Bill C-51 means return to out-of-control state surveillance, postal workers warn

March 26, 2015

The union representing 51,000 postal workers, which has a lengthy history of allegedly being spied upon by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the RCMP, warned that Conservative government’s sweeping anti-terrorism legislation Bill C-51 would bring back the days of out-of-control state surveillance.

“The Canadian Union of Postal Workers knows what it is like to experience out-of-control state surveillance,” Denis Lemelin, National President of Canadian Union of Postal Workers said.

In the early days of the union, the CSIS mole Grant Bristow, was discovered to be working at a postal plant and in the 1980s, CUPW’s national office was bugged by the RCMP.

In the 1990s, the union asked for its security files under the Access to Information Act, only to be denied the bulk of the records, deemed “harmful to the defence of Canada.”

What was released revealed not only a massive surveillance operation on the daily activities of union members, but also collusion between the RCMP and Canada Post management.

The postal workers warn that Bill C-51 would give CSIS even broader powers to invade the privacy of Canadians in the name of combating terrorism

Similar concerns over the bill’s overly sweeping reach was raised by the president of the Canadian Labour Congress, Hassan Yussuff, who appeared today before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU).

“Increasing the powers of the security establishment will not necessarily make us safer,” Lemelin said. “The lack of civilian oversight and the dearth of monitoring information-sharing between government agencies in this bill is very disturbing.”

“Bill C-51 would make it all too easy to target ordinary working people or any marginalized group and label them ‘terrorists’,” Lemelin concluded. “We should accept no violations of our human rights and freedoms in the name of national security.”

Former Prime Ministers, legal scholars, academics, labour leaders and First Nations chiefs, have joined thousands of citizens across Canada protesting against the bill, which is supported by the Liberal Party but opposed by New Democrats and the Greens.