Volume 95, Issue 54

Tuesday, January 9, 2002
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Bill C-36: dishing out the Canadian philanthropy blues

Whisked away by a nasty video clerk

Bill C-36: dishing out the Canadian philanthropy blues

To the Editor:

Although there have been some welcome changes to Bill C-36, the new Canadian anti-terrorism legislation, it is still highly problematic on a number of fronts, including its clauses dealing with charitable organizations.

The current form of the bill states that it is an offence to provide direct or indirect services that support terrorist activities (Sec. 83.03).

The absurdity of this clause is manifest in the following scenario: If a Canadian charity collects funds to be used in a hospital in Afghanistan and an al-Qaida soldier receives treatment in that facility, that charity will be considered to be supporting a terrorist network and closed down.

Not only will an innocent charity be unable to provide necessary humanitarian aid to suffering people abroad, but those generous individuals who chose to donate their money are now open to possible investigation (Sec. 83.03).

This could act as a deterrent for donors and lead to a decrease in charitable donations from Canadian citizens. To add insult to injury, the investigative apparatus that is in place to convict such organizations of supporting terrorism allows the use of secret evidence that the charity's defence council is prohibited from assessing (Cf. Part 6).

Should that organization be convicted under such shady circumstances, not only will its license be revoked, but its funds would be forfeited to the government (Sec. 83.16).

The bill that ushers this Orwellian era was passed by Parliament on Nov. 28. The Chretien government silenced debate on this issue and rammed Bill C-36 into the Senate, which simply exposes our government's contempt for dissent.

It is currently being debated in the Senate, which opens a window of opportunity for us to voice our opposition to this bill that robs us of many civil liberties.

Dmitry Guller

Medicine I

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