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article imageOp-Ed: Some Liberals angry at Trudeau's support of anti-terror bill

By Ken Hanly     May 12, 2015 in Politics
Ottawa - Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberal Party have voiced their support for the Conservative Harper government's anti-terror bill c-51. Some Liberals are angry at this move.
Even the Liberal opposition leader in the Senate, James Cowan, said that he will break with party policy and vote against the controversial anti-terror bill. He said there is lack of oversight in the legislation and it also violates the Canadian Charter or Rights and Freedoms.
In a speech at the University of British Columbia, liberal leader Justin Trueau said that the party was supporting the anti-terror bill to prevent the Conservatives from making "political hay" using national security issues during an election year. Of course they will do so anyway. Trudeau's strategy is to support the bill, even though he knows it has many faults, because he can then avoid the Conservatives charging him with being soft on terrorism. In other words, he will sacrifice principle to gain votes by being seen as tough on terrorism. Trudeau's own remarks show that he worries about Conservative tactics rather than the content of the bill: “But we know that, tactically, this government would be perfectly happy if the opposition completely voted against this bill because it fits into their fear narrative and [their desire to] … bash people on security.”
Nevertheless he says he sympathizes with those who have concerns about Bill C-51 and said that if elected his government would amend the bill. Several questions from his student audience were critical of Trudeau's position. One young woman said: “Sir, I must say that supporting the bill that you know is dangerous while promising to reform it when you’ve been elected to government is tantamount to putting our rights hostage, and our vote is our ransom.”
Trudeau pointed to three measures in the Harper bill that were primary reasons he supported it. First, was strengthening the no-fly list. Second, extending powers to make preventive arrest making it easier for police to detain a person and hold them without charge or a warrant for a longer period. Finally, increased information sharing among government departments and agencies. Sounding much like Stephen Harper, Trudeau said:“[These] are significant improvements that will keep Canadians safer". These specific measures are ones that experts have concerns about. Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien said the scale of information sharing was unprecedented. and the safeguards against unreasonable invasion of privacy were "seriously deficient".The sharing of information includes income tax information. Trudeau apparently is not concerned about the Snowden revelations about extensive snooping by spy agencies. Law professor, Craig Forcese, said that after the Air India and Maher Arar investigations there were proposals for improving information sharing yet the government ignored those recommendations in drafting this bill.
Social media show images of Liberal supporters cutting up their party membership card in reaction to Trudeau's support for the anti-terror bill. Here are a couple of many critical comments on Trudeau's Facebook page: "Bill C-51 has passed and you helped do that. My vote is now with the NDP," reads one of the hundreds of comments on the Liberal leader's page. "Too bad you sold us out to spying by supporting Bill C-51," says another, reflecting the tenor of most of the comments.
The NDP, which voted against the bill, may gain some support as a result of the Liberal position. The bill has been sharply criticized by legal experts, academics, aboriginal groups, environmentalists, and many others. Some activists who might have supported the Liberals as their choice to oust the Conservative may now turn to the NDP led by Thomas Mulcair. This could make a significant difference in the election, more than any negative voter effect of being criticized as being soft on terrorism.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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