Canada passes controversial spook-powers law

Parliament keen to increase security after attack on ... Parliament

The Canadian government has passed a controversial anti-terrorism Bill, designed to extend the powers of the country's spy agencies.

The Bill was passed 183 votes to 93 yesterday and was introduced following the first terror attack on Canadian soil last October, in which a gunman attacked the country's parliament, shot a soldier on cermonial guard duty and was subsequently killed himself.

The legislation will give Canada's spooks the ability to operate overseas and make preventative arrests.

It says the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will be able to take within and outside Canada "measures to reduce threats to the security of Canada, including measures that are authorised by the Federal Court".

It will also enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, which enhances the government information disclosure powers.

Stephen Blaney, minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, said:

"[Since] October 22, we have crafted measures that are specifically designed to face the international jihadi threat that our country is facing."

However, there has been widespread criticism of the Bill. Four former Canadian prime ministers and five justices of the Canadian Supreme Court wrote to question the Bill.

In a statement they said:

Protecting human rights and protecting public safety are complementary objectives, but experience has shown that serious human rights abuses can occur in the name of maintaining national security.

The Bill is expected to receive royal assent in June. ®

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