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.


Steven Blaney  Conservative


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


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.


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.


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.

December 12th, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.
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Prof. Kent Roach

I think the important thing is to get rid of terrorism offences in general, which was a very problematic part of C-51. I think Mr. Fogel may have a point that perhaps it should read, “every person who counsels any terrorism offence is guilty of an indictable offence”.

I also think we should make clear that “terrorism offence” meets the definition in section 2 of the Criminal Code in order to avoid the problem that we have in C-51 of undefined offences. Again, the benefit of “counselling” is that there's literally 100 years of experience in the jurisprudence about what counselling is. I think that traditional criminal law has a lot of resources for us to reach for in dealing with these new and real threats of terrorism.

December 12th, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.
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Prof. Kent Roach

I agree with my colleague that I would favour putting that in legislation.

I would just add that part of our concerns about Bill C-51 is that there is a need not only to be fair but to be seen to be fair so that very important and legitimate national security activities are not delegitimized by, perhaps, erroneous claims of involvement with complicity of torture.

I think the transparency with the new ministerial directive, if that was taken as the next step into legislation, would actually be good. With the review agency here and measures like that, Canada can start becoming an international leader on these issues.

I think we, frankly, have to realize that perceptions—rightly or wrongly—of unfairness, of profiling, of false positives, are some of the things that seem to be motivating people who are regrettably turning to violence.

December 12th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Great, thank you.

Mr. Fogel, we were talking about the rise in hate crimes and anti-Semitism in particular, which top some of these sad lists and rankings. When we look at the issue of radicalization, which while not necessarily part of the bill in a substantive way is a related issue in terms of how we tackle some of these issues, it was part of the debate on Bill C-51 as well.

Given that radicalization is not just one group, it's obviously many hate groups, and many of these groups are sadly targeting your community and others, I want to get your thoughts on the direction in which the government is going with its counter-radicalization efforts and just hear more generally your thoughts on that issue.

December 12th, 2017 / 10:20 a.m.
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Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs

Shimon Fogel

I'm not entirely familiar with that particular aspect of the case. It is good practice, and I believe, frankly, that Canada already undertakes consultation with all its like-minded allies on a routine and regular basis looking for best practices, those that we can share with others, and those where we can benefit from the experience of other nation-states.

I'm encouraged when I look at the process of Bills C-51 and C-59 and the commitment to periodically review, both to refine on the basis of experience but also to be able to be responsive to changing circumstances on the ground. That's exactly the right approach that we should be taking. I'm encouraged that we do consult with our allies in order to benefit from their experience in areas where we have less.

December 12th, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
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Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Thank you, Chair, and thank you to the panel members for being here today.

Mr. Fogel, I found it interesting that you should mention that the Jewish community has been the major focus of terrorists or actions against your group. I believe, if I'm not mistaken, perhaps the Catholic Church was fairly high in that whole hierarchy.

In terms of one of the ironies, I was here for the introduction of Bill C-51, and both the Conservatives and the Liberals supported that bill. It was a first step, obviously, and I see this as perhaps being the next step of a living document. There are good suggestions that we should review this document before too many years pass. However, what I did note too, and my colleague mentioned the apologies and the compensation paid to four individuals, is that it all occurred way before Bill C-51 was brought in, so maybe it did have some things in there that brought the intelligence agencies and the security agencies a bit to heel, although much later in the whole process. Those were incidents that all occurred before 2004, so I see this as the next step.

When we talk about the no-fly list, for instance, and we look at the American list as being a far better system, would you also say that we should look at some of the other American rules with respect to terrorism and anti-terrorism? Particularly, I noticed yesterday in the incident in the New York City subway, the commentators talked about not allowing him his Miranda rights. That seems foreign to Canadians, but the Americans obviously have some view on that.

Mr. Fogel, do you have any comments on that?

December 12th, 2017 / 10 a.m.
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Professor Kent Roach Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, As an Individual

Thank you very much for inviting me to appear before the committee.

My colleague Craig Forcese has already addressed you and has focused on parts 2, 3, and 4 of the bill. I will focus on the other parts of Bill C-59.

Part 1 providing for a government-wide super-SIRC has been widely praised. In my view, it implements the important principle, if not the precise details, that animated the Arar commission's report; namely, that review should expand with the state's national security activities and that review strengthens rather than weakens security.

