Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled his government’s new counter-terror bill with dire warnings about the threats facing Canada from radical, freedom-hating groups on the other side of the world.
“A great evil has been descending on our world,” he said in Richmond Hill on Friday.
And Harper introduced Bill C-51, a sweeping piece of legislation that covers everything from what you’re allowed to say and write to who can board a plane, what happens to your tax information and how long you can be detained without charge, he cited fatal attacks last fall in Ottawa and St. Jean Sur Richelieu.
But Harper isn’t sure how the new counter-terror measures could have prevented the shooting rampage that left one young father dead and bullet holes in the halls of Parliament: Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had a history of petty theft and substance abuse but wasn’t on police radar as a potential terrorist.
“Bad things will sometimes happen,” the Prime Minister said.
Highlights of the bill include:
- Government institutions such as the Canada Revenue Agency can share your personal information with security agencies if they think it would be “relevant” to security issues.
- You can go to jail for up to five years for “promoting” or “advocating” terrorism in general, whether you think it’ll actually result in terrorist activity or are just “reckless.”
- Security agencies can issue takedown orders for online content deemed “terrorist propaganda.”
- If police believe you could commit or be involved in terrorism they can detain you – with a judge’s approval – up to seven days without charge, up from the previous three.
- Canada’s spy agency CSIS can act to “disrupt” terrorist activity, not just provide information on it. But this, too, requires a judge’s approval.
- It’ll be easier to keep you off a plane if you’re on a no-fly list or the Minister thinks you should be.
- It’ll be tougher to get into the country, and get citizenship, if you’re believed to have terrorist ties.
In an email Friday evening, Justice Minister Peter Mackay’s spokesperson Clarissa Lamb said the “The Supreme Court has interpreted ‘promote’ to mean active support or instigation and is more than simple encouragement. It has interpreted ‘advocate’ to mean actively inducing or encouraging.”
Conceivably, if you’ve ever written a blog post railing against Canada’s actions in Iraq or Afghanistan; brought a Tamil Tigers flag to a protest; argued that Canada should restore humanitarian aid to Gazans through their Hamas government; called Israel an apartheid state; supported militant independence movements in Turkish Kurdistan or Spain’s Basque region; you may have done just that. […]