Canada's Anti-Terrorist Act companion to the U.S. Patriot Act
- Anti-terrorism Act - 2007
- Canada Anti-Terrorism Laws: Harper Conservatives Will Reintroduce Controversial Measures - Sept 7, 2011
- Canadian Labour Congress http://www.canadianlabour.ca/home
- Canadian Action Party http://canadianactionparty.ca/campaigns/civil-liberties/
Defense of Canadian Liberty Committee, 21 November 2001
Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), Montréal, 22 November 2001
Bill C 36 is Canada’s proposed anti-terrorism law. We have to think of the significance of the Owen quote above in the context of globalization. These "terrorism" laws are about the completion of globalization (read corporatization, read fascism), not the elimination of terrorism. Excessive police powers are necessary to quell the expectation of the informed public in western democracies. Citizens expect to be able to access their constitutional rights to protest against the infringement of their rights in the process of globalization.
A police state mindset unhooked the damper in Canada at the APEC meeting of Pacific Ocean governments in 1997 in Vancouver BC Canada, escalated at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City Canada in April 2001, and again at the G20 meeting in Ottawa in November 2001. Even without Bill C 36 there was the nod by government to the police to violate fundamental constitutional rights to peaceful protest and assembly. Detention of protestors without charges and the use of police dogs against protestors were encouraged.
Since the September 1, 2001 attack in New York city, over 800 people in Canada have disappeared into Canada's detention system without being allowed to contact family or lawyers in violation of human rights. (2). All this before C36 is law.
Justice Minister MacLellan’s proposed changes to Bill C 36 are miniscule and will not prevent police abuse or the destruction of the Rule of Law in Canada. The tiny change to the definition of terrorism fails to eliminate the offensive language of section 27 which catches lawful protestors. Her changes speak to the trickery in government intentions from day one. This is no more than a pretence of response to opposition in effort to fool the public. That we would tolerate human rights abuses even for 5 years is shocking and unsupportable.
Stephen Owen, MP said, “We need the authority of it (Bill C36) in order to implement twelve (12) international treaties that Canada has entered respecting terrorism.” (3). The twelve international treaties Owen talks of referred to in Bill C 36 already have sufficient attention in existing Canadian laws. We do not need the Draconian measures of Bill C 36 to meet Canada's commitments in those United Nations covenants.
What Stephen Owen was saying is that Canadian laws have to be changed because of the globalization agenda, not the needs of Canadians for Canadian interests. A term of the World Trade Organization agreement is that there will be a liberalization and harmonization of domestic laws to accommodate the WTO agenda. Nations are required to suppress citizen unrest over the changes. Bill C 36 is a Draconian measure to prevent citizen interference in that agenda. Its police state powers will terrorize law-abiding citizens.
The 9/11 events in New York are being used to frighten us into accepting the imposition of a punitive inquisitorial system of law in replacement of the Rule of Law.- law that has been developed over centuries since the Magna Carta, the Great Charter of English personal and political liberty, obtained from King John in 1215.
In my view, Bill C36, Bill C 35 (4) and other bills in the works intended to change our law, including dramatic changes to Immigration and refugee law, customs and border protection law, destroy both the rule of law and democracy in Canada. We are destroying the laws that protect Canadians in order to satisfy the dictates of George Bush, the instrument of the New World Order.
