An Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings)

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

Status

Not active, as of June 16, 2008
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 8th, 2010 / 1:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill S-215 and I am very pleased to hear that the hon. member from the NDP will support it as well.

The bill proposes to specifically include suicide bombing in the definition of terrorist activity in the Criminal Code. The bill would add a “for greater certainty” clause after subsection 83.01(1.1) of the Criminal Code, which would specify that suicide bombing would come within paragraphs (a) and (b) of the definition of terrorist activity when committed in the context of a terrorist activity.

The bill has a lengthy history. It was originally introduced as Bill S-43 on September 28, 2005, reintroduced as Bill S-206 on April 5, 2006, reintroduced yet again as Bill S-210 on October 17, 2007, and reintroduced a fourth time as Bill S-205 on November 20, 2008.

Previous versions of the bill all died on the order paper. The present version was introduced on March 24. It was reviewed by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, reported without amendment and passed without amendment.

I recognize that the current definition of terrorist activity contained in the Criminal Code already implicitly encompasses suicide bombing when committed in the context of terrorism. If we look at the definition of terrorist activity in section 83.01(1) of the code, we see that it incorporates criminal conduct as envisaged by the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, one of the United Nations' counterterrorism conventions, while the second part of the definition includes terrorist activity, which intentionally causes death or serious bodily harm or endangers a person's life.

It is also true, however, that the words suicide bombing are not expressly mentioned in the present definition of terrorist activity, and there is considerable support for the specific criminalization of suicide bombing as part of the terrorist activity definition in the code.

Canadians Against Suicide Bombing, a Toronto-based group led by a former judge, has been particularly supportive of the objectives behind Bill S-215 and it established an online petition in support of the bill. Many prominent Canadians from all walks of life have also signed an open letter of support.

In my view, this bill merits support. The bill would come into force on the day to be fixed by order of the Governor-in-Council, thereby providing an opportunity for any needed preparation time to facilitate its implementation.

No other country is known to refer specifically to suicide bombing in its definition of terrorism and terrorist activity. Therefore, Canada would be the first to signal its abhorrence of these cowardly acts by adopting such a reference in its legislative definition of terrorist activity. Suicide attacks are intended to kill and maim innocent people and inflict extensive property damage. As the hon. member who spoke just before me said, it is the innocent people for whom we are most concerned, the innocent lives of men, women and particularly children who are affected.

Attackers are often prepared to die in the process. We all know about the attacks of September 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000 people in the World Trade Center in New York City. We also remember the July 7, 2007 London bombings and the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India. Anyone who reads a newspaper, listens to the radio or watches television knows that suicide bombings occur on an alarmingly regular basis.

Bill S-215 gives Canada the opportunity to show international leadership by specifically denouncing suicide bombing and expressly prescribing suicide bombing as a type of criminal activity.

I invite all members in the House to support this bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

September 21st, 2010 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

moved that Bill S-215, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am indeed pleased to rise and express the government's support for Bill S-215, An Act to amend the Criminal Code. This bill is identical to Bill S-205 which was passed by the other place on June 10, 2009 and debated at second reading in the House of Commons last November. Bill S-205 was then referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in November 2009, but died on the order paper in December.

Please allow me to provide an explanation of the contents of this bill for the benefit of all hon. members.

The bill seeks to explicitly include the act of suicide bombing within the context of the Criminal Code definition of “terrorist activity”.

Suicide bombing is a monstrous way to wreak havoc because it shows the utmost contempt for human life. Suicide attacks are committed with the intention to kill and maim innocent people and inflict extensive property damage with the attackers prepared to die in the process. The damage from a suicide attack can be devastating, as demonstrated by the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York City, killing nearly 3,000 people.

It is also clear that suicide attacks are becoming an all too common terrorist tactic. The July 7, 2005 London bombings, the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, and the most recent bombings in Moscow, Dagestan and Afghanistan are part of a world trend of terrorizing ordinary people.

The definition of terrorist activity is currently defined in paragraph 83.01(1)(a) and (b) of the Criminal Code. Bill S-215 seeks to amend section 83.01 of the Code by adding the following after subsection (1.1):

(1.2) For greater certainty, a suicide bombing is an act that comes within paragraph (a) or (b) of the definition “terrorist activity” in subsection (1) if it satisfies the criteria of that paragraph.

