The Politics of Anti-Terrorism

Published in the Globe and Mail, April 24, 2013

Terrorism is back on the front page of Canada’s newspapers. And all over the back pages, and in the commentary and editorial pages. Sadly, some of that attention must now be directed at the politics of anti-terrorism, and the degree to which crime becomes a political “wedge” issue.

The latest victim of this political culture is consideration of Bill S-7 – the government’s Combating Terrorism Act.

Bill S-7 includes a snappy title but is a modest variant of prior bills that have bounced around the parliamentary system for years, each dying with prorogations and elections and none generating very much controversy. All of these bills have been mostly about re-enacting two anti-terrorism powers provided to law enforcement after 9/11 that expired in 2007: investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions (better known as “preventive detention”).

These powers were relatively controversial at the time of their enactment in 2001. They became extremely contentious during the toxic 2007 debate over whether they would expire. The Conservatives and the Liberals chose these instruments to paint the other side as irresponsible in their own way.

Since history may now repeat itself, it’s worth understanding the real issues….

Read the rest of this article on the Globe and Mail website.

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