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Bill C-51 protesters rally in downtown Vancouver for ‘National Day of Action’

WATCH ABOVE: Hundreds gathered on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery to show their fierce opposition to the Harper government’s anti-terrorism legislation, joining thousands across the country. Jennifer Palma reports.

Demonstrators gathered in Vancouver Saturday afternoon to protest the government’s proposed anti-terrorism legislation.

The Vancouver protest was one of dozens across Canada in an event dubbed “Defend our Freedom.”

Bill C-51 would give authorities more power to detain terror suspects. But critics say the proposed bill would infringe on Canadians’ civil liberties and right to privacy – especially online.

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

Opposition against the proposed legislation was heard in downtown Vancouver as marchers made their way along Georgia Street, before heading south on Cambie, temporarily impacting traffic in the areas where they marched.

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Stefan Avlijas of Leadnow, which calls itself Canada’s largest pro-democracy advocacy organization, says he hopes the protest sends a message to the Harper government.

“I think it’s important to counteract the broken and shaky narrative at the heart of the Conservative messaging around this bill, which says Canadians support this legislation,” says Avlijas. “As you can see here today in Vancouver, Canadians are coming out here today to say that they think this bill is reckless, it’s ineffective, it’s dangerous and it must be stopped.

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

“Bill C-51 fundamentally rewrites the cornerstone of our democracy, which is the right to peacefully dissent and disagree with government policies. Essentially, Bill C-51 will undo the separation between CSIS and the RCMP, giving CSIS unprecedented powers to intervene in the lives of everyday Canadians who have committed no crime at all.”

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GALLERY: Photos from the C-51 rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery (Corey Callahan/Global News)

-with files from Jennifer Palma, Global News staff and Canadian Press