Tuesday, February 13, 2007

National Union urges opposition to Anti-Terrorism Act

Sunset provisions of Anti-Terrorism Act to be voted on in House of Commons


Ottawa (12 February 2007) – Members of Parliament will be voting this week on renewing two provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act enabling "preventive arrests" and "investigative hearings."

“The National Union opposed this legislation 5 years ago as an unnecessary erosion of the civil liberties of Canadians,” says James Clancy, national president of the 340,000 member National Union of Public and General Employees.

“These two provisions in particular represent a serious attack on our democratic rights and we are urging MPs to vote against renewing these provisions.”

The legislation was introduced in Parliament by the former Liberal government of Jean Chretien weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

While a wide range of organizations felt that existing legislation covered most of the powers introduced by the Anti-Terrorism Act, it was the provisions dealing with "preventive arrests" and "investigative hearings” that received the most attention.

The two provisions allow for arrest without charge and compelled testimony - both of which represent a significant break from Canada's established legal values. Opposition to these provisions came from unions, civil liberties organizations and the Canadian Bar Association.

In what most saw as a partial victory, the government placed a "sunset" clause on the two provisions meaning that they would expire after three years, unless Parliament passes a motion to extend them. The Harper Conservative government tabled a motion last week to extend the provisions for three years.

A vote is expected as early as Tuesday, February 13, 2007. NUPGE