Do the police need more power to combat those who might pose a threat?
Powers for the police: In the aftermath of the Ottawa attack, many want to give the police more tools to prevent it from happening again ...such as increased abilities to monitor and detain individuals who might pose a risk. What do you think? Do the police need more powers to keep us safe?
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The Ottawa attack was still reverberating through the capital this week. There was a lot of talk about whether Canada's laws need to be strengthened to combat the threat of terrorism. Two bills are working their way through Parliament that offer changes to the the powers of police and security agencies. One bill, C-44 tabled just last Monday, is called the "Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act" and it proposes to expand the powers of CSIS to operate abroad. The other is bill C-13 officially called the "Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act" but more commonly the 'Cyberbullying bill.' It includes ammendments to a previous law not specifically targetting terrorism but it would give authorities more power to track people online.
Both bills were formulated before the Ottawa attack. But the attack has increased concern to the point that some experts and government members have suggested Canada needs to make even more significant changes to toughen the laws. There are two changes that have been commonly mentioned: one that would permit the arrest of individuals who might pose a threat before they commit any crime ...and the second, aimed at websites that advocate terrorism, would outlaw the advocacy of terrorism online or in speech. At this point, these are simply suggestions, but the fact that the prime minister and two of his cabinet ministers have spoken publicly in support of such ideas means we might see them coming in the form of a law to Parliament soon. Similar such laws are in effect in other countries.
Critics say such tough new laws are not needed because the police haven't been making the best use of the laws we already have. They say that the danger in crossing a line curtailing civil liberties is not to be taken lightly.
We'd like to hear your views.
How difficult is it to gauge how much security we need - and how much power to give our security agencies?
How do you balance the need to keep Canada safe from threats ...with the need for civil liberties?
Do Canadians need to adjust to the possibility of a rare random attack as part of the cost of our freedom? Or are you willing to give up a certain amount of freedom in exchange for more security?
Our topic today: "Do the police need more power to monitor and detain individuals who might pose a threat?" "Do the police and security agencies need more powers to keep Canada safe?"
I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius XM, satellite radio channel 169 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.
Associate Professor of Political Science University of Waterloo and in the Balsillie School of International Affairs. Her areas of research include domestic security and counter-terrorism and the ethics of security.
Visiting Professor at the University of Ottawa's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Engaged on a research project on changing perceptions of the terrorist threat in a Canadian context from 9/11 to the present.
Former Conservative senator for Ontario. Former chair of the special Senate Committees on anti-terrorism, and foreign affairs, and the Chair of the NATO Council of Canada. Master of Massey College in Toronto.
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