#CyberFLASH: Steven Blaney defends new anti-terrorism powers

Steven BlaneyCanada’s public safety minister defended new counter-terrorism legislation Tuesday, saying there were “robust” safeguards in place to ensure that proposed new powers for the federal spy agency don’t infringe on civil rights.

Steven Blaney told a security conference that legislation was needed to protect Canadians and their civil rights from the “explosive cocktail” created when those with mental health issues become indoctrinated into an extremist ideology, pointing to the Oct. 22 shootings in Ottawa as an example.

“If we want civil rights to flourish in the country, we need to have security,” Blaney said.

Blaney made the comments on the same day the House of Commons kicked off debate on the government’s new counter-terrorism bill. Opposition parties expressed cautious support for a series of amendments to give Canada’s spy agency more powers.

The government’s new bill to bolster the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act would give the agency greater surveillance powers, and enshrine in law the ability of CSIS to operate at home and overseas while also making it easier to share intelligence with allies. The bill, known as C-44, would also grant anonymity to CSIS witnesses in court cases, even keeping their identity secret from the judge involved.

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