Liberal MPs seek changes to Bill C-51: “This is not a bill that we would have introduced”

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Liberal MPs seek changes to Bill C-51: “This is not a bill that we would have introduced”

Despite the vow from Liberal leader Justin Trudeau that his party will be supporting the government’s anti-terror bill, one of the party’s senior MPs says the Liberals wouldn’t have introduced the legislation in the first place. 

The Liberal party, and its leader, have been criticized for not opposing the government’s controversial anti-terror bill. On Thursday morning, Liberal MPs Irwin Cotler and Wayne Easter unveiled the list of amendments the party would like to see to Bill C-51.

“We have a series of 10 fundamental amendments … to maintain the proper relationship between protection of security, which is a parliamentary as well as governmental obligation, as well as protection of our civil liberties,” Cotler said.

The MPs said that there’s a need for Canada’s security and intelligence agencies to have greater powers to counter terrorist threats, one of the main planks of the government’s contentious anti-terror bill.

But, Cotler added, “this is not a bill that we would have introduced.”

The anti-terror legislation has received widespread criticism since it was introduced in the House of Commons this winter.

Organizations such as the Canadian Bar Association have wondered, and worried, that the bill does not strike the right balance between protecting security and protecting Canadians’ privacy rights.

One of the main amendments Liberals want — something supported by a number of academics, experts and critics — is the establishment of some sort committee to provide parliamentary oversight for Canada’s security and intelligence agencies.

In addition to oversight, mandatory reviews of the legislation are also on the Liberal party’s proposed amendment list.

Easter said despite vocal opposition to the bill, it’s unclear whether any amendments will be made to the legislation.

“If Conservatives do not allow amendments to the bill, in listening to the good testimony we’ve heard before committee, if this parliament is dysfunctional as a result of that, then this prime minister is responsible,” Easter said.

A press release from the Liberal party, sent out as Cotler and Easter addressed reporters about the amendments Thursday morning, notes that Liberals welcome measures in Bill C-51. These include the bill’s no-fly list measures, preventative arrest and greater information sharing between government departments.

While the Liberals have said they will support the bill, opposition New Democrats have no interest in voting for it in the House of Commons. Green Party leader Elizabeth May is also opposed to the legislation.