Canada: Anti-terror Bill C-51

Written by  //  July 23, 2015  //  Canada  //  Comments Off on Canada: Anti-terror Bill C-51

See also Canada 2014-15 — Immigration & citizenship
Canada: Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau 2015

Bill C-51 not in keeping with Canada’s international obligations: UN
The United Nation’s first review in 10 years of Canada’s compliance with an international rights treaty has resulted in concerns being raised on a swath of issues from pay equity to new anti-terror legislation.
In a report released Thursday, the United Nations Human Rights Committee … raised doubts about elements of the legislation, known as C-51, that expand the mandate of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the new information sharing regime between security agencies and the changes to the no-fly program.
22 July
Bureaucrats told to provide Rob Nicholson 3 terrorism-related statements a week
Move to set quota on a topic called ‘unusual’ by one former deputy minister
The email, dated April 24 and obtained by CBC News Network’s Power & Politics, suggests the regular ministerial statements should be crafted from an event reported by the news media, such as developments in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria
18 June
Senators snowed under by anti-C-51 email
Many senators say they’ve been stunned by the overwhelming flood of email they’ve received over C-51, the highly controversial Harper government security bill that passed a Senate vote earlier in the month.
The vast majority of the messages expressed firm opposition to the legislation; words like “horrified” and “terrified” came up frequently.
Senator Percy Downe of P.E.I. reports having received 6,000 email messages on the bill, 150 from his home province.
“Normally on an issue of importance I might get 20 or 30 at the most from PEI, so this was a lot more,” he said.
Senator Joan Fraser received approximately 3,100 messages about C-51, while former RCMP officer Senator Larry Campbell only reported receiving a few hundred.
Senator Mobina Jaffer, an international activist for human and women’s rights, has received a whopping 10,000 email messages since May and they continue to trickle in, even though the bill is out of the Senate now.
17 June
Cyberattack crashes Canadian government websites, e-mail
(Globe & Mail) A video posted on YouTube purportedly from the hacktivists known as Anonymous said the group takes responsibility for the attack on the Canadian government computers.
In the video, the voice of someone claiming to be with Anonymous said the attack was in response to the Canadian government’s passage of Bill C-51, the controversial anti-terror legislation that has been heavily criticized for granting too much power to security and intelligence agencies.
9 June
On to the Courts: Bill C-51 Passed by Senate
(CCLA) The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is deeply disappointed that Bill C-51 (Anti-Terrorist Act, 2015) has today been passed by the Senate of Canada and will soon be made law by the Governor General.
Since C-51’s introduction, CCLA has actively opposed what we believe is fundamentally flawed and dangerous legislation. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians from all sides of the political spectrum agree. As we argued before parliamentary committees and in public statements, C-51 is overbroad and will not make Canadians safer. Further, the bill runs counter to the core values of Canada’s democracy, as enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. With this decision today, the rights of all Canadians and the values we cherish — including privacy; freedoms of expression, association, and mobility; due process; independence of the judiciary; constitutional supremacy and the rule of law — are now at risk of being violated at will.
25 May
Bill C-51 violates Universal Declaration of Human Rights, OSCE finds
The Harper government’s controversial anti-terrorism bill violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Canada has ratified, according to legal analysis by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization.
14 May
Liberal Senator, Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer:
“… the list of problems with Bill C-51 is very long. There are issues with increased information sharing among 17 different agencies; issues with warrants that would violate our Charter; a new civil litigation provision that would remove accountability; new terrorist propaganda provisions that would quell freedom of speech; new no-fly provisions without showing the efficacy of such a list; a lowered threshold for preventative detainment, which would violate the rights of Canadians; unprecedented new disruption powers being given to CSIS; and a severe lack of oversight for this entire program.”
13 May
Bill C-51: Liberal Senators To Vote Against Anti-Terror Legislation
[The Senate Liberals’ leader, James] Cowan said he has always believed the Senate should be more independent, and he hopes Conservative senators might eventually follow suit.
7 May
So, nothing did any good. Nobody was listening.

Conservative anti-terror bill passes final vote with Liberal support

Anti-terror Bill, C-51, passes the House amid angry and personal exchanges
(Rabble) Both the ruling Conservatives and the Liberals voted in favour, although the latter have vigorously opposed a great many of the Bill’s key provisions.
