Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How to Talk to Conservatives about C-51

Today while browsing the web at lunch, I ran across something fantastic, which I want to share with all of the left-wing friends who are probably reading this blog (because almost all of the people I've met who have openly opposed C-51 have been left-leaning). Apparently, Free Dominion, a discussion forum specifically for conservative Canadians which "at its peak, had over 10,000 members and 3,000 visitors each day", and which the owners shut down due to a libel suit in early 2014, has been restarted, as of 5 days ago. You may not think that's fantastic, but wait for the reason. This is a direct quote from the site admins:
We believe Bill C-51 is the most dangerous piece of legislation ever proposed by a Canadian government. We will be here to help fight it, and, failing that, we will be here to make sure that it becomes a central election issue. (source)
That's right - hard-right Conservative party supporters have the exact same concerns, and if you look on their forum you will see they are reading some of the exact same articles and analysis, as the people of the opposite political persuasion who have been the backbone of the rallies in opposition to this bill. And the admins of Free Dominion care enough that they are willing to risk potential legal consequences by reopening their forum to oppose C-51. So if you're an environmentalist, a social activist, or someone who just has left-leaning values, wondering how to get through to your not-so-left friends about C-51, go check out the talk on Free Dominion for ideas. You won't get a lot of sympathy for your political views on most things, but on C-51, there's what I think is a wonderful (and in my experience, unique - a bill this bad doesn't come along every day) opportunity to build some common ground.

Here's a post specifically outlining why conservatives should oppose C-51

Another item that I noticed yesterday while looking on the Conservative party website for details of the proposed Conservative amendments to C-51, was this statement to Conservative party supporters, titled "Protecting Canadians from Terrorist Threats", released on the day C-51 was first announced, which reads in part:

Jihadist extremists are targeting Canada because of what we stand for. We are known around the world as a beacon of peace, democracy, and individual freedom. That stands in stark contrast to the totalitarian regime they seek to impose across the globe.
We will never sacrifice those rights and freedoms that define us in our quest to improve public safety. [emphasis theirs, not mine]
Prime Minister Harper and our Conservative government will always safeguard the constitutional rights of Canadians – of speech, association, religion, and other freedoms we cherish. This new legislation will come with a wide range of checks and balances to ensure those rights are respected.

Add your name to show your support for these important new measures to protect Canadians from the threats of terrorism.

Constitutional rights are (or at least, appear to me to be) extremely important to Conservative party supporters. Many of them seem to see themselves and the Conservative party as defenders of Canadian values against foreign threats and external dangers, and the Conservative party communication about bill C-51 is, and must necessarily remain, that it is a bill that defends our constitutional rights and Canadian values against terrorists who want un-Canadian things. But there is a very strong case that bill C-51 does in fact sacrifice individual freedoms and Charter-guaranteed rights (whether it improves public safety is a matter open to debate). Whatever your political persuasion, you should reach across to those who normally disagree with you, with those core values surrounding our freedoms as a common ground, to solidify opposition to this bill.

And if you just want to get the NDP or the Greens elected... if you talk to a conservative about C-51, it may be a window of opportunity:

The long-time Conservative party supporter and former volunteer said she is considering casting a vote for the New Democrats over the issue.
Fournier said the NDP is the only major party with a position on the bill that she can support.
"I feel like we're in some kind of alternate universe," she said. "You spend your life working for the Conservative party, and the Conservative party finally gets in, and [now] you're saying, 'I hope the NDP really steps up and protects us from our Conservative government.'" (source)
So to people of the political left: Go talk to people you wouldn't normally talk to about this. To the people of all political persuasions that may read this: when it comes to C-51, the "other side" is on your side.