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RELEASE: BCCLA reacts to sweeping new anti-terror bill

January 30, 2015

VANCOUVER – This morning the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) – the organization that is currently suing the federal government over allegations of warrantless electronic surveillance of Canadians by the Canada’s electronic spy agency – reacted to the new Anti-terrorism Act 2015 introduced in the House of Commons. As reported in the media, the bill includes measures to enhance the powers of CSIS, lower the legal threshold for police to detain people without criminal charges and criminalizes expressions of support for terrorist activities even where the speaker has no intention of committing a terrorist act.

Micheal Vonn, Policy Director of the BCCLA, said: “This radical expansion of national security powers is not sound security policy and presents a real danger to Canadians.  Our national security agencies have shamefully inadequate oversight and are hostile to accountability.  Canada has utterly failed to respond to the urgent need for national security oversight and instead, proposes an unprecedented expansion of powers that will harm innocent Canadians and not increase our public safety.”

Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BCCLA, said: “Preventive detention permits holding an individual without charges based on mere suspicion of dangerousness. Expanding police powers to detain people without charges must be examined with the utmost scrutiny. Stripping an individual’s liberty where no criminal offence has been found to be committed – or where no offence is even suspected to have been committed – runs against the most basic principles of fundamental justice.”

Vonn added: “Criminalizing people’s words and thoughts is misguided and won’t make Canadians any safer. We will be less free, less democratic and less likely to know who to keep an eye on. This new law will impose a broad chill on legitimate political speech without enhancing public safety, and is likely unconstitutional.”

Learn more about the BCCLA’s lawsuit against Canada’s electronic spy agency for alleged unconstitutional mass surveillance of Canadians.