Nobody keeps this sort of record, but one could probably safely say that we have never before seen the likes of this in the Canadian Parliament: a party opposing a bill, root and branch, and then voting for it.
The Liberals say they did it because they think a small number of C-51’s provisions are salutary.
In a more candid moment, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau admitted that he did not want to leave himself open to the accusation that he is “soft on terrorism.”
Joyce Murray Accused Of ‘Fear-Mongering’ In Defence Of Bill C-51 Have always had great respect for Joyce Murray – how could she?

Bill C-51
“activity that undermines the security of Canada” means any activity, including any of the following activities, if it undermines the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada or the lives or the security of the people of Canada:
(a) interference with the capability of the Government of Canada in relation to intelligence, defence, border operations, public safety, the administration of justice, diplomatic or consular relations, or the economic or financial stability of Canada;
(b) changing or unduly influencing a government in Canada by force or unlawful means;
(c) espionage, sabotage or covert foreign-influenced activities;
(d) terrorism;
(e) proliferation of nuclear, chemical, radiological or biological weapons;
(f) interference with critical infrastructure;
(g) interference with the global information infrastructure, as defined in section 273.61 of the National Defence Act;
(h) an activity that causes serious harm to a person or their property because of that person’s association with Canada; and
(i) an activity that takes place in Canada and undermines the security of another state.
For greater certainty, it does not include lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.
The Politics of Fear
(CBC At Issue) Is capitalizing on fear a winning election strategy? (5 March)

20 April
60 Canadian Business Leaders Sign Letter Against Bill C-51
A group of prominent executives from many of Canada’s tech companies has signed a letter addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, asking him “to scrap this reckless, dangerous and ineffective legislation.”
The bill could harm Canada’s economy by undermining international trust in Canadian businesses and jeopardizing the country’s online presence, the business leaders said in the letter published Wednesday.
Among the signatories are the heads of many Canadian tech startups, including Ryan Holmes, founder and CEO of Vancouver-based Hootsuite; Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify (which just filed for an IPO); and Tim Bray, principal at Textuality Services and a co-founder of OpenText, Canada’s largest software company.
The letter appeared on the website of OpenMedia, whose petition against Bill C-51 has garnered nearly 200,000 signatures.
6 April
Anti-Terror Bill Review a Bad Show of Legislative Theatre
Critics largely ignored in favour of Obama birthers, anti-immigration groups
(The Tyee) The House of Commons committee charged with studying Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism legislation, wrapped up last week. Given the government’s effort to fast track the bill with limited dissent, the committee unsurprisingly rejected more than 100 amendments from the opposition parties.
The government passed three minor amendments of its own, but with proposals to ensure that judges consider the rule of law and fundamental justice criticized as establishing a barrier to keeping Canadians safe, and creating a community outreach and counter-radicalization coordinator in the Department of Public Safety described by Conservative MPs as an attempt to build another bureaucracy, the government left little doubt that it regards criticism of the bill as a threat to the fight against terrorism.
30 March
Press Progress gives an excellent round-up of the critiques of C-51
Conservatives ignoring “near universal” calls for “meaningful” C-51 oversight
So much for consensus.
The Conservatives appear set to ignore calls for greater, “independent” oversight of Bill C-51 — the “near universal” recommendation made by witnesses to the House public safety committee.
The government plans to introduce “limited changes” to their anti-terror law on Tuesday, while ignoring the bill’s biggest “flaw” identified by experts at C-51 hearings. In Question Period on Monday, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney deflected such criticism by saying “Canada can be proud of its oversight model.”
Blaney probably should have paid more attention to expert testimony at the committee studying the bill. Even those witnesses in favour of C-51 typically called for increased checks and balances:
27 March
Anti-terror Bill C-51 to be scaled back as Tories respond to criticism
Changes to be put forward during clause-by-clause review
(CBC) The government will propose a handful of amendments to the proposed anti-terror bill when it goes to clause-by-clause review on Tuesday, CBC News has learned, including a proposal that would protect protests from being captured by the new measures.
Sources have told CBC News that the Tories may propose as many as 10 amendments. They could also vote to reject particularly problematic elements during clause-by-clause review.
“As we have said for many weeks, we are open to amendments that make sense and that improve the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015,” a senior government official told CBC News.
Thus far there is no indication the government will heed the calls for increased oversight.
