After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!
Online spying, "foreign radicals" and faux patriotism: Conservatives bare draconian teeth
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Danger is a frightening word to be batted about by a government – one that has drastic consequences for freedom of speech and human rights in Canada. But with the stakes higher than ever – and the Conservatives seemingly unwilling to tolerate any dissent – perhaps Anonymous' attack is merely a symptom of increasingly desperate times.
As 2012 dawned, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives already had some draconian laws on the books. But locking up small-time pot growers for longer than pedophiles who force children to have sex with animals (Bill C-10) and tossing war-fleeing refugees into indefinite, automatic detention (Bill C-31, formerly C-4) evidently weren't enough to demonstrate their newfound might to Canadians.
This regime has now labelled its critics child pornographers, foreign radicals,"anti-Canada" – even Nazis.
Emboldened by their new, unstoppable electoral mandate – which, when tallied with voter turnout, actually amounted to only 24 per cent of Canadian voters' support – the federal Conservatives are now showing average Canadians their teeth with some seriously scary legislation on the book this spring, which undermine civil liberties and human rights.
Playing on irrational fears of pedophiles, foreigners, immigrants and terrorists – the government is no longer couching its agenda in moderate terms. They're making it illegal to prevent the national flag from flying, ratcheting up the penalties for damaging war memorials, banning face coverings from both citizenship ceremonies and demonstrations, and even comparing gun-control advocates to the Nazis.
The question is not whether Harper can achieve his vision to make Canada unrecognizable to future generations – that much, sadly, seems assured. A better question is, what will it take to stop him?