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Canadian Authorities Seek More Power to Thwart Terror Suspects

  • VOA News

Canada’s prime minister says parliament must expand the powers of the country’s spy agency to track terror suspects abroad, and to detain people in the country suspected of plotting attacks -- and he says he'll press for speedy approval.

The push by Stephen Harper to give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service more power to do surveillance follows attacks in Ottawa and near Montreal this week that killed two soldiers.

On Friday, the opposition leader, Thomas Mulcair, was quoted as saying that his party will consider changes to the 1984 Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Act. Mulcair said the New Democratic Party is “willing to cooperate with the government to move legislation through, but that does not mean it will support anything the Tories want.”

Reuters said Friday the conservative government is expected to introduce legislation to expand the spy agency’s investigative authorities next week.

Similar legislation was supposed to be introduced last Wednesday, when parliament was interrupted by the gunman, who entered the legislative building after he shot and killed a Canadian soldier at a nearby war memorial.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay said the revised legislation would go beyond the scope of the earlier bill that was never introduced.

MacKay also said the government is looking for a way under current law to take pre-emptive action, specifically in the area of terrorism.

"Our laws and police powers need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, detention and arrest," Prime Minister Harper told the House of Commons Friday. "They need to be much strengthened. I assure members that work which is already underway will be expedited."