Dion Risks Canadians? Safety in Effort to Shore Up His Leadership
Recently, I?ve been endeavouring to be less ?partisan? in my weekly columns by focussing more on the policies our Conservative Government is advancing on behalf of Canadians.
Unfortunately, this week, partisan politics IS the story. Internal politics within the Liberal Party of Canada, namely Stéphane Dion?s troubled leadership, has put the safety of Canadians at risk.
Mr. Dion ordered his Liberal caucus to defeat the motion to extend ?preventative arrest? and ?investigative hearings? provisions in Canada?s Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) beyond their March 1, 2007 expiry date.
Preventative arrests allow a terrorist suspect to be held for 24 hours before seeing a judge and 48 hours before the judge renders a decision. Investigative hearings permit a judge to compel a witness with information about a terrorist crime to testify. No evidence from a witness? testimony can be used against them in criminal proceedings, except in cases of perjury.
Although these anti-terrorism tools have never been used, both provisions have been ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada and a broad consensus believes these provisions are necessary to help authorities prevent the death and carnage of a future terrorist incident.
They also aid in investigating terrorist organizations and were to be used in the upcoming Air India Inquiry. Without the ATA provisions, that Inquiry can?t do its work, the police won?t be able to investigate and the Air India families will never know the truth.
Until two weeks ago, Mr. Dion himself appeared to support the provisions, which were drafted by his own party when it was in government. Yet, tanking in the polls, subjected to nation-wide accusations that he is a weak leader, he succumbed to minority pressure from within the Liberal Party and flip-flopped.
Joining the chorus of Canadians calling upon Mr. Dion to support the extension were: the families of Canadians killed in the Air India bombing and in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; the House of Commons and Senate (Liberal-dominated) committees studying the issue; the Solicitor General of British Columbia; law enforcement agencies; Mr. Dion?s own Liberal caucus members; his former Liberal cabinet colleagues; and the Co-chair of the Liberal Party?s Policy Committee.
Mr. Dion refused to sign the nomination papers of any Liberal MP who voted to support the ATA extension. All attempts to reach a compromise, including those by our Conservative government and Liberal caucus members, were shut down by Mr. Dion. He wasn?t even swayed by the families of the Canadian victims of the September 11th attacks who came to Ottawa and made an impassioned plea to Mr. Dion and Liberal MPs to support the provisions.
Mr. Dion has further divided his fractured caucus. He?s demonstrated a willingness to do anything to salvage his failing leadership, even betraying his own convictions and those of his party. More importantly, he has jeopardized the safety of Canadians.
Our Government intends to work on new legislation to give back to our law enforcement agencies these powers, which are necessary help protect Canadians from future terrorist acts.