Canada votes down anti-terror
[PoliticsWatch updated 6:15 p.m., February 27, 2007]
OTTAWA — The
opposition parties used their control of Canada's Parliament on
Tuesday to kill two anti-terrorism measures that were introduced
The minority Conservative government's motion to extend
preventive arrests and investigative hearings for three years was
defeated by a vote of 159 to 124.
But the Liberal opposition to the motion was not unanimous.
Liberal MP Tom Wappel defied the wishes of his party leader
and voted with the government. Former justice minister Irwin
Cotler was in the House but abstained from voting.
In addition 12 other Liberals were absent from the House including Derek
Lee, Roy Cullen and Keith Martin. All three of those MPs
were outspoken in their criticism of their party's position.
Former prime minister Paul Martin and former interim Liberal
leader Bill Graham were not present. Graham missed the vote
because of illness, CTV News reported.
The vote brought to a climax a heated two-week debate on Parliament
Hill which created some division within the Liberal caucus and saw
Prime Minister Stephen Harper regularly accusing Liberal
Leader Stephane Dion of being "soft on terror" and
being directed by "extremist elements" within his
The Liberals originally introduced the measures in 2001, but now
oppose them and question whether they are an infringement on civil
liberties. The two measures have never been used by law enforcement
since they were introduced five years ago.
With Dion and the Liberals now on the record of being opposed to the
two provisions, the Conservatives are expected to continue to attack
the Liberal decision to go against the wishes of former Liberal
deputy prime ministers, former leadership candidates and even the
relatives of the Air India bombing and 9/11 attacks.
Hours before the vote, Harper attacked Dion in question period for
what he believes are a litany of betrayals on the file, noting that
Dion has refused to meet with the families of the two major terror
attacks in recent weeks.
"It is time the leader of the Liberal Party acted like Canadians should trust his judgment on national security
issues," Harper said.
After question period, Liberal MP Michael Ignatieff denied
the allegation that Liberals had not met with 9/11 family
"I know for a certainty that our members have met with victims of 9/11. I in a personal capacity have met with the members of the victims of 9/11 for many years. So that's just a
sideshow," he said.
"The issue here is what we do with Canada's anti-terrorist legislation and we're saying it needs substantial change."
Earlier in the day three family members of Canadian 9/11 victims
held a press conference on Parliament Hill where they accused the
Liberals of politicizing the debate.
Maureen Basnicki, whose husband Ken died in the North Tower
of the World Trade Centre, told reporters that she has not been able
to get a meeting with Dion.
She also accused the Liberals of giving the 9/11 families the cold
shoulder and noted that Harper was the first prime minister to meet
with her in the five years since 9/11.
Basnicki also said her local MP, Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj,
won't meet with her.
Wrzesnewskyj resigned his position as Liberal deputy foreign affairs
critic over the summer after he suggested Canada have open talks
with the banned terrorist group Hezbollah.
© PoliticsWatch® 2007. All rights reserved. Republication
or redistribution of PoliticsWatch content, including by framing,
copying, linking or similar means, is expressly prohibited without
the prior written consent of Public Interests Research and Communications
Inc. (PIRCINC). PoliticsWatch is registered trademark of PIRCINC.