The federal government could invoke its proposed new anti-terrorism powers to designate Kananaskis Country a military security zone during next June's G-8 summit, Defence Minister Art Eggleton said Wednesday.
"It's possible," Eggleton told reporters.
"It would be most likely protected by the police. If the police had difficulty doing that, they could call upon the military."
The military is generally only brought in to supplement the police upon request from a provincial government.
But Eggleton acknowledged that, under the newly introduced Public Security Act, Ottawa could decide unilaterally, on the recommendation of the chief of defence staff, to designate Kananaskis, a group of Alberta provincial parks, a temporary military security zone for the June 26 to 28 summit and cordon it off from anti-globalization protesters.
"It is possible for us to do that. It would be also possible for us to protect a nuclear generating station.
"I think people would want us to be able to do that. If an emergency arose and there appeared to be the possibility of a terrorist attack, we could go in and protect a nuclear power station."
Under the bill, the military would be empowered to prohibit or restrict access to a designated security zone and to forcibly remove any unauthorized person or thing found in such a zone.
Alberta Attorney General Heather Forsyth said she is "feeling quite confident" about security at the G-8 but it has not been determined whether Kananaskis will be a designated military zone under the proposed legislation.
"It is one of those things that is on the table and will be discussed in the next week or so," Forsyth told a news conference in Ottawa at a meeting of provincial and federal justice ministers and attorneys general.
The military security zone provision is part of Bill C-42, the second omnibus anti-terrorism bill introduced by the government since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The first controversial bill, granting sweeping new investigatory and detention powers to the police, was approved by the Commons on Wednesday.
Until now, C-42 has largely escaped scrutiny. Eggleton has repeatedly insisted its intention is simply to give the military the power to protect its own equipment and personnel, or that of visiting Allied forces, when they are off armed forces bases.
However, his admission the G-8 summit site could be declared a security zone confirms opposition fears.
Bloc Quebecois, Tory and New Democrat MPs have all suggested the government has a hidden agenda.
Quebec Justice Minister Paul Begin echoed those concerns Wednesday, warning the security zone provision poses a threat to civil rights.
"We find that in C-42 there are inappropriate methods for dealing with terrorism," he said.
Eggleton argued there are a number of checks against abuse and added he's open to amendments from committee.
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