APTN National News
OTTAWA–The House of Commons committee studying the Harper government’s anti-terror bill has invited Stewart Phillip and Pam Palmater to appear as witnesses, according to a list obtained by APTN National News.
Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, and Palmater, a Mi’kmaq professor and lawyer, are on a list of about 70 potential witnesses who have been asked to appear before the Commons public safety committee.
The committee is studying Bill C-51, the Harper government’s proposed anti-terror bill that would give more powers to agencies like the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
The Assembly of First Nations drafted an analysis of the proposed bill which concluded the proposed law could lead to the labeling of Indigenous activists as “terrorists.” The AFN is not on the list of witnesses, though it was seeking standing at the committee.
Other invited witnesses include Maher Arar, who suffered torture in Syria as a result of the actions of Canadian authorities, Eva Plunkett, former Inspector general for CSIS, Bob Rae, the former chair of spy-agency oversight body SIRC, US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, New Zealand Attorney General Chris Finlayson and UK Home Office Secretary Theresa May.
The committee is expected to begin hearings on the proposed bill next week. A procedural challenge, now in the hands of the House of Commons Speaker, could upend the current schedule, which would see witness testimony, including from Public Safety Minister Steve Blaney and Justice Minister Peter MacKay, run over nine meetings and ending on the evening of March 26.
The NDP, however, have challenged a move by Conservative MPs on committee to overrule a ruling by the committee chair to stop an NDP filibuster. Filibusters are a tool used by legislators, usually when faced by a majority, to take control of the legislative process through continuous talking.
Speaker Andrew Scheer is expected to deliver his ruling sometime next week. The ruling could upend the current schedule for hearings.