NDP Leader Tom Mulcair speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday

NDP declares opposition to anti-terror bill

Mulcair says NDP opposed to 'dangerous, over-reaching' anti-terrorism bill

  • Feb. 18, 2015 11:00 a.m.

By Jim Bronskill and Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Tom Mulcair cast his New Democratic Party as more courageous and principled than the Liberals as he came out four-square Wednesday against the Harper government’s proposed anti-terrorism bill.

The NDP leader’s announcement underscored the degree to which the controversial bill has become a political football in an election year.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has played on popular support for cracking down on extremists following the murder of two Canadian soldiers last fall, portraying opponents of the bill as soft on terrorism.

Hoping to inoculate himself from that charge, Justin Trudeau has said Liberal MPs will support the bill even if they fail to win amendments to ensure parliamentary oversight and review of the new powers proposed for security services.

A Liberal government would fix those flaws should it win the election scheduled for October, Trudeau says.

And now NDP strategists are hoping Mulcair’s unequivocal opposition will help lure back progressive voters who’ve drifted away from the NDP since the last election and towards the resurgent Liberals. Wooing back those “red-orange” switch voters is the top priority for the NDP over the next eight months.

Mulcair labelled Trudeau’s stance on the bill “pathetic” and urged the Liberals to reconsider.

“This bill merits real debate,” Mulcair said.

“Mr. Harper and the Conservatives have intimidated the Liberals into supporting this deeply flawed legislation. We in the NDP are going to fight it.”

He likened his party’s stand to former leader Tommy Douglas’ courageous opposition to the War Measures Act, invoked by Trudeau’s father Pierre, the Liberal prime minister during the October 1970 FLQ crisis.

Trudeau countered by chiding Mulcair for making “personal attacks” on an issue that should be debated “in a respectful and non-partisan fashion.”

But he then took his own shot at the NDP.

“The fact is the NDP has not once in its history supported strengthening anti-terror measures in this country,” Trudeau said.

Harper echoed that charge in the House of Commons as he dismissed Mulcair’s contention that the bill would allow security services to treat those involved in legitimate protest and dissent as would-be terrorists.

“As the NDP’s positions on this issue become more and more irrelevant, more and more unconnected to Canadians’ real concerns, their statements on this issue become more and more extreme,” Harper scoffed.

While he acknowledged that terrorism is a real threat, Mulcair said the government has come up with a “sweeping, dangerous, vague and ineffective” response to it.

The bill, tabled late last month, would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service more power to thwart suspected terrorist plots.

It would also make it easier for the RCMP to obtain a peace bond to restrict a suspect’s movements and extend the amount of time they can be kept in preventative detention.

And it creates a new criminal offence of encouraging someone to carry out a terrorism attack.

“Experts warn that broad measures in this bill could lump legal dissent together with terrorism,” Mulcair said. “And the bill would give significant new powers to CSIS without addressing serious deficiencies in oversight.”

Mulcair advocates a parliamentary committee with the power to review secret documents like the ones that oversee spies in Britain and the United States.

Follow @JimBronskill and @jmbryden on Twitter

Just Posted

10th year for Great Naramata Cherry Pit Contest

The event is a fun-filled way to celebrate the local harvest

Man arrested in Kelowna following Shuswap vehicle thefts, pursuit

Suspect wanted in Alberta allegdly also stole several vehicles near Sicamous over the weekend

Boy’s best friend gets help from South Okanagan community

Community rallies around dog that needed surgery for two broken legs

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: mix of sun and clouds

Environment Canada is predicting a 30 per cent chance of showers and a risk of thunderstorms this afternoon across the Okanagan

Private viewing for Elijah-lain Beauregard to be held in Penticton

Afterwards, there will be a celebration of life next to the Okanagan Lake,

West Kelowna vet saves turtle from hook

Dr. Moshe Oz removed fish hook lodged in the turtle’s throat

RCMP investigating alleged ‘sexual misconduct’ by cyclist on BCIT campus

BCIT said they were reviewing video evidence of the incident

New home cost dips in B.C.’s large urban centres

Victoria, Kelowna, Vancouver prices decline from last year

Parking price hike could free up spots in downtown Kelowna

By-the-hour parking in evenings aimed to boost vehicle turnover in popular spots

Graphic suicide scene edited out of ‘13 Reasons Why’ finale

Suicide prevention groups support the decision

Nine kittens and cats rescued after being locked in bins in northern B.C.: SPCA

SPCA says cats were starving, and matted with feces and urine

Guess Who has started a band in the Shuswap? Legendary guitarist Donnie McDougall

Band to play pair of shows in Sicamous area before setting out on tour

ICBC insurance renewals get more complicated this year

Crash history, driver risk prompt more reporting requirements

High-speed rail link would run from Vancouver to Seattle in under 1 hour: study

Annual ridership is projected to exceed three million

Most Read