Ottawa Combats Terrorism

Canadian government re-introduces “Combating Terrorism Attack”

by Despina Doukas

Last Friday, the Conservative government re-introduced the Combating Terrorism Act, a bill that will allow Canadian courts to bring people before a judge, to answer questions about terrorist attacks that might take place.

According to the Toronto Sun, the government is re-introducing hoping it  will help police and investigators “prevent and investigate terrorist activities,” and includes provisions to bring suspected would-be terrorists before a judge and the ability to impose certain conditions on people suspected of planning a terrorist attack. If the conditions are refused, the suspect faces up to 12 months behind bars.

Controversy surrounded the reimplementation of the bill, since it occurred the same week that Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh, who has long denounced violent extremists, received death threats on a Facebook site called “Ujjal Dosanjh is a Sikh Traitor.”

“Any time public officials are threatened, whoever they are, or wherever they are, is of great concern to everybody in this country,” Justice Minister Rob Nicholson told the Toronto Sun, when the bill was re-introduced. “One of the fundamentals of this country is the ability of people to express their opinion freely without fear of threats.”

According to the Montreal Gazette, the provisions in the proposed act were previously included in the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act passed after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. They expired in 2007, and the Conservatives were unsuccessful in extending them for three years.

Nicholson told the Toronto Sun that, the new bill includes “safeguards” and amendments made in the Senate when it was introduced last year before Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament.

According to the Montreal Gazette, more controversy surrounds the investigation, as many believe the new bill could lead to the resumption of special investigative hearings into the Air India bombings.

The hearings were derailed in March 2007 when earlier legislation allowing the special judicial hearings expired.

The RCMP’s Air India Task Force had been preparing to go forward at the time with hearings to advance the mass murder probe that left 331 dead on June 23, 1985.

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