Conservatives should be ringing C-51 alarm bells

Sahtlam – About a year ago, several hundred Cowichanians descended on Brentwood College to see the prime minister. Afterwards, a couple hundred of us crowded around the PM, politely and disorganizedly waiting our turn for a handshake and a photo. There was little obvious security, despite protesters blockading the entrance gate. No metal detectors, no latex gloves, and nobody was listening in on our smartphones as we tweeted and texted about what we were doing.

That’s the Canada I love.

By contrast, our American cousins have cocooned themselves in a bubble wrap of Homeland Security, Patriot Act, NSA monitoring and who knows what else – and they can’t get within a postal code of their leader.

That’s no way to run a civil society.

Security is a legitimate governmental responsibility. The federal government has an obligation to respond to threats to our way of life. But there is another obligation – to have a frank conversation with voters when significant changes are proposed. I am troubled Bill C-51 is not generating that conversation – political heat, yes, but not much substantive discussion. Freedom from unwarranted government intrusion lies at the heart of conservatism, but that voice has been troublingly silent.

Nobody is asking what happens when the government inevitably changes, and the expanded, poorly limited powers of C-51 are placed in the hands of an unknown future leader. Are Conservatives comfortable with the C-51 arsenal being in the hands of Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Mulcair? Shouldn’t Conservatives be as worried about that as critics of the current government are worried today?

Of course they should – because C-51 as currently written is a knife that cuts deep, with little discrimination. As Conrad Black recently wrote: “Alarms bells really must ring!”

Damir Wallener