Harper slammed for plans to bring back sweeping anti-terror laws

By Mark Kennedy, Postmedia NewsSeptember 8, 2011 8:19 AM

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper has come under attack for saying that  “Islamicism” poses the greatest security threat to Canada and for declaring that  his government will give police broad new anti-terrorism powers that were  stripped from them four years ago.


Harper made the comments in an interview with CBC broadcaster Peter  Mansbridge to be televised Thursday night.


Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae said Harper is putting too much focus on  Islamic extremists without noting that there are terrorists from other  backgrounds.


“We don’t have to single out just one,” Rae told reporters Wednesday.


“I think if you look at the outbursts of extremism around the world, I don’t  think that you can limit it to just one religion, or ideology or form of  nationalism.”


And he said Harper should prove his case for why contentious measures — preventive arrests and investigative hearings — should be re-instituted.


“Is the prime minister saying that for the last four or five years we have  been at risk, at greater risk, because the measures have not been in place? I  think he has to answer that question.”


NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said the upcoming 10th anniversary of  9/11 should be a “time for reflection” on how to build a “more inclusive society  to end extremism.”


“Let’s all guard against the knee-jerk demonizing and overheated rhetoric,”  said Dewar. “Unfortunately, Mr. Harper continues to use divisive language for  political purposes.”


Dewar said the prime minister’s plan to reintroduce the “draconian”  anti-terrorist measures aren’t backed up by the facts.


“The government has produced no evidence to justify this move. Security is  obviously important to Canadians, and we can make Canada secure without  resorting to measures like these.”


In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Chretien government introduced  the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2001.


Two items in the legislation caused controversy. Police were given new powers  to arrest and detain people suspected of planning a terrorist attack. Under this  change, they could keep people in jail for up to three days without having to  lay a charge.


As well, people suspected of having information about terrorist activity  could be compelled to testify before a judge at a secret hearing.


The law required Parliament to re-examine those two powers — known as  preventive arrests and investigative hearings — in five years. That sunset  clause was part of the Liberals’ attempt to strike a balance between public  safety and civil rights.


In 2007, with Harper’s Tories in office, the Opposition Liberals and other  parties in the minority Parliament banded together to rescind those two  contentious powers.


But now, with their majority, the Conservatives have the power in Parliament  to roll back the clock and restore the measures.


In the CBC interview, Harper said that his government plans to do this.


“We think those measures are necessary. We think they’ve been useful,” said  Harper. “They’re applied rarely, but there are times where they’re needed.”


Also in the interview, Harper said Canada is still under the threat of  terrorism. “The major threat is still Islamicism,” he said.


“There are other threats out there, but that is the one that I can tell you  occupies the security apparatus most regularly,” he said.


“As we’ve seen in Norway, terrorist threats can come out of the blue. It can  come from something completely different, and there are other groups and  individuals that if given the chance would engage in terrorism.”


The sources of terrorism aren’t necessarily from the Middle East, according  to Harper.


“Threats exist all over the world. We’ve seen some recent bombings in  Nigeria, domestic Nigerian terrorists,” he said. Harper told the CBC that the  government is keeping an active “eye” on homegrown terrorist threats as  well.


For his part, Rae said the government needs to ensure that it is doing  everything it can to understand the “cause” of domestic, homegrown  terrorism.


“We shouldn’t pretend it isn’t a threat. It is a threat. How do we break that  up?”


Rae said police forces and intelligence agencies should have “culturally  trained” people, who speak the necessary language, in places where terrorists  might ultimately emerge.


“How do we make sure we are integrating people successfully, effectively and  quickly so that we don’t have little places, little harbours, where people can  hide behind and these ideas can grow and fester and take place?”





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  1. Can I be the first to kick Rae directly in the bollocks?

    Culturally trained Canadian using the correct language…

    • Rae is an ass, I’d love to know who these “other groups” are that he’s attempting to paint with the same brush?

      I haven’t heard of any Amish attacks, Pagan attacks, Jewish attacks, Hindu attacks, etc, etc, etc…Every single one as of late has featured MUSLIMS..

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