Improvements can still be made. I recommend that the new and very much welcome super-SIRC be somewhat supersized. In my view, it should contain a minimum of five members and up to eight members. Amnesty International has endorsed this recommendation, and you've heard some very interesting proposals about strengthening the new super-SIRC both from Professor Wark and Mr. Fogel.

We should think about having more diversity in appointments and not simply focusing on the consultation with leaders of political parties, which is very much a holdover from the original 1984 Cold War era CSIS Act. We could also include people with expertise in privacy, as you heard from the Privacy Commissioner. I think it is also important that there be representation where possible from communities that may be disproportionately affected by national security activities.

The mandate of the new review agency needs to be better defined. On my reading, the reference to “department” or “corporation”, which is incorporated in the new act, does not include the RCMP. This should be very clearly spelled out. It should be clear that the new committee can review the national security activities of the RCMP, hear complaints about the national security activities of the RCMP, and have full access to classified information that the RCMP has on the same basis that it will have access to classified information that CSIS, CSE, and other agencies involved in national security have.

Moving to part 5, I remain of the view that the SCISA part of Bill C-59 remains the weakest part of the bill. I would advocate that the definition of threats to national security in section 2 of the CSIS Act be the default trigger for information sharing, subject to carefully tailored and justified additions in cases where that may be inadequate. The novel Bill C-51 definition of activities that undermine the security of Canada was grossly overbroad. Even after the amendments in this bill, it would remain overbroad.

When I talk about overbreadth, and I know that some members of this committee have read the Air India commission report, I refer to overbreadth not only from a civil liberties perspective but frankly from a security perspective. If everything is a security threat, effectively nothing is a security threat. I think we really should tighten the definition with respect to information sharing.

On the subject of Air India—and here I'm going just a touch beyond Bill C-59—I must again reiterate my objections to the CSIS human source privilege that was enacted in the Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act. If it is not repealed, at least I would recommend that, as an urgent matter, there be a study of whether CSIS's practice of granting anonymity to witnesses is hindering terrorism prosecutions.

The Privacy Commissioner has made a strong case to you that the standard for receiving agencies under SCISA should be raised to “necessity”. I agree. I would also not be troubled by having that same standard with respect to sending agencies. The Privacy Commissioner raised the issue that sending agencies may not have experience with security, but they also maybe don't have the same incentive that receiving agencies may have to keep, perhaps unnecessarily, the information that they receive.

In this regard, a critical feature of the new review agency is that it will be able to examine the legally privileged material that is the basis on which receiving agencies will make decisions, perhaps wrongly, to retain any information.

Moving to part 6, the committee is well aware of the problems of a no-fly list. The reforms in C-59 strike me as minimal. Four months is a long time to be a wrongfully listed person, even if the default has been changed. Special advocates should have a role in appeals, and Bill C-51's restriction on the information that these security-cleared advocates can see in security certificate cases should also be repealed. More fundamentally, however, perhaps the new committee that has access to classified information should review whether the costs of the no-fly list, both financial and human—in terms of false positives—are actually worth its benefits.

Moving to part 7 of the bill, I note that the CCLA submitted to you that the reference to terrorism offences in the counselling offence is not defined. That's not my reading. I would read the reference to terrorism offences as referring to the definition of terrorism offences contained in section 2 of the Criminal Code, but this is a matter that needs to be clarified.

The changes to the preventive arrest provisions are difficult to evaluate, but I would favour further amendments to clarify limits on questioning of people who may be detained for up to seven days. I would also advocate that there be some response to the Driver case in Manitoba, which held that at least one part of the peace bond provisions relating to treatment programs violated the charter. I would also recommend that we look at something like section 10 of the U.K. Terrorism Act, 2000, which would allow people to challenge listing as terrorist groups without that very act of challenge being the basis for a terrorism offence.

I applaud the government for repealing investigative hearings, a technique that has never been successfully used and, if used, could hinder terrorism prosecutions.

Finally, this is important and complex legislation that was made necessary by Bill C-51. I would propose that given the comprehensive, if not radical, nature of C-51 and the important proactives of this bill, that the review of this bill be commenced within the fourth year of its enactment, not the sixth year as contemplated in part 9. I would also propose that the review be undertaken by a special joint committee of the Commons and the Senate, which could include one to two members of the new National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.

