New anti-terror bill praised, criticized

Calgarians appear to be divided on the Harper government’s new anti-terror bill.

While some some support House of Commons bill C-51, which will broaden the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS) powers to monitor suspect terrorists, others are concerned it may harm civil liberties and free speech.

The new bill, which the government hopes will become law by the summer, will allow CSIS to share information with other government agencies, criminalize the promotion of terrorism, and request the removal of online content that promotes terrorism.

The Security of Canada Information Sharing Act also would allow law enforcement agencies to arrest someone if they suspect a terrorist act “may be carried out.”

We have to see how events unfold in the future. The other option is to do nothing, and I don’t think that’s a good idea. – Robert Bergen

Sharon Polsky, director at the Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association, said the new law will puty a strain on civil rights.

“Thought and free speech has been criminalized,” Polsky said in an interview.

“The introduction of this new legislation is not to protect people, it is to monitor us.

“The scariest thing is the lack of oversight.”

Polsky said that we now live in a “1984 world,” a reference to the George Orwell novel that highlights the use of government surveillance to allow total control of citizens.

Others, however, believe that the new bill is necessary to counter recent incidents such as the Parliament Hill shootings last October, and the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January.

Robert Bergen, a professor at the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, said that we will have to wait and see how the bill is used before we can decide if it is good or evil.

“Canada is facing a threat we have never seen before,” he said in an interview.

Bergen said that the bill “has been in the works for months,” but how it is implemented by the security authorities remains to be seen.

“The other option is to do nothing, and I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

He contends that this bill will pass into law, and when that happens we will begin to see how the bill is used.

The bill has been posted on the Parliament of Canada website.

About Robert Wilson 4 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Robert Wilson is working as a reporter for The Press during the 2014-2015 academic year.