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Conservatives Double Down On Divisive Policies Canadians Rejected

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tony clement
Conservative MP Tony Clement speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Jan. 31, 2013. (Photo: REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

The Conservatives lost the election last year because they fell out of touch. This week Conservative MP Tony Clement unveiled a plan that proved just how out of touch his party still is on national security. They still don't get it: Canadians expect their government to protect not only their security, but also their rights.

While our government is focused on working hard to grow the economy for middle class Canadians, Mr. Clement has other ideas. Instead of seeking to inspire Canadians with ideas on how to make Canada better, he seeks to prey on ignorance and fear. He put out a plan that is unworkable, unconstitutional and will not make Canadians any safer.

His most egregious proposal is to lock Canadians behind bars for crimes they have not committed. That would make a mockery of our rights and of the very idea of justice -- the same values he purports to defend.

The previous government criminalized the promotion of terrorism in terms so broad that some thought it made Conservative campaign ads featuring Daesh videos illegal. Now Mr. Clement is proposing to double down on that misguided approach.

kellie leitch
Conservative MP Kellie Leitch speaks to journalists on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Feb. 16, 2015. (Photo: REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

He tries to whip up fear of immigration by proposing "enhanced screening." Yet Canada already has a robust, multi-layered approach designed by CSIS, the RCMP and our other security agencies.

His other ideas range from the vague (one proposes "extra focus," whatever that means) to outright plagiarism. An office to counter radicalization? That's straight out of the Liberal platform. Exit controls to improve border security? Our government tabled legislation in June. Parliamentary oversight of our security agencies? That was in the Liberal platform, too, and a bill is before the House.

The reality is that Canadians want thoughtful, inclusive consultation and dialogue. Not fearmongering. And not naiveté. The public wants to be honestly informed and sincerely engaged.

That's why the government is holding consultations on Canada's national security framework to give Canadians the chance to have their say on how to keep them safe and protect their rights and freedoms.

Whether it is Kellie Leitch playing to xenophobia with her values test or Tony Clement gleefully trampling our rights, it seems the Conservative Party still hasn't gotten the memo.

We are committed to fixing the previous government's mistakes with C-51 by giving Canadians the opportunity to be heard and by repealing the problematic elements of that bill.

We will keep our commitments to Canadians by: guaranteeing that all CSIS warrants comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; protecting Canadians' right to engage in legitimate protest and advocacy; strengthening support for people wrongly caught up in air travel security lists; narrowing overly broad definitions in security law; and requiring a statutory review of the changes to the Anti-Terrorism Act after three years.

Our consultations on national security will ask Canadians what else they believe is necessary to keep them safe and to safeguard our democratic way of life.

The wedge politics and fearmongering of the Conservatives in the last election were resoundingly rejected by Canadians. Whether it is Kellie Leitch playing to xenophobia with her values test or Tony Clement gleefully trampling our rights, it seems the Conservative Party still hasn't gotten the memo.

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