In addition to my previously submitted brief, which I hope you have and has been translated, those are my submissions.

Thank you very much. I look forward to your questions.

December 12th, 2017 / 9:50 a.m.
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Shimon Fogel Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs

Thank you, Chair, for the opportunity to present to the members of this committee on behalf of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the advocacy agent for the Jewish Federations of Canada.

We are a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization representing more than 150,000 Jewish Canadians affiliated through local federations across the country. We believe in Canada's foundational values of freedom, democracy, and equality, and are committed to working with government, Parliament, and all like-minded groups to ensure that Canada remains a country where we all enjoy equal protections and opportunities.

In March 2015, I appeared as a witness before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security as it studied Bill C-51. Our testimony began with a statement of fact, “Jews are consistently targeted by hate and bias-related crimes in Canada at a rate higher than any other identifiable group.” Those words are, unfortunately, as true today as they were then.

Statistics Canada recently released its report on 2016 hate crimes, and once again Jews were targeted more than any other religious minority, with 221 incidents. We must, however, keep this in perspective. Canada is a very safe place for identifiable groups and one of the greatest places in the world in which to live as a minority. However, we must also remain vigilant. A single hate crime is one too many.

Whether considering the attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem, a gay nightclub in Orlando, an African American church in Charleston, or a mosque in Quebec City, extreme hate continues to precipitate extreme violence. Jews are often primary targets for terrorist attacks throughout the world: Belgium, Argentina, France, India, Bulgaria, Israel, Denmark, the United States. Understandably, Jewish Canadians are not just concerned about what threats might meet them abroad, but what could happen here at home.

Public Safety Canada's “2016 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada” notes that Hezbollah, the listed terrorist entity widely believed to have carried out the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, has networks operating here in Canada. The notorious 2004 firebombing of a Jewish school in Montreal still looms large in our collective memory.

Our community, therefore, takes a keen interest in the government's approach to counterterrorism. We appreciate the opportunity we were afforded to engage in the consultations on Canada's national security framework, both before this committee and with the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. I hope that our recommendations will prove helpful and constructive for the committee.

We'll speak on the expanded oversight for CSIS, but before going there let me just address a couple of considerations with respect to advocacy or promotion of terrorism offences in general.

In the context of the former Bill C-51, CIJA was supportive of measures to empower security officials to criminalize the advocacy and promotion of terrorism and seize terrorist propaganda. CIJA supported these measures as a means of denying those intent on inspiring, radicalizing, or recruiting Canadians to commit acts of terror the legal leeway to be clever but dangerous with their words.

Bill C-59 seeks to change the law's articulation of this offence from “advocating or promoting” to “counselling” a terrorism offence. This doesn't necessarily undermine the intended function of the provision. Justice Canada's background information on the advocacy and promotion offence states, “The offence is modelled on existing offences of counselling and the relevant jurisprudence. It extended the concept of counselling to cases where no specific terrorism offence is being counselled, but it is evident nonetheless that terrorism offences are being counselled.”

The same intended outcome seems to be achieved in Bill C-59, which adds the caveat that the counselling offence “may be committed...whether or not...the person counsels the commission of a specific terrorism offence.” If, as Minister Goodale indicated in his recent testimony before this committee, this change empowers authorities to enforce the law with greater impact, it would seem a reasonable shift. However, we believe there is an oversight in the proposed new language that could narrow the scope of the provision, weakening it substantially.

The existing offence applies to “Every person who, by communicating statements, knowingly advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general”. Swapping out the advocacy and promotion language, this should become something like “Every person who counsels the commission of a terrorism offence”, but it doesn't. Instead, Bill C-59 reads, “Every person who counsels another person to commit a terrorism offence”. With this wording, it appears that the offence could apply only to a specific individual counselling another specific individual.

When it comes to the offence of instructing a terrorist activity, the Criminal Code is explicit. The offence is committed whether or not the accused instructs a particular person to carry out the activity or even knows the identity of the person instructed to carry out the activity. The same standard should apply to the counselling offence. The change of “advocacy and promotion” to “counselling” also impacts on the definition of terrorism propaganda.