On November13, 2001, President Bush declared an "extraordinary emergency" that empowers him to order military trials for suspected international terrorists and their collaborators, bypassing the American criminal justice system, its rules of evidence and its constitutional guarantees. The presidential directive, signed by Bush as commander in chief, applies to non-U.S. citizens arrested in the United States or abroad. The president himself will decide which defendants will be tried by military tribunals. Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will appoint each panel and set its rules and procedures, including the level of proof needed for a conviction. There will be no judicial review. (5)
The U.S. Justice Department has asked law enforcement authorities across the USA to pick up and question 5,000 men, most from Middle Eastern countries, who entered the country legally in the last two years. This is part of a sweeping U.S.A. government effort to expand the investigation into Al Qaeda's network and clear the way for the more aggressive prosecution of anyone charged with terrorism. Under the order, the president himself is to determine who is an accused terrorist and therefore subject to trial by the tribunal. The order states that the president may "determine from time to time in writing that there is reason to believe" that an individual is a member of Al Qaeda, has engaged in acts of international terrorism or has "knowingly harbored" a terrorist. (6)
The lists of people the U.S. Justice department wants to interview were compiled from Immigration and State Department records of people who entered the U.S.A. since Jan 1,2000, on tourist, student, or business visas. Only men aged 18 to 33 with those visas who are living in the U.S are on the list. (7) (There are about 800 people arrested and detained in Canada as suspects who have been denied access to lawyers and family.) (8)
President Bush is talking of sending suspected terrorists to countries that sanction torture for investigation. U.S.A. media is openly talking about using torture as an investigative technique."The legitimacy of torture as an investigative tool is the latest in a progression of disturbing and horrific topics the news media is now presenting to its audience."(9) Nowhere in international law or in western democracies is torture sanctioned. The highest court in Israel denounced the use of torture in Israel and forbad it. It has come to a sorry state that in the year 2001 such a sick concept as torture is contemplated.
In Canada, our Parliament is preparing new laws on immigration and customs and border protection to harmonize with the US laws. Our sovereign right and entitlement to make laws in our tradition and according to our social ethic is being thrown away by Parliamentarians who know no history nor law, or who are cowards cringing and cowering before a bully, or who are themselves culpable.
What is the Rule of Law?
Margot E Young says there are two unwritten elements of Canada's constitution, two principles that are implicit and essential. They are the Rule of Law and Democracy. (10)
She boils down the rule of law to two simple notions: 1.that individuals be protected from arbitrary power; 2. that all persons- ordinary citizens or members of the government- are equally subject to the law: one law for all. (11)
She sets out the connections of the rule of law in our constitution: (12)
* The Supreme Court of Canada states that the principle of the rule of law is clearly a principle of our constitution and democracy.
* The rule of law lies in the preamble (the interpretive guide) to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms "Whereas Canada is founded on principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law".
* The preamble to the Constitution Act, 1867 imports into Canadian constitutional structure the principles and postulates of the United Kingdom where the rule of law has long been understood to be the basis of British law.
*The Supreme Court of Canada has held that the rule of law is implicit in the nature of a constitution.
Donald J. Sorochan Q.C. wrote
"The rule of law means that everyone is subject to the ordinary law of the land. This is so regardless of public prominence or governmental status. It requires the law to be applied equally to all, without fear or favour and in an evenhanded manner between government and citizen. It ensures that all are equal before the law. The rule of law is not the law of the ruler. There is no exemption from the ordinary law of the state for agents of government. and no one, no matter how important or powerful , is above the law." (13).
So, ask Canada's Parliamentarians why they (except the NDP caucus) are creating a new law (Bill C 35) that would exclude known state terrorists from the application of Bill C 36, Canada's anti-terrorism law? (14),(15).
There are principles of justice that form the basis of the Rule of Law. These principles have been defined by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) attended by all the European countries, Canada, and the United States in Paris (1989), Copenhagen (1990), and Moscow(1991). (16). Sorochan refers to the broader principles of justice recognized by the conferences. (17).
Bill C 36 violates the following principles:
*Everyone will be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law. [children can be taken away from parents who have never neglected or abused children. All the state needs to do is to declare that there is a concern that, sometime in the future, children may be abused or neglected]
*Any person arrested or detained on a criminal charge will have the right to be brought promptly before the judge or other officer authorized by law to decide the lawfulness of the arrest or detention.
*Everyone will be entitled to a fair and public trial.
*All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law.
*The government and the public authorities have a duty to comply with the constitution and to act in a manner consistent with law.
*Human rights and fundamental freedoms will be guaranteed by law.
*Everyone will have an effective means of redress against administrative decisions.
*Judges will be independent, and the public judiciary will operate impartially.
*The independence of the legal profession will be protected.
