About 50 people marched in downtown St. John's on Saturday to protest the federal government's proposed anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51.

Similar protests were held across the country. Demonstrators say the bill is too extreme and, if approved, it could open the door to a variety of Charter rights violations.

Jon Parsons

Organizer Jon Parsons questions the impact the proposed anti-terrorism law will have on indigenous protests. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Jon Parsons, who organized the event in St. John's, said he views the proposed legislation as more of a secret police bill than an anti-terror law. 

"The language in it is vague and broad," Parsons told CBC News.

"The way that it understands what it calls 'legal protest' or 'legal forms' of dissent means that the sort of march we had right here today, through our own streets, would be illegal," he said.

"So does that then mean that it's terrorism [from the perspective of] the Harper government?"

Parsons questioned the impact this legislation will have on indigenous forms of protests like blockades, and attempts to slow down resource extraction. 

Jack Harris Bill C-51

Federal NDP MP Jack Harris joined Saturday's protest in St. John's. Harris says the proposed bill is unconstitutional. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Union leaders and politicians also took part in Saturday's protest. 

Federal NDP MP Jack Harris said the bill is part of the Conservatives' plan to get re-elected.

"We think it's unconstitutional, we think it's over-reaching and is really part of a political agenda of Mr. Harper to try and play on the politics of fear," Harris said. 

Harris described Bill C-51 as draconian and said that it's unacceptable from a civil liberties point of view.

With files from Mark Quinn