Bill C-59 would remove “advocacy and promotion of terrorism offences in general” from the definition, consistent with the change proposed for the counselling offence I've just discussed. However, the all-important caveat that a specific terrorism offence need not be counselled, which is included in the new counselling offence, is lacking here. This should be adjusted for the sake of consistency.

I'll turn to expanded oversight for CSIS.

In our testimony on Bill C-51, CIJA supported the expansion of CSIS's role and responsibilities to include disruption of potential terrorist attacks. While we believed the new mandate was justified, we maintained that enhanced oversight was required to prevent abuse. Just as Canadians stand to benefit from a more robust approach to counterterrorism that emphasizes prevention, we argued that a concurrent increase in the review of CSIS's activities would be beneficial.

Measures to enhance SIRC's ability to provide adequate review are long overdue and are all the more imperative with CSIS's expanded mandate. We supported the refinements to CSIS's expanded mandate that Bill C-59 would put in place and the establishment of a national security and intelligence review agency. Both should help to ensure greater balance in protecting the security and civil rights of Canadians.

In the context of Bill C-51, we proposed several concrete reforms to enhance oversight and accountability for CSIS. The new oversight agency will fulfill our first and perhaps most important recommendation's objective of enabling a review of security and intelligence activities across all government agencies and departments. However, we believe the following three recommendations regarding the structure and composition of the new agency would help ensure it is set up to be as impactful as possible.

First, the chair of the new agency should be someone with experience in intelligence and national security, and should occupy the position on a full-time basis to ensure consistent, professional leadership.

Unfortunately, Bill C-59 states, “The Chair and Vice-chair may be designated to hold office on a full-time or part-time basis”. The bill also states, “Every member of the Review Agency who is not designated as the Chair or Vice-chair holds office on a part-time basis”.

We suggest this be changed to provide the option of other members being brought on full time without requiring a legislative amendment. Given that the workload of the new agency is likely to be significantly greater than that of SIRC, this could conceivably require full-time engagement from all members.

Second, we recommend that the chair of the new agency be designated an officer of Parliament required to provide regular reports directly to Parliament. This mirrors the recommendation we made in the context of Bill C-51 with regard to the chair of SIRC.

The requirement enshrined in Bill C-59 that public reports from the new agency be tabled in Parliament is beneficial, but this reporting is still mediated through the Prime Minister and other ministers. Designating the chair of SIRC an officer of Parliament with a mandate for regular reporting directly to Parliament would send a clear signal that the work of the new agency is independent from the government of the day.

Third, we believe Parliament should have a greater voice in the appointment of members of the new agency.

We welcome the consultation provisions included in Bill C-59 but believe the appointments should also be subject to approval by resolution of the Senate and the House of Commons. This small addition, which is already standard practice in the appointment of officers of Parliament, would further enhance the credibility of the appointments process.

Although this may be more appropriate for your colleagues at the finance committee, it's also important to stress that the national security and intelligence review agency will require the allocation of significant resources, both professional and financial, if it is to be given a chance to succeed in fulfilling its important mandate.

CIJA's testimony in 2015 concluded with a plea for committee members to support a private member's bill that sought to extend hate crime penalties beyond houses of worship to schools and community centres. That initiative failed but was revived in this Parliament in Bill C-305, which passed third reading in the Senate in October.

I am pleased to conclude my remarks today, Mr. Chair, with sincere thanks to each of you for coming together in unanimous support for Bill C-305, a clear example of how elected officials can work together and make a practical difference to protect Canadians.

I hope committee members will consider my remarks today in that same constructive spirit, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to join with you.

Thank you.

December 12th, 2017 / 9:35 a.m.
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Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the witnesses for being here today.

I appreciate the comments that were made earlier, with respect to the concern that you have about all forms of violent extremism. Given the attack that happened in New York, I'm sure your organization has already or will be condemning the actions that occurred in that circumstance.

You indicate that there has been an historical lack of accountability within CSIS. It goes back many years. In 2015, Bill C-51 was brought in to address this and now Bill C-59 takes that review and accountability even further. However, from your testimony today, I'm hearing that there remains a lack of confidence in addressing the concerns within CSIS.

What do you propose is the solution?

December 12th, 2017 / 9:20 a.m.
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Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Gardee and Professor Bhabha, I think this is what my colleague was getting at concerning what was said with regard to Bill C-51, and we heard this during the national security framework review that this committee undertook.

