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State, Surveillance, Society Essay

The following essay on State, Surveillance, Society is an important topic for everyone to think about. If you need some great essay writing services to help you craft a similar one, don’t hesitate to address us.


In war times, most liberal democracies face a paradox that endangers the right and freedoms of citizens and those perceived enemies of the state.  Since the invocation of the War measures acts in Canada, the question has since then been how to protect national security without threatening the individual rights of the governed. Being a liberal democracy then, the situation is a paradox. There is a great need to be considerate and strategic, invoking almost similar acts that serve for recourse of national security. The war measures act was passed as a bill in August 1914 and gave cabinet order-in-council powers. The Canadian war measures act was implemented during the world wars and in the recent October crisis in the 1970s to give the government extra powers to deal with crises such as war, invasion, and insurrection, which were nationally declared emergencies. Besides the order-in-council powers, the act allows for censorship and prevention of media publicity, also allows for the Canadians searching, arrest, detainment, and property seizure without warrants, trials, or compensation, among other forms of government controls of sectors and economy (Lindsay, 2014). The emergency action has been invoked three times in history, but the instances have arisen concerns for the respect and government obligations to citizens’ liberty and democratic rights.  The act also gave government dictatorial powers allowing prime ministers to rule without parliament oversight. Though this act protected the government from sabotage and acts of terrorism from German or Austro-Hungarian immigrants, it perfectly violated liberal rights and democratic freedom. It suspended the citizen’s fundamental civil freedoms.

War measure act and democracy

According to the Neocleous argument, a liberal democratic state, via recourse and prerogative, will ultimately work to secure itself.  Critics of the emergency act see Canada as a liberal society, whose invocation of oppressive acts signifies cruelties and a state of decay in government.  Previous studies on the impacts of the war measures act, especially during the 1970s when it was invoked during a peaceful era, raised different diplomatic concerns (Neocleous, 2007). First, critics argue that the act gave power to the government and the policing institutions’ non-liberal powers that led to physical abuse,imprisonment, arbitrary raids and intimidation arrests and interrogations, and illegal arrests, which violated the rights and freedoms of democratic citizens.  The act led to increased abuse and discretionary powers.  National emergencies mostly result in the diminishment of citizens’ freedom and consolidation of state powers.  Even on the lifting of the act in 1971, there was a long-term felt impact and persistent paranoia spirit among the policing and national institutions (Lindsay, 2014). The police institutions took time to relinquish the powers and their non-liberal investigative techniques that continue to impact its sovereignty and citizens.

Canada was facing a national security threat in all the incidences when they invoked the war measurement act. Today, it is a more serious problem touching on climate and the nation’s future by being a signatory member of the UNFCC in the Paris agreement declaration. Canada committed to oblige to the actions to combat climate change and reduce emissions by 2030.  The national economy has been hit hard by changing weather patterns and natural phenomena. Implementation of the Paris agreement is the only essential solution to achieve sustainable development. AS a democratic nation, the country must balance the citizens’ well-being, economic development, and environmental conservation. This may demand a shift from capitalism. The federal government has obligations to conserve people’s rights and protect the environment for the future, but the question is how it can be attained.

 The Canadian government is committed to the Paris agreement. The government follows the common course within the legislative jurisdiction to combat climate change and adapt to the effects which have largely affected the national economic stability. The government policies are oriented towards cutting greenhouse emissions to 30% by 2030. The government declaration of the national climate emergency has emerged because the government agrees that the people are responsible for climate change, destabilizing both intra and intergenerational equity (Agreement, 2015).  The emergency act represents a climate accountability framework, and this bill forms a critical step to achieving climate change action.

In a recent sitting, the house of commons passed a motion to declare a national climate emergency, a motion passed by the environment and climate change minister which aims to help the federal government meet its emission targets in obligations to the Paris agreement.  Climate change in Canada is now an evident debate, with impacts being already felt in the country. Temperatures are warming at twice the global average, and the effect is effectively irreversible (Jackson, 2019). Meeting the obligations of the Paris agreement is no longer an option but a mandatory and urgent obligation if the government wishes to protect the sustainability of current and future generations.

