Guelph rallies against Bill C-51

March 17th, 2015

Colourful impact of protest signs.

Young opinions made themselves seen and heard.

Chapter co-chair Norah Chaloner addresses the crowd.

One of two Guelph rallies against Bill C-51.
The OPIRG rally was held at the end of the day after their wonderful Symposium on Social and Environmental Justice. Local musicians added to both rallies with songs of protest, peace and fairness.\\

Locals turn out to protest Bill C-51

Guelph Mercury By Tony Saxon

GUELPH—Bill C-51 is an affront to democracy that could have serious implications on the freedom and liberties of Canadians.

That was the message being delivered loud and clear Saturday in downtown Guelph at a rally against the proposed so-called anti-terror legislation introduced by the Federal Government that will broaden and enhance the powers of various government agencies and police.

Roughly 175 individuals gathered at the Guelph rally in front of old city hall to hear speakers and songs critical of Bill C-51. The event was one of roughly 70 held across Canada on Saturday as part of the Bill C-51 Day of Action.

The Council of Canadians, individuals seeking to represent parties in the next federal election, former Guelph city councilor Maggie Laidlaw and mayoral candidate Jason Blockhuis were just a few of those who spoke.

“The real terrorists are those in Ottawa supporting Bill C-51,” Laidlaw told the crowd.

“Bill C-51 would launch open season on our private information,” said local citizen Susan Watson. “It puts our basic human rights at risk.”

People carried signs that read “I shouldn’t have to be here,” “say no to a police state” and “big leader is watching you. Two young children held an orange placard stating “we are not extremists.”

Norah Chanelor, president of the local arm of the Council of Canadians who helped organize the rally, said “we’ve got a government that is out of control.”

One man, Guelph resident Gord Domm, circled the back of the crowd engaging lookers-on and handing out literature in support of Bill C-51. Domm believes law enforcement needs the additional powers the legislation would give them to better protect Canadians from terrorists.

The Federal government argues that the increased powers are necessary to modernize and intensify the fight against terror and terrorists. They say it will not be a power that is abused against law abiding Canadians.

The Federal Liberal party has said it will support B-C51 but will amend it if they win the next election. The NDP party and the Green Party will not support it.

Wendy Powell, who is seeking the Federal Liberal nomination locally, was in attendance and spoke against the bill.

“Rallies like this are commonplace and expected from the citizens (in Guelph),” Powell said. “Bill C-51 has the possibility of changing that character forever.”

Former local Green Party candidate Steve Dyck said that “basic democracy is under attack” and echoed the sentiments of most in attendance that people engaging in peaceful protests in Canada could end up on a government watch list.

“Bill C-51 would provide more power and less oversight to Canadian security agencies that are not committed to democracy,” Dyck said.

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