C-51 protest hits streets

By Wayne Emde

A crowd of about 250 protesters outside the office of North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes, Saturday, in what was billed as a non-partisan gathering.

“Bill C-51 is rash, politically motivated and dangerous,” said Jacqui Gingras, NDP candidate for North Okanagan-Shuswap in the upcoming election. “It turns the Canadian Security Intelligence Service into a secret police force, makes it much easier for government to spy on innocent Canadians and all but negates many of our Charter rights.”

She added the bill defines threats so loosely that environmentalists can be classed as terrorists.

“And all of this will happen without any independent oversight. The Harper government will be the sole practical arbitrator of what is legal and what is not.”

The crowd cheered, except for one gentleman who insisted that it wasn’t a non-partisan event before he left.

Gingras said the effort is necessary because the Harper government is refusing to listen to the experts, national security professionals and even former prime ministers who have denounced the legislation.

Jason Ellinson, who described himself simply as a Vernon parent, told the crowd, “We will change the world for the better if we stand together and reject fear.”

Dave Smith, the Green Party candidate in the upcoming election said the Greens and NDP stand side by side on many issues and noted that voters who define themselves as Liberals and Conservatives generally don’t hold the same value as the parities do.

“Let’s try and build a big tent,” he said. 

After the speeches, the crowd marched through downtown Vernon, waving placards and drawing attention from drivers before dispersing at the art gallery.


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