Proposed law threatens free speech in Canada

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is attempting to use his clout as Prime Minister to have controversial Bill C-51 passed into law as soon as possible. Bill C-51’s broad and general language means just about anything the government takes an issue with, such as First Nations people protesting pipelines, could be considered a “threat to Canada.”

Elizabeth May dramatically states the vague wording leaves a lot of room for CSIS to maneuver and apply Bill C-51 to whomever they see fit, such as a Rosa Parks-type person. May emphasizes that the Bill could apply to peaceful protest on Parliament Hill, artists, and may limit and infringe free speech as well as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Students protesting tuition costs such as those in Montreal in previous years could theoretically fall under the far-reaching grasp of Bill C-51. Without trying to sound melodramatic or use the same vague wording, everyone in Canada fall under the jurisdiction of Bill C-51 at some point.

Bill C-51 has received extensive coverage in the media but there are angles which need to be explored. The vague wording has been brought up by some outlets such as the Toronto Star but the reach that Bill C-51 could potentially have has not yet been fully examined.

As of April 2, 2015, Bill C-51 had passed through committee hearings with few changes.


The Toronto Star, “Parliament Should Give Harper’s Flawed Anti-terror Bill the Scrutiny It Merits: Editorial | Toronto Star.” February 25, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2015.

Walkom, Thomas. “Canada’s New Backward-looking Terror Law: Walkom.” January 31, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2015.

O’Malley, Kady. “Bill C-51: Conservatives Soften Stance on Expert Testimony.” CBC News. February 26, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2015.

Rankin, Murray. “Comment: Why Bill C-51 Is Unnecessary and Dangerous.” Times Colonist. February 26, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2015.

Mendes, Errol. “Bill C-51 Threatens to Sacrifice Liberty for Security.” February 24, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2015.

May, Elizabeth. “Harper’s Anti-terror Law Will Turn Canada into a Police State.” February 24, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2015.

Surette, Ralph. “War, Terror, Security: Blowing the Whistle on Harper’s Dirty Politics.” February 23, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2015.

Geist, Michael. “Three Disastrous Privacy Consequences of Bill C-51.” February 20, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2015.

Nerenberg, Karl. “NDP Resists Harper’s ‘anti-terror’ Bill. Liberals Denounce It, but Will Vote for It!” February 19, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2015.

Nader, Ralph. “What’s Happening to Canada? Open Letter from Ralph Nader to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.” February 18, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2015.

Laura Beaulne-Stuebing, “ Bill C-51 wraps up at committee with few changes.” Political Points: Canadian Politics, Yahoo News, April 1, 2015. Accessed at

Student researcher: Creeden Martell (University of Regina)

Faculty evaluator: Patricia Elliott (University of Regina)