Evidence of meeting #61 for Public Safety and National Security in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was oversight.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jessie Housty  As an Individual
Marvin Kurz  National Legal Counsel, B'nai Brith Canada
David Matas  Senior Legal Counsel, B'nai Brith Canada
Tom Stamatakis  President, Canadian Police Association
Matt Sheehy  Director (Canada), Jetana Security, As an Individual
Clare Lopez  Vice-President, Research and Analysis, Center for Security Policy
John McKenna  President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada
Kyle Shideler  Director, Threat Information Office, Center for Security Policy
Michael Skrobica  Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

7:20 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

I am interested, because I really think that's a big qualifier and a need in this legislation. That would give Canadians at least some confidence that security—and I mean all the security agencies and not just CSIS—is not going beyond the bounds of where they should go.

You also talked about the sharing of information and I agree that's important. I know the O'Connor inquiry reasonably well and that was certainly one of their concerns. You mentioned judicial authorization and I guess I would differ with you on that. I think the judicial authorization has to do with the application for a warrant, but I think a witness said it best that once that warrant walks out the door, oversight is done at that point. Justice Mosley had grave concerns about CSIS and what they did with a warrant. Do you have any comments on that?

7:20 p.m.

President, Canadian Police Association

Tom Stamatakis

I think, and I couldn't tell you specifically where I read it, that's a reasonable comment to make, except that there are limitations on warrants once they're granted in terms of how long they remain in effect, and judges can put parameters around what they issue the warrant for. So I think provisions already exist. It's not really a question of somebody with a warrant having unfettered ability to do whatever they want.

7:20 p.m.


The Chair Conservative Daryl Kramp

Thank you very much, Mr. Easter.

Ms. Doré Lefebvre, you have five minuntes.

7:25 p.m.


Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to thank all the witnesses who are at this table and who are joining us by video conference. We greatly appreciate it.

My first question is for Ms. Housty.

The federal government monitored and gathered information on certain peace activists, including Cindy Blackstock, and even Pamela Palmater, who testified before us just a few days ago.

Are you concerned about the provisions in Bill C-51 that are related to the exchange of information or the definition of what constitutes a threat to the security of Canada?

7:25 p.m.

As an Individual

Jessie Housty

Thank you for your question. Both of those things do trouble me deeply in relation to this bill.

I think that one of the great difficulties for myself as a first nations organizer and activist is that information may or may not be being gathered about me and the work I'm doing or the work that my colleagues are doing. There is no process by which I can answer to any of the information or assumptions that are part of what is being collected.

Particularly coming from a culture where openness and accountability and transparency in our business and our law is such a standard practice, it is incredibly troubling to think that this kind of information gathering could be happening behind closed doors without any ability for us to speak for ourselves or speak to our own intent with the work we're doing.

7:25 p.m.


Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you very much.

My next question is for Mr. Matas and Mr. Kurz.

In your presentation to the committee, you spoke about issues related to terror and its promotion. You said that this could not be solved simply by legislative changes. In your opinion, education, intercommunity dialogue and gestures of good faith by all Canadians should be used.

Could you expand on this and tell us what your thoughts are on “deradicalization”?

7:25 p.m.

National Legal Counsel, B'nai Brith Canada

Marvin Kurz

Thank you for the question. You raise an important point. For lawyers like us, very often like the carpenter we think that every problem can be solved with a hammer and nails. It's obviously true that this is not the case, very far from it.

That's a very central part of our submission. We've limited ourselves to one specific part of the bill that we thought we could offer some assistance to Parliament on. But for B’nai Brith as an organization with its League for Human Rights and its Institute for International Affairs, we recognize that the best laws in the world aren't going to solve all of our problems, including the problems that we've spoken of today.

The laws are a tool and only a tool. We want to refine even the parts of the tools that we've spoken of today. Intercultural dialogue and deradicalization, which you spoke of, are central issues, and they are things that would make the use of the law, which is obviously the strong hand of government, less necessary if at all.

Anything that can be done in that regard is something we would support. We've been involved in intercommunity dialogue for decades. We couldn't speak more highly of the notion and the importance of those kinds of activities as being part of Canada's struggle against radicalism, against hate, and in favour of the kind of inclusive society that I believe everyone in this room believes in.

We couldn't believe more strongly about it, and that's why we've done all the things we've done. It's towards having a community that's inclusive of all of us.

7:25 p.m.

