Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Edward Snowden Is Right to Urge Caution on Anti-Terror Measures

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Edward Snowden Is Right to Urge Caution on Anti-Terror Measures

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Edward Snowden is right to urge caution on anti-terror measures

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Feb. 3:

Edward Snowden, the security service whistleblower and international fugitive, has warned Canadians to be "extraordinarily cautious" in accepting new anti-terrorism laws. And he's right.

Legislation introduced by the federal government at the end of last week represents the largest overhaul of Canada's security laws in more than a decade. Broadly speaking, Ottawa's Anti-Terrorism Act 2015 ratchets up the power of police and spy agencies while loosening civil rights protections. And it does so without including any new mechanism that would allow Parliament to effectively oversee to work of security services.

That's a troubling combination.

Deadly attacks on Parliament Hill and in Quebec last fall demonstrate that terrorism is no idle threat. So are trials currently underway concerning two plots aimed at causing wholesale death. One, in Vancouver, involves two people caught in an RCMP sting planting what they thought were bombs in British Columbia's legislature. The other, in Toronto, concerns two men charged with planning to derail a Via Rail passenger train.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is right to be concerned about terrorist activities, and it's vital that agencies protecting Canadians from such threats be adequately empowered. But so far, the government has not made a convincing case that its proposed new law would have stopped the earlier attacks, or would prevent future ones.

The new legislation would make it illegal to urge, even in a casual way, an attack on Canada or to "promote" terrorism. It would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service new power to disrupt perceived threats, including through interference with websites, phones and social media accounts. …

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