#SHUTDOWNCANADA – Flows and Interruptions

Next Friday February 13th, a coalition of groups associated with the Idle No More movement is calling for a country-wide action to #ShutdownCanada 1. The online description calls for “communities across Canada to blockade their local railway, port or highway on February 13th. Don’t buy, don’t fly, no work and keep the kids home from school… The goal is to significantly impact the Canadian economy for a day and demand there be an independent inquiry into the 2000+ cases of missing or murdered indigenous women.” At a number of levels #Shutdowncanada is about the importance of, and control over flows in our contemporary society – the flow of capital through infrastructure (roads, pipelines), the flow of information through mainstream and social media and the ability of bodies to flow through different spaces. Since #Shutdown Canada is about disrupting and changing the day-to-day flow of Canadian society, it can also be read in relation to the issues at stake within the Harper government’s proposed anti-terror legislation – Bill C-51. Under this legislation, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) will be given the power to, not only monitor, but also proactively disrupt any “Activity that undermines the security of Canada.” This includes making lists of any persons who may “engage in an act that poses a threat to transportation security” or promotes “interference with critical infrastructure.” (For the full draft legislation see here 2.) Although Harper has relied on a rhetoric that emphasizes the threat of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, many feel that the true targets in this legislation are first nations and environmental groups who present a challenge to the conservatives’ right wing, oil-fueled agenda 3. Here are a few examples of how the #Shutdowncanada and Bill C-51 intersect: 1) Flows of Capital: The #Shutdown Canada action is calling for broad and strategic interruption and blockade of road and rail in order to put economic pressure on the government. A number of key provisions within the anti-terrorism act are aimed at identifying these acts as terroristic and proactively interrupting them and criminalizing those involved through amendments to the Criminal Code (section 83.01 pertaining to terrorism 4.) 2) Flows of Information: There are currently more than seven thousand people who have indicated on Facebook that they will be or may be going to this event. The event has also been publicized in a number of mainstream and alternative new sources. Under the new anti-terrorism act, CSIS would be allowed to proactively seize “propaganda” related to such events, and disrupt any websites or social media platforms which actively promote these types events. This means that organizing platform like Facebook will be monitored and possibly interrupted. It also means that discussions on these forums may be used as evidence of “promoting terrorism” which carries up to a five-year jail sentence under the new legislation 5. 3) Flows of Bodies: The participation of thousands of people in such massive, Canada-wide events is an extremely powerful force that has the capacity to significantly impact the smooth flow of everyday life for millions and force a recognition of demands. Under Bill C-51, individuals will be able to be detained without charges for up to seven days. This capacity to detain particular bodies is also aimed at stopping organizers as well as deterring people from putting their bodies on the line for such issues 6. This is particularly true for immigrants, and under this new legislation provisions have been changed in the “Immigrant and Refugee Safety Act” which further jeopardize their legal status for participating in such events. All of these different type of flows involve highly emotional material – missing and murdered aboriginal women, terrorism, environmental destruction, detention – and these affective flows are of a great deal of importance in determining the success of such events. What narratives these emotions get stuck to is an ongoing struggle over the emotional landscape and legal terrain of the country. 1.https://www.facebook.com/events/452509068236441/ 2.http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/anti-terrorism-powers-what-s-in-the-legislation-1.2937964 3.http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/karl-nerenberg/2015/02/four-reasons-harpers-new-anti-terrorist-legislation-will-alarm 4.http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/page-28.html#docCont 5.http://aptn.ca/news/2015/02/02/first-nation-activists-fear-potential-sting-new-anti-terror-law/ 6.https://www.tworowtimes.com/news/national/will-new-anti-terror-bill-affect-shutdowncanada-first-nations/