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Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
Canada tightens net on terrorism
Police officer stands guard at Parliament Hill in the Canadian capital Ottawa
Canada has been accused of being soft on terrorism
By Lee Carter in Toronto

The Canadian Government has introduced sweeping anti-terrorism legislation, giving police expanded authority and making it a crime to harbour a known terrorist.

The new 150-page bill is wide ranging and gives Canadian authorities new powers to crack down on suspected terrorists.

What are the two things that provide life blood to terrorist organisations? - financial means to carry out what they're doing and how they exchange and share information

Anne McLellan,
Justice minister
The country's Justice Minister, Anne McLellan, says that the legislation will block terrorist groups' sources of finance, while giving the police investigative rights such as tapping phones and intercepting e-mail. Speaking to parliament, Ms McLellan said that the legislation was crucial to cut off the financial and intelligence channels of terrorism.

"What are the two things that provide life blood to terrorist organisations? Financial means to carry out what they're doing, and how they exchange and share information.

"We need to be on top of both those things. Both of them are preventive, and that's part of what you see in this package," she said.

Canadian Justice Minister Anne McLellan
Ms McLellan warned the government must remain 'on top of things'
The legislation also sets up a government registrar of terrorist organisations, establishes prison sentences for those harbouring terrorists and bans fundraising for proscribed groups.

Civil liberty threat

The latter provision has been particularly controversial in the past as opposition critics and US officials have accused Canada of actually giving tax-free charitable status to front groups raising money for armed struggles around the world.

The new legislation is likely to go some way towards silencing those critics.

But it already has new ones.

Civil liberties groups say the legislation gives too much power to the state, and some provisions will almost certainly be challenged in court under Canada's charter of rights and freedoms.

See also:

14 Oct 01 | Americas
Knives hidden on Air Canada plane
16 Jun 00 | Americas
Bin Laden 'using Canada as base'
16 Jun 00 | South Asia
Canada's Tamils under scrutiny
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