Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Public Conversation Has Started on the Anti Terrorism Act...YES!

I am encouraged by the MSM and the Blogs about what I have read on the Anti Terrorism Act review. I still have to find time to read the Supreme Court decision.

For a quality commentary on the ATA and the politics versus the public policy concerns go to Rational Reasons site. The last two postings are there are excellent.

I also like the Garth Turner Blog post on his observations as a newly minted Liberal on how this is unfolding (or unraveling depending on the level of your cynicism).

Also check out the Globe and Mail today Comment piece by Welsey Wark of the Muck Centre for International Studies at the U of T. He puts a better context around the consequences of the Supreme Court decision and points out it is not a crisis but an opportunity for Parliament to build a better law that respects rights, provides grater personal protections and provides for national security.

Surely that is not to must to ask of our legislators. Although under the current partisan political posturing, on all sides, this search and need for a rebalance may be too much to expect.


  1. I've read the highlights of the decision and it seems reasonable. The gov't will likely have to provide special lawyers and special courts, etc.

    However, Dion seems to be saying he'd scrap the whole security certificate regime - the SCC was clear that the process only needs to be changed and not necessarily scrapped.

  2. Thanks for the link Ken.

    Unlike Eric, though, I maintain that this is merely a step in the right direction, that we should scrap the security certificate system and the the ATA entirely.

    So far, except for the incredible fear and hype following 9-11, I am yet to hear a single argument for having these special powers at all.

  3. Mike, the SCC decision gives many reasons why these special powers are needed. In particular, there may be a situation where the state is required to act on information that it cannot disclose and detain those who threaten national security security.

    It's good to see some debate on this issue. What should the alternative process look like?

  4. "What should the alternative process look like?"

    Our current criminal law - present evidence. Information it cannot disclose? Detain those who threaten national security? Who determines who threatens national security? Oh yes, the government.

    The government can define and determine what and who constitutes a threat to national security, then use that as an excuse to say that information cannot be disclosed, and thus can not be disclosed even to the accused. There is now way then to determine the veracity and quality of that information, because it is hidden and obscured. This opens the door for using "national security" as a way to merely be rid of those you do not like or who politically threaten you, based on false or weak information.

    Do you understand my position now? This is about taking away the liberty of human beings and that is something that should not be done so lightly or easily.

    In computer security, security through obscurity is very dangerous and actually make you less secure. The same principles apply here.

  5. Wrong Mike, the information is disclosed to the accused. It, however, is not disclosed to the public due to public security threats. An alternative will likely be a special court and counself for the accused.

    "This opens the door for using "national security" as a way to merely be rid of those you do not like or who politically threaten you, based on false or weak information."

    Slippery slope arguments do not often work well and especially do not work well in this situation. There are no such accusations here and it is really beyond any contemplation. Would make for a good book though.