Revive anti-terrorism measures

I received an e-mail from a constituent this week who disagrees with the government’s intent to revive an anti-terrorism measures from the Anti-Terrorism Act passed in 2001 by Parliament.

The measures allow for the detention of an individual over a period of up to 72 hours and an investigative hearing before the courts if an officer believes, on reasonable grounds, that a serious terrorist offence is about to take place and suspects that the arrest of a particular person would prevent it.

Great care was taken by Parliament when it originally drafted this measure to ensure that it would only be available under strictly defined conditions and would be subject to numerous procedural safeguards including a sunset clause which allowed the measures to expire in 2007.

Debate at the time was robust with members from all sides affirming that such legislation must maintain a balance between a firm commitment to eradicate terrorism and the protection of civil liberties for all Canadians.

The measure for an investigative hearing came under scrutiny by the Supreme Court of Canada and was upheld.

The discussion, whether to renew these measures or not, is timely coming as it does following the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

The anniversary was a reminder of the immense responsibility we have to  protect the public against the kind of terrorist activity we saw that day.

How best to do so however, raises ethical questions about the rights of the individual versus the right of society to be protected: How far do we need to go to ensure the safety of the public?  What kind of powers should be given to law enforcement and the courts? How do we ensure that any measures we take are directed against terrorist acts, not against the members of a specific community, ethnicity, or religion?  

I have given it much thought and I will likely support the decision to revive the measure but I would welcome feedback from more constituents.  

I encourage people to avoid making the discussion partisan. I do not believe that it is realistic or fair to divide Canadians by defining them as those who respect civil liberties and those who do not.

Canada is, and remains a democratic society which respects the rights and freedoms of its citizens. But with rights come responsibility and while it is reasonable to expect to have the freedom to express individual beliefs, the right to do so ends when there is an intent to harm others and to undermine the welfare and security of Canadians.

It’s difficult to acknowledge that the events of 9/11, the arrest of the Toronto 18, the car bomb placed in Times Square in 2010 or the fear that a terrorist act is possible at any time has robbed us of some of our freedom. 

Under these conditions, it is reasonable, within strict limits, to provide law enforcement and the courts with the ability to act and take pre-emptive measures when there is evidence that a terrorist act is taking place, and have the confidence that they will do so responsibly.

Trust in our ability to make good laws is the best assurance of preserving all that we value in a civil society.

Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country. If you wish to discuss this or any other issue related to the federal government please contact his office at 470-5075 or [email protected] .

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About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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