Toronto council backs fight against Quebec’s Bill 21, calling it ‘contrary to the values of Torontonians and Canadians’
A majority of Toronto City Council has voted in favour of a Toronto bylaw aimed at punishing those who are believed to have links to a terrorist group, despite fears the anti-terror laws could go too far.
Toronto’s bylaw, which would prevent suspected extremists from entering the city, was first tabled in February. The new law, dubbed the “Toronto Terrorism Act”, would be enforced in the same way as the city’s general bylaws, which are largely ignored in comparison with the police, who enforce them regularly.
But after the bylaw attracted national attention and condemnation from a number of groups, including civil liberties and human rights advocates, and prompted a debate about how and when the bylaw could be used and how long it would give itself to, council unanimously passed the bylaw on Monday night.
The vote means Toronto is becoming the 29th city in the country to take such an action and, barring an appeal, the city will have the power to send out the city bylaw’s first bylaw to any citizen in the country. By law, it could be up to a year before there is an assessment of whether that first bylaw is used before it could go before the higher court – which could then rule on the legality of any future bylaws.
The city has asked anyone who wishes to appeal against council’s vote to do so by June 30.
“The goal is to make clear the government will not tolerate a link to the group, and will use any legislation available to punish those found to be involved in or linked to terrorist organizations, including civil forfeiture laws,” Mayor John Tory said in a press release on Monday night. “We will continue to work with our partners in the Toronto Police Service, other agencies and the broader community to disrupt and defeat terrorism