However, the situation is another paradox, and current concerns are on how the government should implement climate action strategies and frameworks while protecting the liberal rights of the citizens.  Attaining minimum emissions targets requires impulse and serious policy implementations from within the population. Climate change is a national security issue that needs a package of measures for combating climate change and minimizing carbon footprints from the countries manufacturing, production, and transportation sectors. Therefore, the big questions remain whether the federal government should treat the emergency debate like the 1970’s war emergency declaration and formulate policies similar to the war emergency action to ensure they oversee the Paris agreement obligations to the utmost potential. Would this not interfere with liberal democracy and the rights of economic drivers of the Canadian economy? Liberal democracy policies should value the ideal of the “balance” between security and liberty.  The situation on whether or not to invoke the emergency act on the climate change policy is thus a dilemma and a question of national security versus democracy. 

Climate change action demands a change in “governmental, industrial or economic change in Canada. The emergency act authorizes special and temporary measures by the government to solve the corruption menace.  This act allows the federal government to take any potential action to combat urgent and critical aspects of the economy that have severe impacts on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.  Under the emergencies act, climate change may be classified under the international emergency clause, and the consequential impacts of no-action endanger property, life, the environment, and Canada’s future.

The economy of Canada is very vast and diversified, the production sector contributes to nearly 30% of the total GDP, and production and manufacturing companies represent the largest share of the economy. Over the past years, the economy has steadily increased per capita, also attributed to the population’s significant national investments in infrastructure, technology innovation, and education.  However, the future of the government economy is at stake due to the unpredictable impact climate change has had on the economy (Canada, 2015).  Canadians have experienced significant temperature increases, serious impacts from extreme natural phenomenon and disturbances, hydrological changes in lakes and streams, and thus, failure to combat this risks the security of people and national resources. 

On the other hand, natural resources form the backbone of the Canadian economy and the basis of survival for many Aboriginal communities in Canada. Increased climate change impact vulnerabilities threaten the basic survival aspect of these communities, and it can be argued that the causative factors are also anthropogenic.  Currently, the population is rising, precipitation patterns have become unpredictable, sea levels are rising, and the economy seems biased on capitalism. This is a pending danger to the liberty and democracy rights of all social class citizens. The government reserves the liberal power to protect its natural resource and adopt the Paris Agreement declarations to ensure that it protects the citizens and the future of the economy of Canada.

The national climate emergency is not anything different from past emergencies, and the government has to take any steps to meet the international obligations. The implemented policies should be ensured to balance the security and democratic rights of the citizens (Lindsay, 2014). Invoking the war measurement act, in the issue in the issue of climate emergency could ensure that the federal government’s assumption of responsibilities and the policies developed to strengthen the combating strategies and compliance from the public. The climate action calls and debates have attracted fewer interests from the population, apart from the activists and environmental advocates (Jackson, 2019).  Dealing with this emergency liberally and constitutionally may lead to yet another failure by the government to oblige to the international obligations on combating climate change that has led to the suffering of not only the Canadian citizens but endangerment and vulnerability of the Canadian and global environment.

Climate change emergency and national security

The climate concern and the government’s decision to implement sustainability policies through the war measures act lie in the balance between security and liberty. If the climate action policy is thoroughly authoritarian, the federal government has a high potential to achieve the goals.  This also creates an imbalance between liberty, freedom, and security.  The security question on the government commitment to the Paris agreement at this point is security for present and future generations on a global scope. Capitalism in the economy tends to endanger future generations and the environment. However, steps to reduce emissions by 30% require a huge sacrifice from the production sector of the economy (Canada, 2015).  This may entail a shift to alternative energy sources, encouragement for public modes of transport and purchase of electric cars, minimizing fossil fuel and diesel use, and more climate action and awareness.  All potential measures have huge cost implications on all liberal sectors of the Canadian economy. It will be hard to attain a smooth transition, especially bearing in mind the huge capital investments such transitions may have on the production sector and the overall economy. Therefore, constitutional methods may take time, and nature may not wait, so climate change is an urgency and emergency as declared by the government. The Canadian government also commits to the international community to reduce the average emissions to 30% by 2030.

