Anti-terror bill opponents stage ‘National Day of Action’ protests

WATCH ABOVE: Footage of hundreds of Torontonians protest Bill C-51 at City Hall.

Protests against the Harper government’s proposed anti-terrorism legislation were held in dozens of communities across Canada today.

Organizers called it a “Defend Our Freedom” national day of action and a “national day of action to stand against the secret police Bill C-51.”

Several of the protests were held outside the constituency offices of Conservative Members of Parliament, who are on a week-long break from their duties in Ottawa.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Amnesty International Canada concerned about Bill C-51

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair took part in an event in Montreal and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May joined another in Toronto.

Story continues below advertisement

The proposed legislation would give authorities more power to detain terror suspects.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

But critics say the proposed bill would infringe on Canadians’ civil liberties and right to privacy – especially online.

READ MORE: Winnipeg MP’s terrorism ‘survey’ draws online scorn

Dozens gathered outside Canada Place in downtown Edmonton chanting “kill the bill.”

“The most hot-button issue is sort of the so-called criminalization of expression,” said organizer Doug Yearwood. “By sort of disagreeing with what’s called the ‘critical infrastructure of the government’ they could be deemed an extremist or terrorist by a very broad and loosely defined law.”

About a hundred people gathered in front of Moncton City Hall to voice their concerns against Bill C-51.

Danny Legere, speaking for the New Brunswick chapter of the Canadian Union of Public Employees said the bill could hurt the right to peaceful protest.

“We’re concerned that if we speak out against government policy there could be impacts under Bill C-51,” he said.

Izzy Ward said she was concerned about how the bill could impact the anti-shale gas movement if it becomes law.

“I think if people are scared of going to jail they’re going to be silenced,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Fellow protester Virgil Hammock shared her concerns.

“We have to worry about whether or not the anti-fracking movement in this province is going to be hounded by people looking at them as terrorists,” he said.

A House of Commons committee began hearings into Bill C-51 on Tuesday. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney told the committee the legislation will not allow the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to trample civil liberties.

Blaney said CSIS needs expanded powers to protect Canadians from extremists who “hate Canadian values.” He added the international jihadi movement has declared war on Canada.

— With files from Caley Ramsay, Brion Robinson and The Canadian Press

Sponsored content