To begin with, the first part of the definition of terrorist activity incorporates, in part, criminal conduct as envisaged by the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings; one of the United Nation's counter-terrorism conventions.

Further, the general definition of terrorist activity found in the second part of the definition includes terrorist activity which intentionally causes death or serious bodily harm or endangers a person's life. Thus, it could be argued that a suicide bombing committed for a terrorist purpose already falls within the definition.

While a general definition of terrorist activity, which encompasses suicide bombing, would be sufficient for the purposes of prosecution, distinguished Canadian criminal lawyers told the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs that explicitly covering suicide bombing in the Criminal Code can help prosecute and punish the organizers, teachers and sponsors of suicide bombing.

Explicitly including “suicide bombing” in the definition would also serve to denounce this horrendous practice and to educate the public that such suicide bombing is repugnant to Canadian values.

In addition, by passing this bill, Canada would show international leadership by likely being the first nation in the world to adopt this reference in its legislative definition of terrorist activity.

For these reasons, I agree that there are benefits in making an exclusive reference to suicide bombing in the definition of “terrorist activity”. However, it is also important in doing so not to adversely affect the current definition of terrorist activity. Fortunately, this bill has been drafted with precision in order to address this concern.

As mentioned earlier, the proposed amendment involves a “for greater certainty” clause that when added to 83.01 would state:

(1.2) For greater certainty, a suicide bombing is an act that comes within paragraph (a) or (b) of the definition “terrorist activity” in subsection (1) if it satisfies the criteria of that paragraph.

The bill expressly states that it is only seeking to include within the definition a suicide bombing in circumstances that satisfy the criteria for terrorist activity as stated in the definition of a terrorist activity. In this way the wording of this provision ensures that any other type of suicide bombing with no connection to terrorist activity is not included in the definition.

To be clear, the proposed amendment is a definitional clause intended to make clear that suicide bombing is included in the definition of terrorist activity only when committed in the context of a terrorist act.

The amendment is designed to provide for maximum precision to make certain that suicide bombings unrelated to terrorist activity are not caught by the definition, by ensuring that it is not overly broad or vague but still fulfills its intended purpose.

The changes brought by this bill to the definition of terrorist activity would continue to give Canada the necessary tools to prosecute persons for terrorist suicide bombings, the suicide bomber himself or herself where there has been an unsuccessful suicide bombing, as well as persons involved in the preparation or counselling of the terrorism offence.

The bill also provides that it would come into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council. This provision would allow for maximum flexibility and would provide the government with an opportunity to notify the provinces before the bill comes into force.

In my view, this bill merits support. It is pursuing a worthy aim. It is seeking to denounce an abhorrent practice, one that is becoming a scourge throughout the world.

This bill is precise and circumscribed in its application. Making the legislative amendment would show that Canada is taking a strong stand in denouncing suicide bombing in the context of terrorism.

This bill has a lengthy history. It was originally introduced as Bill S-43 on September 28, 2005; reintroduced as Bill S-206 on April 5, 2006; reintroduced yet again as Bill S-210 on October 17, 2007; and reintroduced a fourth time as Bill S-205 on November 20, 2008.

Previous versions of the bill all died on the order paper. The present version was introduced on March 24, 2010. It was reviewed by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, reported without amendment, and passed without amendment.

The Toronto-based group called Canadians Against Suicide Bombing supported previous versions of this bill and created an online petition in favour of them.

Prominent Canadians who have supported previous versions of Bill S-215 include former Prime Ministers Kim Campbell, Jean Chrétien, and Joe Clark, as well as former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, former Chief Justice and Attorney General of Ontario Roy McMurtry, and Major General Lewis MacKenzie.

No other country is known to include suicide bombing specifically in its definition of terrorist activity. So Canada would be the first to signal to the rest of the world our abhorrence of these heinous and cowardly acts by adopting this bill.

The House of Commons has an incredible opportunity to be an example to the world. Bill S-215 promotes a worthy aim and I urge all members of the House to support it. By supporting and passing this bill we can ensure that anyone who organizes, teaches, or sponsors suicide bombing is criminally liable in Canada. The time has now come for the House to take action in support of this bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 22nd, 2009 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

moved that Bill S-205, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill S-205, which was passed by the Senate on June 10, 2009. This bill is identical to former Bill S-210, which received third reading in the Senate in June 2008, but died on the order paper when Parliament was dissolved for the general election last September. Please allow me to explain the contents of this bill for the benefit of all hon. members.

