Liberals to Back Anti-Terrorism Bill

February 4, 2015 Updated: February 5, 2015

The Liberals will vote in favour of the government’s new anti-terrorism bill, despite concerns that it provides no mechanisms to guard against abuse of the new powers it would give security agencies.

If the Conservatives refuse to amend the bill to address those concerns, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says his party will still support it—but will fix the flaws should they win the coming election.

The Liberals want the bill amended to provide for parliamentary oversight of security agencies and a mechanism to require mandatory review of the legislation in the years to come.

The bill would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) more power to thwart suspected terrorists’ travel plans, disrupt bank transactions, and covertly interfere with radical websites.

It would also make it easier for the RCMP to obtain a peace bond to restrict the movement of suspects and extend the amount of time they can be kept in preventative arrest and detention. In addition, it would create a new criminal offence: encouraging someone to carry out a terrorist attack.

Trudeau said his party welcomes measures to build on the powers of preventative arrest, expand the no-fly regime, and enhance coordinated information sharing among government departments and agencies.

It is not yet clear whether the NDP, the Official Opposition, will take an approach similar to the Liberals or refuse to support the bill without amendments.

By promising to support the bill but fix it later, the Liberals hope to immunize themselves from Conservative attacks that they’re soft on terrorism.

Trudeau’s popular support has slid somewhat since he chose last fall to oppose Canada’s participation in international airstrikes against Islamic extremists in Iraq.