Senior Legal Counsel, B'nai Brith Canada

David Matas

If I could just add to that, my own view is that we need an escalation of remedies. We go to the Criminal Code as a last resort, when everything else fails, because that is the most severe. That's where you bring in the most acute punishment, or you actually punish.

That's one of the reasons that guidelines would be useful. I think guidelines would be useful to prevent the Attorneys General from saying, no, we're not consenting, in hard cases, but also so they don't consent too easily too. We can build in these safeguards through some form of guidelines.

7:30 p.m.


The Chair Conservative Daryl Kramp

Thank you very much. Our time allotment is over now. On behalf of the entire committee, we would certainly like to thank Ms. Housty, Mr. Stamatakis, Mr. Matas, and Mr. Kurz. Thank you for your attendance here today, and thank you for your contribution to this committee's deliberations.

We will suspend for two minutes for a change of witness.

7:30 p.m.


The Chair Conservative Daryl Kramp

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome to the second-hour session of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security studying Bill C-51.

We welcome our witnesses here today. For the second hour, from the Centre for Security Policy, we have Clare Lopez, vice-president, research and analysis. We have Kyle Shideler, the director of the threat information office, as well. We're glad your arrangements allowed you to get here in time. Thank you very kindly.

From the Air Transport Association of Canada, we have John McKenna, president and chief executive officer, and also Michael Skrobica, senior vice-president and chief financial officer. As an individual, we have Matt Sheehy, director, Canada, for Jetana Security.

We will go ahead and start with opening remarks. For each organization, your remarks will be limited to a maximum of 10 minutes. Of course, if you could keep them even briefer. That would certainly be appreciated in that it will allow us more time for Q and A.

We will start off with Mr. Sheehy. You have the floor, sir.

7:30 p.m.

Matt Sheehy Director (Canada), Jetana Security, As an Individual

Thank you. I'll read my statement, sir.

I would like to thank the chair and the members of the committee for inviting me here today to testify. The last time I appeared as a witness here in Ottawa was back in 2002, just a few months after the terrorist attack on 9/11. I was in front of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence as the chair of the security committee for the Air Canada Pilots Association at that time.

What strikes me is that it's over 13 years ago, and we find ourselves still struggling to find answers and solutions to the most critical issues of our time. We had just pushed back at 9 a.m., for an on-time performance from gate 21 in Montreal on that fateful, crisp, clear day, September 11, 2001. We had a minor mechanical problem, so we decided to return to the gate to try to fix the problem. Needless to say by the time we returned to the gate all our departures were cancelled and the world as we knew it had changed forever. I'm sure that tragic day is indelibly seared on all our collective memories, and I'm sure that we are all committed to preventing such a terrible attack from ever happening again. The question for us is: how do we accomplish this mission?

Since I've been involved in the security community for over 30 years in one capacity or another—I've been on the front lines as a pilot and as an auxiliary police officer—I can say without a doubt that we are in a very dangerous and highly fluid and unpredictable environment.

I think it is vital that we must try to overcome our differences and realize that, unless we can put aside our partisan and political differences, we will lose this battle. There's a real urgency to what this committee is tasked with, and that is to work through the issues and positions, pro and con, and come up with viable solutions. Let's put aside our partisan issues and make this process work.

I reviewed the anti-terrorism act, 2015, Bill C-51 with a front-line perspective. I found it to be an excellent piece of legislation that will address many of the outstanding issues and gaps in our legislative needs and requirements. The new act moves the strategy to a more proactive and early intervention, rather than a less static response of reactive reinforcement. Part 2, the secure air travel act, again, is getting out in front of the threat as well by not only interdicting would-be sympathizers from reaching their fellow travellers in the conflict areas, but it is also an effective strategy to find and prevent misguided and disaffected young radicals from travelling to what in many cases are their own deaths.

This new act also provides our law enforcement and security agencies more options and more latitude to not only intervene at a much earlier time in an individual's radicalization, but also provides a more integrated intelligence sharing that will enhance the accuracy of decision making. We have to keep in mind the always-demanding time constraints that can make the difference between a successful interdiction and a missed opportunity.

I understand how important it is to have an effective oversight mechanism. I think the introduction of a more robust and more resourced Security Intelligence Review Committee, SIRC, with a clear oversight mandate, a schedule of audits, and a mandated reporting system would probably satisfy most of the concerns.

Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.

7:40 p.m.


The Chair Conservative Daryl Kramp

Thank you very much, Mr. Sheehy.

We will now go to the Center for Security Policy.

7:40 p.m.