One of the concerns that were raised with the changes to the Criminal Code, the offences related to the promotion of terrorism.... Some families, for example, in terms of reporting to the proper authorities certain actions in hopes of rehabilitating a member of their family or their community, because those offences were so wide and general and vague, remained silent in order to not implicate a member of their family or their community.

Are the changes proposed to the Criminal Code in Bill C-59 related to that specific issue sufficient as far as you and your organization are concerned?

December 12th, 2017 / 9:20 a.m.
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Executive Director, National Council of Canadian Muslims

Ihsaan Gardee

In terms of our testimony on Bill C-51, obviously there is a concern regarding the stigma that is associated with being identified as somebody who has been connected in any way to violent extremism or the ideology that supports and underpins it. There is a concern that exists there in terms of that stigma being applied to not just the individual but more broadly to the community at large when looking at national security and ensuring our shared security.

To be clear, Canadian Muslims are as concerned about violent extremism and the ideologies that underpin it, and we are equally concerned about all forms of violent extremism.

December 12th, 2017 / 9:20 a.m.
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Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

That answers my question, thank you. As I do not have a lot of time, I would like to continue with my questions to you.

When you testified about Bill C-51, you mentioned that members of the community want to help with deradicalization, but they are afraid of being accused of being extremists.

Do you think that Bill C-59 solves that problem?

December 12th, 2017 / 8:45 a.m.
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Ihsaan Gardee Executive Director, National Council of Canadian Muslims

Good morning, members.

Thank you very much for your attention and time today.

My name is Ihsaan Gardee, as mentioned, and I serve as executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims. I am joined today by my colleague, Professor Faisal Bhabha, NCCM's legal counsel and the chair of our national security policy committee.

The NCCM was founded in 2000 as an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit grassroots organization that for over 17 years has been a leading voice for Muslim civic engagement and the promotion of human rights. The NCCM's mandate is to protect the human rights and civil liberties of Canadian Muslims, advocate for their public interests, build mutual understanding, and challenge discrimination and Islamophobia.

We work to achieve this mission through our work in four primary areas: community education and outreach, media engagement, anti-discrimination action, and public advocacy. The NCCM has a long-standing and robust public record of participating in major public inquiries, intervening in landmark cases before the Supreme Court of Canada, and providing advice to security agencies on engaging communities and promoting public safety.

In terms of our position, the NCCM has always supported the government's responsibility to ensure national security. We commend the current government for fulfilling its election promise to review Bill C-51 as its condition for supporting the bill in the first place, and to consult with Canadians. While we welcome, for instance, that Bill C-59 proposes to create a national security review agency with more oversight and review than we currently have, our general objection remains constant. This law goes too far. It virtually guarantees constitutional breach, and it offers inadequate justification. It strengthens the security establishment when the evidence available gives every indication that the institutions carrying out national security intelligence gathering and enforcement mandates are in disarray, rife with bias and bullying from the top down. Oversight of those agencies is not sufficient. Real reform is necessary.

While we share the concerns of others you have heard from, including Amnesty International and others, for the purposes of our opening statement today I'll be focusing our testimony on two major substantive concerns we have with Bill C-59. Number one is the powers given to CSIS, and number two, the failure to address systemic problems with the no-fly list.

In terms of our reasons, Canadian Muslims are just as concerned about security as other Canadians. We face the same risk of untimely death or injury at the hands of terrorists as any Canadian. In fact, globally the overwhelming majority of victims of political violence, including ideological extremist violence, have been Muslims. Being a population with global connections, Canadian Muslims are threatened and impacted by global terrorism as much, if not more, than other Canadians. We thus have a high interest in Canada developing a strong and sound national security policy with robust oversight, accountability, and redress mechanisms to guard against abuses and mistakes.

At the same time, members of Canadian Muslim communities have been victims of Canadian national security policy. Over the last 15 years we have seen three separate judicial inquiries, numerous court rulings, out-of-court settlements, and apologies that acknowledged the constitutional violations committed against innocent Muslims by national security intelligence and enforcement. Canadian Muslims are not only disproportionately affected by these errors and abuses, but we also bear the brunt of social impact when xenophobic and anti-Muslim sentiment surges.

