Bill C-51, a Conservative government anti-terror bill that has been the subject of controversy since its introduction in January, is to undergo a review and amendment process beginning Tuesday.
Amendments will attempt to narrow the scope of what might be considered terrorist activity, according to CBC News.
The bill has drawn criticism from some who say that it restricts freedom and defies the constitution.
A series of protests have occurred in recent weeks, including a country-wide “Defend our Freedom” day of action, during which NDP and Official Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair and Green Party leader Elizabeth May joined thousands of protesters in Montréal and Toronto, respectively.
NDP MP Andrew Cash says the faults in Bill C-51 compromise the spirit of the constitution. “The charter rights and freedoms are great when everyone agrees and things are popular. It is when communities are under threat that we need to defend the threat of all religions, freedom of free speech, freedom of assembly and the freedom of our civil liberties,” Cash says.
Cash adds that the “vague wording of Bill C-51” could “lump together” environmental and First Nations activism with violent extremism under the law.
Last week, Internet company Mozilla also spoke against the bill, with Jochai Ben-Avie, a policy manager for the company, saying that the bill would “undermine user trust, threaten the openness of the Web, and reduce the security of the Internet and its users.”
Former prime ministers Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, Joe Clark, and John Turner have all called for stronger security oversight, but caution that the government’s bill may take it too far.
These former prime ministers and 18 other prominent Canadians, including five former Supreme Court Justices, issued a joint statement regarding the bill. “Protecting human rights and protecting public safety are complementary objectives, but experience has shown that serious human rights abuses can occur in the name of maintaining national security,” they said in the statement.
NDP deputy public safety critic Rosane Doré Lefebvre told CBC News that the Conservative Party has been “forced to change their tune” due to the major backlash produced by the bill’s opponents.