OTTAWA (CP) - Proposed anti-terrorist legislation allowing the federal government to create military security zones is aimed at protesters, not terrorists, says MP Val Meredith.
The second bill on terrorist-related measures would allow the defence minister to declare an area of land, sea or air a military security zone, allowing "forcible removal" of unauthorized persons. "There's no question in our mind that this legislation is established so that the Defence Department can put a military zone around Kananaskis," Meredith said. "To keep out terrorists? No. To keep out legitimate protesters."
Kananaskis Village, a mountain resort about an hour's drive west of Calgary, is the site of the G-8 summit in June.
"This is about civil disobedience, not about terrorism," she said at a news conference Thursday.
If the bill were really about terrorism and securing safety it would authorize "lethal force," the Tory-Democratic Representative Coalition MP said.
"If somebody's in a military zone because of terrorist threat, then you should be able to use something more than forceful removal," Meredith said. "You should be able to use lethal force."
Invoking the spectre of the War Measures Act, the Bloc Quebecois said Tuesday that proposed new military security zones are a draconian power grab.
Michael Gauthier, Bloc MP for Roberval, contended during question period that Bill C-42, introduced last week, gives dangerous powers to the defence minister - "powers very similar to those that we saw at the beginning of the 1970s in Quebec."
That was a clear reference to the War Measures Act, which allowed the federal government to suspend civil liberties during the October Crisis of 1970.
Defence Minister Art Eggleton said the proposed power would be used only to protect military equipment or visiting allies stationed outside Canadian military bases.
When Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe called the zones a sweeping and dangerous power, Prime Minister Jean Chretien accused the Bloc of fear-mongering.
Meredith said Thursday the bill essentially gives ministers broad new powers through interim orders and other measures.
Under interim orders, ministers can make emergency laws without cabinet review for 90 days. They must be published in the Canada Gazette within 23 days.
"When you give ministers authority to bring in regulations without any oversight, who knows what they might do?" said Meredith.
Gauthier said there is no limit to the size of an area that might be designated a military security zone and that an entire province might be sealed off.
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