Among the torrent of comments below the story, this perhaps best reflects our feelings:
They are playing one of the oldest political tricks in the book, where they roll out something so horrific that the alternative seems benign, but the problem is it is still a gross violation of our bill of rights. For example, the government announces “we are going to raise taxes by 15%”, then after the appropriate amount of public outcry, “Ok fine, we will only raise it by 14%”, and Canadians wipe their brows and say “we really dodged that bullet”. (Globe & Mail, 10 March) Privacy, security and terrorism: Everything you need to know about Bill C-51
19 March
Bill C-51: Ex-judges join Tom Mulcair in fight against ‘dangerous’ draft law
Quebec government also concerned at ‘vast powers’ to be granted to spy agency
12 March
Some Kind of Monster: A Brief History of Harper’s Big Fat Omnibus Bills
Unregulated spies, aboriginal rights, and mandatory jail for marijuana possession might all appear unrelated on the surface, but looking at these issues from the omnibus perspective shows a direct link between political hot potatoes and the Harper government’s willingness to avoid debate and ram the bills through the House. And unless the rest of Canada mobilizes as effectively and as vocally as aboriginal groups did during Idle No More, that tactic is unlikely to change.
(VICE) In 2012, the Conservatives rammed the Jobs and Growth Act (Bill C-45) and the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act (C-38) through Parliament with almost no time for meaningful debate. With a combined length of 900 pages, they contained over 1,200 clauses which amended 135 unrelated federal laws affecting everything from nuclear safety to judges’ pensions to the Seeds Act.
In doing so, C-38 and C-45 also became catalysts for social change but in a far more perverse way than Trudeau’s libertarian crime bill because buried within those 1,200 clauses were significant changes to the Indian Act, Navigation Protection Act, and Environmental Assessment Act, which have had a profoundly detrimental impact on aboriginal land and fishing rights.
3 March
Meet the professors behind the swift assault on C-51
Kent Roach and Craig Forcese just happened to be on sabbatical when the PM announced his Anti-Terrorism Act
They set up a website, under the stolid banner “Canada’s Antiterrorism Act: An Assessment,” on which they have posted a series of devastatingly comprehensive critiques of the bill—tackling everything from how it would chill free speech, to how it would undermine privacy, to how it puts judges in the unprecedented position of authorizing Charter of Right and Freedoms violations by Canada’s spy agency.
Harper’s Terror Rhetoric Is Alienating Allies
Amped-up talk frustrates Mubin Shaikh, an ex-CSIS operative on the front lines of fighting extremism.
(The Tyee) Shaikh was the former CSIS and RCMP operative who foiled the Toronto 18 plot. He currently consults on security issues with US Special Operations Command, Interpol and NATO, and is working on his PhD in psychology studying radicalization. In spite of his significant contributions to fighting domestic terrorism, he told The Tyee that the Harper government does not seek out his advice and that its Muslim-focused fear mongering is in fact undermining national security.
Shaikh points to the recent terrorism speech by the prime minister where he cited both the failed Toronto 18 and the 2013 Via Rail terrorism plots, and failed to note that both were stopped by tips from within the Muslim community. …
As a former CSIS and RCMP operative, Shaikh in fact supports many of the new law enforcement tools included in Bill C-51. But he feels the lack of credible Parliamentary oversight is a recipe for disaster. “The last thing we need is our agencies implicated in sending someone overseas to be tortured like Maher Arar and then what? Only a parliamentary oversight committee will be able to make sure that such abuses will not occur. That’s the only way.”
2 March
5 conservative voices ring “alarm bells” over what Harper’s terror bill will do to civil liberties
28 February
Conrad Black: Alarm bells must ring in response to the government’s new anti-terror bill
(National Post) We have ample proof, from the McDonald Commission’s 1981 report and elsewhere, that the law enforcement agencies in this country, as in others, are capable of outrageous and unfathomably stupid abuses, and anyone who has had anything to do with any arm of the law knows it (although most people in these occupations are reasonably dedicated and honest). Definitions have to be tightened; oversight has to be stringent and prompt and answerable to parliament, and we should be careful of too much reciprocity with foreign governments. Only 10 or 12 other countries have as much respect for human liberties as Canada does and must retain; the United States, with its 99.5% conviction rate and stacked rules — a criminal justice system that is just a conveyer-belt to its bloated and corrupt prison industry — is not one of them. If we go to sleep in Canada, we will wake up in an unrecognizable despotism, like Argentina, Turkey, or Louisiana.
