Malpeque MP Wayne Easter is defending the federal Liberal party’s decision to support the Harper government’s proposed anti-terrorism legislation as a growing chorus of advocates call for the bill to be scrapped.
Easter has been the lead spokesman for the Liberals in Ottawa on Bill C-51, which proposes sweeping changes to security and privacy laws in an attempt to combat terrorist threats in Canada.
But Easter has been forced into a defensive role.
The Liberals plan to support the controversial bill in order to “err of the side of national security for a limited period of time,” Easter said.
“We do see the need for some of the elements in this bill on national security, and therefore we’re going to support the bill on the national security side,” Easter said.
The Liberals are promising to amend parts of the bill, including adding sunset clauses to some of the most aggressive measures, if they form the next government.
Meanwhile, a growing number concerns have been raised over many of the measures in this legislation.
Four former prime ministers submitted an op-ed to the Globe and Mail that included signatures of a number of retired Supreme Court judges and other security and intelligence experts.
Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien has also expressed concern over the bill in an opinion piece published the Globe, citing new powers that would provide 17 federal government agencies with “almost limitless powers to monitor and profile ordinary Canadians, with a view to identifying security threats among them,” Therrien said.
On Friday, the Island Peace Committee and the P.E.I. chapter of the Council of Canadians staged a protest against Bill C-51 in front of Egmont MP Gail Shea’s ministerial office in Charlottetown.
Leo Broderick of the Council of Canadians in P.E.I. says he believes the bill should be scrapped entirely.
“The bill, according to the critics, expands very significantly the definition of security and many, many people might be targeted,” Broderick said.
He rejected Easter’s defense of certain aspects of the bill, calling the Liberal position on this proposed legislation “ridiculous.”
“Wayne Easter said we need a balance and there are some aspects of the bill that are good, but those aspects we have laws now that look after those… we call on both (Liberals and Conservatives) to get onside with the Canadian people and support more democracy rather than reducing it,” Broderick said.