02/23/2015 07:53 EST | Updated 04/25/2015 05:59 EDT

Bill C-51: Anti-terror bill passes 2nd reading in House of Commons

Bill C-51, the government's proposed anti-terror law, has passed second reading in the House of Commons with a vote of 176-87 and will now be sent to committee. 

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said on Twitter ahead of the vote that he was urging "all MPs to support the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015 to better protect Canadians from the terror threat." 

The bill, which would provide intelligence agencies and police with stepped-up powers, has faced criticism, with opponents arguing that it offers too broad a scope with too little oversight. 

Four former prime ministers, along with 18 others, signed a letter urging strong oversight, saying that "given the secrecy around national security activities, abuses can go undetected and without remedy."

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, whose party opposes the bill, has called it "sweeping, dangerous, vague and ineffective​." 

In announcing the bill, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the proposed legislation offered "considerable" oversight, adding that his government doesn't "buy the argument that every time you protect Canadians, you take away their liberties."