Anti-terrorism Act, 2015

An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Sponsor

Steven Blaney  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

Part 1 enacts the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, which authorizes Government of Canada institutions to disclose information to Government of Canada institutions that have jurisdiction or responsibilities in respect of activities that undermine the security of Canada. It also makes related amendments to other Acts.

Part 2 enacts the Secure Air Travel Act in order to provide a new legislative framework for identifying and responding to persons who may engage in an act that poses a threat to transportation security or who may travel by air for the purpose of committing a terrorism offence. That Act authorizes the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to establish a list of such persons and to direct air carriers to take a specific action to prevent the commission of such acts. In addition, that Act establishes powers and prohibitions governing the collection, use and disclosure of information in support of its administration and enforcement. That Act includes an administrative recourse process for listed persons who have been denied transportation in accordance with a direction from the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and provides appeal procedures for persons affected by any decision or action taken under that Act. That Act also specifies punishment for contraventions of listed provisions and authorizes the Minister of Transport to conduct inspections and issue compliance orders. Finally, this Part makes consequential amendments to the Aeronautics Act and the Canada Evidence Act.

Part 3 amends the Criminal Code to, with respect to recognizances to keep the peace relating to a terrorist activity or a terrorism offence, extend their duration, provide for new thresholds, authorize a judge to impose sureties and require a judge to consider whether it is desirable to include in a recognizance conditions regarding passports and specified geographic areas. With respect to all recognizances to keep the peace, the amendments also allow hearings to be conducted by video conference and orders to be transferred to a judge in a territorial division other than the one in which the order was made and increase the maximum sentences for breach of those recognizances.

It further amends the Criminal Code to provide for an offence of knowingly advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general. It also provides a judge with the power to order the seizure of terrorist propaganda or, if the propaganda is in electronic form, to order the deletion of the propaganda from a computer system.

Finally, it amends the Criminal Code to provide for the increased protection of witnesses, in particular of persons who play a role in respect of proceedings involving security information or criminal intelligence information, and makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Part 4 amends the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act to permit the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to take, within and outside Canada, measures to reduce threats to the security of Canada, including measures that are authorized by the Federal Court. It authorizes the Federal Court to make an assistance order to give effect to a warrant issued under that Act. It also creates new reporting requirements for the Service and requires the Security Intelligence Review Committee to review the Service’s performance in taking measures to reduce threats to the security of Canada.

Part 5 amends Divisions 8 and 9 of Part 1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to, among other things,

(a) define obligations related to the provision of information in proceedings under that Division 9;

(b) authorize the judge, on the request of the Minister, to exempt the Minister from providing the special advocate with certain relevant information that has not been filed with the Federal Court, if the judge is satisfied that the information does not enable the person named in a certificate to be reasonably informed of the case made by the Minister, and authorize the judge to ask the special advocate to make submissions with respect to the exemption; and

(c) allow the Minister to appeal, or to apply for judicial review of, any decision requiring the disclosure of information or other evidence if, in the Minister’s opinion, the disclosure would be injurious to national security or endanger the safety of any person.

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.

Votes

May 6, 2015 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
May 6, 2015 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following: “this House decline to give third reading to Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, because it: ( a) threatens our way of life by asking Canadians to choose between their security and their freedoms; ( b) provides the Canadian Security Intelligence Service with a sweeping new mandate without equally increasing oversight, despite concerns raised by almost every witness who testified before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, as well as concerns raised by former Liberal prime ministers, ministers of justice and solicitors general; ( c) does not include the type of concrete, effective measures that have been proven to work, such as providing support to communities that are struggling to counter radicalization; ( d) was not adequately studied by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, which did not allow the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to appear as a witness, or schedule enough meetings to hear from many other Canadians who requested to appear; ( e) was not fully debated in the House of Commons, where discussion was curtailed by time allocation; ( f) was condemned by legal experts, civil liberties advocates, privacy commissioners, First Nations leadership and business leaders, for the threats it poses to our rights and freedoms, and our economy; and ( g) does not include a single amendment proposed by members of the Official Opposition or the Liberal Party, despite the widespread concern about the bill and the dozens of amendments proposed by witnesses.”.
May 4, 2015 Passed That Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, as amended, be concurred in at report stage.
May 4, 2015 Failed
April 30, 2015 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
Feb. 23, 2015 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
Feb. 23, 2015 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “this House decline to give second reading to Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, because it: ( a) threatens our way of life by asking Canadians to choose between their security and their freedoms; ( b) was not developed in consultation with other parties, all of whom recognize the real threat of terrorism and support effective, concrete measures to keep Canadians safe; ( c) irresponsibly provides CSIS with a sweeping new mandate without equally increasing oversight; ( d) contains definitions that are broad, vague and threaten to lump legitimate dissent together with terrorism; and ( e) does not include the type of concrete, effective measures that have been proven to work, such as working with communities on measures to counter radicalization of youth.”.
Feb. 19, 2015 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than two further sitting days shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the second day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 4:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Clarke Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, it was quite interesting to listen to my colleague across the floor.

