Is the government's proposed anti-terror bill what Canadians need to stay safe?
Fighting terror: The government's Bill C-51, now before Parliament, would give CSIS and police new powers to track and combat would-be terrorists.
The opposition parties say it goes too far and they want limits placed on those powers.
What do you think? Do CSIS and the police need better tools to track and combat would-be terrorists? Does the government's proposed anti-terror bill strike a balance between security and civil liberties?
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I think it would be fair to say that the killings in Quebec and on Parliament Hill last October, followed by the Charlie Hebdo shootings in France last month, have probably contributed to boosting Canadians' concerns about security to a level higher than at any other time since 9/11.
It is under these circumstances that the government has introduced to Parliament its proposed anti-terror law called Bill C-51.
The bill proposes to give more powers to CSIS and police involved in anti-terrorism activities. The powers include making arrests of suspects easier; making promotion of terrorism illegal, including websites; allowing CSIS to disrupt or interfere with individuals whom they believe to be engaged in planning terrorism; and finally, allowing court proceedings in some terrorism cases to be sealed.
Despite broad public support for a new law to tighten security, the opposition says the bill goes too far in two important aspects. They say the definition of what constitutes terror activity is too broad, and could catch legitimate political protesters. And, both opposition parties say the law must include some form of oversight to ensure CSIS and the police do not overstep their bounds.
Some say the existing laws against terror remain solid and useful, but law enforcement agencies need more resources to make them truly effective.
Whenever any government undertakes to tighten security and give more powers to law enforcement agencies, the concern is always for the trade-off with basic individual freedoms and civil liberties. The government says Bill C-51 achieves that balance and the object is to protect the freedoms of Canadians from those whose activities would do exactly the opposite. Both the NDP and the Liberals do not agree.
We want to know what you think?
Do you think our security and intelligence laws need to be strengthened? Are you concerned about how new laws might impinge on personal freedom? What is the best way to balance security concerns and personal freedom? What about oversight ...is it necessary and how would it be structured?
Our question today: "Is the government's proposed anti-terror bill what Canada needs to stay safe?"
I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius XM, satellite radio channel 169 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.
Minister of National Defence and Minister for Multiculturalism
Special Counsel on Human Rights and International Justice for the Liberal party and MP for Mount Royal in Montreal. From 2003 to 2006 in Paul Martin's government, Mr. Cotler was Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. He is a past professor of law at McGill University and the director of its Human Rights Program.
Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada.
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. He testified to Parliament on the original provisions of the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act, on the Combating Terrorism Bill and on the recent extension of CSIS powers contained in Bill C-44.
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- Anti-terrorism bill opens door to spying on opponents, Mulcair charges
- Tom Mulcair says NDP will oppose anti-terrorism bill C-51
- Bill C-51: Political battle lines drawn over anti-terror bill as election nears, by Chris Hall
- Anti-terrorism powers: What's in the legislation?
- Bill C-51 bars CSIS from committing 'bodily harm,' sexual violation
- Anti-terrorism bill to be supported by Liberals, Justin Trudeau says (Feb. 4, 2015)
- Analysis: Bill C-51 aims to 'remove terrorist propaganda' from internet
- Terrorism: A look at what other countries have done to combat the threat
Globe and Mail
- Five key questions remain as Ottawa presses ahead with anti-terrorism bill
- New poll finds Harper’s anti-terror bill is a political juggernaut
- A close eye on security makes Canadians safer, by Jean Chretien, Joe Clark, Paul Martin, John Turner
- Liberals to support Conservative anti-terror bill, will address the ‘gaps’ later
- How Canada compares to ‘Five Eyes’ members in intelligence oversight
- CSIS oversight is alive and well, by Ron Atkey
- Profs say anti-terror CSIS ‘disruption’ campaigns not properly outlined
- Ottawa to tout terror bill at Obama summit
- A timeline of deadly attacks in Western nations since 2001
- Tom Mulcair says NDP will oppose anti-terror bill, which he fears will allow government to spy on political enemies
- New Tory anti-terror bill will walk fine line distinguishing between free expression and inciting terrorism: Jason Kenney
- Mulcair looks alone among party leaders in wanting serious talk about Tory anti-terror bill, by John Ivison
- Terrorism’s threat doesn’t justify all special measures to stop it, but does justify some, by Andrew Coyne
- It is crucial that anti-terrorism measures do not erode fundamental freedoms, by Thomas Mulcair
- Full Pundit: Canada’s anti-terrorism freakout, by Chris Selley
- NDP steps up in opposition to Harper's new anti-terror legislation, by Terry Glavin
- Opposing Bill C-51 less dangerous for NDP than supporting it, by Chantal Hébert
- Why Tom Mulcair’s NDP finally opposed terror bill, by Tom Walkom
- Poll: Bill C-51: Strong support for proposed anti-terror legislation, but additional oversight wanted too