Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Review of Canadian Anti-Terror Laws

The most recent issue of Choices, a publication of the Montreal-based Institute for Research on Public Policy, features an article by University of Toronto professor Kent Roach on how the bitter and petty partisanship in the House of Commons has undermined Parliament's ability to deal seriously with the issues surrounding Canada's response to terrorism.

The article is entitled Better Late Than Never? The Canadian Parliamentary Review of the Anti-terrorism Act :

"This paper assesses the policy-making process behind the Canadian Parliament’s mandated review of the Anti-terrorism Act (ATA) and the expiry of preventive arrests and investigative hearings in the ATA. As such, it provides a preliminary glimpse into the complexities of national security policy-making. Policy-makers in this area must grapple with difficult issues that involve liberty, security, equality, privacy and Canada’s international relationships. In addition, they must also respond to a seemingly overwhelming array of policy drivers including United Nations edicts, varying assessments of the threat environment, predictions about the restraints that will be imposed by courts under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, recommendations by public inquiries, rights watchdogs and parliamentary committees, the experience of other countries and input from interest groups. The policy environment is dynamic and the issues are multifaceted. There are no easy answers. At the same time, there is a danger that the issues will be simplified, sensationalized and politicized in a partisan manner".


"The conclusion of this study will explore whether Parliament is up to the task of building on the work of the committees in a rational and intelligent way and completing the long-delayed three-year review of the ATA through amendments. The recent debate over investigative hearings and preventive arrests, regardless of one’s views about the outcome, does not justify optimism. It may be that good work by committees in the sensitive area of antiterrorism law and policy may be better received in courts and unelected upper chambers than in the elected Commons. This, at least, has been the experience in the United Kingdom (...). Such a conclusion would not, however, bode well for the ability of Parliament or the Canadian public to deliberate about the many difficult security issues that we face".
Roach holds the Prichard-Wilson Chair in Law and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. He has also been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He has written eight books, including September 11: Consequences for Canada (McGill Queens Press). He is the co-editor of Global Anti-Terrorism Law and Policy (Cambridge University Press) and of The Security of Freedom: Essays on Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Bill (University of Toronto Press).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:03 pm


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