24 February
Spy agency’s review group can’t perform ‘oversight’ role
(Ottawa Citizen) The small group watching over Canada’s spy agency says it was purposely devised to be a limited, after-the-fact “review” body – not an all-seeing “oversight” committee that would vet spy operations.
In defending Bill C-51, the Conservative government has argued the 31-year-old CSIS needs updated tools in the world of post-9/11 terrorism. SIRC, however, gets no mention in C-51.
In a performance report last fall, the organization said it was “struggling to operate efficiently” and falling behind at investigating complaints.
Asked Monday about the current situation, Jackson chose her words carefully: “We consider ourselves professional, we consider ourselves effective, but we really do need to be able to keep pace with CSIS’s operational realities.
23 february
Bill C-51, Harper’s Anti-Terror Bill, Passes Second Reading Amid Criticism
(HuffPost) Canada’s proposed anti-terrorism bill passed its second reading on Monday with a vote 176-87 in favour of its omnibus legislation.
The Liberals voted alongside Conservatives to extend power for Canada’s national security agencies while the NDP opposed. Independent MP Brent Rathgeber also voted “no”
The measures are intended to stretch government powers to protect “against activities that undermine the security of Canada.” But the broad scope of the legislation has raised concerns.
“Treaty rights, land rights, natural resource development, any protest like that, they could be considered eco-terrorists,” said NDP MP Peter Julien, quoting Grand Chief Terrance Nelson in question period on Monday.
“Does the government not understand that the bill is not just about terrorism?” Julien asked. “Is it really blind to the fact it can also target legitimate dissent and take away fundamental rights of Canadians?”
Tories play politics with new anti-terrorism measures
After nine years in power, the Conservatives are in a rush. It’s a rush to chalk up terrorism talking points for this year’s election. They want this bill passed before the Commons breaks for summer and an election campaign. They want it in the ads. Who needs a bunch of talk?In one sense, no one does. The Conservative majority will push this bill through. But one point of the talk is to make sure everyone has an opportunity to understand what this law is.
Two things are clear: First, the Conservatives think this bill will help them win an election, and second, they don’t want people to understand it. That’s a bad combination for a bill that will change things in secret, in ways we won’t know for years.
19 February
Surprising results from Angus Reid poll: Strong support for proposed anti-terror legislation, but additional oversight wanted too See Globe & Mail analysis New poll finds Harper’s anti-terror bill is a political juggernaut There’s rarely been a bill before Parliament that was more popular. The public Conservatives’ new anti-terror legislation is filling a public demand for tough new measures aimed at a terrorism threat that Canadians believe is serious, and close to home, according to a new poll. NOTE Some 56% either knew nothing about the bill, or had scanned headlines only… (but they ALL could vote. Whether they will vote is, of course, another matter).
Chrétien, Clark, Martin and Turner: A close eye on security makes Canadians safer
The four of us most certainly know the enormity of the responsibility of keeping Canada safe, something always front of mind for a prime minister. We have come together with 18 other Canadians who have served as Supreme Court of Canada justices, ministers of justice and of public safety, solicitors-general, members of the Security and Intelligence Review Committee and commissioners responsible for overseeing the RCMP and upholding privacy laws.
Among us, we have served in our various public office roles from 1968 to 2014. Over that time we were faced with, and responded to, a range of pressing security concerns. We all agree that protecting public safety is one of government’s most important functions and that Canada’s national security agencies play a vital role in meeting that responsibility.
Yet we all also share the view that the lack of a robust and integrated accountability regime for Canada’s national security agencies makes it difficult to meaningfully assess the efficacy and legality of Canada’s national security activities. This poses serious problems for public safety and for human rights.
18 February
Anti-Terror Bill Presents a ‘Bogus Choice’: Mulcair
‘We don’t have to choose between our freedoms and our safety,’ says NDP leader.
(The Tyee) The federal New Democrats will oppose the Conservative government’s new legislation aimed at stunting terrorist attacks, stating the bill has “several serious problems” including a lack of oversight for the new powers it would grant the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act, allows for authorities to “disrupt” suspected terrorist activities and make preventative arrests of suspected terrorists. The bill also criminalizes the spreading of terrorist propaganda.
