Postby Oscar » Wed Mar 25, 2015 6:07 pm

As support for C-51 slides, Conservative MP floats oversight fix

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By Stuart Trew | March 25, 2015

The government has stacked the public safety committee's schedule this week, hoping to get through all remaining witnesses and approve Bill C-51 before Easter. Meetings resumed Monday night (see CBC's good summary here [ ... -1.3005604 ] ) and continued Tuesday [ ... l=41&Ses=2 ] with morning and evening sessions.

As the public mood shifts against the legislation (support halved between March and February) [ ... -shows-263 ] , with the Canadian Bar Association putting out the latest legal challenge [ ... rror-bill/ ] (C-51 potentially puts "the entire Charter into jeopardy, undermines the rule of law, and goes against the fundamental role of judges as the protectors of Canada's constitutional rights"), and protests, both traditional [ ... -1.2994226 ] (see image above from a March 14 rally in Ottawa) and clothing optional, [ ... f-commons/ ] increasing, the government appears to be spitballing on a desirable endgame, with Michael Chong floating a potential compromise on oversight that will likely appeal to the Liberals.

On March 17, Chong (a Conservative backbencher from Ontario) put out a statement supporting the anti-terror legislation with this caveat:
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"while I fully support Bill C-51, I also believe we need greater oversight of Canadian security and intelligence agencies by a parliamentary committee of elected MPs, who are directly and democratically accountable to Canadians. That greater oversight is even more important as we give these agencies new powers to combat terrorism. It is also why the Senate should pass the Reform Act, to ensure that parliamentary committees can carry out their oversight function free of the control of party leaders and the Prime Minister's office."

Chong's Reform Act, [ ... e=E&Mode=1 ] which would give MPs more power to trigger leadership reviews, suspend colleagues and select caucus chairs, passed the House of Commons in February, [ ... -1.2970775 ] earning the MP praise across party lines (and some progressive activist groups) for challenging the concentration of power in the Prime Minister's Office. Though his statement on C-51 was interpreted as a similarly courageous challenge to the government line, I suspect it is, in fact, a trial balloon, signalling the government recognizes there are limits to the take-no-prisoners approach to passing legislation. (That's different from saying the government wants to make changes to C-51; it might feel, eventually, it needs to.)


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