Adam E. Thompson, Committee Clerk
National Security and Defence Senate Committee
Senate of Canada
RE: UBCIC OPEN LETTER REGARDING BILL C-51: ANTI-TERRORISM ACT, 2015
Dear National Security and Defence Senate Committee,
We are writing to inform you of our deep concerns regarding Bill C-51 Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is an Indigenous political advocacy organization representing over 100 First Nations in British Columbia and we stand strongly in opposition to Bill C-51. The proposed Bill completely sweeps aside and fundamentally undermines our rights as Indigenous Peoples to exercise, assert and defend our inherent Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty Rights. Let us remind you, these inherent rights are judicially and constitutionally recognized and Bill C-51 completely disregards the Canadian Constitution Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Due to the expanded powers that Bill C-51 would provide to government agencies, Indigenous Peoples of this country will be further muzzled and restricted in our ability to voice our concerns with respect to the actions of industry, government and governmental agencies. Even with the proposed amendments regarding certain exemptions, we find these do not go far enough to protect our human and Indigenous rights to express or voice our concerns. Essentially the legislation will limit our ability to freely speak on issues as well as limit our rights to privacy, liberty and fair hearings. The powers that Bill C-51 will provide to CSIS, RCMP and other agencies such as increased powers regarding information/intelligence gathering and preventative detention disruption tactics will only serve to deteriorate the fabric of Canadian society. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, which the Canadian government endorsed in November 2010, articulated that we as Indigenous Peoples have the right to protect and make decisions about activities and laws affecting our lands and waters and we will continue to exercise this right and responsibility for the future generations regardless of what is articulated in any legislative statue.
Late in 2014, UBCIC President Grand Chief Stewart Phillip stood in support of those in opposition to Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline in the unceded Coast Salish Territories. On November 27, 2014 Grand Chief Stewart Phillip crossed the police line on Burnaby Mountain where Kinder Morgan was conducting exploratory drilling for the expansion of the pipeline. During the weeks’ long protest over 24 protectors of public parklands were arrested including Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. If Bill C-51 were to be implemented it is very likely that these types of arrests would increase, limits to Canadian citizens and Indigenous Peoples freedom of expression would also increase and those taken into custody could be held based on mere suspicion, without charges and for longer periods of time. Further, it is likely we would see more heavy-handed approaches to policing based on the changes proposed by Bill C-51 especially in light of the Harper’s government agenda to expand resource extraction and development. First Nations will continue to protect and safeguard our territories in the face of proposed destructive extractive activities.
The Bill also contains a number of problematic provisions including increased social media monitoring and classification or flagging of certain peoples if they support certain types of activities or information awareness campaigns, extending certain policing powers to CSIS to disrupt particular activities, limited oversight on certain powers granted to agencies, and sweeping powers that allows agencies to share or disclosure certain information. These are just a few of the troubling provisions in Bill C-51 that require immediate attention, removal or significant amendment.
Further dialogue, debate and intensive review needs to be undertaken before any change to Canada’s security landscape is altered. The proposed expanded powers under Bill C-51 will radically and fundamental shift the security and policing regime in this Country and with the limited study and discussion that is currently in progress only serves to disadvantage Canada. Fundamentally, Bill C-51 will infringe our freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, our right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure, our right to liberty and our fundamental rights as peoples under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. We strongly recommend that as a Standing Committee you make the recommendation to pull this legislation, not only does it undermine our rights as Indigenous Peoples, it effectively weakens the foundation of Canada and the human rights of its citizens.
On behalf of the UNION OF BC INDIAN CHIEFS
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Chief Robert Chamberlin
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson
CC: UBCIC Chiefs Council
Assembly of First Nations