Students For Liberty is currently accepting applications for $100 Constitution Day Activism Grants to help you bring conversations about the Constitution to your campus this Constitution Day! This week and next, we’ll be sharing ideas for creative events and activism centered around the Constitution. Here’s one from SFL’s North American Programs Intern, Nicholas Mejia.

1470173_879174332095442_7587338745395700405_n-300x225 (1)Congressman Ron Paul once said, “Demanding domestic security in times of war invites carelessness in preserving civil liberties and the right of privacy. Frequently the people are only too anxious for their freedoms to be sacrificed on the altar of authoritarianism thought to be necessary to remain safe and secure. Nothing would please the terrorists more than if we willingly gave up some of our cherished liberties while defending ourselves from their threat.” Just weeks later, on October 26, 2001 The Patriot Act was passed bringing into the law the very things Paul was afraid of. Fourteen years later, with an ongoing War on Terror, many of our civil liberties lay in a graveyard, all in the name of security.

On the 14-year anniversary of 9/11, many Americans will turn to memories of that terrifying day as a way to remember those lost and celebrate the bravery and service of first responders. But as many libertarians have noted today, and on past anniversaries, it is also an appropriate time to reflect on the sweeping growth of the security state set off by that the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.

Since the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon that fateful day, we’ve seen, as The Nation describes it: “Fourteen years of wars, interventions, assassinations, torture, kidnappings, black sites, the growth of the American national security state to monumental proportions, and the spread of Islamic extremism across much of the Greater Middle East and Africa.” Under the Bush administration, the rollback of freedoms was sudden and strong, leading to protests and increasing dissatisfaction with his presidency. (more…)

Students For Liberty is currently accepting applications for $100 Constitution Day Activism Grants to help you bring conversations about the Constitution to your campus this Constitution Day! This week and next, we’ll be sharing ideas for creative events and activism centered around the Constitution. 

It’s a classic campus game. And now, pong can help you highlight the Bill of Rights during next Thursday’s Constitution Day festivities! With just a week left to prepare, it can seem like a pretty tall order to pull off a fun and informative Constitution-themed event, but sometimes the most successful activities are the simplest. A civil-liberties centered game of pong is just one example of how, with a little creativity, you can bring conversations about the Constitution to campus using things that most students already have on hand.

Ne0KUOhiLtzaSLxwmrzEc9UO7yekBdviGyZEJ9ktvEcAs you’ll see, there are plenty of ways to approach this, from setting up a table on your quad to help drive recruitment, to making a tournament-style competition out of it. As long as you get students engaged in the game, you’ll at least get them thinking about their rights. Here are some quick instructions on how to set up a game: (more…)

In the aftermath of the Ottawa shooting last October, I wrote an article on how the emerging Islamophobia is a threat to our country’s multiculturalism and could lead to the infringement of civil liberties. This shooting has no doubt sent the country into a state of polarization regarding whether liberty or security should triumph as a response to the tragedy. One side views liberty as indispensable in the aftermath of the shooting and therefore vouches to maintain an adherence to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The other side views the event as a failure in the security of Canadians and therefore vouches to ramp up the powers of the government to combat the fears of future threats.

lkjUnfortunately, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada have opted for the latter response and have been on a crusade to strengthen Canadian security from extremist and terrorist activities. In the pursuit of strengthening our security, the Harper government has put forward Bill C-51 (or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2015) as an attempt to make a multitude of changes. Some of these changes range from amending the Criminal Code of Canada, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, to enacting the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act. In any regard, these changes are unnecessary, vague, and disgracefully illiberal for a country such as Canada. While my fellow Canadian colleague, Vanessa Walsh, has recently discussed how anti-liberty this legislation is in a great article, I seek to showcase some of the more specific issues with Bill C-51.

For starters, the Security of Canadian Information Sharing Act authorizes the Government of Canada and other government institutions to disclose information about Canadian citizens amongst each other “in order to protect Canada against activities that undermine the security of Canada.” This could indirectly lead to a governmental information sharing network that has the ability to easily lead to the establishment of databases on individuals, whether it is their health records or educational background. Though specific government institutions have access to this information already, checks and balances on the distribution of this information amongst non-related government institutions is absent, because there is no process of independent review to be found in the legislation. And like many pieces of anti-terrorism legislation around the world, the definition of what undermines security is very vague. And due to this vagueness, the privacy rights of Canadian citizens can easily be infringed upon, whether Aboriginal or Quebecois sovereigntists, purely because of the clause that mentions the undermining of “territorial integrity” as a threat to Canadians.

The Secure Air Travel Act also raises many concerns regarding the undermining of Canadian civil liberties. In this act, instead of sharing information between different Canadian government institutions being theBill C51 issue, the issue is sharing information between nation-states, particularly Canada’s no-fly list. Like the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, there is no independent review in the process to protect the sovereignty of the Canadian people’s information, nor is there any way to challenge the placement of Canadian citizens on the no-fly list in the first place. (more…)

An issue currently abuzz across the border in the Great White North is the Canadian federal government Bill C-51, or the “Anti-Terrorism Act 2015.”  Its aim is to promote the idea that Canadians should be able to “live free from threats to their lives and their security,” as “there is no more fundamental role for a government than protecting its country and its people.'”  After some recent, relatively extreme protests in Canada, such as unlawful protests against fracking, bike-trail sabotage to dissuade mountain bikers (odd, I know), road and railway blockades to protest pipeline construction, and a recent terrorist attack in Ottawa last unnamedOctober, the Canadian government has decided it is high-time to crack down on any and every potential terrorist ‘threat’.  Sounds peachy, doesn’t it?  Oh yeah, but then there’s that thing above that says “a fundamental role of government is to protect its people.”  From a libertarian perspective, suddenly that doesn’t sound so good.

Because Bill C-51 promotes the idea that anyone can be arrested on the belief that they are a terrorist, allows CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) the power to remove that which they think may be terrorist propaganda from the internet or directly from citizens, and does not specify exactly what are “reasonable grounds” to justify throwing someone in jail for five years, I believe it must be re-evaluated before it passes as law, not only to promote anti-terrorism, but also to maintain civil liberties of Canadians across the county.  

One of the scariest ideas this proposed bill presents is allowing for greatly elevated subjectivity when legal officials decide on how to incarcerate or punish an individual for (suspected) terrorist activities. Who is the Canadian government to say that, all of a sudden, their authority will be legitimate in carrying out legal and prosecutorial decisions based solely on what they think? Clearly, this type of thinking will have international ramifications, as well as those that are coming from within the country itself. I can only imaging the complications that could arise if American suspects (let’s say for the sake of the audience), were taken into custody by Canadian officials simply because there existed a law that allowed them to do so.  It would be an uproar. (more…)