*Everyone will have the right to defend himself or herself in court in person or through prompt legal assistance, which will be given free if the person does not have sufficient means to pay for it. *Domestic legislation will comply with international laws relating to human rights, including guarantees for the freedom of information and communication, travel, thought, conscience and religion, right of peaceful assembly, and demonstrations, associations, private property, etc
Antiterrorism bills are being passed in various western former “democracies”, including the US, Britain, Australia, Canada. They do far more that eliminate civil liberties. They eliminate justice. They return to an inquisitorial system of arbitrary arrest and detention (the"disappeared"). Summarized police allegations replace evidence (proof). [family courts allow hearsay "evidence"] The concept of evidence (proof) is gone. Accusation equals guilt. [people can be put on a child abuse list without charge or proof] The concept of innocent until proven guilty is gone. The two essential elements of criminal law to establish guilt, mens rea and actus reus, are gone. (Mens rea is intention to do a crime and actus reus is the fact of doing the crime.) If the state decides a terrorist act was committed and you were in anyway connected or associated, you are guilty whether or not you intended to do the criminal act or whether or not you did the act. The right to remain silent is gone. The principle of confidentiality between lawyer and client is gone (akin to forcing a priest to reveal the contents of the confessional). The concept of a fair trial and the right to a full defence is gone. People or organizations accused of being a terrorist are put on a list. Anyone who associates with listed person or organization can be by association defined as a terrorist. Hence lawyers who defend people accused of being a terrorist face being defined themselves as terrorists. Property and bank accounts can be frozen and confiscated by accusation of being a terrorist. Punishments are excessive and severe (life imprisonment in many cases). These are some of the horrors of Bill C 36.
Rocco Galati said
"... the Muslim and Arab communities will be directly affected. You just have to witness the approximately 800 illegal detentions in this country currently going on in the correctional centres before you even have Bill C-36, where Muslims and Arabs have been directed not to be able to phone their lawyers, see their lawyers, phone their families, see their family as of September 11. That's going on right now. I see it in the jails every day. "
"This bill is, in my humble submission, obscene in the net it casts. You might as well have deleted the constitution from our landscape. This bill is so overbroad, it catches socio-economic and political offences. It creates themstrikes, work stoppages, boycotts, protests, association, assembly, and free speech."
"What's insidious about this bill, if you read section 27 and the definition of what is ‘a prejudicial act to the safety or interest of the state ’, there are various economic crimes in here that relate back to the definition of terrorism which would catch [include], (boycotts for environmental and ethical reasons) would catch [include] any legal strike against the financial markets. This is as much about stomping anti-globalization, anti-poverty, anti-logging protest as it is about terrorism. In fact, if it were just about terrorism, this bill would be 10 to 15 pages long. You are invoking extraordinary measures that we haven't since June 21, 1941 and October 1970 in terms of secret trials, secret trial mechanisms, the abrogation of the right to remain silent, self-incrimination, the 72-hour detention without charge. You have investigative hearings that do away with all charter rights, and then you have seizure of property, and then to charge, convict and sentence someone even without knowledge if he's a facilitator with secret trials."
"I'm probably the only one in the room who's actually conducted these secret trials under the Immigration Act (An existing act without Bill C 36). They are the substance of a dictatorship, of a police state. You don't get to see the evidence, ever. It's all dealt with by the judge, it's covered. The accused person never gets to see it. " .... "The problem with our legislation (Bill C 36) that makes it stand out like a sore thumb is , how do you get an alleged terrorist convicted and how do you have his assets seized? It's in the mechanisms of the 72-hour detention, the investigative hearings, and the secret trials before the trial court that this legislation is unprecedented anywhere in the world. " ... ...it's the way people are arrested without cause or need for a probable cause, and held for 72-hours. They can, in theory, be out the door and back in for another 72, and another 72. There's nothing that stops that. We saw that during the FLQ crisis. Secondly, it's hauling people in for investigative hearings. If you don't answer a question, that's an offence, and you can go to jail, even if they ask you, do you have marijuana at home. There's nothing that protects against self-incrimination of non-terrorist acts in the bill, for instance. Thirdly, when you get to court, and this is unprecedented, the star chamber proceedings that you've mirrored from the immigration terrorist certificates that we've seen for the last twelve years, are unprecedented. They're medieval; they're inquisitorial. I've done them. I, in fact sir, won one in Mr. Jabala's xxx case in 1999. CSIS did not like the result. He has been re-arrested on the same allegations in 2001. You can be re-arrested and re-arrested even if you're acquitted. That is unprecedented anywhere in the world. As you know, Italy had its terrorism nightmare in the seventies. Germany had its terrorism nightmare in the seventies and eighties. " .... ....this, in my humble view and no offence to who drafted it, is a reptilian piece of legislation because it's really conniving in the way it works.”