The safety of the natural resources is safety to the community, and thus, a small push for environmental action still serves for the long-term security of the general community. In the argument for power, security, and sovereignty prerogative, Hobbes argues in his policy that power is essential in building security.  Security is only attained where the governments have power and absolute sovereignty to guard their state of nature.  Sometimes it necessities governments sacrifice liberty and adopt measures that force obedience to safe liberty (Aradau & Cluskey, 2021). The Canadian citizens have overall democratic and liberal rights, but the argument is the issue of concern in this situation is international security and safety matter, one that endangers both the democratic and liberal rights of an ordinary Canadian citizen and future generations. Hence, if the arbitrary power stipulated in the war measurement act can be used to solve the present and future safety of the Canadian economy, then the plan is an ideal opportunity for the global community. The federal government should not relent to invoking the emergency act to ensure full compliance of the economic players and national population to implement green systems in all applicable sectors of the economy.

The Locke philosophy of liberty and democracy also support political supremacy, the same as what the act invoking will give to the Canadian federal government.  Special federal powers assure the protection of the rule of law, protection of life, protection of liberty and property. Especially if on discretion, these responsibilities where there is need for urgent action. Liberty, life, and property in the Canadian economy are at stake, and temperature increases are recorded annually. This has created a situation whereby a rigid observation of the rule of law may cause harm to the population and the future. Declaration of climate as emergency calls for urgent intervention, and this demands that the state be allowed to have influential executive power beyond liberty and democracy (Whitham, 2015). Climate change impacts and the consequences have impacted and will continue to impact the economy on an increasing magnitude of severity.  Suppose the Canadian government wished to achieve the goals. For this case, there is a need for the executive to act to their utmost discretion and without prior prescription of law or against the law in safeguarding and protecting the intergenerational and intrageneration equity. This also protects the social well-being within the Canadian state., which is referred to as action on prerogative terms.


Despite the extensive criticism for mass surveillance and mass mobilization by civil liberties, surveillance could be the only available option irrespective of the conflicts and destabilization between security and democracy under urgent situations. All incidences to which nations have invoked emergency act all conform to the same pattern, where an emergency occurred that threatened the security of a nation (Lewsen, 2020).  Emergency powers also represent a high point of political functioning. The climate change owes, and the Canadian commitment to the Paris agreement is a matter of concern, with short- and long-term impended danger.  Suppression of liberty for the security of today and the future is a significant step for the Canadian government. However, it has to be clear that climate change and global warming is international and transboundary issue, which may not necessitate total liberty and democratic sacrifice. The government may invoke the war measurement acts, but this should not give oppressive powers to the policing institutions since the climate milestone achievements require communal efforts and national integration for collectively owned efforts towards climate change mitigation.


Aradau, C., & Cluskey, E. M. (2021). Making Digital Surveillance Unacceptable? Security, Democracy, and the Political Sociology of Disputes. International Political Sociology. doi:10.1093/ips/olab024

Agreement, P. (2015, December). Paris agreement. In Report of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (21st Session, 2015: Paris). Retrived December (Vol. 4, p. 2017).

Canada, N. R. (2015, November 10). Government of Canada. Retrieved from

Lewsen, S. (2020, November 12). Opinion: Fifty years later, what’s the true story of the October Crisis? Retrieved from

Lindsay, J. (2014). The power to react: review and discussion of Canada’s emergency measures legislation. The International Journal of Human Rights18(2), 159-177.

Jackson, H. (2019, June 18). National climate emergency declared by House of Commons – National. Retrieved from

Neocleous, M. (2007). Security, Liberty and the Myth of Balance: Towards a Critique of Security Politics. Contemporary Political Theory, 6(2), 131-149. doi:10.1057/palgrave.cpt.9300301 Whitham, B. (2015). The neoliberal way of war: a critical analysis of contemporary British security in policy and practice (Doctoral dissertation, University of Reading).


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