Mulcair said that current legislation in Canada gives police the tools they need to effectively stop terrorism. He pointed to six terror-related charges in Ottawa since the beginning of the year to show that the current system works.
He said the bill is an example of the Conservatives finding a way to bully their opponents, such as those who resist pipelines. Yesterday, Greenpeace said it was concerned about a leaked RCMP report that called anti-pipeline activists an “anti-Canadian petroleum movement.”
Mulcair said the broad nature of the bill enables law enforcement to target those opposed to anything the government supports simply by labelling it a threat. The bill lumps in the economic and financial stability of Canada with activities that could undermine public security and defence.
Mulcair said that certain measures in the legislation, such as requiring a judge to approve acts like preventative arrests, don’t do enough to ensure it won’t be abused.
16 February
Campbell Clark: Tories’ badly made anti-terror bill needs serious scrutiny
(Globe & Mail) Here’s the problem: no one knows what this bill really means. Not Mr. Mackay, not Mr. Trudeau, not Mr. Harper. They cannot. Its major changes are written in broad terms with vague language. The courts will define parts of it, eventually. So will CSIS, in secret, over many years.
What are CSIS’s new powers to disrupt threats? The bill actually says CSIS “may take measures, within or outside Canada, to reduce the threat.” It doesn’t say what. It does say a judge must authorize measures that break the law or violate the Charter of Rights – opening a new era of judges defining the legality of unspecified illegal actions.
In briefings of journalists, the government’s examples of “measures” were talking to families of radicalized individuals and tampering with plotters’ equipment. But the definition is wide open. CSIS will be able to run covert agents to infiltrate groups for more than just intelligence. That power had previously been reserved to the RCMP, which is more accountable.
You might want CSIS to do more to thwart terrorists. But the new powers aren’t only for use against terrorists, or even people breaking the law. CSIS can disrupt any national security threat – and that is widely defined, including undermining Canada’s diplomatic relations, economic stability, or critical infrastructure.
12 February
Parliament must reject the anti-terror bill
By Ed Broadbent and Roy Romanow
Terrorism is designed to provoke governments into making damaging mistakes. It is conducted through brutality and rooted in the belief that killing ordinary citizens will cause nations to abandon their most basic commitments.
Terrorism demands a sustained and effective response. Resources must be allocated to enable police and intelligence agencies to find its perpetrators and to discover potential terrorists. Those who are guilty of offences must then be brought to justice.
Canada already has mechanisms, practices and laws necessary for dealing with terrorism. These include surveillance, immigration controls, preventative detention and incarceration for criminal activity.
As we have recently seen, our system of national security is not perfect. But this is not due to inadequacies in our security legislation. It is the result of overworked and underfunded police and security services.
Jewish Defence League chapter in Montreal not needed, rabbi says
Rabbi Reuben Poupko says Montreal police already doing a good job at handling Jewish community’s needs
Earlier this week, the ultra-nationalist and controversial Jewish-rights organization said it wanted to establish a chapter in Montreal following what national director Meir Weinstein called an increasing threat from Islamic radicalization.
On Thursday, Weinstein told Daybreak host Mike Finnerty that he wanted to stop the spread of “anti-Semitic, anti-Canadian garbage” and suggested that Montreal needed help in dealing with radicalized people.
“There’s serious problems, serious groups promoting radical jihadism, radical Islam and we monitor these organizations. We provide security at times for Jewish institutions, Jewish events and we’d like to offer that in Montreal,” Weinstein said.
Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, said he has serious concerns about the JDL and cited an FBI report on terrorism in 2000 and 2001 which identified the organization as a “right-wing terrorist group.”
When asked by Finnerty whether Majzoub and Montreal Muslims should be concerned about the JDL’s possible presence in the city, Weinstein said only “anti-Israel and anti-Semitic” people should be concerned.
A niqab ban makes no sense. Religious freedom is citizenship (but is the niqab religious or merely cultural?)
(Globe & Mail editorial) Zunera Ishaq was scheduled to become a Canadian citizen last year. She came to Canada in 2008, and in late 2013 passed the citizenship test. All that remained was for her to take the oath. It’s a public ceremony, where new Canadians pledge allegiance to the Queen and their new country. Ms. Ishaq was ready, but there was one problem: She wears a niqab, a veil worn by some Muslim women (emphasis added). In 2011, then-Immigration Minister Jason Kenney banned anyone from taking the citizenship oath with their face covered. To become a Canadian citizen, Ms. Ishaq would have to choose between Canada and her faith. (As we understand it, the wearing of the niqab is not a tenet of faith)
That is not a choice anyone should be forced to make. Last week the Federal Court of Canada agreed with Ms. Ishaq, finding the federal government violated its own immigration laws in banning religious face-coverings from citizenship ceremonies.
