Posted April 06, 2019 12:00:00By the time Justin Trudeau was elected in 2015, he was already under pressure to tackle Canada’s long-standing security challenges, and the anti-terror laws that followed were set to make it tougher for Canadians to travel abroad and carry out the kinds of terror attacks that plagued the country in recent years.
It took until the last few weeks of the summer before the Trudeau government finally decided to bring back Bill C-51, the controversial anti-terrorist bill that sparked the so-called “bait-and-switch” of the bill that led to the death of the prime minister.
Bill C-50, which was introduced by the Conservatives in 2015 and is widely known as the “Terrorism Act,” was the brainchild of Liberal MP James Bezan, who was an ardent proponent of the controversial law.
Bill’s detractors had long claimed that the bill was not only a “ban” on terrorism but also was aimed at giving the police the tools to crack down on radicalized citizens and supporters of terror groups.
In the wake of the attack in Quebec City that killed three people and injured nine others, Trudeau had already begun the process of revoking the Liberal Party of Canada’s leadership from the party.
He also launched an investigation into how the bill could be misused.
In an interview with CBC News, Bezan argued that Bill C, as it stands, is not really a “banned” bill, because it has broad powers.
He argued that while it is a tough law to crack, it is not meant to be a blanket ban on all radical groups and that the law could be interpreted in a wide variety of ways.
The new government has said it is looking at Bill C in light of the Quebec tragedy, and said it will be looking at other legislation that it deems appropriate.
It also promised to update the law and make changes to its wording and structure.
“The Liberal Party will be reviewing all of our legislation and our approach to anti-radicalization and terrorism and will take any appropriate steps to ensure that Canadians, both in Canada and abroad, are safe,” a spokesperson for the government told CBC News in an email.
“While we will not be commenting on the specifics of any specific bill, we will review the legislation in light that it is in line with Canadian values and is in the public interest.”
It is also clear that the Liberal government is not going to be taking any action that would actually make it easier for Canadians, either in Canada or abroad, to travel overseas or conduct terrorist activities.
“Bill C is not a law, it’s a trap,” Trudeau said in a televised interview on Friday.
“Its definition is that it’s designed to stop you from travelling to certain countries, it allows authorities to stop certain kinds of travel.”
“I’m not trying to restrict people’s freedoms,” Trudeau added.
“But if you travel, I want you to know that your travel is not guaranteed and we will work with governments to make sure they respect that.”
While there are some caveats attached to the bill, including its scope and the need to ensure the government is only targeting people who are considered to be “terrorists” and who are likely to do harm, it has been broadly condemned by human rights groups, as well as many politicians, who argue it amounts to a new and draconian form of state-sponsored terror.
“This is not an anti-state law,” Bezan said in an interview last month.
“This is a law that is being put in place by a government that is going to target and punish people.”
Bill C was not originally designed to target individuals, but was drafted with a specific and broad definition of terrorism that includes “terrorist activity by any means.”
The Conservative government argued the bill “undermined Canadians’ fundamental freedoms, and we’re doing everything we can to make that right.”
But Bill C was also designed to be the first step in a broader, multi-layered crackdown on terrorism.
The law would have allowed authorities to search Canadians’ phone records and online communications, but it would also allow them to compel Canadians to turn over their social media accounts.
“When Bill C comes into effect in 2019, we are going to put a stop to the bait and switch that the Liberals have put forward, and they’re going to take the very best parts of the law, the provisions that are already in place, and add to them,” said Kevin Page, the deputy assistant commissioner of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
The Liberals have long said that the legislation would target only people who have engaged in acts of terrorism or “extremist propaganda” abroad.
But the Conservatives have argued that it would target those who are not considered “terror” but instead are merely trying to “steal” foreign passports or travel to countries that are known to harbour terrorists.
“I am extremely disappointed that the Conservatives