The bill that’s trying to protect Canadians from terrorism is receiving a united defence from the present and would-be MPs.
“I hope people take a close look at the bill,” said Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission MP Randy Kamp.
Critics have said that it will criminalize dissent but that’s not accurate, said Kamp.
The bill says at the beginning that it doesn’t include lawful protest.
“There are some people that seem to be missing that.
“It’s our view, and I share it, that the legislation provides the necessary checks and balances that protects the rights of Canadians, while providing the tools that are needed in an increasingly dangerous world.”
Kamp said the bill maintains the oversight of Canadian Security Intelligence Service by the Security Intelligence Review Committee and didn’t agree that parliamentary oversight would be more effective.
“The general approach is that if you want to do something, you need a judicial warrant. That’s not changing.”
Some of the aims of the bill are preventing terror suspects from travelling and allowing CSIS agents to disrupt an attack instead of just observing.
But according to an open letter signed by the dozens of law professors, the legislation is a “dangerous piece of legislation.”
The bill lists nine “activities that undermine the security of Canada,” while only “lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression,” is excluded.
They also say that civil disobedience against “critical infrastructure,” will be targeted by the bill and that the bill criminalizes anyone who encourages “terrorism offences in general.” That could include someone accidentally saying something that “may” contribute to a terrorist act.
The professors also say there is no corresponding oversight and that even “gestures and physical symbols” could be targeted under the bill.
Even media commentary could be subject to the new law. The letter says that Canadians’ support of the African National Congress which fought against apartheid in South Africa, could have been considered terrorism under Bill C-51.
Kamp is not running in this October’s federal election but both of his would-be successors, Marc Dalton and Mike Murray also support the bill.
“The threat of terrorism is affecting the world over and it’s an ongoing concern for western democracies, including Canada. We’ve seen unprecedented attacks,” Dalton said.
“There’s always a balancing act between providing our security services the tools they need for protecting our families and community, as well as individual freedoms.”
Dalton said the dialogue and debate about the bill was healthy.
He mentioned he was talking from the B.C. legislature, close to where the dud pressure-cooker bombs were found on Canada Day 2013. Two people are now on trial.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark Clark told CTV’s Question Period recently that the bill could infringe on Canadians’ individual rights, saying it would be hard to get them back.
But Dalton said the premier was making the point that security has to be balanced with rights and freedoms.
Dalton, Liberal MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, is sitting as an independent while he tries to become the Conservative candidate for the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge riding in this October’s federal election.
He’s competing with Mike Murray, currently Kamp’s executive assistant.
Like Dalton, Murray supports the bill.
“It says clearly in the bill that lawful advocacy is not targeted.”
But he understands there’s lots of debate on both sides. “Obviously, people are well-meaning so I wouldn’t want to disparage people of different views.
“I think the big picture for me is, there is a need for stronger anti-terrorism measures.”
For Daniel Therrien, Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the scale of information sharing being proposed is “unprecedented,” the scope of the new powers conferred by the Act is “excessive, particularly as these powers affect ordinary Canadians.
“While the potential to know virtually everything about everyone may well identify some new threats, the loss of privacy is clearly excessive.”
All Canadians would be caught in this web.”