As a nation, Canada prides itself on being one of the most progressive democracies in the world. With a high standard of living, a good civil rights track record, and one of the best reputations of any country on the planet, our nation is one of the better places to live. However, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t without controversy, especially when it comes to certain laws. Our government has passed plenty of laws that have caused quite a stir, many quite recently. Here are some of the most controversial Canadian laws of recent times.
- Bill C-36: “The prostitution bill”
In most countries, prostitution is illegal. The problem with this approach is that it turns those selling sex into criminals, and doesn’t allow them to take protective measures against would-be attackers. The controversial Bill C-36, backed by Justice Minister Mackay, cracks down on the demand for the service. The bill criminalizes the purchase of sexual services, but not the sale. This was done in hopes of driving down the demand while still giving workers a chance to protect themselves. Seen as a way to make sex workers victims instead of criminals, this bill has seen backlash from both sides. Some see it as too lenient, allowing these workers free reigns over the streets, while some still see the idea of making it illegal as futile, and does nothing but criminalize an unpreventable occurrence.
- Bill C-51: “The anti-terror bill”
Passed with an overwhelming majority by the House, this controversial bill gives the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) unprecedented power to try and combat terror plots. It does more than just give the government more power over information exchange, though. It can now broaden no-fly lists, and make publicly supporting terrorism and terrorists illegal. Most that have criticized the act have pointed to information-sharing powers leading to potential abuse, and that this is too much power to give an organization over the daily lives of people. It could include canceling travel plans, or blocking bank transactions.
- Expat Voting Laws
As things currently stand, Canadians living abroad for more than 5 years are not permitted to vote in elections. Although expats around the world have been fighting for this right for quite some time, it doesn’t seem like the government is in any hurry to change the law. A recent challenge will make its way all the way up to the Supreme Court, but experts say that it is far from guaranteed to prevail.
The logic on the one side is that those living abroad shouldn’t be able to influence the daily lives of Canadians at home, especially when the political changes will have no real effect on them, while others assert that it is their right to vote, and they are free to return to the nation whenever they would like. On the books since 1993, “the five-year rule” is in place to bar those not present in the country from influencing its politics. However, the world has changed quite a bit since then, and the advent of new technology has changed the nature of work and one’s connection to their country of origin. The debate continues.