Category Archives: SFSC

SFSC Event: Stolen Land – First Nations, Palestinians at the Frontline of Resistance

Watch video of the event:

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SFSC Event Sept 24: Big Brother is Watching – A discussion of Bills C51 & C24

Thursday September 24, 5:30pm-7pm
Rm 7000 SFU Downtown, 515 West Hastings St, Vancouver

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SFSC Article: Bill C51 – Zero Tolerance for Criticism of Israel

fearMany Canadians are aware of the Harper government’s big fear agenda in this federal election. Bill C-51’s threats to the fundamental rights and liberties of Canadian citizens have been highlighted by judges, present and former MPs, lawyers, academics, unions, environmental groups, First Nations, civil libertarians, business leaders, and mainstream media.

Less well-known, but equally frightening, are the Conservative’s actions to be “Israel’s best friend” no matter what it does. That includes suppressing Canadians who criticize Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and those who support non-violent efforts – such as boycotts – to end the occupation. Continue reading

Vancouver Sun: Award-winning library director calls terrorism bill this generation’s ‘most repressive’ legislation

By Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun

Brian Campbell, former director of the Vancouver Public Library, has been named recipient of 2015 Award for the Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada from the Canadian Library Association.

The retired 71-year-old former systems and planning director has defended free speech and promoted free and equal access to information both inside and outside of libraries throughout his career.

During Campbell’s 25-year B.C. library career, he played a leading role in library association campaigns against federal government plans to reduce statistics gathering programs, raise fees for government information, and eliminate the government depository program. He also chaired library committees that campaigned for passage of provincial freedom of information and protection of privacy laws.

In his acceptance speech on May 21, Campbell, who helped found and run Vancouver FreeNet (now Vancouver Community Network), described the Harper government’s anti-terrorism bill (C-51) as the “most repressive piece of legislation introduced in this generation.” He warned that libraries could be put at risk by the bill’s broad definition of terrorist. Continue reading

SFSC Video: Singing the Praises of the ‘Anti-Terrorist’ Bill C-51


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SFSC at Just Film Fest

IMG_20150322_130801SFSC had table at the Just Film Festival at Langara College last weekend (both Saturday the 21st and Sunday the 22nd) and sponsored two films: “The Koch Brothers” on Saturday at noon, and “Vessel” (about abortion rights) Sunday at 1:30.

Films on Palestine/Israel at the festival included: The People and The Olive, Al Helm: MLK in Palestine and The Lab
http://justfilm.ca/films-topic-2014/palestine-israel/

Lots of people dropped by the table to see our leaflets and books.

SFSC Article: Bill C-51 (Anti-Terrorism Act 2015) is the culmination of repressive government legislation

Brian Campbell, Canadian Library Association (CLA) Advancement of Intellectual Freedom Award Acceptance Speech, 2015

I would like to begin by thanking the CLA Intellectual Freedom Advisory Committee, and Alvin Schrader, Chair and former recipient, for choosing me for the prestigious CLA Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada Award. It is an honour to follow in the footsteps of June Callwood, Les Fowlie, the Toronto Public Library Board, and other exemplars of intellectual freedom in Canada.

This award does not represent the work of one person but the work of many. Thank you to all those involved in the work of the BCLA Intellectual Freedom Committee, and the BCLA and CLA Information Policy Committees. I would especially like to thank everyone who wrote such generous letters of recommendation about my work.

The early years of the BCLA Intellectual Freedom Committee focussed, like many, on defending individual authors and books from censorship. We participated in Freedom to Read Week and developed educational materials, but our work was primarily defensive. However, a climate was developing, following the example of the Reagan Administration, to reduce government collection of data and access to it. The suppression of information access through self-censorship and government regulation was growing.

The BCLA Intellectual Freedom Committee began to take on projects broader than cases of individual defence. In conjunction with and under the leadership of Les Fowlie we participated in the 1988 fight against Bill C-54 (proposed amendments to the Criminal Code and the Customs Tariff regarding pornogaphy). As BC libraries distributed postcards, Toronto Public Library, in an heroic act of defiance, shut down most of its branches for a half day study session. Continue reading

SFSC Article: BILL C-51: SHUT IT DOWN BEFORE IT SHUTS US UP!