The bill proposes to amend the Criminal Code to clarify that suicide bombings fall within the definition of “terrorist activity” contained in the code. The term “terrorist activity” is currently defined in paragraphs 83.01(1)(a) and (b) of the Criminal Code. Bill S-205 proposes to amend section 83.01 of the Criminal Code by adding the following after subsection (1.1):

(1.2) For greater certainty, a suicide bombing is an act that comes within paragraphs (a) or (b) of the definition “terrorist activity” in subsection (1) if it satisfies the criteria of that paragraph.

This amendment is a definitional clause intended to make clear that suicide bombing is included in the definition of “terrorist activity” only when committed in the context of a terrorist act. The bill is crafted to ensure the utmost precision about what forms of suicide bombing are included in the definition of “terrorist activity” and to prevent other types of suicide bombing with no connection to terrorist activity from being caught in the definition.

Please let me explain how a suicide bomb could potentially be used in non-terrorist activity. A quick search through the archives reveals a case from 1973, whereby a would-be bank robber used a suicide bomb. This happened in Kenora, Ontario. I quote:

A dramatic and daring bank robbery took place in Kenora on May 10, 1973. An unknown man entered the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce heavily armed and wearing a “dead man's switch”, a device utilizing a clothespin, wires, battery and dynamite, where the user holds the clothespin in the mouth, exerting force on the clothespin. Should the user release the clothespin, two wires attached to both sides of the pin complete an electrical circuit, sending current from the battery, detonating the explosives. After robbing the bank, the robber exited the CIBC, and was preparing to enter a city vehicle driven by undercover police officer Don Milliard. A sniper positioned across the street from the bank shot the Robber, initiating the sequence of events required to detonate the explosive. Recently, Kenora Police submitted DNA samples from the Robber's remains to identify him, but the suspect was never positively identified.

This most unfortunate event is an example whereby the robber was not a terrorist by definition, but was indeed using a suicide bomb as a device to rob a bank.

After discussion on this particular point, I understand that the Senate adopted the bill with the amendment to ensure greater clarity.

The amendment ensures that it is not overly broad or vague but still fulfills its intended purpose. The proposed amendment is designed to provide for maximum precision regarding what forms of suicide bombing are included in the definition of “terrorist activity” and makes certain that suicide bombings unrelated to terrorist activity are not caught by the definition.

No other country is known to refer specifically to suicide bombing in its definition of “terrorism” and “terrorist activity”, so Canada would be the first to signal its abhorrence of these cowardly acts by adopting such a reference in its legislative definition of “terrorist activity”.

Suicide attacks are intended to kill and maim innocent people and inflict extensive property damage. Attackers are often prepared to die in the process. We all know about the attacks of September 11, 2001 that killed nearly 3,000 people in the World Trade Center in New York City. We also remember the July 7, 2007 London bombings, and the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India.

Anyone who reads a newspaper, listens to the radio or watches television knows that suicide bombings occur on an alarmingly regular basis.

Many prominent Canadians support Bill S-205, which is identical to former Bill S-210, which was supported by Canadians Against Suicide Bombing, or CANASB, a Toronto-based group.

Prominent Canadians who have supported this initiative and signed an open letter to the Senate include former prime ministers Kim Campbell and Joe Clark, as well others, such as Roy McMurtry, former chief justice and attorney general of Ontario, former NDP leader Ed Broadbent and Major General Louis MacKenzie.

Some states and international organizations argue that suicide bombing can be justified and that struggles, by whatever means, for approved causes are exempt.

Some further argue that suicide bombing is implicitly covered in the Criminal Code or that dead suicide bombers cannot be prosecuted. However, distinguished Canadian criminal lawyers, including the chair of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, told the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs that explicitly covering suicide bombing in the Code can help prosecute and punish the organizers, teachers and sponsors.

The House of Commons has a unique opportunity to be an example to the world. I ask that all MPs support covering suicide bombing explicitly by passing Bill S-205, a made-in-Canada initiative, to ensure that anyone who organizes, teaches or sponsors suicide bombing is criminally liable in Canada. Bill S-205 promotes a worthy aim and is deserving of the support of all hon. members of this House.

Accordingly, I wish to congratulate our hon. friend for bringing the bill before Parliament.