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Canada: Politicians tougher on terrorism, spooks dissent.

Former CSIS spook chief Reid Morden says he's 'sorry to hear' the government is rekindling two contentious anti-terrorism measures. (CBC)

Canada’s former top spy has slammed the government’s fourth attempt to revive two fiercely debated parts of the Anti-terrorism Act, saying he “never thought” they should have been enacted in the first place.

The provisions would give police extraordinary powers of preventive arrest and could force people to show up at secret hearings to testify about possibly pending criminal acts, under penalty of imprisonment. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson touted the measures on Friday as necessary tools to fight terrorism.

The provisions had a five-year sunset clause when Parliament passed them as part of Canada’s original 2001 anti-terrorism law following the Sept. 11 hijackings in the United States that year. They expired in March 2007 when the Commons voted down a Tory motion to renew them, but not before the Conservatives painted the Liberal opposition as soft on terrorism.

The government tried to reintroduce the clauses before the 2008 election and again last year, but both times they failed to become law before the parliamentary session ended.