Bill extends powers beyond terrorism: Cullen

MP Nathan Cullen suggests the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act may be politically motivated.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen says the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act goes too far, and suggests the bill giving more powers to police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) is politically motivated.

The Act allows those suspected of plotting an attack to be more easily detained or have their movements restricted.

Cullen pointed to recent arrests of suspected terrorists before they were able to carry out acts of terror as evidence that the current system need not change.

Obviously the powers that are there now seem sufficient, and no one has come forward to say they’re not powerful enough, and now they’re going to extend that much beyond any classic definition of terrorism for what can only be assumed to be political motivation,” said Cullen.

The MP said broad definitions including potential threats to ill-defined infrastructure and economic interests point to that motivation.

If people are trying to petition against a pipeline or a bridge project, or something that the government decides is economic, then they can be spied on with no oversight, no protection of our civil rights.

These are basic rights. These are freedom to assembly, freedom of speech. The powers given to the spy agency would be able to trample all of those with no judge or Parliament involved at all,” said Cullen.

There is a section in Bill C-51 that states works of art and “legal” protest are exempt. Despite that, former Liberal and Progressive Conservative prime ministers, and former Supreme Court Justices have come out against the bill.

The Liberals have indicated they would support the bill, but would add more oversight of CSIS if elected, a promise made by the Conservatives under Harper when they were in Opposition.

This is about people, about bird watchers, the Raging Grannies and people fighting for salmon,” said Cullen.

A poll by Angus Reid saw 82 per cent of Canadians surveyed in support of the law, with 69 per cent wanting more oversight.