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Monday, 17th September 2007

SECURITY: Inadequacies of Parliament Highlighted in Review of Anti-terrorism Act

SECURITY: Inadequacies of Parliament Highlighted in Review of Anti-terrorism Act
Source: Institute for Research on Public Policy (Canada)
From press release (PDF; 61 KB):

Parliament has been referred to as the "highest court in the land." These days however, more often than not, bitter and petty partisanship is calling this idea into question. The IRPP study being released today, on the parliamentary review of the Anti-terrorism Act (ATA), argues that partisan rancour in Parliament may have reached a tipping point and threatens the House of Commons' ability to do its job.

Author Kent Roach (University of Toronto) assesses the policy-making process behind the review of the ATA and the expiry of its provisions regarding preventive arrests and investigative hearings. He is generally disappointed with the reports produced by the House and Senate, as well as the subsequent debate. Roach argues that the committees' reports "had virtually no impact" on the debate about whether to renew investigative hearings and preventive arrests. He also laments the fact that national security debates "should be becoming more sophisticated and nuanced as we move away from 9/11," but are not, due in part to successive minority governments. If this situation does not change, he says, the Federal Court may "fill the policy vacuum" on issues such as the ATA.

The author's analysis, particularly with regard to the low impact of the reports and the unsophisticated debate, is cause for concern. Without sober, informed discussion of the issues there is a risk that Parliament will lurch from one extreme to the other and enact draconian or inappropriate legislation.

+ Summary (PDF; 46 KB)
+ Full Study (PDF; 252 KB)


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