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What’s More Worrying? Bill C-51 or the Fact That So Many People Don’t Know What’s In It?

Far more disturbing than what’s in Bill C-51 is the fact that most Canadians don’t seem to care about it. I don’t know if they’re scared, or uninformed, or think Earth will soon be knocked off its axis by a rogue planet sending us all hurtling into the sun so nothing matters anyway. In any case, here are a few reminders.

Free speech is important. Once you allow speech you don’t like to be criminalized, you’re allowing the government to create a list of illegal ideas. That list will expand no matter which party is in power. Once a state outlaws a few kinds of speech, it gets all jacked up and has to keep that buzz going and before you know it they’ve snorted up a whole pile of them and have you cornered at a party talking your ear off about politics.

Civil disobedience is important. Some will say if you’re not doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear from bill C-51, but “wrong” and “illegal” are not the same thing. If they were, when someone guesses incorrectly on Jeopardy Alex Trebek would say “Ohhh, I’m sorry, that answer is illegal. We were looking for Topeka. You are under arrest.” The point is, sometimes things are illegal AND morally right. Most social advancement starts with some kind of civil disobedience.

Intelligence agencies are not your friend. I’m not against them in principle, but if we’re going to allow people to exercise power in secret, we need to give them a laser-like focus and keep them on a short leash. We’re on the cusp of giving them a fog-like focus, and instead of democratic oversight we’re installing an applause sign.

And a final reminder, keeping Canadians safe is not the most important function of government. And if you think it should be, then please lock yourself up in a nice, safe bomb shelter and stop ruining the country for the rest of us.

This video was originally produced for the Toronto Star.

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We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

But here’s the thing: just two per cent of The Narwhal’s readers step up to keep our stories free for all to read. Will you join the two per cent and become a member of The Narwhal today?

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