Billc51flyerSFSC Flyer
A spectre is haunting Canada, the spectre of so-called “anti-terrorism legislation”, raising fear in order to enable control.

The Harper Conservative government, supported by the Liberals, is about to pass Bill C-51, the 2015 Anti-Terrorism Act, that substantially expands the already-considerable powers of CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service), the RCMP, border services and other agencies.

Among other things, it lowers the bar for “preventive detention” if an agency thinks someone “may” (changed from “will”) commit a crime. It lowers standards for putting someone on a no-fly list, and broadens the definition of “terrorism”.

Under Bill C-51, you would break the law “by speaking, writing, recording, gesturing or other visible representation, knowingly advocate or promote the commission of terrorism offenses in general”.

Terrorism includes “undermining the security of Canada”, “interference with critical infrastructure” or “the economic or financial stability of Canada”. Continue reading

SFSC: Harper’s Anti-Terrorism Act isn’t about Terrorism: it’s a Torture Act

By Michael Keefer, SFSC Member

The Harper government’s Bill C-51, or Anti-Terrorism Act, has been in the public domain for over a month. Long enough for us to know that it subverts basic principles of constitutional law, assaults rights of free speech and free assembly, and is viciously anti-democratic.

An unprecedented torrent of criticism has been directed against this bill as the government rushes it through Parliament. This has included stern or at least sceptical editorials in all the major newspapers; an open letter, signed by four former Prime Ministers and five former Supreme Court judges, denouncing the bill for exposing Canadians to major violations of their rights; and another letter, signed by a hundred Canadian law professors, explaining the dangers it poses to justice and legality.

As its critics have shown, the bill isn’t really about terrorism: it’s about smearing other activities by association―and then suppressing them in ways that would formerly have been flagrantly illegal. The bill targets, among others, people who defend the treaty rights of First Nations, people who oppose tar sands, fracking, and bitumen-carrying pipelines as threats to health and the environment, and people who urge that international law be peacefully applied to ending Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. (Members of this latter group include significant numbers of Canadian Jews.)

But the Anti-Terrorism Act is more mortally dangerous to Canadian democracy than even these indications would suggest. A central section of the act empowers CSIS agents to obtain judicial warrants―on mere suspicion, with no requirement for supporting evidence―that will allow them to supplement other disruptive actions against purported enemies of Harperland with acts that directly violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other Canadian laws.
The only constraints placed on this legalized law-breaking are that CSIS agents shall not “(a) cause, intentionally or by criminal negligence, death or bodily harm to an individual; (b) wilfully attempt in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice; or (c) violate the sexual integrity of an individual.”

The second of these prohibitions―occurring in the midst of a bill that seeks systematically to obstruct citizens in the exercise of their rights, pervert justice, and defeat democracy―might tempt one to believe that there is a satirist at work within the Department of Justice. (Note, however, that CSIS agents can obstruct, pervert and defeat to their hearts’ content, so long as they do so haphazardly, rather than “wilfully.”)
But the first and third clauses amount to an authorization of torture. Continue reading

SFSC Letter: to Hassan Diab r.e. Canadian government’s ruthless reaction to dissent

M. DIAB Hassan
416299 Z D3
Maison d’arret des hommes
7, avenue des peupliers
91705 FLEURY-MEROGIS
France

Dear Hassan,

I am writing on behalf of the Seriously Free Speech Committee (SFSC) to express our solidarity with you in the totally unjust situation in which you find yourself.

The SFSC was formed seven years ago to defend three people faced with a civil lawsuit for producing a parody of the Vancouver Sun’s (Vancouver’s dominant newspaper) one-sided reporting of the Israel-Palestine situation. We have since continued defending organizations and individuals who have been attacked for their support for Palestine or criticism of the Israeli occupation.

Your case, despite the substantial evidence of your innocence, exhibits the profound viciousness of the Stephen Harper Conservative government towards anyone not uncritically supporting the State of Israel. The flawed evidence that was used to justify your extradition is hardly conceivable in a fair justice system. Legal experts, handwriting experts and even the judge question the evidentiary flaws exhibited in the handwriting analysis. The unfair trials under France’s anti-terrorism law, the prejudice of the French legal system against Palestinian supporters and the weakness of extradition laws in Canada have resulted in your extradition. Unfortunately your extreme situation reflects the Canadian government’s ruthless reaction to dissent. Continue reading