Bill 106 – The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act – was introduced as a Private Members Bill by Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi.
It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
Essentially this is what Bill 106 proposes:
“Bill 106 (SCAN) would enable municipalities to appoint a Director of Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods that will accept anonymous allegations of unsafe or illegal activities occurring on or near specific properties. The SCAN Director has sweeping powers to conduct surveillance of accused tenants and homeowners. The Director can then apply to Superior Court to evict the tenant or close the property for up to 90 days through a ‘Community Safety Order’.” (Source: Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario)
You can read the full bill here.
This is what’s wrong with Bill 106:
1. It reeks of American-style approaches to crime and terror. For years now, Americans have been seeing their civil rights eroded under the guise of keeping them safer from evil-doers. (First we’ll pretend you’re in mortal danger, then we’ll pretend to protect you by systematically stripping away your rights.) That’s too high a price for the illusion of security.
2. It opens the doors of all our homes another inch for Big Brother. If we say they can peek into our neighbours’ windows, we’re also saying they can peek into ours. And that old saying about “I’m not doing anything wrong, so I’ve got nothing to hide” might feel a little less innocent when somebody hiding behind a cloak of anonymity points their creepy finger at you.
3. There are already provisions in the existing Residential Tenancies Act and in the Criminal Code to address these same problems.
4. The crime rate has been falling for two decades. We don’t need increased surveillance.
5. This tool will be used disproportionately against members of already marginalized groups, such as racial minorities and poor people. It’s a weapon wielded according to perceptions of danger, which are notoriously inaccurate. Even if it’s not deliberately used in a racist way, the effect will be the same.
6. It will be used deliberately as a weapon by people against people they don’t like: eg, ex-spouses, parents battling for custody, nosy neighbours, etc. (Welfare fraud hotlines provide good examples: see Walking on Eggshells)
7. It promotes secret accusations and paranoia while denying the right of the accused to an open process through which he or she can respond to accusations.
What we can do to help defeat Bill 106:
Bill 106 goes for its 2nd reading today. If you want to help defeat it, please email your local Ontario MPP and tell them you’re opposed to Bill 106. You can find the contact information of MPPs here. Send a copy of your letter to the Honourable Jim Watson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (firstname.lastname@example.org) and MPP Yasir Naqvi (email@example.com), the MPP who introduced Bill 106.
Spread the word.