Back in November, two Canadian soldiers were murdered by individuals who may have been radicalized by an extremist interpretation of Islam, but who most certainly were not right in the head. The two incidents were horrible tragedies and, for a time, most Canadians were able to put aside petty, partisan, bickering.
In response to these two murders as well as the real or perceived threats posed by extremists (particularly those associated with ISIS, or ISIL, or EIEIO, or whatever the hell they are referring to themselves as now), Harper's Conservative government proposed a new law that would give sweeping new investigative powers to CSIS, Canada's spy agency. Justin Trudeau has suggested that the Liberals will support the legislation. Mulclair has said the NDP will oppose passage of the bill.
We say, good for you Mr. Harper!
These are dangerous times and we need to do everything we as a nation can do to protect the citizens of this country from fanatics who would harm us all. CSIS should be given every tool it can to stop the maniac before they can act.
Sure, there are people who suggest that the current laws are perfectly fine as evidenced by the arrests of suspected extremists that have already take place without the use of the advanced tools that the proposed law would give to CSIS. Oh, and there is concern that the wording of the legislation is so broad as to encompass any group the government decides is a threat:
.... On close inspection, Bill C-51 is not an anti-terrorism bill. Fighting terrorism is its pretext; its language reveals a broader goal of allowing government departments, as well as CSIS, to act whenever they believe limply defined security threats “may” – not “will” – occur.
So why does this bill exist? What is it fighting? And why is it giving intelligence officers powers that are currently reserved for the RCMP and other police forces?
CSIS is an intelligence agency. It is secretive, and it is supposed to be. Why does it suddenly need police powers to do its job? Until now, police powers were reserved for the police – an organization that is public, and which in a democracy must be.
Have you ever met a CSIS agent? Was he out in uniform, walking the beat? No. CSIS works in secret. It is furthermore immune from Parliamentary oversight.
And now, if Bill C-51 passes, CSIS will be able to disrupt anything its political masters believe might be a threat. As the bill is currently written, that includes a lot more than terrorism.
And of course there those who foolishly worry that CSIS might, through the use of an informant, infiltrate a group of people who have extremist views but who haven't the tools or the wherewithal to act on those views, but then go on to encourage members of the group to act in such a way as to become a threat and thus justify their investigation of the group.
Well that is just speculative crazy talk! That could never, ever, happen. CSIS would never endanger Canadians by making already dangerous individuals far more dangerous by organizing them and providing with resources and training.
Oh, right! It already has happen.