NCCM agrees with the plurality of experts who state that more power to security agencies does not necessarily mean more security for Canadians. National security mistakes not only put innocent people at risk of suspicion and stigma, but also divert attention away from actual threats and obstruct effective action to promote safety and security. At the same time that Alexandre Bissonnette was dreaming up his murderous plot to attack a Quebec City mosque, the RCMP were “manufacturing crime”, according to the B.C. Superior Court judge in the case against John Nuttall and Amanda Korody. They were Muslim converts and recovering heroin addicts living on social assistance, whose terrorism charges were stayed last year after a court found they had been entrapped by police.

Bill C-59 strengthens the security establishment but does not address the security needs of Canadian Muslims. While the idea of prevention is laudable, any potential benefit from this approach will be negated by the incursions on charter rights that disproportionately affect members of our community, and which will continue to happen under the guise of threat reduction, information sharing, and no-fly listing.

If the government wishes to collaborate with communities on prevention, it needs to build trust and confidence first. For many young Canadian Muslims, the documented and admitted involvement of intelligence and enforcement agencies in rendition and other human rights abuses, and the complete lack of accountability and perceived impunity that have been created as a result, have bred a lack of confidence in the Canadian security establishment.

This past summer, a group of CSIS employees filed a civil claim against the service, alleging discrimination, harassment, bullying, and abuse of authority. They described a workplace environment within the service that is racist, Islamophobic, sexist, and homophobic, where the culture is like an old boys' club and where minority representation in management is abysmally low. The day after the claim was filed, two senior former CSIS employees were quoted in the media saying they were not surprised by the allegations.

In October 2017, CSIS released the report of an independent, third-party investigation into allegations of harassment in the Toronto region office. The findings noted an “old boys' culture”, demeaning treatment, swearing and discriminatory statements, distrust among employees towards management, and a lack of diversity among the staff.

If these kinds of reports are indicative of the overall culture that exists within these organizations toward their own employees, it does little to assuage concerns within Canadian Muslim communities about unfair profiling and error.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission conducted employment equity audits of CSIS in 2011 and 2014, and the findings are shocking for a powerful public institution operating in a 21st-century, multicultural, democratic society.

There were zero per cent visible minorities in senior management positions at a time when visible minorities were about 20% of the Canadian population. We have to infer from that not just a glass ceiling but an actual bar. The CHRC also noted an institutional culture that undervalued minorities and reproduced attitudinal barriers, which resulted in fewer hiring and advancement opportunities for minorities.

The security agency's loss of trust within Canadian Muslim communities has been exacerbated by the lack of accountability for past wrongs committed against innocent Muslims. While the government has concluded significant settlements and made apologies, no one from within those agencies has been held to account.

To the best of our knowledge, there has been no disciplinary action and no public acknowledgements. Instead of accountability, some of those involved in the well-known torture case of Maher Arar have even been promoted within the agencies.

At best, there was individual and institutional incompetence in the security agencies. At worst, it was gross negligence or bad faith. Neither is acceptable and the taxpaying Canadians who fund these agencies deserve better.

The lack of accountability projects a culture of impunity within the Canadian security agencies that reinforces the insecurity Canadian Muslims experience. The problems with CSIS will not be mitigated by Bill C-59. No amount of administrative oversight can cure the systemic ills. These agencies need reform.

We do not see any attention given in this proposed legislation to the real impact that bias in national security has in producing insecurity and harm within our communities. Without a clear statutory mandate and direction from our government, we do not believe that civil society alone can change the culture within CSIS and other security agencies.

We are willing to help, but that burden cannot fall only upon us.

I'll now pass it over to my colleague, Professor Bhabha, to conclude with our recommendations.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 11th, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.
See context


Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the member for Peace River—Westlock, who I think did a great job of expanding on this bill. It is indeed a real privilege for me to stand and speak about Bill C-51.

I think the last time I spoke about Bill C-51 was about two years ago when the Minister of Public Safety introduced it as an anti-terrorism measure. I was very happy to work on the public safety committee at that time and to be part of the committee work that brought that bill forward. It was indeed a wonderful piece of legislation, which I may remind the Liberals they wholeheartedly supported.

Today, Bill C-51 is an omnibus bill, as was previously mentioned. I Googled it just for the sake of understanding maybe what an omnibus is. It could be a four-wheeled bus. That is not the case here. It says “items previously published separately” is what constitutes a bill as being omnibus. Certainly this is an omnibus piece of legislation, something that the Liberals railed against during their time as the third party in this House.

