NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How Canada is Preparing to Fight Terrorism

December 18, 2001

Like its neighbor to the South, Canada is going through a heated debate over which anti-terrorism measures are acceptable and which threaten civil liberties and deserved to be scrapped. The anti-terrorism bill should pass before Christmas.

Here are some of the issues under debate, which may sound familiar to Americans:

  • Law-enforcement officials would be given enhanced wiretapping capabilities and authority to make preventive arrests and detain people for 72 hours without a warrant.
  • They would be authorized to collect DNA samples from suspected terrorists and declare military zones -- a form of martial law -- in areas where terrorist cells are suspected.
  • The bill, which also speeds deportation of immigrants and refugees suspected of terrorism, provides Canada's first official definition of terrorism.
  • That definition excludes lawful activities such as protests and strikes.

Canada's Liberal government has already adopted numerous measures to tighten security since Sept. 11. These include placing armed undercover police officers on planes, screening immigrants more rigorously and boosting funds for intelligence activities.

Polls show most Canadians support these actions. But controversy is growing in socially liberal Canada over the police powers contained in the bill -- although they are said to be less stringent than similar measures in force in the U.S.

Source: Joel Baglole, "Canada Cracks the Whip on Terror; Some Don't Like the Sound of It," Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2001.

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