I look back to July 7, 2006, when three of my colleagues in the RCMP were shot, two passed away seven days later. I listen to the rhetoric here. Members are laughing about it. It is not funny.

This is about protecting Canadians. This is about protecting the law enforcement officers on the streets who have to do the daily battles against everyone. This is about protecting our men and women in the services. This is about protecting all Canadians—

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Clarke Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

My NDP colleagues should let me finish, Mr. Speaker. Their position is hug-a-thug day. I do not agree with that.

This is about respecting my colleagues who have passed away. We hear about the abuses and about protecting the freedoms of Canadians. I look back at 2013 when my colleague drove on the Hill and the RCMP tried to pull him over. He asked the officer, “Do you know who I am?”. That is not respecting the institution.

NDP members voted to keep travelling for terrorist purposes legal. They voted to allow convicted terrorists to keep their citizenship. They voted to stop our security agencies from co-operating with our allies and now they are expressing concerns about the important--

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 4:40 p.m.
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NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, no doubt unwittingly, the member has just done us all a service. If there was any lingering doubt in anyone's mind that this is simply a political ploy, he has removed all doubt. There is nothing in the bill about any of the things he has just mentioned.

It also shows that, like the minister, he has not even read it, which is also bringing us straight back to what is actually driving this, the Prime Minister's Office and the Conservatives' politics for the next election.

We are going to stand up on a question of principle. We know that it is possible and it is indeed primordial for any government to defend both our security and our rights.

I very much regret that someone who believes he once enforced the law does not understand the importance of protecting Canadians' rights.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 4:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not have to tell anyone in the House today about the threat of terrorism and the fear it can instill within those who have witnessed it.

We all remember clearly the feelings we had in October as we heard and learned that an armed man had entered Centre Block with the intent to kill. We are still thankful for the heroism shown by our security services that day in keeping us safe during a difficult and confusing time.

Coming as it did only days after another, shameful, attack on members of our military, it was a horrible reminder of the murder in cold blood that some people are capable of doing.

No matter the motives, terrorism is designed to make us freeze in fear. It is designed to make us constantly question not only our own safety, but also the democratic institutions we have established to keep us safe. It is designed to make us question what is familiar and to suspect what would normally be insignificant.

Terrorism is designed to take us so far that we question everything we have built and everything that is good in our fair, just and open society.

That is the point of terrorism, and it is when we willingly walk over that edge of our own accord that terrorism is ultimately successful. So let us step back from that edge.

Make no mistake, the Liberal Party is alert to the threats and we know that keeping Canadians safe in a manner that is consistent with Canadian values is our most sombre responsibility as legislators and community leaders. To ensure that we never lose sight of our Canadian values and never forget who we are, we should always aim to have both the security of Canadians and the protection of their rights and freedoms in mind when we set out to combat those threats.

I believe that Bill C-51, the government's anti-terrorism act, takes some proper steps in that direction. We welcome the measures in Bill C-51 that build on the powers of preventative arrest, make better use of no-fly lists, and allow for more coordinated information sharing by government departments and agencies. However, Bill C-51 ought to be amended for a few reasons.

As I stated outside this House recently, the Liberal Party plans to bring forward amendments to Bill C-51, and I am happy to outline some of those proposed changes now.

