Last October, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper hid in a closet as shots rang out in the halls of the Canadian Parliament. The “terrorist attack,” which tragically took the life of Nathan Cirillo, a soldier on sentry duty at the National War Memorial, was the act of an unstable 32-year-old man named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.
Zehaf-Bibeau, whose father was Libyan, had converted to Islam in 2004 and had no known ties to any terrorist group. He’d been living in a homeless shelter and had long-term problems with substance abuse. His attack – along with another that occurred near Montreal shortly before it, in which another man with a long history of mental illness ran over a soldier with his car – were seized on by politicians and the media to push forward new tools needed to fight “Islamic extremism” both at home and abroad.
Soon after Zehaf-Bibeau’s attack, Canadian pilots joined in NATO airstrikes on ISIL targets in Iraq, drawing the country into renewed war in that nation – a conflict former Prime Minister Jean Chretian had wisely avoided in 2003. Meanwhile, on the domestic front, the Harper government crafted legislation further empowering Canadian security services at the expense of rights guaranteed to Canadians under the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
L, the final bill, C-51, easily passed its second reading – despite being more wide-ranging than most observers expected. One glaring example was a provision in the bill allowing police to engage in what were previously illegal searches and seizures in terrorism cases.
If made into law, Canadian judges will now be able to issue “disruption warrants” in terrorism cases that “would give cops and spies the go-ahead to ‘enter any place or open or obtain access to anything,’ copy any documents and install or remove anything they see fit.” Some of the language in C-51 defines terrorism so broadly, it appears that anyone who disagrees with neo-liberal aims – whether in economic or foreign policy – could be tarred with the “terrorist” brush.
Read more at Occupy.com.