The Canadian Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of their anti-terrorism law today, after a challenge by a Pakistani-Canadian sentenced to life for his role a failed London bombing sought to challenge it.
The Anti-Terrorism Act was passed in late 2011 and dramatically expanded the powers of the Canadian government as well as enormously broadening the definition of terrorism. The law makes it terrorism to commit any act or threaten to do anything for “political, religious, or ideological reasons” which might conceivably cause harm or property damage, or interfere with any government service deemed “critical.” It also empowered to government to make “preventative arrests” of people who conceivably might commit such crimes.
Though the act has only been invoked a handful of times in the past decade, rights groups say it has violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and would oblige the government, if taken at face value, to arrest all non-violent protesters whose demonstrations might interfere with any government’s operations, and would have obliged the arrest of protest leaders like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela as “terrorists.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling dismissed concerns about the broadness of the law, insisting it was obvious that no Canadian government would ever criminalize “legitimate expression” and that terrorism is a bad thing and therefore a harsh law against it was warranted.
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