Delegates to CAUT's annual fall council meeting unanimously supported a resolution condemning the Liberal's anti-terrorist bill for the threats it poses to civil liberties and academic freedom. CAUT urged the federal government to withdraw Bill C-36.
"Even with the amendments to the legislation, this bill still raises serious concerns about potential civil rights abuses," said CAUT president Tom Booth.
Booth says the broad definition of terrorism in the amended bill means legitimate advocacy groups might be considered "terrorists."
As well, provisions for preventive detention, expanded police powers, and "investigative hearings" are "contrary to Canada's legal tradition and basic civil rights," he said.
CAUT is also concerned the bill could open the door to greater police surveillance of university and college campuses and put at risk the academic freedom of professors and researchers.
"Under this legislation, academics could find themselves under inappropriate surveillance by security forces," Booth said.
"Academic researchers, along with lawyers and journalists, may also be compelled by the police to reveal sources that have been assured confidentiality. This would seriously undermine the independence of our members and the integrity of their research."
Booth says he recognizes there is a need to provide for the security of Canadians in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, but that C-36 goes too far in compromising civil liberties. He says the government should introduce a new anti-terrorist bill after a broader consultation with Canadians.