From that perspective, we are going to talk about it a little more. It means that we are going to have to cover a bunch of unrelated items, but they are all stuck in this bill. The first part of the bill I would like to speak about is found in clause 14 of Bill C-51. It was introduced to remove section 176 of the Criminal Code.

For the benefit of the folks watching these proceedings, I would like to read the section as it is being presented. Subsection 176 (1) of the Criminal Code says:

(a) by threats or force, unlawfully obstructs or prevents or endeavours to obstruct or prevent a clergyman or minister from celebrating divine service or performing any other function in connection with his calling, or

(b) knowing that a clergyman or minister is about to perform, is on his way to perform or is returning from the performance of any of the duties or functions mentioned in paragraph (a)

(i) assaults or offers any violence to him, or

(ii) arrests him on a civil process, or under the pretence of executing a civil process,

Section 176 provides explicit protection in the Criminal Code. It makes it a crime to unlawfully obstruct, threaten, or harm a religious official, before, during, or after they perform a religious service. It also makes interrupting or disturbing a religious service a crime.

In a time when there is an increasing amount of violence directed against religious groups and religious gatherings, removing this section made little sense. Yet, for some reason, the Liberal government wanted to get rid of the only protection for Canadians performing and participating in a religious service.

The Liberals said that attending a religious service was no different than attending a lecture. However, the many and varied religious groups which exist in Canada came forward in one collective voice, speaking one collective message. The message was simple: religious services and members of the clergy require protection under the law because they are different in kind from other sorts of public gatherings.

Removing section 176 would treat the disruption of a religious service as a mere mischief charge. To religious Canadians, a religious service is more than just an event to attend; it is a formative experience to their individual and community identities. Disrupting such a ceremony is not a small matter, but an act which offends their most fundamental right to gather in a peaceful assembly while sharing their most cherished beliefs.

A mere mischief charge in a time of growing intolerance would not have been sufficient. Indeed, repealing section 176 seems to show an intellectual disconnect on the part of the Liberals.

I am wondering what they were thinking by removing section 176, at a time when we see religious persecution all over our globe. We have seen attacks on religious institutions here in Canada, and the Liberals want to remove the only explicit protection that members of faith institutions have while they are conducting a worship service.

I want to talk a little about my own personal experience, because I grew up as the son of a clergyman. I have a pretty good idea, at least in the Christian faith, of what a clergyman does, and what part of his duties are. I am sure it is similar in all faiths.

That is the beauty of section 176. It is not explicit to the Christian faith. This is protection for clergy and for worship services that applies to all faiths. Whether they are Christian, Jewish, Sikh or Hindu or Muslim, this provides protection for members of the clergy. It provides protection in the Criminal Code for all forms of worship services.

I remember clearly as a young person, growing up and into my early adulthood, the time when my father was a pastor. My father died at the age of 51 from the same rare throat cancer that one of our colleagues passed away from earlier this year. He too had a son by the name of Theodore, as did my father. My father passed away at an early age, but I do remember the work that my father was engaged in and some of the things he did. One of the things he was obviously called upon to do as a pastor was to conduct worship services on a Sunday morning for his congregation, and that is something that section 176 of the Criminal Code clearly identifies will be protected.

Some of the other things were that when he had parishioners or members in the community who had experienced tragedy in their lives, who maybe had encountered some personal difficulties, found themselves in the hospital with a debilitating or life-threatening disease or facing death, often the clergy are called to administer comfort to those individuals. In my father's case, he was able to share the saving grace and power of the knowledge of knowing Jesus Christ with the individuals who were facing imminent death. It gave them reassurance and comfort to know they could put their faith in Jesus and have security and eternal life. These were functions that my father performed on a regular basis. I remember hospital visitation was very important to my father. Section 176 is something that would provide protection for clergy as they go to visit their parishioners, or members in their community who may be suffering from illness, or the illness of a family member.

Something else my father did was to conduct marriage ceremonies. It is an important part of everyday life when a man and woman decide they are in love and want to commit to spend the rest of their lives with each other. They call a member of their clergy and say that they would like to get married.

