Both the United States and Canada are on the brink of an election, during which defence issues will be central. With the escalating war against ISIS, rising tensions with Russia, and Arctic sovereignty in the balance, war and electoralism have become exceedingly close, marking the return of a temptation politicians can’t quite resist, regardless of consequences.

Let’s explore what kind of cautionary tale Canadian politics can reveal.

Controversial bill, tired political tactics

Let’s face it; war and electoralism are nothing new. Last June, the Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-51, otherwise known by its official short name, the Anti-Terrorism Act. It’s basically this country’s version of the Patriot Act passed more than a decade later, and a repeat of the latter’s mistakes and shortcomings. The justification behind the bill mirrors that of the Patriot Act; it’s in response to a terrorist attack on the country’s soil—in Canada’s case, the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa attacks that killed two Canadian soldiers. Basically, it increases the government security agencies’ powers to investigate and acquire information from other government agencies and departments, expands the no-fly list, and prohibits the broadcasting of “terrorist propaganda.”

It would be an understatement to say that the bill is already controversial, with criticism ranging from useless legal redundancy to the dangerously vague scope of the legislation: The bill doesn’t specify a precise version of what constitutes “terrorism,” but government officials routinely mention that disruption of the Canadian economy fits the description. Several critics already fear that environmental activists and First Nations protest groups against shale gas and tar sands exploitation might become a target of the legislation.