One notable aspect of Bill C-51 is the changes it would make to the mandate of the Canadian Security Intelligence Services, or CSIS.

In its current form, Bill C-51 would amend CSIS's mandate, enabling the agency to intervene directly to address security threats, through clandestine and open operations.

That is a significant change to the current role of CSIS, which is to gather and analyze intelligence, while the RCMP is responsible for enforcing the law and taking action to counter security threats.

Yet we are now set to imbue CSIS with broad powers to disrupt not only real or perceived terrorist threats, but also real or perceived threats to economic and financial stability, critical infrastructure, and the security of other states.

The Liberal Party will be bringing forward amendments to narrow and clarify the overly broad scope of the new powers that have been a source of concern for many Canadians. If CSIS is given these new powers, we on this side believe that its mandate must be subject to much stricter supervision and review.

Canadians owe a lot to the security officials at CSIS, and the results of their work in the past have been evident. We know CSIS played key roles in disrupting plans to carry out violence against Canadians, including a plot to place bombs on VIA Rail passenger trains. However, we would now ask CSIS to do something new, and this new direction must be monitored so that we can be sure we are getting it right.

At the moment, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, or SIRC, reviews the work that CSIS does and reports to Parliament on those operations; but there seems to be some confusion in this house as to what SIRC actually does and what it does not do. This distinction is important, and it is the crux of a crucial change that we believe should be made to Bill C-51.

A couple of weeks ago, on February 4, the Prime Minister stated that “[SIRC] provides robust oversight”. However, this is not entirely entirely correct.

SIRC is a review body and it does not fulfill an oversight role. The difference between the two is not merely a quibble over language. The two words are not synonymous. In fact, SIRC states so publicly itself. On page 12 of its annual report, SIRC clearly lays out the difference between a review function and that of oversight. It says:

An oversight body looks on a continual basis at what is taking place inside an intelligence service and has the mandate to evaluate and guide current actions in “real time.”

That is crucial and must be amended, if we are giving CSIS the new powers proposed in Bill C-51 in its current form.

Right now, SIRC can only examine the past activities of CSIS. It does not conduct any real-time monitoring to ensure that those activities are in line with our expectations and fall within the parameters that have been set.

There is no mechanism for fully transparent oversight of what is done for Canadians and against Canadians by our intelligence and security agencies. A part-time oversight agency is unable to keep up with CSIS's rapidly changing operational environment, and it is unable to provide the necessary oversight.

One may ask what kind of change would ensure that these new powers CSIS is to be granted in Bill C-51 would be properly monitored. A solution can be found not far beyond our borders, as our closest allies have already addressed this issue, and I feel that we can mirror their experience to suit our needs.

Great Britain, our partner in the Five Eyes intelligence community, has established a working and viable oversight body that we can emulate here in Canada. Over there, they call it the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. It is a committee of parliamentarians that has been tasked with the direct oversight of intelligence and security matters in the U.K., including the “expenditure, administration, policy and operations” of things like MI-5, MI-6, and GCHQ, the Government Communications Headquarters. This committee is also able to scrutinize work carried out by other parts of the U.K. intelligence community, including Britain's Joint Intelligence Organisation and the National Security Secretariat in the Cabinet Office, Defence Intelligence in the Ministry of Defence, and the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism in the Home Office. This is exactly the kind of committee we should be establishing here in Canada.

Fundamentally, our discussion of Bill C-51 is about what we are trying to protect. In that discussion, we should at all times be doing our best to protect the fundamental tenets of our democratic system: responsible government, and Parliament as the trustee of the people. This means that the only way an oversight body of this nature would be legitimate is if it were composed of elected officials. However, at the moment, Canada is the only nation of its kind without national security oversight being carried out by parliamentarians.

That should have been corrected a long time ago. Therefore, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of making this correction now, when we are giving new and broader powers to our intelligence and security agencies.

Consequently, the Liberal Party is proposing to create this oversight body. We believe that there should be a committee composed of parliamentarians to provide appropriate oversight—and not just review—of the activities of various agencies, including CSIS, the Communications Security Establishment, the RCMP and the Department of National Defence.

