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

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

Rollover closes road

No serious injuries reported in a rollover off South Main in Penticton

Raven story shines light at Children’s Showcase

Season opener of the Children’s Showcase in Penticton

Student leadership conference hits home

Nearly 500 Grade 5 students taking part in leadership conference in Penticton

Penticton dancers headed to Germany for world championship

Penticton dancers representing Canada at World Dance Championships

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Dorsett has 2 goals, assist in Canucks’ 4-2 win over Sabres

‘It was a real good hockey game by our group,’ Canucks coach Travis Green said.

Berry disappointed: Bear tries to eat fake fruit on woman’s door wreath

A Winnipeg woman has taken her berry-embellished wreath down, after a hungry bear visited her porch

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Have you heard about Black Press scholarships?

Up to 37 scholarships are awarded each year to students throughout British Columbia

Most Read