Niqab-citizenship ceremony ruling will be appealed, PM says
‘This is a society that is transparent, open and where people are equal,’ Stephen Harper says
The government will appeal a Federal Court ruling that women can wear a niqab when taking their oath of citizenship, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.
The woman who launched the motion, Zunera Ishaq, said she removed her face-covering veil during her citizenship test in November 2013 because she was allowed to do so in private with a female citizenship official. Face veils banned for citizenship oaths (12 December 2011)
11 February
Several disturbing stories that indicate that there is a long road to travel in creating harmony among the citizenry
Jewish Defence League expands to Montreal, hopes to impact federal election
Group’s director ‘very concerned’ that some Jewish community leaders still back Liberal Party
“We are very concerned that there are prominent leaders in the Jewish community in Montreal who stand behind the Liberals,” he said.
“We want to change that.”
Weinstein said only the Conservative Party has taken a “strong and proper” position on terrorism and he wants the Jewish community in Montreal “to stand behind the Conservatives.”
“Israel and the Jewish community have no greater ally than Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada,” he responded in an email to questions about the JDL’s endorsement.
Collège Rosemont cancels contract with Arabic school over internet links
A Montreal CEGEP is defending its decision to sever ties with an Arabic language school for children saying it was perturbed by a link on the school’s website that said a secular education is bad for Muslims.
6 February
Anti-terrorism bill will unleash CSIS on a lot more than terrorists
(Globe & Mail Editorial) Why does the bill do so much more than fight terrorism? One part of Bill C-51 creates a new definition of an “activity that undermines the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada” that includes “terrorism,” “interference with critical infrastructure” and “interference with the capability of the Government in relation to … the economic or financial stability of Canada.”
But wait. If a terrorist blew up critical infrastructure – a pipeline, for instance – wouldn’t that be terrorism?
So what is this other class of security-underminer the bill refers to? A political party that advocates Quebec independence (there goes our “territorial integrity”)? Indian activists who disrupt a train line? Environmental activists denounced as radicals by a cabinet minister?
These things are on a par with terrorism now?
If that is what the government is saying, will CSIS – which can already investigate very broadly defined “threats to the security of Canada” – be allowed to spy on and interfere with Canadians suspected of being involved in such activities? Against whom will CSIS be given the power to seek warrants to install wiretaps?
On close inspection, Bill C-51 is not an anti-terrorism bill. Fighting terrorism is its pretext; its language reveals a broader goal of allowing government departments, as well as CSIS, to act whenever they believe limply defined security threats “may” – not “will” – occur.
5 February
Terry Malewski: SIRC’s mixed record in watching Canada’s spies — remember Air India?
CSIS oversight by the Security Intelligence Review Commitee has included disturbing gaps in vigilance
Oversight, oversight. Now that we’ve seen the sweeping new powers in the government’s anti-terrorism bill, everybody wants oversight.
But we already have it, says the government. Don’t worry, the prime minister tells the House of Commons, SIRC is there and SIRC will do the job just fine. It “provides robust oversight,” he says
Of course, if you asked a hundred Canadians what “SIRC” means, you might not find many who know it’s the Security Intelligence Review Committee, in charge of keeping tabs on CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
And, if you asked those knowledgeable Canadians to name a member of SIRC, chances are the only name they’d come up with is that of Dr. Arthur Porter — but only because SIRC’s former chairman now stews in a Panamanian jail on charges of fraud.
4 February
Anti-terrorism bill to be supported by Liberals, Justin Trudeau says
Liberal Leader says his party wants changes, but content is too important to vote against
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says his caucus will vote in favour of a bill to vastly increase the powers of Canada’s spy agency — with or without the improved oversight civil rights experts are calling for.