Therefore, we propose the following: first, that the members of this committee be sworn to a lifetime oath of secrecy; second, that the members be unable to claim immunity based on parliamentary privilege with regard to the use of the communication of information that comes into their possession or knowledge as members of this committee; and third, that this committee should not be a parliamentary committee, but a committee of parliamentarians.

I will note here that this is not the first time Parliament has discussed introducing a committee like this. Back in 2004, it was the Liberal government that introduced Bill C-81, which would have established a national security committee composed of parliamentarians. Again, in 2009, after the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security reviewed Justice O'Connor's report, it was again recommended that Bill C-81 be reintroduced to establish such a committee. The Conservative government at that time did not follow through on that recommendation.

We also believe that Bill C-51 requires changes to ensure that its provisions are not granted in perpetuity. This means that Bill C-51 ought to be subject to mandatory review. There is a precedent for this too. In 2001, following the attacks of 9/11, the Liberal government at the time introduced an anti-terrorism act that contained changes to our Criminal Code and to other relevant statutes. One of those changes was to lower the thresholds for police to be able to detain and monitor, with conditions, someone suspected of planning a terrorist activity.

This change to the law was subject to a mandatory review by Parliament and a sunset clause. In fact, the last time that these provisions were reinstated, in 2013, it was agreed that they would be subject once again to a review in future by a committee that would report to Parliament.

This is necessary for Bill C-51, because, like the anti-terrorism legislation introduced in 2001, it also makes changes to our Criminal Code. This is why Liberals plan to introduce an amendment to have a mandatory review of Bill C-51 in its entirety after three years. This has been the way we have responsibly introduced anti-terrorism legislation in the past and it strikes me that there is no credible reason to break this pattern.

Finally, Liberals believe that Parliament should consider the resources Canada currently allocates to combatting terrorism. The government should ensure that our security services have what they need to do their jobs, without the risk of depriving them of key resources in other areas.

As I said earlier, there are elements of the bill that we support. However, there are changes that should be made before the bill becomes law. Bill C-51 can be improved. This is why, though we support the bill, Liberals will propose the amendments I have highlighted on oversight, on review, and on narrowing the overly broad definition of national security.

We are prepared to work with our colleagues from the other parties to ensure that Canadians have the best, fairest and clearest legislation to keep us safe. Issues such as those that affect national security should not be partisan.

That is why we want to take a constructive approach and improve this bill. That is what the Liberals are prepared to do, and we will act in good faith to that end. We hope that the government is serious in its approach and that it will set aside partisanship in order to keep Canadians safe while protecting our rights and values.

Concerns about this bill have been expressed outside and inside the House, and I would like to reassure those who expressed them that they have been heard. We are confident that we have the necessary tools and plan to improve this bill, and we will do everything we can to achieve that goal.

Further, I want to affirm once again to our friends and fellow citizens in the Muslim community that Canadians everywhere know that recent acts of terror committed in the name of Islam are an aberration of their faith. We believe that continued mutual co-operation and respect are critical. The government should develop and fund a structured community process that brings people together and helps prevent the influence of distorted ideological propaganda posing as religion.

Rest assured that as a Liberal, I believe that when a government asks its citizens to give up even a small portion of their liberty, it is that government's highest responsibility to guarantee that its new powers will not be abused. It is not enough, especially after all we have learned in the past 14 years since 9/11, for governments to simply say, “Trust us.” That trust must be earned, it must be checked, and it must be renewed.

This is what Canadians expect of us at all times, but it is perhaps never so important as it is with issues of national security. If we are indeed engaged in a fight of good versus evil, as has been said, we should remember that the side of good cannot win by ceasing to be good. In much the same way, our democratic laws and values will not win out if they stop being based on the fundamentals of democracy: fairness, justice, and the rule of law. Let us not walk over the edge to which terrorism tries to push us.

We are a proud democracy. We are welcoming and peaceful, a country of open arms, open minds, and open hearts. Nobody should be allowed to intimidate us into changing. Instead, we must continue to rely upon these values and principles to guide us forward responsibly in our actions.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Joan Crockatt Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to see the Liberals reversing themselves from a soft-on-terror position to come around to the merits of the bill.

