Vancouver joins “United We Stand, A Canada-Wide Rally to Stop Bill C-51” on April 18th
This Saturday, April 18 at 1pm at the Vancouver Art Gallery (Georgia St), Vancouverites are being invited to join with thousands of Canadians and residents of Canada across the country in solidarity against Bill C-51 at a family friendly, peaceful demonstration against the federal government’s proposed "Anti-Terrorism" legislation (see Backgrounder below).
Vancouver’s rally on April 18 is unique in that it is not being organized under any particular organization or name. It is the joint effort of a broad coalition facilitated by a group of concerned citizens, and at present is supported by groups including the Dogwood Initiative, the BCGEU, the Vancouver District Labour Council, the Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians, Rising Tide, Caretakers of Burnaby Mountain, The Working Group to Stop Bill C-51, In Solidarity with all Land Defenders, Critical Muslim Voices, Salaam and Siraat, with more organizations confirming their support and participation daily. All federal political parties and Members of Parliament in Greater Vancouver have been invited to participate as well.
Present at the rally will be a number of musicians including Zach Gray of The Zolas and speakers including Kai Nagata (Dogwood Initiative), Hasan Alam (Critical Muslim Voices), Audrey Siegl (Idle No More), Ershad Fawcett (Genesis Family Empowerment Society) and John Gray (freelance journalist and technology entrepreneur). This program will begin promptly at 1pm and will conclude with a march through downtown Vancouver. The march will include several short stops during which the public will be invited to engage in discussion about Bill C-51.
Individuals and organizations of all political and social backgrounds across the country have been mobilizing against Bill C-51 in Canada-wide coalitions. Locally, a Vancouver Working Group to Stop Bill C-51 has held 8 weekly actions at various skytrain stations to educate the public about C-51 and call on them to join actions like the demo on April 18th. Coordinator, Charles Boylan, urges, "Because C-51 attacks the privacy and rights of all, everyone, regardless of their politics, should unite in action to defeat C-51."
Unaffiliated concerned citizens of Vancouver have also mobilized against Bill C-51 since February, raising awareness through petition drives and by launching a letter-writing campaign that has spread across Canada. This campaign has filled the mailboxes of targeted Conservative and Liberal MPs with thousands of letters from concerned Canadians and residents of Canada, asking them to break with their parties and vote against the bill.
“I failed to follow politics closely for years and learning about Bill C-51 jarred me out of this slumber,” says Bowinn Ma. “This bill threatens our democratic rights and freedoms and we simply cannot take these for granted. Like many others, I have been compelled to do whatever was in my power to raise awareness about this proposed legislation and facilitate the _expression_ of their opposition to their Members of Parliament. Generally, the more people know about the legislation, the less they like it and mass opposition during an election year is what is needed to stop it.”
For more information about the rally program, visit www.stopbillc51.ca/vancouver. Media feeds will be available.
Media contact for Vancouver:
This proposed legislation, which has been denounced by a vast range of groups and prominent individuals including the Canadian Bar Association and four former Prime Ministers, threatens the rights and freedoms of all in Canada.
Among many concerns regarding Bill C-51, the legislations threatens to:
1. Violate Charter Rights, according to 100 legal experts and professors in an open letter to the public;
2. Be rushed through Parliament with little debate or meaningful amendments;
3. Risk turning CSIS, an intelligence agency, into “a secret police”; and
4. Act as a catch-all for those who dissent and criticize the government and its agencies, treating environmental, indigenous, and other activist groups as “threats to national security” on par with “terrorism”.
On Saturday, April 18th, 2015 Canadians and residents of Canada will gather to protest this bill. While concerns about the bill are diverse, dissenters agree that it is a reckless and dangerous legislation, which even if amended, could be abused to infringe on our democratic right to free speech and _expression_. This Canada-Wide demonstration is timed to occur before the legislation undergoes a third and final vote in the House of Commons when parliament resumes on April 20th, 2015.
This Canada-Wide Rally is being hosted in cities and towns across Canada, including: Vancouver, Victoria, Vernon, Prince George, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Brantford, Elliot Lake, Guelph, Kamloops, Halifax, Lethbridge, London, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Sarnia, Sudbury, Fredericton, Kitchener, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Newmarket, Newfoundland, Peterborough, and more are interested and getting organized. This coalition is being coordinated and organized by members of Reddit (/r/Canada), Protest Canada, and local activists from across the country.
For more information: http://www.stopbillc51.ca/.