Clare Lopez Vice-President, Research and Analysis, Center for Security Policy

Thank you very much. We'd like to thank Steven Blaney, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness; the chairman, Daryl Kramp; and the public safety and national security committee for the opportunity to testify here today.

We consider this to be a particularly auspicious time, as Canada has recently shown itself an international leader in the effort to combat the global jihad movement.

By way of introduction, the Center for Security Policy is an American national security think tank in Washington, D.C., that was founded in 1988 by former acting assistant secretary of defense, Frank Gaffney. In the years since then we have focused on the greatest security threats to America and our allies.

My name is Clare Lopez, the center's vice-president for research and analysis. I previously served as a CIA operations officer and later served in a variety of contract positions within the U.S. defense sector. I've also served as an instructor for military intelligence and special forces on terrorism-related issues, and I'm honoured to mention my affiliation with the board of advisers for the Toronto-based Mackenzie Institute.

My colleague is Kyle Shideler. He is the director of our threat information office where he specializes in monitoring Sunni jihadist movements, especially the Muslim Brotherhood. He has briefed congressional staff, intelligence, and federal law enforcement officials on the history, ideology, and operations of the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly on its role in supporting terrorism.

Recent devastating attacks by individual jihadis on Canadian soil demonstrate the critical need for a better understanding of and appropriate tools to deal with the global jihad threat, specifically understanding that terrorism doesn't begin with a violent act itself but rather with financing, indoctrination, and propaganda. Stopping these elements is key to stopping the attacks themselves.

In particular, we applaud the decision to list as a terrorist entity the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy, an organization that was, according to available reports, engaged in financing the terrorist organization Hamas. We are hopeful that Canadian law enforcement and security services will be able to use information gleaned through this investigation and subsequent investigations to further hamper terrorist efforts.

It was also a Hamas terror-financing case that provided U.S. law enforcement with information regarding the true depth of the threat posed to North America. In that case, the Holy Land Foundation trial, U.S. federal law enforcement uncovered voluminous secret documents representing the archives of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America. Thanks in part to the evidence provided by these documents, the Holy Land Foundation Hamas terror-funding front was shut down and prosecutors secured multiple convictions on terrorism-financing charges. These documents come together to tell the story of a multi-decade long effort by the Muslim Brotherhood in North America to establish itself, create front groups, seize control of mosques and Islamic centres, indoctrinate young people through youth organizations in Islamic schools, mislead the mass media, conduct intelligence operations against law enforcement and security services, and influence politicians.

This carefully organized campaign of subversive activity forms the basis for what was called a “grand jihad” to eliminate and destroy Western civilization from within in the Brotherhood's explanatory memorandum uncovered during the Holy Land Foundation case.

There has been a tendency to divorce the physical manifestations of individual acts of Islamic terrorism, such as the recent attacks here in Canada, from the extensive support infrastructure provided by this global jihad movement, but the reality is that men and women do not seek to travel to fight in Syria or Iraq or engage in attacks domestically without first having been indoctrinated with an obligation to wage jihad. Such individuals have been instructed to put loyalty to a global Islamic ummah above loyalty to one's home country. They're educated to believe that Muslims have a right to impose sharia, a foreign source of law, upon one's fellow citizens. All of these elements of indoctrination must occur before an individual would ever express interest in al Qaeda or Islamic State propaganda. Providing the government an enhanced ability to target or take down propaganda that promotes a doctrinal command to wage jihad against unbelievers, or the call to use force to overthrow the government and impose sharia, in our judgment would be beneficial as it would help to disrupt indoctrination before individuals reach a stage at which they are considering attacks against a specific target.

Laying this ideological groundwork is exactly the mission and the role of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has undertaken the mission to support movements to engage in jihad across the Muslim world, according to Muslim Brotherhood documents seized by Swiss law enforcement in 2001. Given this obligation to support, it is no surprise that terror recruits repeatedly have been traced back to an Islamic centre, school, or mosque established or controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, as was the case in our own Boston Marathon bombing back in April 2013.

Subsequently, organizations with ties to the brotherhood have repeatedly sought to undermine and oppose counterterrorism strategies that rely on aggressive police and intelligence work to disrupt plots and arrest those responsible, the kind of strategy currently under discussion here in Canada. We've considered how these policies under discussion would help Canada to address the common threat. It's necessary to address the whole host of activities that undermine the security of Canada, including: interfering with the capability of the government to conduct intelligence defence, public safety, or other activities; attempting to unduly change or influence the government by unlawful means; or engaging in covert, foreign-influenced activities. Likewise, we must address the full scope of jihadist operations, including indoctrination, propaganda, and subversive activities.

