Canadian Government Could Benefit From Town Hall Public Consultations on Anti-Terror Bill
During the election the Liberals heard from Canadians on the new anti-terror bill C-51, and promised to repeal sections of this bill that are problematic. We still don’t know exactly which provisions will be repealed. This past Friday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale took to the airwaves stating that Canada must be a world leader in tackling radicalization. During the last election the Liberals promised to reform the Conservatives Anti-Terror bill promising to consult with the public and experts.
In 2009 I took part in the Governments copyright consultations. These consultations were held in town hall meetings with then Minister of Industry Tony Clement, and Heritage Minister at the time James Moore in a public forum. These town hall meetings were open up to the public, and also encouraged the public to attend online. There was also a forum set up by pollster Nic Nanos where people from across the country could air their concerns and debate those concerns in the forum setting regarding copyright legislation and digital rights. What came out of this consultation process was a balanced approach to copyright law based on the views expressed during the consultation process. A made in Canada approach to public policy regarding copyright.In my opinion this was one of the crowning achievements of the last Government when it came to public policy consultation (a process which the Conservatives later abandoned), and there's a significant need in the debate between civil liberties and security that demands this type of consultation.
Since the NSA leaks from former NSA system administrator Edward Snowden there has been lengthy and informal debates around the issues between civil liberties and security. The Liberal platform during the last election promised evidence based approach to public policy, and widespread consultation with the public and experts on issues relating to the anti-terror bill. What better way to do that, than using the previous Governments copyright consultation process as a benchmark in the debate around anti-terror and radicalization.
If we are to become a world leader in tackling radicalization, than government needs to hear from not just stakeholders, but the public as well. The Liberals won the last election from what the polls suggested, not on the exclusivity of the Liberal platform and stance on the Conservatives anti-terror bill, but rather a vast majority looked to have voted strategically to overthrow Steven Harper's Conservatives. Canadians will be watching very closely to how the Liberals treat the anti-terror bill, and whether the current Government will take the time to consult broadly with the public, rather than using their elected mandate to ignore public concerns on the bill and shut them out of any consultation process.
If we are to become a world leader in tackling radicalization, we must also become a world leader in listening to public will, and working together to come up with solutions that are balanced and encompass a wide range of views. Only then can other world leaders look upon Canada as a beaming example of how to get it right. For Canada to become a world leader in tackling radicalization we must develop a balanced approach to policy. In order to achieve that true balance, all Canadians should be broadly consulted in a more formal manner by Government.