Bill C-51 Mailout From Tory MP Features Loaded Question, Attracts Scorn

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Canadians either support the government's new anti-terror legislation, or see terrorists as victims.

That's the message a Conservative backbencher delivered to his constituents in a mailout that is now attracting a lot of attention — and scorn — online.

Manitoba MP Lawrence Toet, who represents the Winnipeg riding of Elmwood-Transcona, sent the mailer this week expressing his support for Bill C-51.

Constituents were invited to take a survey and mail the results back to Toet. However, the options left little by way of a middle ground.

Recipients could either check a box saying they agreed with Toet that "additional action" is needed to combat terrorism, or one saying they disagree, as "terrorists are victims too."

Photos of the survey were posted to Twitter Tuesday, with many complaining about the loaded question, and the fact that taxpayers cover the cost of such mailers.

By Wednesday morning, an image of the survey was a top post on social media site Reddit, with many commenters suggesting ideas for future polls.

"Do you believe the Keystone pipeline is in Canada's best interests?" wrote one Reddit member. "Yes! It will create thousands of jobs. No! I am an environmental terrorist and should be put in prison."

"Will you be voting for Stephen Harper next election?" wrote another. "Yes, I want Canadians to be safe. No, I like ISIS."

Some people online have also compared Toet's survey to former public safety minister Vic Toews' infamous quip in 2012 that opponents of an online surveillance bill could either "stand with us or with the child pornographers."

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair told reporters Wednesday that Toet's mailout was an example of the same "ludicrous, divisive approach" Tories have used for years.

"It's the same approach as Stephen Harper. It's the same approach as Vic Toews," he said. "You know, you are with us, or you are against us."

Curtis Brown, vice-president of Probe Research, told CBC News he posted a photo of the survey to Twitter for a laugh because it would be "preposterous" if his polling firm phrased a question in that manner.

"It's not a legitimate way of asking people what they think about Bill C-51 or about terrorism," he said.

Just weeks ago, Toet rose in the House of Commons to express his support for Bill C-51. The legislation would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service the power to actively thwart terror plots, make it easier for police to limit the movements of a suspected extremist, expand no-fly list powers, crack down on terrorist propaganda, and remove barriers to sharing security-related information.

Toet echoed Prime Minister Stephen Harper in saying the international jihadist movement has "declared war" on Canada.

"Jihadi terrorism is not a human right," he said. "It is an act of war."

The federal Liberals have announced they will support the bill, but amend the legislation if they win the next election to provide more oversight of security agencies.

However, New Democrats will vote against Bill C-51. Mulcair has called the legislation "sweeping, dangerous, vague and ineffective."

Last week, federal privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien said the scope of the bill was "clearly excessive" and warned the personal information of Canadians could be in jeopardy if it passes.

More than 100 academics have also urged MPs to vote against the legislation, which was introduced after the death of two Canadian soldiers in October.

With files from The Canadian Press

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