Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Rallies Held across the Country Denounce Conservatives' Anti-Terror Legislation

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Rallies Held across the Country Denounce Conservatives' Anti-Terror Legislation

Article excerpt

Thousands across Canada protest C-51

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MONTREAL - Thousands of Canadians came together to loudly denounce the Conservative government's proposed anti-terror legislation in rallies held across the country on Saturday.

In a park in Montreal's north end, a few dozen of the hundreds of demonstrators taped their mouths shut in protest of the bill, which opponents say would allow the government to stifle protest and dissent. As they marched toward the office of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, many of the large contingent waved signs bearing messages such as "Stop Harper," and "Activism is not a crime."

The Conservative government introduced the legislation, known as Bill C-51, in January.

The wide-ranging bill would give police much broader powers and allow them to detain terror suspects and give new powers to Canada's spy agency.

The organizers of the nationwide protest say the bill would infringe upon Canadians' civil liberties and right to privacy, especially online.

Groups such as Amnesty international have also argued that the bill's powers to limit "threats to the security of Canada" are too broad and may allow the government to shut down legitimate dissenters and protest groups who do not go through official channels.

In Ottawa, hundreds of chanting protesters clogged the street outside Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office. They then marched onto the grounds of Parliament Hill. A protest in Edmonton similarly drew hundreds of angry marchers.

In Vancouver, a crowd of about 700 to 800 people according to a police estimate gathered in front of the city's art gallery. Aboriginal leaders and civil liberties groups spoke to the crowd through a megaphone, while onlookers cheered and waved signs.

Protester Larry Johnny said he feared that First Nations protesting mines in the province could be labelled "terrorists" for speaking out if the bill is passed. …

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