Arrow Lakes News
Nakuspians took to the streets Saturday to protest Stephen Harper’s proposed anti-terrorist Bill C-51. Organizer Ieneke Van Houten was merely looking for a way to “stand up and be counted,” when she found herself inadvertently at the centre of Nakusp’s protest activities on Saturday.
“I found out about the protests too late to travel to Vernon or Nelson, so I thought why not get a few people together here in Nakusp,” she explained. Van Houten took to Facebook and the telephone to get the word out in hopes of adding a few like-minded people to her cause, inviting anybody interested to join her at noon on Saturday at the gazebo in the park.
Approximately 15 people showed up in the rain with hand-made signs in tow to demonstrate against the bill, which was introduced to parliament on February 23. The bill has been widely criticized and heavily debated.
NDP MP Jack Harris stated in Parliament, “Terrorism is a real threat and everyone agrees that public safety is a top priority for any government. However, Canadians do not have to choose between their security and their rights. This is in fact a false choice presented to the people of Canada by the current government and by the Prime Minister.”
Shawna Lagore, who attended with her husband Michael Lagore and their puppy Eddie said, “He (Harper) is fear mongering. He is going to use this law against everyday Canadians. A scientist on Burnaby Mountain had the RCMP called on him for taking photos. That’s scary.”
Michael Lagore added, “It’s a pretty big can of worms. Protesting could lead to criminal charges. I’m wondering who they are going to go after with the idea of ‘let’s make an example of this.’ It’s a concern for people if they ever want to say anything against the government.”
The group gathered together for coffee afterward and shared their thoughts and reasons for protesting the bill.
Walter Pasieka spoke about those who didn’t join in to march on Saturday and said, “Hitler and Stalin did not kill one person. All of the quiet people cause the horrors in the world.”
When asked why she participated, Mary Freebairn said, “I’ve been watching all of the coverage and seeing the petitions as they have come by. I just feel that it’s another step towards taking away our freedoms and it’s instilling fear unnecessarily. As far as I can tell they have all the rights they need to be able to stop terrorist attacks.”
Leda Botting added, “Most of the things in the news today are designed to draw our attention away from the real issues and the real problems of the world today. It’s all distraction and fear and people need to raise their awareness to what the real issues are and how do we solve these problems together in unity. Media pits people against each other over and over so that everybody is looking over their shoulder. We need to move away from this.”
Ros Lindgren said, “I came because of protecting our democracy. I feel that there are too many holes in the bill and it could eventually affect our freedom, our right to speak out.”
Van Houten said she is speaking out on Bill C-51 because it is “putting us on the road to becoming a police state. It’s terrifying. The oversight is completely missing. The definitions of terrorist is so vague that if I am not on the list of terrorists by now, I am doing something wrong.”