Its in the political interests of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to keep Canadians scared. Scared of terrorism, scared of economic uncertainty, scared of the unknown.
In keeping Canadians fearful, the conservatives portray themselves as the protector to Canada of the things that we should all be fearful of. That assumes that Canadians are easily scared. They shouldn't be.
We're at a bit of a crossroads in Canadian politics. We have met at that place where voters have finally realized that politicians are largely devoid of grand ideas and big things that will make our lives better or easier. Voters have also realized that the current regime are no longer efficient managers of an economic and political system. All that is left are tactics of fear. Conservatives do this tactic well. Leveraged right, its immensely powerful. The power of fear allowed neo-conservatives in America to influence major policy decisions in the Bush White house. The results are likely a generation of distrust of America as a result.
After 9/11, neocons saw their opportunity to pounce. They've always had a mythology that has united their movement but needed a major event (or "Pearl Harbor" style event) to shock and unite the people. Neocons have always had a good level of hate for pluralistic liberal society of free choices and individual freedoms. (See, Power of Nightmares)
Imposed into Canada, and seeing opportunity via two lone-wolf attacks by disgruntled and unstable young men (conveniently enough, also Muslim), the Conservatives pounced here too. They shifted their narrative that Canada is under attack by obvious and unseen threats of "Islamist terrorism and terror groups". To that end, Canada is now involved in a ground campaign in Iraq against the ad-hoc terror group "ISIS" (Islamic State). The Parliamentary vote to enable such a venture made no mention of combat operations, but strangely our soldiers are now coming into conflict in the very combat operations that they weren't supposed to be participating in. Interesting.
IN Canada, it gets interesting too. To fight terrorism abroad, the Conservatives have brought to Parliament, Bill C-51. Its essentials are that it creates a means to exempt people from their constitutional rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms if the government deems that person(s) a threat to national security. National Security being a very vaguely worded part of the legislation that could see protest movements under scrutiny or investigation by CSIS.
First nations groups, former Prime Ministers, dozens and dozens of academics, pundits and even mainstream conservatives have sounded the alarm on this legislation: it does nothing to fight terrorism, the threat of terrorism, or issues of radicalization of the vulnerable, its an attack against freedom itself.
The thing about anti-terror laws such as Bill C-51 in Canada, Patriot Act in America among others, is that they rarely catch terrorists in their net. Typically, environmentalists, social issue groups will find themselves as targets under these laws. Laws passed in the patriotic fervor of without real scrutiny. Former Democrat Rep, Dennis Kucinich ran for the Democrat nomination for President in '08 commented that he voted against the Patriot Act because he actually read it.
Just recently, an SFU professor was questioned by police because he took pictures of a Kinder Morgan work site. This is not the action that should ever be sanctioned by a government in a free society.
Alarming is the sense of urgency and political weight put behind Bill C-51. This going to be a serious campaign issue; its already bubbling up near the surface in social media sparring between activists of the main parties in Canada. Expect to see extremely dark themed campaign ads by Conservatives warning of the dangers of repealing the legislation; that its removal will mean tragic consequences for Canada.
Its all right out of the playbook of former President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Just scare the liver out of your nation, they'll vote for whatever keeps them safe.
The only way to keep Canada safe from harm is to stop being scared and refuse to buy into the Orwellian fear-mongering of the neocons that have taken over what was once a reasonable and proud conservative movement. This isn't a true reflection of Canada; they no longer represent real Canadian values.
Where was the sense of urgency and call for justice for the 1100+ first nations' women that have been murdered or gone missing? Dismissed as a cultural phenomenon by the Harper regime.
Where was the sense of outrage and indignation when a group of white-supremacist sympathizing youth were planning to attack and murder folks at Halifax area shopping mall? None found. Worse, they were dismissed by the Justice Minister Peter MacKay as "murderous misfits" instead of a terror-affiliated group planning a terror plot.
I don't remember any conservative calling the slaughter of women by Marc Lepine a terror act. In fact, he is seen by some in the "mens rights" movement as a hero of sorts. But once again, Justice Minister Peter MacKay is elsewhere on this issue.
No one should doubt that 'terrorism' isn't a real thing. Or that its not a real threat. But one thing is clear, it shouldn't be political. All parties (politically) should be on board, and the nation's eyes should be wide open in pursuing resolve to reduce the risks at home and abroad. If politician's state that the goal of international terrorists is to attack our freedoms and make us more fearful, then why are we allowing ourselves to be spooked at home and letting our politicians impose laws that impede on the very freedoms that are supposedly under attack by terrorists?
This is also a problem for the federal Liberal Party. You see, Prime-Minister-in-waiting Justin Trudeau has pledged support for Bill C-51 with the pledge that once in power, his new government will amend the legislation to provide for more oversight.
But you have to vote for them first. In short, you have to vote for a party that pledges to fix a problem they in fact are voting for.
For a party that prides itself as the one that brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, endorsing a piece of legislation that strangely enables Canada's secret police to apply to have a person or people exempt from said Charter is a new level of hypocrisy unknown to Canadian politics.
There was a time when Canada was sought out in global conflicts as an arbiter of peace and a trusted partner (of all sides) to help assist in bringing closure to otherwise bitter issues. Our soldiers served and continue to serve proudly as peace keepers and defenders of the oppressed. Our nation has been on the receiving end of international awards including a Nobel Peace prize for its peacekeeping activities. Though affiliated with cold war era alliances, we were trusted.
Canada must rid itself of its hawkish militaristic foreign policy. We can and get our traditional role of a sober and trusted player back. We can help belligerents stop fighting and start talking. The only way to make Canada more Canadian again is to rid ourselves of the infection and poison of Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party.