Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper has made a campaign promise to tighten Canada’s security with a law that will criminalise Canadians who travel to parts of the world under the control of militant groups.
“A re-elected Conservative government will designate travel to places that are ground zero for terrorist activity a criminal offence,” Harper on said Sunday. The Canadian prime minister is looking to emulate a similar law that already exists in Australia, which declared Iraq and Syria to be no-travel zones.
However, the leader of the opposition New Democratic Party, Tom Mulcair, criticised the timing of the announcement, as the Conservative government has only just passed new security measures with the C-51 anti-terrorism bill in June.
Mulcair further said that the Conservative government had the chance to fight terrorism in much more effective ways such as by combatting youth radicalisation.
“This is the type of thing that Mr. Harper likes to come up with in the middle of a campaign and there’s little evidence to show that this will have a concrete effect,” he said.
The leader of the opposition Liberal Party, Justin Trudeau, accused Stephen Harper of distracting the public from the gloomy state of the Canadian economy. Trudeau said that Harper “doesn’t want to talk about the failures of his economic plan.”
In response to his critics, Stephen Harper explained that there will be exceptions made to the proposed law for certain individuals such as aid workers, diplomats and journalists. However, he also stated that there are “few legitimate reasons” for travelling to certain parts of world and said that travelling to such places is not a “human right.”
In addition, Harper hit back at the Liberal and NDP party leaders, claiming both are lax on radicalism. Harper stressed the importance of security of the Canadian public and accused his opponents of not grasping the importance of this issue.