When Bill C-51, now known as the Anti-Terrorism Act, was passed this year, one of the arguments that was made in favor of it was the need for CSIS to be able to share information. It was claimed that CSIS had the ability to collect and analyze information, but that they were limited in acting and being able to share that information with others. When it comes to the new mandate, it was previously admitted by Public Safety Canada that this legislation was necessary so that Canada's intelligence agencies could be on par with other democratic nations. “Intelligence services in most of Canada's close democratic allies have had similar mandates and powers for many years,” they said. However, many professionals continue to reiterate that this isn't the case, in that CSIS and the RCMP, along with other policing authorities, already had the investigatory methods and authority available to them. Many opponents of the bill continue to affirm that Canadian authorities did have the tools and authority available to them, that would allow them to effectively deal with any threat to the nation.
Aside from CSIS, it has been previously admitted that RCMP did have the “disruption tools” necessary in order to deal with any perceived threat that they might find. For the past several months, many legal scholars and policing experts have continued to reaffirm to the public and Canadian officials, that Bill C-51 wasn't needed in order for them to do their job efficiently. As the police themselves just recently proved, when they launched an investigation last year (without the help of C-51) and successfully detained one suspect this year who has been charged with various terrorism-related offenses. They have demonstrated to the public that they are able to keep citizens safe without the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act, which the Canadian Bar Association and other Constitutional scholars continue to denounce.
When it comes to comparing the new law to those abroad, two professors from Ontario who have analyzed the legislation extensively, concluded that CSIS's new powers are not similar to those in other countries. They also affirmed that comparing our laws to those in other democratic nations, is like comparing apples to oranges. The Canadian Anti-Terrorism Act in particular, they say, is aimed at disruption and threat reduction. Whether or not these organizations are able to do their job more effectively now that the bill has been passed, is a question that is still up for debate among many prominent citizens and authority figures in the nation. Despite Bill C-51 having passed and successfully becoming law, many Canadians continue to speak out against it. The Green Party, NDP, and Libertarian Party of Canada, are all against the legislation and have proposed to amend or get rid of the law entirely. Constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati has also agreed to launch a legal battle against the controversial legislation in court.
OpenMedia has also organized a petition, urging Canadian citizens to spread awareness and to help keep-up the pressure against Canadian officials in an effort to have this law repealed. The petition has already gathered more than 280,000 signatures and is still growing. It is clear that this is a very important issue for Canadian voters this year, and hundreds of thousands of Canadians (at the very least) are not supportive of this legislation; it will make a difference on who they vote for this fall.
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