The federal government will scale back on its controversial Anti-Terrorism Bill C-51, including a proposal to change “lawful” protests, but, after all the marathon series of House Public Safety Committee hearings, the Conservatives rejected all 112 amendments put forward by opposition parties. The committee hearings were a sham and, as Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in the House last Wednesday night during adjournment proceedings, the process was “a travesty.” She said when the House passed anti-terrorism legislation back in 2001 after 9/11, witnesses were heard and were not insulted. But, not this time around. “It is the least respectful, most appalling, anti-democratic treatment of any bill in the history of this country. I have never seen such a travesty of a fake review of legislation, such a bulldozer to push something atrocious through this House,” said Ms. May. “This kind of insulting, offensive rhetoric in a Parliamentary committee reviewing legislation that offends our Charter of Rights and Freedoms is completely unacceptable.” Almost all of the 49 witnesses the committee heard recommended changes to improve the bill, whether they were in support of the enhanced security measures or opposed to its perceived infringements on civil liberties. Liberal MP and committee member Wayne Easter, a former Public Safety minister, told The Hill Times that the Conservatives were still missing important changes to include Parliamentary oversight and impose three-year sunset clauses. The Public Safety and National Security Committee heard from 36 witnesses in six meetings over four days, to reach the agreed-upon total of 48 witnesses late Thursday evening. MPs listened to 18 hours of witness testimony, including ministers and departmental officials, between March 10 and March 26. The Senate National Security and Defence Committee met in the evening to begin a pre-study of the bill. The committee heard from Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, Justice Minister Peter MacKay, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson and CSIS Director Michel Coulombe. NDP MP Randall Garrison rightly was skeptical that any of the oppposition amendments would be accepted. “If they were thinking about that , one would think they would have asked at least one of the 48 witnesses about how to improve the bill and I don’t remember them saying any such thing,” he said. The NDP has proposed 32 amendments, the Liberals tabled 11, and Ms. May proposed 61. Bill C-51 will amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, among other acts and will enact the Secure Air Travel Act. The treatment of the witnesses was described as “shocking” and “abusive” by Ms. May. She said she’s never seen a Conservative bench behave that badly, pointing to Parliamentary Secretary for Public Safety Roxanne James spending her question time instructing legal experts Craig Forcese and Kent Roach, and AFN National Chief Bellegarde, on what she thought they didn’t understand or read in the bill. The Conservatives used scripted theatre and partisan attacks in this House Public Safety Committee process and they did everything they could to prevent the committee from doing its job. Congratulations.