The Impact of the Anti-Terrorism Act on the State and Citizen

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Following the terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001, in New York City, numerous anti-terrorist measures were enacted worldwide. The Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C-36) was introduced in Canada on Oct. 15, 2001, and became reality on Dec. 24, 2001 (Wark, 2006). While the purpose of this legislation was to fortify Canadian security against terrorism, it has done so at the expense of citizens’ rights. More powers have been granted to police and courts in their war against terrorism, but certain Canadian citizens may be innocently caught in the crossfire. The Canadian Muslim and Arab population have suffered from increased racial profiling that is only aided by the Anti-Terrorism Act. There has been a shift in the balance of power between citizens and the state in Canada (International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group [ICLMG], 2003, p.2). Crises usually result in an expansion of governmental powers, though there still exists a set of limitations on this power, which is a fundamental characteristic of democratic regimes (Daniels, Macklem & Roach, 2001, p.41). Through the Anti-Terrorism Act, the government fails to strike the delicate balance between collective security and individual liberty. To begin with, the Anti-Terrorism Act was drafted, debated and tabled in a time of emergency, with little time for public opinion or debate. Within the span of three months, the government had granted powers to police and prosecutors unheard of before. The general public gave their support in demanding radical measures in fear of being a victim, in hatred for the terrorists and in frustration of the continued terrorist activities (Daniels et al., 2001, p.43). Common in times after a crisis such as 9/11, the state responded in haste to defend the state. In this environment of panic, terror and need for assurance, it is no wonder there was a rush to legislate the Anti-Terrorism Act. This haste meant that there was more willingness to forego the safeguards against abuse...
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