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Overshadowed by gun registry

Combating Terrorism Act passes second reading.

Dateline: Tuesday, September 28, 2010

by Alison@creekside

On the same day the nation was preoccupied with the national Liberal/Conservative competition for votes to preserve/kill the long gun registry, both parties combined forces to slip the Combating Terrorism Act through second reading in the House — 220 votes to 84 in a classic Lib/Con vs NDP/Bloc split — just ten minutes before the long gun vote.

The Liberals and Conservatives may disagree on whether it is either useful or an egregious invasion of privacy and civil liberties that Canadians should have to spend a few minutes registering a long gun online, but when it comes to locking Canadians up for 12 months without a warrant, or compelling them to appear before a court based on some anonymous tip, they're both just fine with that.


If a person is suspected of intending to commit a terrorist crime in the future "a judge can order the person's detention for up to 12 months."

The right to remain silent, the right not to be jailed without charge, the right to know what the charges are against you — pfft!

In reintroducing Bill C-17 for the third time , to reinstate provisions from the Anti-terrorism Act of 2001, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson emphasized a fabulous new feature:

    "The key here is that the person required to attend an investigative hearing is treated as a witness, not someone who is accused of a crime."

True, as long as your definition of "witness" includes being arrested if you don't comply and being detained for up to 72 hours if you do. But what if you are also suspected of being likely to commit a terrorist crime some time in the future? Over to you, Mr. Nicholson:

    "a judge can order the person's detention for up to 12 months."

There's a five year sunset clause again and every 12 months the Attorney General and the Public Safety Minister — that would be Nicholson himself and Vic (lock-'em-up) Toews respectively — must "provide their opinions, supported by reasons, as to whether the operations of these provisions should be extended."

Mark Holland, Liberal critic for Public Safety and National Security, made some noises about balancing national security with individual liberty and noted :

    "the government has completely ignored most of the key recommendations that came from Justice O'Connor [re Maher Arar], which were supported by Justice Iacobucci and were repeated by the RCMP Public Complaints Commissioner Paul Kennedy,"

but then two days later, he voted for it along with the rest of the Libs.

There were hours and hours of speeches in the House about this Bill, at the beginning of last week from MPs, including Liberal Marlene Jennings, NDP Joe Comartin, Bloc Quebecois' Maria Mourani, NDP Wayne Marston, Conservative Colin Carrie and others.

For the Bloc, Serge Ménard noted that under the War Measures Act "almost all candidates who ran against Mayor Drapeau [in the Montreal elections] were incarcerated. A law which goes so far as to incarcerate political opponents has already been used once in our history," he said. NDP Bill Siksay noted that security certificates were intended to expedite deportation of non-citizens yet they have been used instead to jail people for up to eight years without a trial. Slippery slope.

By Wednesday, Libby Davies wondered aloud in the House why there were hundreds of articles in newspapers across the country dealing with the gun registry but no mention of the debate on the Combating Terrorism Act. Good question.

Here's another. After much initial huffing about how absolutely vital this bill is in the fight against 'terrorists', and with the Liberals onside since June 2009, the Conservatives have allowed it to languish in limbo for a whole 15 months. Now suddenly it's back on their agenda again as the first government order tabled on the return of the House this week. Why is that?


Terri Robson This has just passed as part and parcel of Paul Martin and his odious North American Security & Prosperity Partnership Agreement which, as I see it, is ... View > 04-Oct-10
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