(Mr Galati illustrates how you have to jump from one part of Bill C 36 to another to follow what it actually does, and to show how tinkering with it will not fix it.) “You have to deal with Section 27 of the bill (of the Official Secrets Act part of the bill ) that amends what is ‘prejudicial to the safety and interest of the state ’, which then feeds in to subparagraph (83.01)(b)(1)(B) because (B) talks about ‘something that in whole or in part with the intention of intimidating the public or a segment of the public with regard to its security,’ and I underline, ‘including its economic security.’
Now, you have to then go to the amendment under Section 27 of the Official Secrets Act, that defines that as a ‘prejudicial safety interest’, and then you have to go to subparagraph (S27)3(1)(d),(f),(j),(k), and (l) and that covers...you can't do anything to adversely affect the financial markets, treaty negotiations for instance, in Quebec City, or APEC.
That amendment to the Official Secrets Act, coupled with ‘economic security interests’, means that political and economic dissent are still acts of terrorism under this law. And I'll read you some of those subparagraphs that are there. If you do anything that ‘adversely affects the stability of the Canadian economy, the financial system or any financial market in Canada without reasonable economic or financial justification’. So the French farmer who wants to boycott McDonalds and maybe dump something with a dump truck is a terrorist under this provision.
Sub (l) (if you do anything that)'’impairs or threatens the capability of the Government of Canada to conduct diplomatic or consular relations or conduct and manage international negotiations.’ So Quebec City, all the protesters would be terrorists and, in fact, RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli was asked publicly a few weeks ago could he have used Bill C-36 in Quebec City and he said he might probably not, but yes he could have used it to arrest those as terrorists.
So (in answer to a question put by a member of the committee whether deleting section 83.01(E) would resolve the concerns against the Bill) deleting the lawful protest part of (83.01)sub (E) does not do it. You have to go to (b) in 83.011(b)(i)(B) and you have to, unless you delete the amendments to the Official Secrets Act, now (named) the Security of Information Act, you have to delete that reference to ‘economic security’ because then that in turn makes all civil protests for anti-globalization, anti-logging, antipoverty, anti anything that doesn't have an economic or financial justification an act of terrorism and that's why I referred to this as reptilian before because it really is a slivery piece of legislation.
It's not clear in the definition of terrorism (that civil protests are terrorist acts). It's by reference to ‘economic and financial security’ and when you go over to the Official Secrets Act you see that anybody who voices an opinion converse to the government of the day is a terrorist under this (Bill C 36). (18)
The system is already operating as if Bill C 36 was in place. It is using existing law (sufficiently Draconian in its own right) to effect it. Protestors are already being affected. A US citizen social activist, Lisa Fithian, was arrested in Ottawa, Canada November 13,2001 in advance of the G20 economic summit of finance ministers. She was being held by Citizenship and Immigration authorities awaiting deportation. She was in Canada to teach peaceful protest techniques for the G20 economic meetings. She has been in and out of Canada several times during the past year. Grounds for detention include being a flight risk before a deportation hearing can take place, or being deemed a risk to Canadians. (19). (The good news about the G20 economic protests is that simultaneous to the G20 protests in Ottawa, in 60 cities in Europe tens of thousands of protestors were demonstrating against the G20 summit as they were in other parts of Canada.) (20)
Despite the classic crushing process rampant in the commands of the WTO, the World Bank, and the IMF, which process is being institutionalized in these dramatic changes to domestic laws around the western world, protestors are not submitting. The intention of these Draconian laws is to terrorize protestors, drive them into submission, and bend them to the will of the new Iron Heel. These laws are being implemented precisely because of the success of the masses of demonstrators around the world who understand freedom vs oppression. The indoctrination tactic of a Stephen Owen repeatedly trying to frighten the audience and blame Bin Laden and 9/11 as justification to destroy democracy just could not fly before an informed educated audience.
