CLBR # 185: Jim Hedger Discusses
Canada and C-51 (Anti-Terrorism Act of 2015)
Jim Hedger has been a webmaster and SEO for over 15 years. He is the host of Webcology on WebmasterRadio and is well known in the search and digital marketing world. He lives and works in Toronto, Canada. Jim is also a long time activist. He is one of the most vocal and visible opponents of what he calls Canada’s Secret Police State Act, Bill C-51. A coordinating member of the Toronto Coalition to Stop Bill C-51, Jim is helping lead a continuing national campaign to repeal a new Canadian security law that is even more sweeping than the Patriot Act was in 2001. C-51 has implications for the privacy and security of webmasters both in Canada and abroad.
Canada Quick Background
From 1935 to 2006, Canada’s Liberal Party ruled for 55 years; but Conservative Prime Minister Harper has been in office since 2006.
2014 Parliament Hill and Quebec Attack
The bill aims to update Canadian criminal law. More specifically, the principal amendments in the bill:
On 30 January 2015, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness introduced 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 (Security of Canada Information Sharing Act), in the House of Commons and it was given first reading.
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 any necessary actions 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,
• define obligations related to the provision of information in proceedings under that Division 9;
• 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
• 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.
- Bill C-51 drastically expands the definition of ‘security.’
Includes preventing interference with various aspects of public life or “the economic or financial stability of Canada.”
- It gives the government too much discretion to pick and choose which individuals and groups to target for further scrutiny.
Bill C-51 gives the government the ability to designate an extraordinarily broad range of activities as potential security threats.
- It will severely chill freedom of expression.
It’s unclear even to experts exactly what kinds of speech and protest activity may be considered threats to national security.
- It will allow government institutions like Health Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency to share information about you with the RCMP
- Canada already has a troubling regime of preventative arrest and detention; Bill C-51 proposes to make it even worse.
Currently the Criminal Code permits the police to arrest, detain and impose restrictions (such as a curfew or travel ban) on someone who has never been (and may never be) charged with a crime if they have good reasons to believe a terrorist activity will be carried out if these actions aren’t taken. Bill C-51 would lower the threshold for these actions to situations where the police believe that a terrorist activity might be carried out. It also doubles the amount of time an individual can be detained without charge.
- It would give CSIS the power to act like a police force, while still allowing it to operate secretly as an intelligence gathering service.
Bill C-51 would radically redefine the role of CSIS to include the ability to act on — rather than merely to collect — security intelligence.
A Close Eye on Security Makes Canadians Safer
Letter from former Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien (1993-2003); Joe Clark (1979-80); Paul Martin (2003-06) and John Turner (1984):
We all agree that protecting public safety is one of government’s most important functions and that Canada’s national security agencies play a vital role in meeting that responsibility.
Yet we all also share the view that the lack of a robust and integrated accountability regime for Canada’s national security agencies makes it difficult to meaningfully assess the efficacy and legality of Canada’s national security activities. This poses serious problems for public safety and for human rights.
- The 2001 Anti-terrorism Act signaled a fundamental shift in Canada’s approach to combatting terrorist acts, with significant changes to Canadian law to address those threats. After more than a decade of experience since the Anti-terrorism Act became law, some of its provision shave proven useful, while others have not. As the CBA and many others predicted. in 2001, this experience has left little doubt about the discriminatory impact of anti-terrorism laws on some populations.
- The CBA acknowledges that Canadians are concerned about terrorism – at home or abroad –and supports the government’s intention to reduce the risk of terrorist acts in Canada. The CBA supports measures to improve public safety that are necessary, proportionate and accompanied by adequate safeguards against abuse. The government must show Canadians that the further powers in Bill C-51 meet this standard.
- The government should also be clear with Canadians about the limits of law. No law, no matter how well-crafted or comprehensive, can prevent all terrorist acts from occurring. Promising public safety as an exchange for sacrificing individual liberties and democratic safeguards is not, in our view, justifiable. Nor is it realistic. Both are essential and complementary in a freeand democratic society