I also want to say that I appreciated the comments, certainly from this side of the House, that we believe as well that the terrorist actions we have seen are an aberration of the Muslim faith. There are so many moderate Muslims in Canada who are contributing greatly to our society.

I want to ask the Liberals a question. Canadians may want to know why the Liberals, after voting against so many of the provisions that we are putting in place to protect Canadians' freedom and security, have changed their view and want to support the bill. I appreciate that, and I am wondering if it might have something to do with a statement by the Canadian Coalition Against Terror, which said of the bill that terrorists “...are aware of some of the shortcomings and limitations of our legal systems” and “often exploit these gaps to their advantage.”

Could the Liberal leader comment on that?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 5 p.m.
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Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for almost removing partisanship from her question.

The fact is that the Liberal Party believes that one of the most important responsibilities that exists here in this House is to assure the safety and protection of Canadians while upholding what it is to be a Canadian in our values. We believe there are specific measures in the bill that provide immediate help for police services and investigative services to keep Canadians safe, and that is why we are happy to support it.

However, we believe that when a government asks to encroach upon Canadians' rights and freedoms, it should justify that. I think one of the things that would be needed is a proper, responsible oversight mechanism, as I have detailed, and a level of review that would be brought in with this legislation.

That is why we are encouraging the government to bring forward appropriate oversight and review, and if it chooses not to bring forward that oversight and review, we will gladly be offering it to Canadians in the next election campaign.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with care to the member for Papineau's address on Bill C-51 and I am still having trouble making sense out of the position he has taken.

It is the primary duty of members of this House to give a full and complete review of bills and to stand up to bad bills, especially those bills that threaten basic rights and freedoms. The member for Papineau has said, “Yes, the bill is flawed, but even if the amendments aren't accepted, we're going to vote for this bill anyway.” It is very hard for me to understand when he calls for a review three years down the road. What about ensuring that the review happens now, before this bad legislation is passed? I simply cannot understand where the member is coming from in offering a blank cheque to the Conservatives on this bill.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 5:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member opposite has difficulty in understanding, but it is quite simple.

The Liberal Party understands the importance of providing powers to keep Canadians safe in the immediate term. The bill is not perfect and is not the bill that we would have brought in had we had been in government, just as we demonstrated the capacity to do in the very difficult months following 9/11, but there are concrete and real measures in the bill that would immediately increase security for Canadians: specifically, strengthening the no-fly lists, increasing the effectiveness of preventative arrests, and creating much better co-operation and coordination across national security agencies and institutions. That means that there are measures here that would help.

We believe that approving this bill and sitting down and offering constructive amendments that would help improve the bill are exactly what this Parliament is supposed to be doing to keep Canadians safe.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 5:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the member for Papineau for his excellent speech, and specifically for what he said on the relationship between security and rights. He made specific recommendations on matters regarding oversight and review. He also made reference to some of the overly broad language in the bill, so I would like to ask him a particular question.

Does he believe that this legislation, given its overly broad language, must have effective vetting to ensure that it comports with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 5:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Mount Royal for his question. As always, he is deeply in tune with the issue of rights and gets right down to the heart of the matter.

In fact, there is some overly broad language in the bill that we will be recommending be tightened and clarified a bit so as to not paint an overly broad picture of national security risks to our country. There is also a need for ongoing oversight to minimize any excesses or challenges.

We have to understand that oversight is not just about checks and balances on our security agencies; it is also about ensuring that our security agencies are doing everything they can do and must do to ensure that Canadians are successfully protected. I think that is an aspect of the concerns around oversight that the current government might not be paying full attention to. Oversight actually helps our agencies do a better job of protecting Canadians. That is why we believe in it.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 5:05 p.m.
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Green

Bruce Hyer Green Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a former adjudicator myself, I am quite alarmed by Bill C-51. It is not, in my opinion, primarily directed against terrorism. Let us look the definition of “illegality”: “activities that undermine the security of Canada”. That is so vague and broad that it could apply to nearly any action taken in an act of non-violent civil disobedience or to groups even considering such actions. Maybe a better name for the bill would have been “an act to monitor and suppress the raging grannies”.

