Pedophiles and Terrorists: or How Vic Toews’s Spy Bill and Counter-Terrorism Strategy Are Related

Vic Toews

by Steve da Silva – Issue #28 (March/April 2012)

In the moral universe of Vic Toews, “you either stand with us or with the child pornographers” when it comes to Bill C-30, the so-called ‘Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act’.

Bill C-30, a.k.a. the Lawful Access bill, would give the police unwarranted access to our online data and would force Internet service providers to comply with their requests. But if the police have a case to be made against suspected criminal activity, they can easily get a warrant from a judge. So why the excess?

Vic Toews' internet surveillance bill provoked widespread opposition in Canada, including in almost all major newspapers, including National Post.

A hint at what this bill is really all about was given five days before the ‘Lawful Access’ Bill was tabled, when Vic Toews released Canada’s first comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy document. ‘Building Resilience Against Terrorism’ plays on all the old trumped-up terrorist bogeys to justify Canada’s approach to counter-terrorism.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Hezbollah, Al Shabaab in Somalia – like their ideologies of these groups or not their struggles are caught up with the inalienable right to national liberation, which is not simply terrorism.

The guide calls for a “proportionate and measured response to terrorism”.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper used these precise words at the beginning of his first term in support of Israel’s merciless bombing of Lebanon in 2006.

The primary instance of “homegrown terrorism” cited by the guide is the case of the Toronto 18, failing to recall that at the center of that Sunni terrorist plot was a CSIS agent.

All the terrorist threats listed in the guide are dubious, and I would argue are not even the main target of the Canadian government. Rather, the most revealing passages in the report, getting at the heart of both the counter-terrorism strategy and the government’s move towards warrantless spying, is arguably the following: “Low-level violence by domestic-based groups remains a reality in Canada… revolving around the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism, and anti-capitalism.”

And what exactly does “low-level violence” mean? The guide also tells us that any act intended to compromise Canada’s “economic security” is also a terrorist act. That could mean a road blockade or a direct action protest.

So if pounding scores of skulls into the pavement at the G20 Summit in Toronto is “law and order” and unbridled warrantless access to the internet records of Canadians is “lawful access”, and if the people carry out just a little “low-level violence” against a government that most likely committed electoral fraud to tip the last election is called “terrorism”, well…  It’s really not about “you’re with us, or you’re with the pedophiles.” I think George Bush was more to the point when he told us “You’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.”  So be it Vic Toews, Stephen Harper:  by you’re definition, many of us are with the “terrorists”.