It is an exciting part of life, a new part of life, so the clergy are called upon to perform marriage counselling, which is part of the work that clergy do. They give marriage counselling, and it is a very important part of the work of the clergy. In the coming and going of their particular duties in performing marriage counselling, but also in performing the actual ceremony, the Criminal Code, through section 176, would provide protection.

One could ask how often that protection is required. People have been successfully prosecuted under section 176 for interfering in a religious or worship service, or also interfering with or obstructing clergymen in the dispatch of their duties. It is kind of like an insurance policy. The comfort of knowing it is there to provide protection for people and their loved ones is very reassuring, even though they obviously hope they do not need it. Certainly our hope, as Conservatives, would be that we would never have to experience a situation where section 176 of the Criminal Code is used. However, it certainly provides a deterrent for individuals from seeking to disrupt clergymen in the dispatch of their duties, disrupting a worship service, or disrupting worshippers and parishioners as they are in a gathering where they are encouraging one another and expressing their deeply held faith convictions, and worshipping the creator they serve.

There are lots of good reasons to support Bill C-51. Through many efforts of Canadians right across our country, who made their voices heard and their opinions known to the committee, to the justice minister, and to the Prime Minister, the Liberals listened. and they amended the bill. They are going to keep section 176 in Bill C-51. I am happy, as a Conservative, to support that bill.

Public SafetyOral Questions

December 8th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are claiming it is not possible to repeal the Conservative Bill C-51. My colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke is proposing just that with his Bill C-303 to fully protect Canadians' rights.

Under the 138-page Liberal Bill C-59, CSIS still has extensive and invasive powers. The privacy of Canadians is still under threat and oversight of government agencies is insufficient.

Will the government divide Bill C-59 into separate bills so they can be properly studied? Canadians' rights are at stake.

December 7th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Lex Gill Advocate, National Security Program, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Mr. Chair, another deeply problematic aspect of Bill C-51 that has not been touched are changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that undid important protections for named persons in security certificate proceedings. Bill C-51 limited the requirement for disclosure of relevant information to special advocates and introduced a series of procedural barriers which further disadvantaged the rights of the named person.

In our legal challenge, CCLA has argued that these amendments are an unconstitutional violation of the section 7 guarantee to a hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal. Our Supreme Court has affirmed that the individual named in the security certificate “must be given an opportunity to know the case to meet, and an opportunity to meet the case”, an impossible exercise in the absence of a coherent legal framework for full disclosure.

This committee recognized as much in May 2017 when it recommended amending IRPA in order to give special advocates full access to complete security certificate files. We urge that Bill C-59 be amended to correct this issue.

We move now to the new elements of the new national security landscape that Bill C-59 has introduced. Our written submission will address a much wider range of issues in relation to the CSE Act, but we would like to highlight two parts today.

First, the proposed active and defensive cyber-operations aspects of the CSE's mandate essentially allow the establishment to engage in secret and largely unconstrained state-sponsored hacking and disruption. The limitation of not directing these activities at Canadian infrastructure is clearly inadequate given the inherently interconnected nature of the digital ecosystem. Such activities are also bound to impact the privacy expression and security interests of Canadians and persons in Canada, and may threaten the integrity of communications tools such as encryption and anonymity software that are vital for the protection of human rights in the digital age.

In the case of CSIS's disruption powers, which are in some ways analogous to these new aspects of CSE's mandate, the government has set out a complex framework for prior judicial authorization and a longer list of prohibited activities. While we do not concede the adequacy of that framework, it is notable that, in contrast, CSE's cyber-operations activities involve no meaningful privacy protections, require only secret ministerial authorization, and involve only after-the-fact review.

Second, while the majority of CSE's activities cannot be directed at Canadians or persons in Canada, this is an inadequate safeguard against CSE's overreach in the face of unselected bulk collection. Bill C-59 exacerbates this privacy risk by creating a series of exceptions for the collection of Canadian data, including one which allows its acquisition, use, analysis, retention, and disclosure, so long as it is publicly available.

This definition is so broad that it plausibly includes information in which individuals have a strong privacy interest, and potentially allows for the collection of private data obtained by hacks, leaks, or other illicit means. Furthermore, it may encourage the creation of grey markets for data that would otherwise never have been available to government—a client with deep pockets.

The government has failed to demonstrate why this exception, as worded, is necessary or proportionate, or what risk it is meant to mitigate in the first place.