Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Harper: extraordinary anti-terror powers for police

The Ottawa Citizen:

Ottawa — Controversial clauses expanding the powers of police to combat terrorism are going to be reintroduced by the new Conservative majority government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in an interview with CBC.

Harper said for the first time since the Tories took control of the House of Commons the government plans to bring back measures in the Anti-Terrorism Act that expired in 2007.

The clauses were part of the act, introduced in 2001, and were required to be renewed every three years. They allowed for preventive detention of suspects for up to 72 hours, granted police the ability to arrest terrorism suspects without a warrant and enabled judges to compel witness to testify.

In 2007 the Opposition Liberals, led by Stephane Dion, blocked the continuation of the police powers. A small number of Grits, including former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler, abstained from the vote because they sided with the then-minority government.

Harper tired to reintroduce the measures at other points during his minority reign, but he was thwarted by parliamentary recesses.

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