Canada’s new Anti-terror Bill: Is It Wrong or Right?

by gregbriand on February 15, 2015 - 2:11pm

Lately in the news, there has been much debate about the recent anti-terror bill passed by the Canadian federal government to expand the powers and jurisdiction of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).  In the recent C-51 anti-terror bill, CSIS will have the control of monitoring all Canadians very closely and also be able to access our secret information.  This is practically all in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks on Ottawa this fall that passed, and other similar terrorist attacks seen all around the globe.  Many Canadians, including a former spy for CSIS, Francois Lavigne, oppose this bill because of the violation of human rights on Canadians and also the potential for lawsuits and embarrassments with this bill (The National Post).  The simple argument is that many do not believe that CSIS will not always be using the private information for the right reasons and then leading to corruption in the police force (The National Post).  However, other Canadians seem to believe the opposite and favor the Conservative’s government ideology, about this proposed bill, sparking an ethical dilemma and leaving us to wonder if we should trust CSIS?

Hopefully, everyone is aware that it is Stephen Harper’s job to keep all Canadians safe and do everything possible to achieve that even though sometimes it may infringe upon our rights and privacy.  That is why the federal government did the right job by adopting the anti-terror bill so that we can protect the Canadian citizens as much as possible and then avoid another public terrorist act.  According to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, a judge is allowed to issue a warrant “to enable the Service (CSIS) to investigate a threat to the security of Canada” and thus solve their case (Blanchard, 39).  If the crown has reasonable grounds to believe and understand the severity of terrorism offences then this will enhance and facilitate the issuing of the warrant to investigate the threat (Blanchard, 39).  It would be correct to assume that the seriousness and nature of these terrorist threats seen recently in Canada are extremely high, due to the shootings at Parliament in Ottawa on October 22, 2014 (Blanchard, 39).  We must have it in our mindset to trust Intelligence Service, like CSIS, to fiddle through Canadians affairs because a future terrorist attack can shock all of us on a much broader scale.  Canadians must hold the principle that our elected government should save lives at all costs even if our constitutional freedoms are infringed upon.  The only difference Canadians will experience with the recent anti-terror bill will be that CSIS can avoid the time consuming step of receiving the warrant by a judge to investigate the threat. 

Whatever happened to our freedoms? Some might say that they don’t want the government to be able to snoop through their financial transactions, mobile devices, and private information (Blanchard, 40).  Francois Lavigne is standing by the claim that the new anti-terror bill will abuse our rights and draws parallels with the present Canadian federal government to former fascist dictatorships in the past (The National Post).  Many critics of this bill believe that it is unnecessary because of the lack of proof that we have such an enemy at large to investigate in and that we are overreacting to a minor problem (The National Post).  The other fears some feel is that by giving CSIS too much power to follow and detain more people, this will lead to lawsuits and embarrass our country (The National Post).  The opposition has to realise that they must stop assuming the worst of CSIS and come to the realisation that our government has to do everything in its power to protect us citizens even if some of our rights are at stake.

 

Works Cited

 Maher, Stephen. “Former CSIS officer warns new federal anti-terror bill will ‘lead to lawsuits, embarrassment.’” The National Post. The National Post.  13 February 2015.  Web. 13 February 2015.  http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/02/13/former-csis-officer-warns-new-federal-anti-terror-bill-will-lead-to-lawsuits-embarrassment/

Blanchard, Edmond P. "The Role Of The Federal Court In National Security Issues: Balancing The Charter Against Anti-Terrorism Measures." Constitutional Forum 18.1 (2009): 37-44. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Feb. 2015.

http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.champlaincollege.qc.ca/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=0c2f6e77-4f91-4621-b22e-0e80efbf645a%40sessionmgr4002&vid=3&hid=4204

  

Comments

I like that you point out that we should have trust in our government. If we do not trust the leaders of our country, then who can we trust? But an important point I want to bring up is the effectiveness of these surveillance policies. Many of these policies do not prove to be useful in stopping actual terrorists whose main goal is to not get caught. Instead, these programs capture the everyday normal person who may innocently get trapped. Terrorist invest a lot of resources into covering their tracks and therefore they are less likely to be caught, whereas it is very possible for the everyday citizen to get tangled in this program which would waste a lot of their time as well as resources of the government.
At the same time, you must consider that when the population knows that you are surveying them that they will self-censor themselves and change the way the live and act online. This intrudes the fundamental freedom of conscience as the thoughts of individuals are going to be changed because they know that someone is observing them.
You argue from a deontological point of view as it is the intention that deems that action of surveillance to be moral and not the consequence. But in this case, the consequence may not always be moral as I have said with the issue of self-censorship and inefficiency in achieving the goal. Therefore with these counterarguments could mean that this upcoming bill could be ethically wrong.

The law project contains many flaws. It suggests to protect us against all terrorism approach by increasing the level of surveillance of the CSIS, but this should have limits! In my opinion, that project as not set clear enough caps. Do we really need to choose between our liberty and our security? The NDP presents a strong opinion against the Conservative gimmick which I am sure would interest you. Link: http://thelinknewspaper.ca/article/the-ndp-and-greens-are-rightwe-need-t...

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