FACE TO FACE: Should Canada bring back its post-9/11 anti-terrorism laws?
Iapplaud the Stephen Harper government's decision to bring back anti-terrorism measures that expired in 2007 - measures that allow police to detain suspects for up to 72 hours without a warrant and allow judges to compel witnesses to testify.
When the legislation was introduced shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, the Liberal federal government said the provisions had three main objectives: to suppress existing terrorist groups, to provide police with new investigative tools and to toughen prison sentences for terrorists.
The need to pursue these objectives still exists today.
While billions of dollars have been invested in security measures, more information-sharing with allies and tighter controls on the movement of passengers, cargo and vehicles since 9/11, threats of terror still exist.
In particular, Canada is at risk to home-grown terrorist attacks, as evidenced by the 2006 Toronto 18 case, where a group of young Muslim men, enraged by Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan and fuelled by violent jihadi videos, plotted to storm Parliament Hill and detonate truck bombs in downtown Toronto. There was also the 2010 Ottawa terror cell that authorities suspect was part of a bombing and terror financing plot that stretched from Canada to the Middle East.
Given the current realities of the world, Canadians must avoid complacency and continue to be vigilant against potential terrorist attacks.
Other democracies have also chosen similar measures to combat terrorism in the post 9/11 era. In Australia, for example, terror suspects are allowed to be held for seven days without charge. In the U.K., authorities can detain suspects for up to two weeks.
For critics of the policy, it's also important to note that in the five years the preventive detention legislation was active in Canada, it was never used.
Nevertheless, I'm sure my colleague opposite will trumpet the prevailing rhetoric about how the legislation will trample human rights.
But where is my right, as a law-abiding citizen, to live in peace and security?
I want to know that the police have the tools at their disposal to suppress terrorist activity. I'm comforted the Conservative government will give prosecutors the levers to build strong cases against mongers of terror so that judges can put them away for a long time.
Andy Radia is a Coquitlam resident and political columnist who writes for Yahoo! Canada News and Vancouver View Magazine. He has been politically active in the Tri-Cities, having been involved with election campaigns at all three levels of government, including running for Coquitlam city council in 2005.