The House of Commons on Wednesday approved the Anti-Terror Act, which was spurred by last year's attack on the parliament buildings. Legislation that would dramatically expand the powers of Canada's spy agency has cleared a key hurdle. The act would give the CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) the ability to operate overseas and make preventative arrests. Dominated by the Conservative party, the Senate is expected to approve the act before June.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been a staunch supporter of the bill, which criminalizes the promotion, or organization of terrorist groups and the propagandizing of terrorism concepts, including via the internet.
"There is a high probability of jihadist attacks from within our country," Canadian Defence Minister Jason Kenney said. "The threat of terrorism has never been greater."
The bill also makes it easier for police to arrest and detain individuals of interest to authorities without charges. Critics who say the bill is overly broad and lacks oversight have sought to make changes but all attempts failed. Many parliamentarians agree that there are vague areas in the act and areas that are not sufficiently addressed, leaving it open to interpretation by the CSIS and Canadian government.
Four former Canadian prime ministers and five justices of the Canadian Supreme Court have written public letters questioning the bill. One concern is the threat to freedom of speech of all Canadians.
"This bill will almost certainly lead to a chill on freedom of speech," said Allan Weiss, professor of humanities at York University. "It is filled with vague wording that would make it possible for the government to label virtually anything it disagreed with as harmful to Canada's national interests."
"It allows police to arrest and hold anyone without charges," which is another infringement on constitutional rights.
Mr Harper who has always been sadly lacking as a diplomat, also blunders like a bull in a china shop when it comes to careful consideration before legislation. He will bully this act through and let it stand with all it's flaws and holes.
In October 2014, a gunman shot and killed a soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa and then attacked Canada's parliament buildings nearby.Two days before, a man, said to be inspired by the Islamic State group, ran over two soldiers in Quebec, killing one and injuring the other before being shot dead. There is no doubt that measures had to be taken to protect the security of our country, but not with disregard to the constitutional rights of it's citizens.