Terrorism is a real and horrifying threat, and we need a solution. The federal government has had a lot of time to do something about it: Canadian security agencies foiled a plan in 2006, arresting 18 people and preventing the bombing of parliament and other important institutions. This winter, several of our military were murdered and our parliament attacked. Last month, an international terrorist group urged its members to bomb West Edmonton Mall. We have all seen what those monsters will do; we would be idiotic not to take terrorism very seriously indeed.

So why has our federal government continually reduced funding to the agencies that protect us? Defence Minister Jason Kenney says that the budget has grown from $14 billion to $20 billion since 2006, but that’s misleading. That figure is not adjusted for inflation and — this is the real problem — they weren’t allowed to spend their budget.

The reality is that our federal government has prevented our military, RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Agency from spending $11 billion since 2007. The Canadian Press published a news item on February 20 that public accounts records show spending is down by 13 per cent at defence, seven per cent at CSIS and by 20 per cent with the RCMP. So our government has allocate a bigger budget so they can say they have in the news, but quietly won’t let them spend it. That’s a sneaky tactic and we deserve better.

So if Bill C-51 isn’t about stopping terrorist plots, what is it about? And, even if we get a balanced law that addresses terrorist threats and protects our privacy, it cannot do us much good if Harper’s government refuses to fund enforcement.

We have to watch what happens, and not accept the government’s spin when it comes to our security. Let’s not forget that CSIS got in big trouble in 2013 for misleading the federal court because it wanted to spy illegally on Canadians living abroad. Now, I am all for spying on Canadians if they are involved in terrorist activities. But our spy agencies must be accountable to somebody: that’s part of the job description for parliament and our courts.

What bothers me more than anything is that our government is using the very real threat of terrorism to play politics instead of coming clean about what they are actually doing.

Nora Abercrombie
CEO, Green Party of Canada for Battle River – Crowfoot
(Submitted to local newspapers on March 15, 2015)