Tag Archives: libertarian

Human Rights in Canada

I am a libertarian. I believe that government must serve and not intrude into our lives. I also believe that some of our liberties are coming under attack and we have a resonsibility to remain vigilant at all times.

I have joined the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. Please consider joining them too.

While losing civil liberties seems very far fetched in Canada, it was only 43 years ago, during the FLQ crisis in Quebec, that the federal government imposed the War Measures Act. From Wikipedia:

In 1970, members of the FLQ kidnapped British diplomat James Cross and Quebec provincial cabinet minister Pierre Laporte, the latter of whom was later murdered. What is now referred to as the October Crisis raised fears in Canada of a militant terrorist faction rising up against the government.

Under provisions of the National Defence Act, the Canadian Forces had been called to assist the police. They appeared on the streets of Ottawa on 12 October 1970. Upon request of the Quebec government with unanimous consent of all party leaders in the Quebec National Assembly, troops appeared on the streets of Montreal on 15 October. At the request of the Mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau, and the Quebec provincial government, and in response to general threats and demands made by the FLQ, the federal government declared a state of apprehended insurrection under the Act on 16 October 1970. This was done so that police had more power in arrest and detention, in order to find and stop the FLQ members. The use of the War Measures Act to address the problem presented by the FLQ was well supported by Canadians in all regions of Canada. However, there were many vocal critics of the Government action, including New Democratic Party leader Tommy Douglas, who said, “The government, I submit, is using a sledgehammer to crack a peanut.”

While the War Measures Act was in force, 465 people were arrested and held without charge. The response by the federal and provincial governments to the incident still sparks controversy. There was a large amount of concern about the Act being used, as it was a considered to be a direct threat to civil liberties, removing rights such as habeas corpus from all Canadians. This is the only time that the War Measures Act had been put in place during peacetime in Canada. Critics, such as Laurier LaPierre, accused Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s move to suspend habeas corpus as more of a reaction to the separatist movement in Quebec by criminalizing it.

The Act’s 1970 regulations were replaced by the Public Order (Temporary Measures) Act in November 1970, which subsequently expired on 30 April 1971.

In more recent time we have had other incidents. The US Patriot Act, SOPA and PIPA, while all American in origin, would potentially have had consequences for Canadians if left unchecked. Our own government has been very careful to mandate storage of Canadian citizen data and records on Canadian soil, safe from the prying eyes of foreign nations.

I also believe that a free, independant and well funded press, trained in upholding the strongest of ethics in journalism, is imperative to any democracy. The advent of the micro-journalism, including the use of mobile cameras, poses a danger to our society yet must be present to balance the dangers of a single source of news.

I submit that liberty is never to be taken for granted.