After insulting critics, Conservatives effectively admit C-51 is a badly written bill

Did the Conservatives finally "read the bill"?

After smearing critics of Bill C-51 as "conspiracy" theorists who are "quoting rumours" and "mistruths," CBC News is now reporting the Conservative government will introduce "limited amendments" to their controversial anti-terror bill.

Here's how CBC's Terry Milewski reported it Friday night:

"CBC news has learned that one of these changes would clarify that CSIS officers would not have the power of arrest. So, CSIS could disrupt or interfere with a terrorist plot, but it would still be up to the police to arrest anyone.

Second, and more significantly, the government is now offering to give ground on the definition of 'terrorist activity'. As it stands, the bill exempts so-called 'lawful protest'. The problem being, that could mean that if you chain yourself to a logging truck or you go to a demonstration that doesn't have a police permit, then, it's not strictly a lawful protest. So, you're potentially captured by the anti-terror law. The ammendment would take out the word 'lawful' to make it clear that just plain protest is not going to get you branded a 'terrorist'."

The admission that C-51's current wording could criminalize "lawful" protest is quite a U-turn for a government who said they don't "nitpick over definitions" of terrorism. 

It wasn't so long ago that Canada's Justice Minister Peter MacKay told critics to stop "trying to scare Canadians" about C-51 and "read the bill":

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Did MacKay even "read the bill"?

And what about Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney? Did Blaney "read the bill"?

blaney-lawfulprotest.png

Hmmm. He may not have "read the bill" either...

What about Prime Minister Stephen Harper? Obviously Harper "read the bill" if he thinks "the bill is very clear," right?

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Apparently it was so "very clear," the government is changing the language to "make it clear."

Honestly, did anyone actually "read the bill" before telling everybody else to "read the bill"?

In addition to making changes to Bill C-51's provisions surrounding lawful protest, Milewski reports the government will introduce unspecified changes to C-51's provisions for information sharing and also "limit the government's power to give instructions to airlines to do 'anything', which is now going to be narrowed down a bit."

However, it appears the government will not change anything to improve oversight of CSIS -- a central criticism of those opposing C-51.

The opposition NDP told CBC they "will wait to see the proposed amendments before deciding whether to support the changes."

Sounds like it may be a good idea for Conservatives to "read" the amendments, too.

Photo: Leadnow. Used under Creative Commons license.

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