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National Post | News

OTTAWA — A private member’s bill backed by the minister of justice taking aim at industrial thieves could be used to punish environmental protesters, lawyers say.

The bill, introduced by Conservative MP Wai Young on Wednesday, would slap harsh penalties on anyone who damages or interferes with « critical infrastructure. »

While Bill C-639 was originally intended to beef up fines for anyone caught stealing wire from power facilities, the language in the legislation goes further. It creates a new Criminal Code offence for anyone who damages, destroys, incapacitates, “obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation” of any critical infrastructure. The mandatory minimum prison terms range from two to 10 years and the fines from $500 to 3,000.

The bill defines critical infrastructure as any “publicly or privately owned facility, network, service or asset,” including energy and telecommunication assets.

“The bar is set quite high,” said Ms. Young, adding…

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