Canada to introduce law to curb 'promotion of terrorism'

TRENTON - The Canadian government plans to introduce new legislation Friday that will enable authorities to prosecute citizens for the “promotion of terrorism.”

The legislation walks a tightrope between freedom of speech and those who back terrorism, said Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“These measures are designed to help authorities stop planned attacks, get threats off our streets, criminalize the promotion of terrorism and prevent terrorists from traveling and recruiting others,” Harper said, as reported by local media. “Jihadist terrorism is not a future possibility, it is a present reality.”

Harper said the legislation would not infringe on constitutionally-enshrined freedom of expression, speech or the right to worship in the manner in which Canadians desire.

Specific details of the legislation, however, will not be known until it is introduced in Parliament at week’s end.

Some cynics suggest the measures are now being introduced because the conservative government wants to look tough on terrorism heading into a federal election that could be called anytime this year.

Critics worry that in the zealous pursuit of possible terrorists, fundament freedoms could be trampled.

Two law professors cautioned in a newly-published paper that the government should not overreact to the specter of “radicalized boasting” because it leads the country into “extremely uncertain constitutional terrain,” the National Post reported.

The University of Ottawa’s Craig Forcese and Kent Roach of the University of Toronto said radicalized “glorification” of terrorism on the Internet are a far cry from recruiting jihadists or endorsing violence and the chances of infringing on individual rights are not worth the risk.

“The chill effect on speech would be potentially enormous and the scope of intrusive police investigation expanded," the professors wrote in the paper. “… (We) conclude that a glorification offense would be ill-suited to Canada’s social and legal environment.”

Terrorism took center stage in Canada last October when two members of the Canadian Forces were killed mere days apart. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was targeted and killed by a car driven by man who authorities later concluded had been radicalized. Another gunman shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial in Ottawa and then stormed the Parliament buildings before he was shot dead.

Both were termed “lone wolf” terrorist attacks.

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