My question for the hon. member is this: what would stop the bill from being used against philosophical and political enemies of the party in power?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 5:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's concerns and I share a number of his concerns, which is why we have placed such an emphasis on the need for proper oversight, the need for review, and the need for narrowing the overly broad scope of some of the definitions used in the bill.

However, there are significant elements in the bill that would credibly protect Canadians from threats and immediately give tools to enforcement and security agencies to keep Canadians safe. That is what I believe needs to be top of mind.

The concerns that the member has would certainly be addressed by an election campaign, which would allow parliamentarians a chance to be once again renewed and refreshed by contact with the people across our great democracy.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear that the member is going to support this bill. However, I reject his comments in regard to sufficient oversight. We have a made-in-Canada model with no political interference and with experts in place, so I reject the member's concern in that regard.

I am also concerned that the member may provide only short-lived support for this bill. I say that because the Liberal Party decided to change its support for our previous legislation on the revocation of citizenship of convicted terrorists. My concern is whether that member and his party will support this bill through the whole process.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 5:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would recommend that this member look again to the annual report of SIRC. It specifically explains that SIRC is not an oversight body. It is simply a review body, after the fact, and it is a part-time body at that.

The rapidness with which our intelligence agencies must respond to very real threats means we need current and ongoing oversight. I would also be remiss if I did not point out that the government's last idea of an excellent person to oversee our security agencies is currently residing in a Panamanian jail cell.

I think the member will understand that we feel that oversight by elected parliamentarians—by the people of this fine House, on all sides—is a responsible and appropriate mechanism to make sure that Canadians' rights and security are being properly protected.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 18th, 2015 / 5:10 p.m.
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Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and take part in what is obviously a very important debate on Bill C-51, the government's comprehensive counterterrorism package. This bill, which is titled the anti-terrorism act, 2015, deals, first and foremost, with public safety and efforts by our government to embrace methods that would improve and enhance safety for all Canadians.

The bill builds upon concrete legislative steps this government has already taken to combat terrorism, including through the Combating Terrorism Act, the Nuclear Terrorism Act of 2013, as well as more recent proposals found in Bill C-44, the protection of Canada from terrorists act. Therefore, members can see there is a litany of legislative action already demonstrated by this government.

We can make no mistake about it, these are real dangers, not theoretical or hypothetical scenarios. As we have seen in places like Paris, Australia, Brussels, and in Canada, these acts have deadly effects. This is why there is simply no denying the existence of the threat and the necessity to take practical steps to improve the way in which our security forces operate, coordinate and respond to acts of terrorism. This is also to increase our capacity to learn from international examples. The ability for CSIS to operate outside of our borders is the security capacity that is found in most of our allies, certainly most of our Five Eyes partners.

The government is involved in broad-based efforts to counter domestic and international terrorism in order to protect our country, our citizens and our interest in our allies. This is consistent with our counterterrorism strategy, which is to build resilience against terrorism. Therefore, clearly working through partnerships, including with all levels of government and community leaders, is key to effectively implementing this strategy.

As the Speaker may know and members may be aware, we have an outreach effort at the Department of Justice that involves a cultural round table where we regularly consult and receive input from various communities around the country. This is an effective way to gain insight and understanding of how Canadians perceive this issue of terrorism.

As well as implementing this strategy, we are including our efforts to counter violent extremism. Engaging with the cross-cultural round tables on security-related issues is of great benefit in getting the balance right. There is also significant collaboration with international partners in addressing the terrorist threat.

As the Minister of Justice, I am responsible for ensuring that Canada's laws remain robust, fair and just. This is particularly important in the area of criminal law. Canada, like its friends and allies, must ensure that our laws remain responsive and effective in combatting the scourge of terrorism, while at the same time ensuring our laws respect our fundamental rights and freedoms.

Bill C-51 contains a suite of criminal law reforms that will do just that by amending the Criminal Code to strengthen terrorism recognisance with conditions and peace bond provisions; create a new criminal offence for abdicating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general; provide courts with the powers to seize, forfeit and remove terrorist propaganda, including from web sites located inside our borders; and to better protect individuals participating in national security proceedings and prosecutions.

