"Bill C-51 does not even provide the measure of oversight that other countries with comparable spy laws have," Margaret Atwood, told the National Observer in an emailed response to a request for her opinion about the proposed legislation.
Bill C-51 is an anti-terrorism act, which, if passed, will enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code of Canada, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
"So, Canadians should ask themselves," wrote Atwood in an email response, "what happens if their name gets onto an Enemies List by mistake, or even on purpose, through malevolence (their girlfriend's ex-boyfriend doesn't like them, etc.) and their life is messed up, their future is destroyed, they can't fly anywhere, their IP is stolen and sold (why not? Very tempting), their identity is hacked and tampered with, etc.?"
"What recourse would they have? If any? How would they even know who had falsely accused them?"
"This kind of absolutist government power takes us back to the age of the Inquisition."
During the Inquisition, "Sixtus IV promulgated a new bill categorically prohibiting the Inquisition's extension to Aragon, affirming that, 'many true and faithful Christians, because of the testimony of enemies, rivals, slaves and other low people—and still less appropriate—without tests of any kind, have been locked up in secular prisons, tortured and condemned like relapsed heretics, deprived of their goods and properties, and given over to the secular arm to be executed, at great danger to their souls, giving a pernicious example and causing scandal..." Atwood said, referring to a Wikipedia entry on the Inquisition.
She pointed to the Lettre de Cachet, a privilege given to French kings in the years leading up to the French Revolution. Lettre de Cachet originated in the 1300s and gave kings authority to act outside the law, even contrary to the laws. According to Wikipedia, they served the government "as a silent weapon against political adversaries or dangerous writers and as a means of punishing culprits of high birth without the scandal of a lawsuit."
Atwood continued, saying: "Canadians should also look "to the reign of fear of J. Edgar Hoover, who accumulated potential blackmail dirt for his own uses."
Again citing Wikipedia, Atwood wrote that "Late in life and after his death Hoover became a controversial figure, as evidence of his secretive abuses of power began to surface. He was found to have exceeded the jurisdiction of the FBI and have used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders, and to collect evidence using illegal methods. Hoover consequently amassed a great deal of power and was in a position to intimidate and threaten sitting Presidents."
"The Senators should take a good look at 'The Lives of Others,' a fictional but factual peek at the Stasi, and decide if that's what they think Canadians should have to live with.
"If they do think that, they should vote yes. If they don't think that, they should send the bill back to have proper oversight written into it, etc. etc.
"As it is, this bill leaves way too much power in the hands of a very few. Power corrupts. And power of this kind is very, very tempting to those who have it, human nature being what it is."