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Canada Rejects Extension of Anti-Terrorism Laws

Canada's House of Commons voted Tuesday to not extend provisions in the country's anti-terrorism legislation that allow for preventive arrests and forced testimony.

The ruling conservative government wanted to extend the pieces of legislation that were set to expire on Thursday, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper's motion was defeated 159-124 in the House of Commons.

The two measures are part of the previous Liberal government's response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. They empower authorities to arrest and detain suspects for three days without charge and to compel individuals with knowledge of terrorist activity to testify before a judge.

Neither piece of legislation has ever been applied.

It's the second time in a week Canada has struck down portions of its anti-terror legislation. One of Canada's most contentious anti-terrorism measures was struck down Friday by the Supreme Court, which declared it unconstitutional to detain foreign terror suspects indefinitely while the courts review their deportation orders.

Opposition Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said they are an unnecessary infringement on civil liberties. Dion rejected conservative Tory charges that he is soft on terrorism.

"These two provisions especially have done nothing to fight against terrorism, have not been helpful and have continued to create some risk for civil liberties," Dion said.

Maureen Basnicki, whose husband Ken was one of 24 Canadians killed in Manhattan's twin towers, said Members of Parliament would seriously diminish Canada's capacity to fight terrorism if they do not vote to extend the provisions.

"We want to protect other Canadians from the devastation that we experienced," Basnicki said.