TORONTO, November 19, 2001 - The Canadian Race Relations Foundation has called for changes to the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act, Bill C-36. In a letter to Justice Minister Anne McLellan from the CRRF's Chair Hon. Lincoln Alexander, the CRRF added its voice to the many organizations and parliamentarians who have raised concerns about a number of provisions in the proposed bill.
The CRRF applauded the inclusion of stricter provisions for hate crime and hate on the internet, but cautioned against the increased risk of racial profiling in policing and security, the broad definition of "terrorism", infringement on civil liberties, and the inclusion of a sunset clause.
"An anti-terrorism bill is long overdue in Canada, but we must caution against indiscriminate racial profiling, too broad a definition of terrorism and a dramatic curbing of civil liberties. More often than not, racial or immigrant groups are among the first victims of such laws," said Dr Karen Mock, Executive Director of the CRRF. "Our challenge is to ensure that while security is increased, safeguards are in place to preserve democracy and civil rights as we know them. It is important and promising that a sunset clause is now seriously being considered, as well as other revisions to maintain the essential balance to preserve human rights for all."
The CRRF has also supported the Assembly of First Nation's request that Aboriginal peoples and their treaty rights be excluded from the definition of terrorist activity.
The letter to Justice Minister McLellan also drew attention to the injustices suffered by the Japanese Canadian community during World War II and its resonance with the "backlash" faced by Muslim and Arab Canadians. "We have witnessed grave injustices that befell a community and, from this, have a clearer understanding of what can arise in response to increased security concerns in a society that has not yet stripped itself of racism," said Lincoln Alexander in the letter, which also highlighted the proactive initiatives taken by the CRRF since September 11th and offered assistance to the Minister in further deliberations on the bill.