You are a threat to the security of Canada

Year Published:  1983  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX2874

Abstract:  YOU ARE A THREAT TO THE SECURITY OF CANADA analyzes briefly how Bill C-157, the federal legislation to create a new security agency, threatens the security and liberties of a wide range of Canadians. The vague working of many clauses in the legislation gives tremendous discretionary power to the proposed security agency and its staff. According to the legislation, "threats to the security of Canada" can include "foreign influenced activities within or relating to Canada detrimental to the interests of Canada or any state allied or asscoicated with Canada." This could, if the service so decided, justify the targetting of the peace movement (suspected to be under Soviet influence), or Latin American solidarity groups, or church groups active in Third World politics. Also defined as a security threat are activities "intended ultimately to lead to the destruction of overthrow of the constitutionally established system of government. This provision could be aimed at the Parti Quebecois or other separatist groups, as well as monarchists, anarchists and senate abolitionists.

In these, and a number of other similar provisions, the security service would be able to decide on its own discretion who to proceed against, and by what means. The RCMP security service, with a much narrower mandate, used surveillance, wire-taps, breakins, mail opening and other more spectacular tactics against unions, separatists, community groups, Members of Parliament, the New Democratic Party, the Parti Quebecois, Native groups, and news agencies, as well as against more radical but non-violent political groups. YOU ARE A THREAT argues that the new legislation would almost certainly lead to more widespread and systematic action against all kinds of social and political groups, who would seem "subversive" to the security officers whose training and inclination lead them to view everything unorthodox or oppositional as a threat to society.

The Bill would authorize the security service to use the surveillance methods listed in the preceding paragraph, as well as to examine confidential medical records, census data, tax returns, business records and work records. It specifically allows agents to break the law and to do whatever is "reasonalby necessary" to carry out their duties. The Director of the Security Services is given the ultimate power to decide what groups and activities in investigate: neither government nor Parliament would have the authority or information to question or overrule his decisions. Individuals, the press and Members of Parliament are also largely prevented from protesting any specific abuses that occur: the legislation would meke it illegal to do anything that might tned to reveal the identity of a member of the service.

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