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Balance it right

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on February 06, 2015 with No Comments

Viewpoint1The bill also:

  • gives the Canadian Security Intelligence Service the power to engage in activities such as interfering with bank transactions and travel plans to thwart a terror attack.
  • gives power to a judge to “order the seizure of terrorist propaganda” or order it deleted from an online source.
  • extends the period that police can detain a terror suspect without charge, with authorization from a judge from three to seven days.
  • makes it easier for information related to national security to be shared across federal agencies.
  • allows for a passenger suspected of travelling overseas to commit a terror offence to be removed from a flight.

As the parliament re-opened last week, Prime Minister set his agenda straight way with focus on tax cuts and anti-terror laws, rightfully too with federal elections set for October. Later being of a greater concern for Canadians, as terrorism not only resurfaced in the country but also has been sending shiver down the spine elsewhere too.  Harper government as promised tabled a legislation last Friday that would boost the ability of the intelligence agencies and spy service sleuths to counter terrorism activities and it is a direct outcome of the review of recent fatal attacks on the Canadian soil, the prominent being the attack on the two Canadian soldiers last October, that the authorities believe were fuelled by Islamic extremists. Some of the measures would allow the Security Intelligence Service to prevent a suspected extremist’s travel plans, disrupt any suspected bank transactions and secretly intrude in jihadist websites.

The bill is not all about giving powers to the spy agencies, it also provides enough clout to the police too. It will be easier for police to obtain a peace bond to restrict the movement of the suspects and the bill also extends the period of preventative arrest and detention. Agencies would have extra power when monitoring internet. The bill proposes to give the RCMP enough power to act against terrorist propaganda  on the internet. RCMP can seek a judge’s order to remove the terrorist propaganda. It would call for asking a judge to issue a warrant that would force internet service providers or individual websites to take down material if it can be shown that it falls outside of constitutionally protected speech. Also, with this Bill, the government intends to create a new criminal offence of encouraging someone to carry out a terrorist attack. Bill  C-51 would allow CSIS to take measures within or outside Canada to reduce threats to the security of Canada, but doesn’t spell out exactly what those measures could be. The bill lists prohibited activities, barring CSIS from:Intentionally or by criminal negligence cause death or bodily harm,in any way trying to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice, violating the sexual integrity of an individual.

While the response to the bill from the opposition parties was calculated, right activists expressed fear about crushed rights. The provisions do indicate that it would impose chill on legitimate political speech without enhancing public safety, and is likely unconstitutional. The act would seemingly allow departments and agencies to share the personal information, including those Canadians who may not have anything to do with any suspected activity. The bill does raises question about freedom of expression.

The Conservatives maintain that the new powers are needed to keep Canada and Canadians safe, and similar legislation criminalizing the “glorification” of terrorist acts exists in several European countries. Defending the measures Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “Over the last few years a great evil has been descending over our world. Canadians are targeted by these terrorists for no other reason than that we are Canadians,” he said. “They want to harm us because they hate our society and our values. They hate pluralism; they hate tolerance and the freedom we enjoy.”

Though the final decision on what constitutes expressing support for terrorism would be with the courts, but government officials  would play a key role in deciding who gets investigated.  Hope such officials can stay above political considerations.

No doubt the expansion of the national security apparatus is inevitable, as terrorism of any kind, in any form has to be curbed sooner and in an effective manner, however the government must do enough to ensure that these newly bestowed powers don’t get used in a way that these become an abuse of power.





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