John Dressler (left) of the Council of Canadians Williams Lake Chapter and Peter Ewart of Stand Up For the North from Prince George during a public meeting about Bill C-51 held Tuesday in Williams Lake.

John Dressler (left) of the Council of Canadians Williams Lake Chapter and Peter Ewart of Stand Up For the North from Prince George during a public meeting about Bill C-51 held Tuesday in Williams Lake.

Bill C-51 topic of meeting

Bill C-51 undermines human rights and freedom of expression and needs to be scrapped.

Bill C-51 undermines human rights and freedom of expression and needs to be scrapped.

That’s the message a group of local citizens endorsed after hearing Stand Up For the North’s Peter Ewart share his concerns about the bill at a public meeting hosted by the Council of Canadians Williams Lake Chapter Tuesday evening.

When local resident George Atamanenko put forth a motion saying the bill needs to be scrapped, it was supported by the majority of the 50 people who attended the meeting.

“Bill C-51, which is titled The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2015 was introduced on Jan. 30,” Ewart said. “Interestingly enough it was not introduced to the elected members of parliament as it should have been, but to a rally of police chiefs, special agents and supporters in Richmond Hill, Ontario.”

Prime Minister Harper has argued the bill is to make people safer from Jhadi terrorism which he claims is one of the greatest threats the world has ever seen, Ewart said.

“Having legislation aimed at terrorism is one thing, but experts and others say this bill goes way beyond that and overreaches to such a degree that it threatens the fundamental rights of all Canadians.”

Local resident Laura Zimmerman said after reading through the documents twice she was disgusted.

“It says no civil proceedings lie against any person for their disclosure in good faith of information under this act,” Zimmerman said. “So if I decide that I don’t like my Islamic neighbour I can report them because I think their suspicious and they can be investigated?”

Responding Ewart said yes they could be reported, subjected to an investigation and never told about it.

“Normally in a court you would be present to hear complaints against you but under this legislation, you’re not allowed there, neither is your lawyer. Who is there is Canadian Security Intelligence Service and a judge,” Ewart said.

Michael Atwood said he’s been protesting various things for 40 years, beginning in university.

“We are all becoming the enemy and we’re not,” Atwood said. “We are just standing up for what we believe.”

Several people at the meeting said they hope Ewart can return to Williams Lake to hold a second meeting about the bill.

 

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