Canadians from all walks of life denounced today Stephen Harper's fear mongering and Islamophobic bill that is being rushed through parliament. Rallies were held in Toronto and 70 other cities attended by tens of thousands of people. It was the strongest expression yet of the rejection of the politics of hate and fear mongering by the right wing Conservative party.
Saturday March 14, 2015, 17:27 DST
Two young Muslim girls stole the hearts of thousands at a rally in Toronto today when they spoke against Bill C-51.
The so-called anti-terror bill has been dubbed a “terror bill” that will criminalize dissent and drastically curtail Canadian civil liberties.
York University student Soraya Sahar, originally from Afghanistan, castigated Stephen Harper for fear-mongering and attempting to divide Canadians based on ethnicity, religion and background.
And at the tail end of a long list of speakers that included several Members of Parliament from the NDP, 17-year-old student Nasim Asgari (originally from Iran) mesmerized the huge crowd with her eloquent poetry.
It was heartening to see and hear young Muslim girls take the lead on such issues.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May, MP and Sid Ryan, Vice President of the Ontario Federation of Labor as well as Maria Clark of the Canadian Labor Congress also spoke with passion against the repressive bill.
All speakers were unanimous that the bill will not only strip Canadians of their fundamental rights but also give intelligence and security agencies vast powers turning Canada into virtually a police state.
The Toronto rally was among 70 held across Canada. Similar rallies were held in Ottawa, Montreal (addressed by NDP leader Tom Mulcair whose party has taken a bold stand against the bill), as well in Vancouver and many other cities.
Contrary to Harper’s claims, the bill is extremely unpopular among Canadians as was evident from the turnout at the rallies.
Speakers also drew attention to the fact that Muslims were being singled out for attacks and Canadians should be wary of such tactics and not to fall into this trap.
Every speaker rejected such fear mongering and Islamophobia.
Canada-wide rallies were called for only a couple of weeks ago. Despite the rain, thousands of people came out to pack Nathan Philip Square in Toronto. There was hardly an inch of space left anywhere to stand on.
There was a strong presence from the Canadian Labor movement, students, teachers, workers and people from other walks of life.
People held signs they had made themselves. There was an overriding theme rejecting fear that Harper is trying to create among Canadians. Repeatedly speakers called for defeating Harper at the next election that must be held by October 2015 and could come sooner.
One placard read: ‘There is a greater chance of being killed by a moose than by a terrorist!’
After more than two hours of speeches, the rally marched towards Canadian Security and Intelligence Agency (CSIS) offices on Front Street.
The determination with which people came out to speak and express their abhorrence at the fear tactics of Harper indicate that even if the bill is passed in parliament—and it will since Harper has a majority—there will be major court challenges against it.
Canadians from different backgrounds expressed the determination that they will not allow their rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Canadian Charter to be swept away by fear-mongering opportunistic politicians.