Commons committee calls for rollback of key C-51 anti-terror measures

MPs call for rollback of anti-terror measures

OTTAWA — A House of Commons committee is calling for repeal of a provision that allows Canada’s spy agency to violate constitutional rights, with a judge’s permission, in the name of disrupting national security threats.

In a report Tuesday, the Liberal-dominated public safety committee also recommended requiring a judge’s approval for any Canadian Security Intelligence Service disruption operations that fall short of breaching constitutional guarantees, but nevertheless break the law.

Currently, CSIS efforts to derail plots could involve taking down an extremist’s website, cancelling airline tickets, disabling a vehicle — or even more drastic actions. 

In addition, the MPs said the scope of activities subject to recently enacted information-sharing powers should be narrowed to make them consistent with other national security legislation.

Many of the 41 recommendations put flesh on the bones of Liberal promises to fix “problematic elements” of Conservative anti-terrorism legislation known as C-51.

Conservative MPs on the committee issued a dissenting report saying the legislation should be maintained, while New Democrats tabled a supplementary opinion suggesting the government should go further by scrapping C-51.

“Close to two years after being elected, the Liberals still haven’t adopted legislative measures to repeal C-51, the dangerous and ineffective law adopted rashly by the former Conservative government,” said Matthew Dube, the NDP public safety critic.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May warned the Liberals would be building on a “deeply flawed foundation” unless they repeal much of the previous government’s legislation.

Conservative public safety critic Tony Clement steadfastly disagreed, saying the Liberals “chose to focus on ways to handcuff our security services and take away necessary powers.”

The majority report maintains there need be no tradeoff between national security and the rights of Canadians, committee chairman Rob Oliphant told a news conference.

“They both may be fully realized, and in fact can only be fully realized, if they’re both fully respected.”

The Trudeau government has committed to ensuring all CSIS warrants respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to preserving legitimate protest and advocacy and to defining terrorist propaganda more clearly.  

It has also pledged that appeals by Canadians on the no-fly list will be subject to mandatory review.

Seven majority recommendations from the MPs would bolster protections for people confronted with security barriers at the airport.

The Liberals have already taken legislative steps to create a special committee of parliamentarians to scrutinize security and intelligence activities. The report recommends going much further by bolstering the family of watchdogs that keeps an eye on CSIS, the RCMP and the cyberspies of the Communications Security Establishment.

It calls for a new, independent review body for the Canada Border Services Agency, gateways between all national security review bodies to allow information exchange and joint investigations, as well as more funding for these watchdogs.

The plan also includes a new national security review office for intelligence bodies that have no dedicated watchdog — an office that would also co-ordinate review functions across government.

The model closely mirrors the oversight and review recommendations of the federal commission that investigated the overseas torture of Canadian Maher Arar.

Other notable recommendations from the MPs urge the government to:

— Use preventive detention of suspects in only exceptional circumstances;

— Review ministerial directives concerning torture to ensure they are consistent with international law;

— Increase funding for long-term research and the development of professional expertise to address new and evolving threats; and

— Develop a community-based strategy for the prevention of radicalization to violence.

The report contains a number of very good recommendations the government ought to take seriously, said Josh Paterson, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. But he too said the government could go even further.

— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Reel Reviews: Fear or love

We say, “Once again, one worth seeing, one not.”

Two people safe after falling through ice

Kelowna Fire Department urges caution around icy waters during warm weather

Missing Kelowna woman sought

RCMP are asking for assistance in locating Christine Olsen-Meissnitzer

Plane lands safely after takeoff issue

An airplane departing Kelowna International Airport had an issue with a landing gear, landed safely

KSS rocks and rolls for 37th straight year

Kelowna secondary students let loose with annual Air Bank competition

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Captain Cal Foote is Rockets’ MVP

The Rockets hand out their annual team awards Sunday at Kelowna Community Theatre

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

Cancer fundraiser takes to Okanagan Lake

Penticton and Naramata joining growing fundraising event

Elke’s Garden Tips: Good time to prepare

Lake Country garden columnist talks about what to do at this time of the year

Letter: Crying fowl over goose cull witness

Kelowna letter-writer says Canada geese come with many issues

Letter: I was born in Kelowna in 1930…

Kelowna letter-writer has some ideas on how things should run nowadays

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Most Read