Harper plans to bring back extraordinary anti-terror powers for police

Posted by admin on Sep 6th, 2011

By Robert Hiltz, Postmedia News, 6 Sep. 2011

OTTAWA — Controversial clauses expanding the powers of police to combat terrorism are going to be reintroduced by the new Conservative majority government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in an interview with CBC. Harper said for the first time since the Tories took control of the House of Commons the government plans to bring back measures in the Anti-Terrorism Act that expired in 2007.

“We think those measures are necessary. We think they’ve been useful,” Harper said of the expired parts of the act. “They’re applied rarely, but there are times where they’re needed.”

The clauses were part of the act, introduced in 2001, and were required to be renewed every three years. They allowed for preventive detention of suspects for up to 72 hours, granted police the ability to arrest terrorism suspects without a warrant and enabled judges to compel witness to testify.

In 2007 the Opposition Liberals, led by Stephane Dion, blocked the continuation of the police powers. A small number of Grits, including former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler, abstained from the vote because they sided with the then-minority government.

Harper tired to reintroduce the measures at other points during his minority reign, but he was thwarted by parliamentary recesses.

In the interview Harper said Canada is still under the threat of terrorism. “The major threat is still Islamicism. There are other threats out there, but that is the one that I can tell you occupies the security apparatus most regularly,” he said.

“As we’ve seen in Norway, terrorist threats can come out of the blue. It can come from something completely different, and there are other groups and individuals that if given the chance would engage in terrorism.”

The sources of terrorism aren’t necessarily from the Middle East, according to Harper.

“Threats exist all over the world. We’ve seen some recent bombings in Nigeria, domestic Nigerian terrorists,” he said. Harper told the CBC that the government is keeping an active “eye on” homegrown terrorist threats as well.

Terrorist activity is included under the Criminal Code and includes conspiracy, attempt or threat to commit terrorism, being an accessory after the fact or counselling in relation to any such act.



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