12/01/2014 05:58 EST | Updated 01/31/2015 05:59 EST

Proposed CSIS Bill Changes Kiboshed By Conservatives


OTTAWA - Government MPs have voted down a raft of proposed amendments to a federal bill intended to solidify the terrorist-tracking powers of Canada's spy agency.

Conservatives rejected several changes put forward by NDP and Liberal members of the House of Commons justice committee.

Opposition MPs expressed frustration with the process — only a handful of witnesses were called to testify about the legislation — and the outcome.

The bill now returns to the Commons for third reading.

The legislation introduced in late October would provide blanket protection for Canadian Security Intelligence Service sources and give the spy agency more latitude to obtain a court-ordered warrant authorizing investigations abroad — even if it means breaking foreign laws.

The government says the source-protection and warrant provisions will help CSIS conduct investigations into potential terrorists when they travel overseas.

NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison said the bill strengthens CSIS, but not oversight of the spy agency.

He lamented the government's unwillingness to seriously consider changes, and said the NDP may not be able to support the legislation.

The rushed nature of committee hearings undermines democratic safeguards, said Liberal public safety critic Wayne Easter.

"What we're seeing here is an erosion of our parliamentary system that worries me."

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