It seems to us that threats such as these, emerging in the pre-attack phase of the jihadist campaign, are exactly the modus operandi of the Muslim Brotherhood as it seeks to undermine constitutionally established western governments, including that of Canada, to the benefit of the global jihad movement.

We assess that legislation that would permit Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS, to engage in actions to disrupt terror plots and threats to Canada would likely be effective in helping to thwart Islamic terror attacks in the pre-violent stage. Such a policy, provided due oversight, creates a necessary capability to intervene and undermine indoctrination and recruiting networks that lead individuals to become jihadists and either travel abroad to join jihadist groups, or conduct attacks at home—even without a definite connection to any terrorist group.

While we understand that there is a debate over how such capabilities could be overseen, the use of an intermediary review committee rather than direct parliamentary oversight has advantages when it is often the legislators themselves who are at risk of being targeted by these influence activities.

There has already been controversy in the United States over an appointee to the U.S. congressional House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence having received campaign funds from and having numerous associations with Muslim Brotherhood-linked organizations in our country. Muslim Brotherhood organizations also have been aggressive in utilizing the media to target legislators engaged in oversight hearings as well as threatening to fundraise for their political opponents if they dare to examine issues related to jihadist indoctrination in serious detail. In our opinion, any oversight committee dealing with these issues risks being an immediate target for similar efforts.

Creating a buffer of intelligence professionals between CSIS and the members of Parliament may be useful, therefore, to preserve and protect important information and insulate MPs from aggressive influence operations to undermine their support for Canadian counterterrorism efforts, while also ensuring respect for civil rights and generating appropriate oversight that has a detailed understanding of the law enforcement and intelligence techniques involved.

Certainly, it is to be expected that the Parliament would be vigilant in examining the reports generated by the minister and that it would take full advantage of opportunities to examine and discuss the reported data.

In dealing with the threat posed by jihadist fighters living amidst our own communities, efforts have focused primarily on either methods to keep them from travelling abroad, or revocation of passports to keep individuals from returning.

The Center for Security Policy generally has been supportive of such measures as currently are under discussion in the U.S. Congress, which would take passports away from those who travel or seek to travel abroad to fight for terrorist forces. Likewise, changes and extensions to the current peace bond provisions here would appear to us to help to address the substantial difficulty faced by counterterrorism agencies, which is that in numerous recent cases we have seen, the terrorists who perpetrated attacks in the U.S., Britain, France, and Australia have been what terrorism experts in the U.S. have begun to describe as “known wolves”. That is, rather than being undetected and operating without connection to other jihadist groups—a genuine lone wolf—what we're seeing instead is that most individuals identified as lone wolves have, in fact, had ties with or at least a known proclivity to support jihadist ideology groups or terrorist networks, and frequently were already under some level of surveillance.

It is not a lack of awareness, but rather an inability to take preventive action or disrupt the plot, that all too often has resulted in these individuals successfully carrying out an act of Islamic terrorism.

In conclusion, the Center for Security Policy believes Canada is in a position to put into practice a forward-thinking approach that gives police officers and intelligence operatives the tools they need, not only to surveil and detect terror threats but to disrupt and dismantle the jihadist networks that seek to use terrorism as only one method among others to undermine and weaken the security of Canada.

Thank you very much.

7:50 p.m.


The Chair Conservative Daryl Kramp

Thank you very much, Ms. Lopez.

Now we will have representation from the Air Transport Association of Canada.

Mr. McKenna, go ahead please.

7:50 p.m.

John McKenna President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and members of the committee.

My name is John McKenna. I'm president and CEO of the Air Transport Association of Canada, and I'm accompanied here today by Mr. Mike Skrobica, senior vice-president and CFO.

The Air Transport Association of Canada has represented Canada' s commercial air transport industry for more than 80 years. We have approximately 180 members engaged in commercial aviation, operating in every region of Canada and providing service to a large majority of the more than 600 airports in the country.

Our members include large airlines, regional airlines, commuter operators, air taxis, aviation educational organizations, and flight schools.

Our membership also includes the air industry support sector involved in all aspects of the aviation support industry. We refer to them as “industry partners”.

The Air Transport Association of Canada welcomes the opportunity to present its comments on Bill C-51. ATAC has had an active role in the development of air security in Canada for many years. Certainly since the 2001 attacks, the industry has adapted to an ever-increasing level of security, and in general ATAC welcomes Bill C-51 as it adds another layer to the security circles. No one security measure is perfect, and we believe that Bill C-51 will add to the security of air transport in Canada.

