Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Anti-Terrorism Bill Opens Door to Spying on Opponents, Mulcair Charges

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Anti-Terrorism Bill Opens Door to Spying on Opponents, Mulcair Charges

Article excerpt

Anti-terror bill opens door to abuse: Mulcair

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OTTAWA - Information-sharing measures in proposed anti-terrorism legislation are so broadly worded they would allow the government to spy on its political foes, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says.

Mulcair took exception Tuesday to the bill's mention of interference with infrastructure or economic stability as activity that undermines the security of Canada.

The wording is sufficiently vague to permit a Canadian Security Intelligence Service investigation of anyone who challenges the Conservatives' social, economic or environmental policies, the Opposition leader said during the daily question period.

"What's to stop this bill from being used to spy on the government's political enemies?"

Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed the suggestion, telling the House of Commons the NDP had entered the realm of conspiracy theory. "That's what we've come to expect from the black helicopter fleet over there."

The bill introduced late last month would give CSIS power to disrupt suspected terror plots, thwart financial transactions and covertly interfere with radical websites.

The legislation would also relax the sharing of information about activity that undermines the security of Canada -- "a new and astonishingly broad concept," law professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach wrote in an analysis published Tuesday.

It comes close to authorizing a "total information awareness" approach to security and in that sense "we consider it a radical departure from conventional understandings of privacy," say the authors.

Even as it erodes privacy, the bill fails to learn from the lessons of two federal commissions of inquiry that documented the effects of uncontrolled information-sharing on Arab-Canadians, including Ottawa's Maher Arar, who were imprisoned and tortured in Syria, the national security experts say. …

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