These steps, in addition to those discussed earlier by my colleague the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, will go a long way to closing any real or perceived gaps in our ability to respond to terrorist acts.

I would like to take a closer look at each of the four pillars of criminal law reform in this bill. However, I would like to begin by pointing out that these four pillars of reform have common denominators.

The Criminal Code reforms individually and collectively seek to provide law enforcement agencies with appropriate tools to thwart the activities of terrorists who actively engage in terrorism. Within these reforms, and with these in place, police officers will now be able to intervene sooner, more effectively, and achieve better results before the matters get more serious. This aims to provide our protection for all Canadians through enabling the police to pre-empt and prevent acts of terrorism.

I want to emphasize here that judicial oversight is the backbone of these criminal reforms consistent with Canada's values and principles, including, as the Supreme Court of Canada has often repeated and I will emphasize again today, the values of democracy, constitutionalism and the rule of law. This is the type of oversight that should provide considerable comfort and relief to those who have criticized the bill at its early stage.

I would suggest that this type of insight that comes from the courts in enabling our security agents to make those types of interventions prior to acts of terrorism is at the very crux of what we are attempting to do. It is not just to be responsive; it is to be pre-emptive in protecting Canadians from acts of terrorism.

The first area of criminal law reform found in Bill C-51 would strengthen the existing provisions on the recognizance with conditions and terrorism peace bonds contained in sections 83.3 and 810.01, respectively, of the Criminal Code. Let me go further. This Criminal Code recognizance with conditions is already a tool that can be used. It is designed to disrupt and prevent terrorist activity from occurring in the first place. For example, this provision allows a peace officer, with the consent of the Attorney General, a prosecutor acting with delegated authority, to bring an individual before the court with evidence to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to require the individual to abide by specific conditions designed to prevent terrorist activity from occurring.

It bears noting that the individual in question would not necessarily be the person who might carry out that activity. In other words, the person could be a party to the offence or enabling the offence. It is important to note here that the provisions currently require that the court be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a terrorism activity will occur and that there be reasonable grounds to suspect that the recognizance with conditions is necessary to prevent that activity from occurring.

To move to the reforms, those introduced in section 83.3 of the Criminal Code found in Bill C-51 would lower the threshold required to obtain the recognizance from reasonable grounds to believe that terrorist activity will be carried out to the test of may be carried out. This threshold is also lowered from reasonable grounds to suspect that conditions are necessary to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity to are likely to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity.

These changes have the practical effect of making it easier to disrupt terrorist plans before they are executed. Therefore, going before a judge and making the case, based on evidence collected, that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the terrorist activity may be carried out lowers the threshold, thus allowing police to act more efficiently and, in many cases, quicker.

In the bill, our government would also increase the possible maximum period of preventive detention from a total of three days to seven days, with safeguards, including periodic judicial review of the detention, to ensure that it is still required. Again, if we look at international examples, in the United Kingdom, it is twice that period of detention. As it currently stands in Canada, it is three days. We would extend that to allow the police agencies to ensure that they are doing everything in their power to prevent the terrorist act from occurring on Canadian soil.

The bill, through the Criminal Code, would also provide similar measures with respect to preventing the commission of terrorist offences. Terrorism peace bonds, as we know, are preventive tools used to disrupt and prevent individuals from committing terrorism offences. Peace bonds and recognizance are used in the domestic criminal justice system as well, but here there are specific provisions found in this bill that expand the use of recognizance and peace bonds. An application to impose a peace bond can be brought even where there has been no criminal charge or no prior conviction, but enables a judge to impose any reasonable conditions in order to prevent the commission of an offence.

What we are talking about here is enabling the judiciary, the police and the prosecution, to put in place preventive measures, such as requiring the person to forfeit their passports, requiring them to report to police or authorities, or staying away from certain individuals, staying away from certain public places, for example, like a military base.

All of these might be seen as extraordinary in normal circumstances, but I would suggest that in the context of this entire debate, we are talking about an elevated threat assessment based on what occurred here in October, 2014, based on what is happening around the world and based on the assessment of our security forces. These are practical steps that allow our security forces, with judicial oversight, to take preventative steps.