Our only comment on part 1, which would enact the security of Canada information sharing act, is to note that a major finding identified by the 9/11 commission in the U.S. was that the lack of timely information sharing between government agencies was a contributing factor in the terrorists' success on 9/11.

We have a number of comments on part 2, however, which would enact the secure air travel act. While it is not explicitly spoken in the SATA, we expect that the system would use the existing passenger protect system known colloquially as the no-fly list. Some may ask, if we currently have passenger protect, why we would augment it with an additional list. The limitation with the existing passenger protect list is that it is based upon the legal construct, which specified that a person must present “an immediate threat” to civil aviation. The list and its size are secret, but we are aware that it is in the low hundreds.

Colleagues from other jurisdictions, for example the U.S., point to its secure flight program list, which numbers in the tens of thousands of names. They question the integrity of the Canadian list and its completeness. This has led the U.S. government to institute additional security measures on Canadian aircraft overflying the U.S. For individuals who require additional screening, airlines can adapt to a Transportation Security Administration system called Selectee for Canadian use.

Proposed paragraph 9(1)(b) stipulates that the Minister may direct an air carrier to do, amongst other things, “the screening of a person”. We would note that airlines do not do the screening, as this is a Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, CATSA, duty, yet the act puts the onus and possible $500,000 fines on the airlines. This is unwarranted and not reasonable.

It should be noted that the passenger project applies to 89 designated airports in Canada. These comprise approximately 98% of all passenger trips. Accordingly, the risk at other airports should be rather low.

Transport Canada practises risk management, and we endorse this approach. Public Safety and Transport Canada should plan on contingencies where an individual located at a site where ground travel is not feasible, for example the Canadian north, is put on the minister's list. How does that individual get home?

Proposed subsection 23(4) calls for a $500,000 fine. This is excessive. The practicalities of any such complex system may have failings that are not necessarily in the air carriers' control, including communications outages and check-in personnel who are not the companies' employees, especially in foreign countries.

We understand proposed section 24 sets out a defence of “all due diligence” but that has not been defined. We suggest graduated administrative monetary penalties. We advocate that in instances where an individual is to be informed at the airport check-in that he will not be able to fly, a law enforcement officer be present as a matter of procedure. This is the practice in the U.S. and we recommend that the same practice be established in Canada. Our check-in agents shouldn't be expected to have to manage unruliness and perhaps even violent retaliation from refused passengers.

We also have great concerns about the high cost of the air travellers security charge, the ATSC. The money collected by the ATSC on tickets sold in Canada is only summarily accounted for. This taxable charge hasn't been audited since 2006. Four years ago, we asked the Auditor General to conduct an audit of the moneys collected, but were told that the data was either too old or incomplete to conduct a proper audit. Therefore, we conducted our own calculations based on Statistics Canada data for 2013 and on information published in CATSA's 2013-14 annual report. It's a simple enough exercise.

Statistics Canada publishes the number of enplaned and deplaned passengers and the mix of domestic, transborder, and international passengers, and CATSA' s annual report indicates the total number of people screened per year. We allowed for more than five times the reported double screening, and based on this data, we concluded that the revenues generated by the ATSC exceeded the CATSA budget by over $250 million. We repeated this exercise for many other years and determined that the money collected by the ATSC generally greatly exceeds CATSA's annual budget.

Why are passengers being charged far more than the services they are receiving? It is our opinion that the ATSC should be a dedicated charge set by and based upon CATSA's operational needs, not just another cash grab for the government.

In order for the system to work, CATSA resources are vital. We recommend that a public review be undertaken of the air travellers security charge and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority's financing, that all air travellers security charge revenue go to CATSA, and that Canada review other jurisdictions with aviation security ticket taxes.

You will find that most other countries contribute a significant portion to the screeners' costs from general revenues. The terrorists are not at war with the airlines, but rather with the the airlines' country of origin. lt is only fair that Canada pay its fair share of this public security cost as is done in the majority of other jurisdictions. The current cost structure results in Canada having the highest aviation security tax in the world.

In closing, I would like to add that ATAC speaks for a large number of airlines in Canada, and contrary to past practices, we were not consulted in advance of this act. Including the considerable expertise of operators upstream of significant amendments is a much more constructive and efficient way to enact change.

I thank you. My colleague and I will gladly answer your questions.

7:55 p.m.


