Last week, in a positive ruling for free speech and democracy, an Ontario court threw out parts of Canada's secrecy law.
An Ontario court has struck down sections of Canada's secrecy law in throwing out RCMP warrants used to search a reporter's home.On the other hand, this morning, the Liberals join the Conservatives in calling for an extension of Canada's version of the so-called USA-Patriot Act. (The law, as I understand it, is not nearly as objectionable as the Patriot Act.)
The Ontario Superior Court judgment released Thursday quashes three sections of the so-called leakage provisions of the Security of Information Act, passed following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
The provisions were directly drawn from the decades-old Official Secrets Act, long criticized as archaic and poorly drafted.
David Paciocco, a lawyer for Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill, says the ruling underscores the media's role in protecting democracy.
"It's a tremendous affirmation of the importance of freedom of the press and freedom of expression," Paciocco said after reading the judgment.
"This is also an ultimate vindication of Ms. O'Neill."
Squads of Mounties combed through O'Neill's home and office on a cold January morning in 2004 in an attempt to find the source of information about the Maher Arar affair.
The lifespan of the most controversial anti-terrorism powers granted to police after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks should be extended to 2011 to safeguard national security, a parliamentary committee recommends.Here's the part that cheered me:
The measures — preventive arrest and investigative hearings for material witnesses in terror cases — should be reviewed again once the country has had a decade of experience with them, the public safety committee said yesterday. Neither power has yet been used.
But the Bloc Québécois and New Democratic members on the committee issued a minority report, urging the immediate end to preventive arrest, calling it unnecessary and "most likely to give rise to abuses.I was very encouraged to see the Bloc standing in opposition here, since it's their support of the Tories we have to worry about.
On a more local front, Toronto Mayor (in full campaign mode) suggests Permanent Residents should have the right to vote in local elections.
Toronto's estimated 200,000 landed immigrants should be given the right to vote in municipal elections because they deserve input into issues that directly affect their neighbourhoods, Mayor David Miller says.I find it amusing that so many Canadians - including Miller and the Star still use the expression "landed immigrant". The CIC doesn't use it at all. There's really no such thing as a landed immigrant anymore.
"We allow people who don't live in Toronto to vote, simply because they own property here," Miller told the Toronto Star's editorial board yesterday. "And if we ask ourselves, 'How have we let neighbourhoods where there are often high proportions of landed immigrants deteriorate?' one of the reasons is they haven't had a vote.
"They haven't had a real say in the decisions that are affecting them," he said. "And if somebody who lives in Calgary but owns a piece of property here has a right to vote in municipal elections, I think somebody who lives here, committed to the city, has a right to vote."