Currently, the Criminal Code provides that any person who fears on reasonable grounds that the individual will commit a terrorism offence, with the consent of the attorney general or a prosecutor in his or her stead, can apply to the court to have a terrorism peace bond imposed requiring the individual to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, or to comply with any other reasonable condition that the court believes necessary to ensure their good conduct, some of the provisions I mentioned. These conditions can be for a period of up to one year or, in the case of a person who has previously been convicted of a terrorism offence, up to two years.

These amendments would strengthen the terrorism peace bond by lowering the threshold to obtain that peace bond to where a person believed an individual “may” commit a terrorism offence, instead of the current “will” commit a terrorism offence. The bill would extend the duration of a terrorism peace bond from two to five years for those previously convicted of a terrorism offence.

More generally, in respect of both recognizance conditions and terrorism peace bond conditions, the bill would authorize the imposition of sureties, which is someone who agrees to take the responsibility of ensuring that the person subject to the court order complies with the conditions imposed. The bill would also require judges to specifically consider the desirability of imposing geographic limitations. I mentioned earlier surrendering passports or other conditions that the judge deems appropriate.

Moreover, these reforms would increase the penalty for breaches of these court ordered conditions from two to four years of imprisonment, consistent with similar conditions imposed found in Bill C-26, the tougher penalties for child predators act.

Finally, I suggest that these reforms would have the added benefit of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of recognizance with conditions and peace bonds across the country by allowing for the use of video conferencing when necessary and interprovincial transfers of any peace bonds on the consent of the appropriate attorney general.

The proposed reform with respect to recognizance with conditions and recognizance to keep the peace relating to a terrorist offence would also apply to adolescents in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

In short, the proposed amendments, which I have just referred to and described, seek to facilitate the use of the provisions to make them easier to obtain and to make them more effective in preventing terrorism, all with the backdrop of judicial oversight.

It is important to emphasize that the improvements we want to make to our terrorism prevention tools are compatible with what like-minded countries have in place.

For example, the United Kingdom uses similar measures to protect the public by subjecting individuals believed to pose a threat to public safety to conditions.

Australia also uses these control orders to prevent terrorist acts from occurring, which is to help enable the imposition of conditions on individuals. It is important because it shows that countries with strong democratic conditions, such as ours, and strong institutions which respect the rule of law, like ours, have also recognized that they can take measures that are firm in their response to terrorism, but fair in their approach to citizens, respecting the rights of those who are subject to these preventative tools.

Let us remind ourselves again of what we are trying to prevent: mass casualties, attacks on our institutions and the planting of bombs. What we see in other countries on the nightly news is no longer something that we are protected from merely because of our geography.

There are individuals who have sworn to cause us harm and who continue to make very pointed and prescribed threats against Canadian citizens. That is the backdrop in which we must remind ourselves this bill is rooted.

I pause here to emphasize that we are mindful of the concerns expressed by many stakeholders about these changes. Some have suggested that these proposals pose an unjustified and unnecessary infringement on fundamental charter rights. In response, I would note that there are many safeguards associated with the tools I have just described. I mentioned judicial oversight, the discretion exercised by our judiciary, and the requirement of the Attorney General's consent in their use. We have prosecutors now specifically trained in the use and application of this type of legislation.

In addition, there are reports to Parliament from our security agencies that refer specifically to recognizance with conditions. In addition, there is the requirement of a mandatory parliamentary review in 2018 and a sunset clause with respect to the recognizance with conditions I mentioned. This would all result in an ability to have eyes on and insight into the way the legislation would be applied.

Let us remember the objective of these tools: namely, the imposition of reasonable conditions on persons by the courts with a view to preventing terrorism activity and the commission of terrorism offences.

Our government takes the position that these measures are necessary to protect public safety. They are not to be used arbitrarily, and they are based on genuine concerns that put the public at risk.

The second area of the Criminal Code reform contained in Bill C-51, which would indicate a new indictable offence for advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general, is again an area of the law we think is necessary.