The Chair Conservative Daryl Kramp

Fine, thank you very much and thank you to all of our witnesses for their contributions to this committee.

We will now go to rounds of questions for seven minutes.

Ms. Ablonczy, please.

Mr. Falk, you would like to go first? Then carry on, sir.

7:55 p.m.


Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you to our witnesses for attending committee this evening and for providing your expert testimony.

Mr. Sheehy, you are a former airline pilot and current security consultant, but I'm going to resist the temptation to seek your expertise on the recent horrific tragedy in Europe. I do want to ask a few questions about your testimony. You mentioned that there were gaps in the current legislation and that the bill that's proposed here, Bill C-51, addresses those gaps. Could you comment a little further on that?

March 26th, 2015 / 8 p.m.

Director (Canada), Jetana Security, As an Individual

Matt Sheehy

Yes, thank you for the question.

For example, one of the amendments in this new act is to basically review what people are saying publicly. So if you're out in public promoting terrorism, then under this new legislation that will become a criminal event. I've talked to several of my associates in the policing agencies, and generally front-line type people, but I've also spoken to some commissioners as well. They all basically suggest that up until now when a police officer is trying to interdict or deal with what appears to be terrorism, the laws are so vague that there's a reluctance to even pursue it. That's one example I can offer.

8 p.m.


Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Thank you.

I'm going to move on at this point to Ms. Lopez. Thank you for your testimony and to your colleague, Mr. Shideler. Whoever wants to respond, I'm fine with that.

Earlier today we had Steven Bucci from the Heritage Foundation present to committee. He gave an outsider's perspective of what this legislation looks like. He made the comment that it's a good balance of ensuring security and protecting our freedoms. I'll get you to expand on that, but I'm curious about one of the issues that you did address and that was your insight on oversight. If you could expand a bit more on your perspective on what this bill provides and the current regime.

8 p.m.

Vice-President, Research and Analysis, Center for Security Policy

Clare Lopez

As we have looked at the bill and reviewed it, the oversight responsibility is an important one. We have the same or a similar kind of mechanism in our own Congress down in the United States for oversight of the intelligence and the security services of our country. It remains a very important function of Parliament to oversee the implementation of any kind of new measure like this for the security and safety of Canada. From what we can observe, I think the measures of the bill under discussion would provide for that. I think that is an important point.

Kyle, do you want to add anything?

8 p.m.

Kyle Shideler Director, Threat Information Office, Center for Security Policy

I would add our own view, having observed these sorts of situations in the United States, of legislators who conduct oversight and who ask pointed questions being targeted. In the United States we had a detailed oversight discussion over the radicalization that occurs in prisons. Certain Congress members were aggressively treated in the media and pointedly by organizations that are known to have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and known to have ties to terrorist organizations. As a result there comes a reluctance to discuss issues that maybe need to get discussed.

If you can create a barrier where the direct oversight of “you did this right” or “you did this wrong” is occurring at a committee level, then you have a parliamentary level that can observe that security committee and make sure the review that needs to be done is being done. That would be positive in our view because it would provide a level of protection to the legislator who is at risk of being targeted for influence operations.

8 p.m.


Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

You're suggesting there would be potential risk with direct parliamentary oversight, as opposed to our current system that has an independent review body, which reviews it after the fact and still holds our security agencies accountable for their actions. They're still required to follow the warrants and the laws that we have in place here.

We also have judicial oversight on an ongoing basis. Whenever a warrant is requested it needs to get ministerial and judicial approval. That's different than having partisan political oversight.

Would you suggest that we have a good system?

8:05 p.m.

Director, Threat Information Office, Center for Security Policy

Kyle Shideler

I think that makes sense as you laid it out, yes.

8:05 p.m.


Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

One of the other things that you talked about in your testimony was the whole concept of preventing individuals from becoming indoctrinated, radicalized, and eventually becoming jihadists. What exactly do you see in this legislation that would be a strength in fulfilling that?

8:05 p.m.

Vice-President, Research and Analysis, Center for Security Policy

Clare Lopez

It seemed to us, as we reviewed it, that there were new measures provided for in this bill that strengthened and lengthened the review period before an individual inclined to jihad embarks on a course to a kinetic attack. It provides for looking at statements. It looks at the demonstration of a proclivity toward indoctrination to jihad before it completes or happens. The intelligence services and the police will have the ability, again with proper oversight and respect for civil rights, to take into account the behaviour, the actions, the statements, and maybe the online social media postings of an individual on the pathway to jihad, but before they get to the point of concocting a plot, or worse yet carrying it out.