March 16, 2015

Roach and Forcese on Anti Terror legislation: A New Standard of Public Debate

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruleswatch @ 6:42 am

You can`t be Canadian and breathing without being well aware of the debate surrounding the proposed new law, Bill C-51, intended to expand national security powers. The draft Anti-Terrorism Act occupies plenty of media space and is being widely discussed, seemingly everywhere. And, importantly, the discussion shows high standards of clarity, substance, breadth, and tone, hard to remember in the history of the country`s political discourse.

That quality is largely attributable to the relentless efforts of two professors, Kent Roach of the University of Toronto and Craig Forcese of the University of Ottawa law schools. Their internet site, devoted to the legislation, clearly sets out the bill, its potential weaknesses and a continuing exploration of their potential consequences. It provides a table of proposed amendments and commentary unparalleled by any such private effort you can conjure up.

Forcese and Roach have provided a comprehensive, widely accessible platform, including the product of their own ample readiness to be available to the media, decision-makers and parliament itself, to support informed, dispassionate legal analysis of the bill even as the debate itself continues to develop.

Calling for, and attracting, what they call a “crowd-sourced response” to the bill, the two academics have sought to engage others in analysis in a way that makes clear that how this legislation is analyzed is sombre and important business. They welcome commentary but educate us all that it is to be of sober and constructive sort. (Their website tells readers …please no rhetoric and conspiracy theories or political commentary. That is not what the project is about.)

Sensitive to their effort as being “legal scholarship in a highly politicized environment, their work including their interviews is keenly sensitive to the seriousness of the issue, the risks and temptations in hot button political debate, and the obligations they undeniably take on in leading the opportunity for debate.

Their press interviews meet those same high standards (; )

The clear result of their work has to build an astonishingly well informed media and more broadly, educated public conversation about the issue. .

That scholarship, as well as how it is consistently being delivered, is in the best traditions of academia.

Kent Roach and Craig Forcese deserve sincere thanks for both their substantive contribution to the debate as well as for reminding the rest of us of the standards that should be met in doing it.


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