Bill C-51: Liberal Senators To Vote Against Anti-Terror Legi

Bill C-51: Liberal Senators To Vote Against Anti-Terror Legi

Postby Oscar » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:33 am

Bill C-51: Liberal Senators To Vote Against Anti-Terror Legislation

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The Huffington Post Canada | By Althia Raj

Posted: 05/12/2015 1:55 pm EDT Updated: 05/13/2015 7:59 am

OTTAWA — Liberal senators are poised to demonstrate their independence from the Liberal party leadership in the House of Commons, by voting en masse against the controversial anti-terrorism bill, C-51.

The Senate Liberals’ leader, James Cowan, told The Huffington Post Canada he hasn’t spoken to Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau, who supported the bill in the Commons, but he expects most of the Liberal team in the upper chamber to oppose the bill.

“We don’t whip votes, so everybody is free to make up their own minds,” he said. Cowan hoped the show of independence would allay criticisms that the Senate Liberals are still taking directions from the Trudeau team.

Trudeau kicked all his senators out of the Liberal caucus last year and barred them from organizing for the federal party. Despite the surprise banishment, the 29 senators decided to keep calling themselves Liberals anyway.

Cowan said he has always believed the Senate should be more independent, and he hopes Conservative senators might eventually follow suit.

“I’ve never discussed this bill with Mr. Trudeau. He is entitled to his view, and I am entitled to my view,” the Senate Liberal said. “What I don’t have to do is worry about what effect it is going to have on my election chances.”

Trudeau told a student audience in B.C. earlier this year that he was opposed to some controversial aspects of C-51 and would amend the bill if elected. But he suggested he was voting in favour in order to discourage the Conservatives from making “political hay” of the security issue in an election year.

“This conversation might be different if we weren’t months from an election campaign, but we are,” he said.

Security, public safety and tough-on-crime measures are likely to be part of the next election campaign, Cowan said. Senators, by virtue of being appointed, are free to express their views without political consideration, he said.

“Liberal senators didn’t run in the last election and won’t run in this election, and so we can’t promise to change it, because we are not going to be in government, so that option is not available to us,” Cowan explained.

The Conservatives’ anti-terrorism law goes too far and is too great an invasion of people’s privacy, the Liberal Senate leader said.

Canada is the only five-eyes country that doesn’t have parliamentary oversight of its security and intelligence agencies, Cowan noted. The five-eyes is an intelligence alliance that includes Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. “We need that, and we need a better balance between the need for police and security agencies to have appropriate powers … [and] everybody’s rights.”

“This goes just too far. It goes over the top.”

After reading letters from more than 100 people — former prime ministers, former justice ministers, academics and former judges —condemning the bill, Cowan said he asked Senate Conservative leader Claude Carignan what experts or eminent Canadians supported C-51.

“His answer was ‘Stephen Harper.’”


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