The announcement, made Wednesday afternoon, seems particularly odd because the bill includes a measure that would let the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) apply for a warrant to ignore the charter. The charter is indelibly linked to Trudeau, as it was written and enacted under the Liberal government headed by his father, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
Coyne: Proposed anti-terrorism bill must stand or fall on its merits
The government’s Bill C-51 is too complex for simplistic arguments, either for or against, its measures
Whatever measures the government may see fit to introduce, and whatever laws Parliament may pass, they must ultimately conform with the law of laws, the Constitution. Which ends justify which means? The courts will decide.
The scale of the threat, or rather threats, is open to debate — though with court dockets now bulging with terrorism cases, it’s hard to argue they don’t exist — as are the appropriate responses to each. A measure that might be justified in the name of preventing a mass atrocity on the scale of a Sept. 11 might not be justified in dealing with so-called “lone-wolf” attackers.
That’s why it’s vital to require both judicial oversight at the front end and close reporting and monitoring at the back, and while the bill is admirably full of examples of the former, the latter — particularly the desperately understaffed condition of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, CSIS’s overseer — is rather less in evidence.
3 February
Hamza Chaoui case sparks debate on freedom of speech
As an east-end borough took steps to block a controversial imam from opening a community centre in Montreal, human-rights lawyers warned that municipal bylaws are not the right tool for dealing with the threat of Islamic radicalism.
“If the real objective of this is to constrain views that we don’t like, then I would argue that this is an improper purpose and that in fact it is an improper use of municipal authority,” said Pearl Eliadis, a human rights lawyer, author and lecturer at McGill University.
On Monday, the Mercier–Hochelaga–Maisonneuve borough approved a motion freezing new permits for community centres while it studies a zoning change that would distinguish between “activities associated with places of worship and those associated with offering community services.”
1 February
Anti-terrorism powers: What’s in the legislation?
Legislation introduced Friday gives CSIS new powers as security officials grapple with new threats
(CBC) The new bill, C-51, is only 62 pages long but contains a variety of increased powers for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)
The new measures would let law enforcement agencies arrest somebody if they think a terrorist act “may be carried out,” instead of the current standard of “will be carried out.” It would also increase the period of preventive detention from three days to seven.

31 January
Radical imam blocked from opening Montreal community centre
A controversial imam will be denied a permit to open an Islamic community centre in Montreal, according to Mayor Denis Coderre.
Imam Hamza Chaoui is under fire for saying Islam and democracy are not compatible because homosexuals can be elected, that all women must have a male guardian when they are in public and that all men must wear beards.
“This individual is an agent of radicalization,” Coderre said at a press conference Saturday, accompanied by political leaders from the neighbourhood where the imam had planned to open the centre.
Coderre said there must be a balance between “openness and vigilance” and Chaoui’s beliefs don’t reflect the views of the majority of Montreal Muslims.
30 January
Critics fear Bill C-51 could lead to unintended consequencesPM Harper announces Bill C51
PM says police and national security agencies need additional tools and greater co-ordination to combat terrorism
(Maclean’s) The Conservatives tabled an anti-terrorism bill today, three months after the fatal attacks on Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in Ottawa and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. With sweeping reforms, the Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C-51) proposes to amend existing laws, including changing the Criminal Code to give law enforcement officials broader powers to make arrests if they suspect terrorist activity “may be carried out” (changing the wording from “will be carried out”), and increasing the period of preventative detention to seven days from three. The bill would also expand the no-fly list, bolster the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS) abilities to “disrupt” suspected terrorist activities online, and make it illegal to “promote” terrorism.
…  critics and members of the Muslim community warn the bill’s provisions will lead to more harm and unintended consequences, especially when it comes to dealing with radicalized offenders. Even before its contents were made public, the bill had been subjected to scrutiny from civil liberties groups and lawyers, who said it would impede freedom of expression and religion. …
Terrorism and radicalization do not end with a prison sentence. Yasin Dwyer, a Muslim imam from Hamilton, Ont., who recently left his post as Canada’s only full-time prison imam after 11 years, says what’s missing from the government’s counter-terrorism approach is a robust counter-radicalization program inside prison. “For every criminal offence, there has to be a rehabilitation program related to that offence. The government is only looking at the punishment model, not the rehabilitation model,” he said. “If we want to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime, there has to be a balance.”

PM announces anti-terrorism measures to protect Canadians

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that the Government has introduced legislation to protect Canadians from the evolving threat of terrorism and keep our communities safe. The Prime Minister made the announcement at Richmond Hill’s Bayview Hill Community Centre.[Why not in the House?] He was joined by Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence.

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