NDP MP Randall Garrison Says Liberals Dragging Feet On C-51 Reform

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OTTAWA — A New Democrat MP says he will table a private member's bill at the earliest opportunity to repeal controversial anti-terrorism measures — accusing the Trudeau government of moving too slowly on planned reforms.

NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison says the security legislation known as Bill C-51 severely compromised the rights of Canadians while doing little to improve safety.

The bill gave the Canadian Security Intelligence Service more power to thwart suspected terrorist plots — not just gather information about them.

randall garrison

Randall Garrison speaks in the House of Commons. (Photo: CP)

It also expanded the sharing of federal security information, broadened no-fly list powers and created a new criminal offence of encouraging someone to carry out a terrorism attack.

The Conservative government introduced the omnibus bill early last year after jihadi-inspired attacks that killed Canadian soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and Ottawa just days apart in October 2014.

It became law with the support of the Liberals, who have promised to change what they call "problematic elements." The NDP staunchly opposed the bill as a gross infringement on civil liberties.

Liberals have lacked 'action'

At a news conference, Garrison chided the Trudeau government for lack of "substantive action" since the October election.

The government should focus on counter-radicalization efforts and providing security agencies with enough resources to fight threats, he said.

But rescinding Bill C-51 would be the best place to start, Garrison added. "This was a creature of the Conservative government supported by the Liberals."

The Liberals have committed to a handful of specific changes as well as a wide-ranging review of national-security measures that will involve public consultations.

"This was a creature of the Conservative government supported by the Liberals."
— NDP critic Randall Garrison

The government has pledged to ensure all CSIS warrants respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This would likely roll back C-51 provisions allowing the spy service to disrupt terror plots through tactics that breach the charter as long as a judge approves.

Before the summer recess, the Liberals introduced legislation to create a special committee of parliamentarians to keep an eye on national-security operations.

They also plan to appoint a co-ordinator of community outreach and counter-radicalization to serve as a focal point for multi-agency efforts.


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