were killed and millions were turned into refugees – with your tax dollars. But neither Harper nor other western leaders had any criticism of their protégés in Syria.
However, in late 2013, these so-called “moderate Syrian rebels” morphed into ISIS and marched in 2014 into Iraq where they threatened the new US puppet state of Kurdistan where the oil wells and the head offices of western fossil fuel corporations are situated. ISIS fighters committed many of the same war crimes in Iraq that they committed in Syria, such as beheading journalists. But this time, western governments and media expressed shock, and outrage. Within weeks, the USA moved troops and planes back into Iraq with its coalition to attack ISIS, a coalition that includes Canada but lacks the UN approval. In short, ISIS provided a pretext for a foreign military intervention in Iraq and Syria. (I applaud – and you should too - the NDP and Green Party reps here tonight because both parties, plus the Liberals, voted against this illegal war.)
Here's the big picture. George Bush's and now Stephen Harper's “War on Terror” is the attempt to control the fossil fuel resources of the Middle East from Libya to Iran. In previous wars, Canadian governments used the War Measures Act, arrested and interned whole communities of Canadians. In Harper's phoney war on ISIS, he intends to eliminate Canadian's civil and political rights through Bill C-51.
In summary, I do not wish to contradict our esteemed MPs and keynote speaker. So I will revise my earlier remark. Canadians are indeed faced with a serious domestic and international terrorist threat. And that threat is to be found in the Prime Minister's Office.
We're threatened by a prime minister who cynically sows fear, racism, and Islamophobia to criminalize dissent, to promote foreign wars, and to grow the security apparatus. If we need to fear, we should fear the hidden agenda of the Harper government.
Canadians deserve better. We need to take back this country and return it to a respected place in the international community on questions of international law and climate change. We need to develop an independent foreign policy. But to do this, we need to defeat Bill C-51 and the Harper government.
(Ken Stone, a retired teacher, is a member of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War and a peace activist.)