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The Vermilion Voice | August 24, 2015

The Solace Of Open Skies

Margaret Lonsdale Columnist

We owned a holiday trailer once. It was one of the smallest models manufactured by Boler, more a place to sleep than a home on wheels. We have many memories of the old beige and maroon, most of them comprised of material suitable for a Larson cartoon. In the beginning, a small family arrives at a campsite after sundown and weary from travel. Kids, glad to finally be released from the prison of the vehicle, watch as their parents alternate in attempts to back up their newly acquired mini trailer into the narrow, dark space allotted them. Finding themselves quite inept at the task, they finally unhook the trailer and heave-push it into place, laughing madly but so grateful for having made the choice of purchasing such a lightweight unit. Having graduated, at least temporar-

we enjoyed the beauty of wilderness camping in the absence of campfires. Except for the dim light of a few candles and our reading lamps, our imaginations provided the only illumination after sunset. We slumbered with the rising moon and awakened with the first light at sunrise. On the day that it finally rained, we huddled inside our tiny space, reading and telling stories. Accusing each other of using up too much oxygen and fogging up the windows. We made some good memories, I think. The Boler is long gone, sold for a reasonable price to a family with children whose feet don’t stick out the windows when they climb into their bunk beds. When last I spoke with them, it sounded as though they were enjoying it almost as much as we did. We talk sometimes about getting a travel trailer but that’s been going on for years and neither of us is genuinely interested. This summer, we assembled what

Bill C-51 Challenge

Nancy Mereska Columnist

ily, from occupying spaces in the tent village near the creek, one year we set up our tiny shelter on wheels in the camper section of a site near the Canmore Folk Festival. Upon tumbling out the hobbit door to start a fire for morning coffee, we discovered the ground snow-covered and the temperature hovering around w h ere’s - my- par ka d e gre e s. O vernight, the concrete slabs that passed for ‘campsites’ on either side of us had been rented. What are the dimensions of a Greyhound bus, do you suppose? This is what a mouse feels like in the presence of an elephant, I thought as I looked up from ground level from one to the other of our towering neighbours. A person half-emerged from the unit to the east as we cooked breakfast, but I guess she changed her mind when the cold air licked at her ankles. Camping comes in many forms. At least those big units sheltered us somewhat from the winds. During one particularly dry season,

The litany of laws enacted with Royal Assent in Canada since 9/11 is enough to make any stu d ent of law sweat with apprehension if given the assignment to write a paper summarizing these laws: The Anti-Terrorism Act, Bill C-36 passed Dec. 2004; Public Safety Act, May 2004; An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings became a terrorist act), 2011; Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, 2013; Nuclear Terrorism Act, Nov 2013; Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, 2014—giving government the right to revoke dual citizenship of those involved

in terrorist activities; Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, March 2015; the second Anti-Terrorism Act, Bill C-51, enacted June 2015; and lastly, Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act, C-44, not enacted yet. All the above gives CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) more powers than ever imagined. However, with all those extra powers, e.g. spying on emails, collecting names for no-fly lists, being more involved with border security, etc. they could only collect and analyze information. The information then is passed onto the proper authorities who can arrest the alleged offender and run them through our court system as outlined by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms—the high-

est law in our nation. Every enacted law has passed the test of being measured against this law which is our Supreme Law protected by our Constitution. Someone was asleep at the switch when Bill C-51 was given Assent. Bill C-51 jumps the boundaries of our Charter giving CSIS the right to approach a judge in a secret hearing to ask for a warrant. Terrorism promotion is addressed in Bill C-51 to the point where journalists are not sure what will happen to their freedom of speech and press. Is writing about or reporting on terrorist activity a crime? The law is ambiguous at best in explaining this. The Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association are challenging this law. And, rightly

remains of our camping equipment, leftover from the days before the Boler. Stuff not ‘borrowed’ for the weekend by one of our sons never to be seen again---at least not by us. The tent is older than I care to calculate. One of the zippers on the fly sticks and there are a couple of patches in the fabric. I look for trees in campsites to supplement raincover. Last week, we lay on our mats under the open skies to witness the Perseid meteor showers. The August midnight grass was damp and the air chill. But gazing up, even with vision afflicted by more acute myopia than I’d prefer, none of those details mattered. I listened to the waves from the lake, heard the quiet flutter of leaves lifted by the subtle summer breeze. I gazed up into the black midnight skies at the stars a million miles away and felt the rhythm of my own heartbeat, temporarily allowing the complex concerns of the world to fade to an almost inaudible whisper.

so. Our Charter does not allow an alleged offender to be charged “in secret”. Article 11 outlines specifically the procedure for criminal and penal matters. And if writing about or reporting terrorist activity is “promoting” what happens to Article 2 of the Charter which guarantees “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication”? Unfortunately, the Harper government has enacted legislation that should have been stopped cold at the Royal Assent stage. Who was asleep at the switch? With the litany of laws already floating about to protect Canadians, we do not need one that usurps our Charter rights.

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