Just as the government of Canada is determined to destroy our democracy ("We will bring in legislation to stop terrorism....Bill C36 is aimed at political, ideological, and religious motivations and perversions that intimidate and move governments," (21), so the citizens of Canada are determined to save it. We are not so weak as Goering said (22).
"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." (23)
Now more than ever it is the time to speak out, to write to your MP, MLA, municipal councillor, and to every community organization, church, and leader in your community, and to the media. Information on contacting Members of Parliament. (24)
"First They Came For"....... by Reverend Martin Niemoeller (25)
"In Germany, the Nazis first came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then the came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, but I didn't speak up because I was a protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me." - Reverend Niemoeller, a German Lutheran pastor, was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Dachau in 1938. He was freed by the allied forces in 1945
1. Stephen Owen, Member of Parliament, Vancouver Quadra, November 14,2001, public meeting in Vancouver, BC, Canada
2. Rocco Galati, submissions on behalf of the Canadian Islamic Congress to Justice and Human Rights Committee, Nov 5, 2001 http//www.canadianliberty.bc.ca/liberty-vs-security/
3. The United Nations Conventions http//untreaty.un.org/English/Terrorism.asp
4. Bill C-35: Granting Diplomatic Immunity to State Terrorists. By Richard Sanders, Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade. 5.html
5. George Lardner Jr. and Peter Slevin, Washington Post, 11/14/01
6. The New York Times November 14, 2001
7. The New York Times November 14, 2001
8. Rocco Galati, submissions to Justice and Human Rights Committee on behalf of the Canadian Islamic Congress, Nov.5,2001 http//www.canadianliberty.bc.ca/liberty-vs-security/
9. New York Times http//www.nytimes.com/2001/11/05/business/media/05TORT.html?todaysheadlines.
10. Margot E. Young "Relax a Bit in the Nation: Constitutional Law 101 and the APEC Affair", Pepper in Our Eyes, the Apec Affair ,Wesley Pue, editor, UBC Press 2000, Vancouver, Toronto ISBN O-7748-0780-6 paperback, p.45
11. Ibid., p. 47.
12. Ibid., pp 45-46
13. Donald J. Sorochan Q.C., "The Apec Protest, the Rule of Law, and Civilian Oversight of Canada's National Police Force" ,Pepper in Our Eyes, the Apec Affair ,Wesley Pue, editor, op.cit., p.57
14. BILL C-35, An Act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
15. Richard Saunders, Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade. " Bill C -35: Granting Diplomatic Immunity to State Terrorists" http//www.canadianliberty.bc.ca http//www.canadianliberty.bc.ca/liberty-vs-security/richard_sanders-bill-c35.html or at Web site
16. Donald J. Sorochan Q.C., op.cit., p. 59.
17. Donald J. Sorochan Q.C., Ibid. p. 60
18. Rocco Galati, lawyer for the Canadian Islamic Congress, in submissions re Bill C 36 to Canada's Justice and Human Rights Committee on November 5, 2001
19. The Canadian Press, Wednesday November 14, 2001.
20. C.B.C radio, Sunday Morning, November 18,2001
21. Stephen Owen, M.P., November 14,2001
22. Goering was Adolph Hitler's #2 man. He commented on how to generate public acceptance and enthusiasm for the mass slaughter that is war
23. VETERANS SPEAKERS ALLIANCE! http//www.vsasf.org/.
24. (a) To send a form letter or your own letter to Cabinet, and Senators, and Leaders, and relevant committee members go to the home page of www.canadianliberty.bc.ca (b)To find the email addresses for all other MP's and all Senators click on the following link http//www.canadianliberty.bc.ca/contact/mp-addresses.html (c) To get fax numbers for your Member of Parliament or other Canadian MPs go to http//www.canada.gc.ca/directories/direct_e.html . (d) To find out who is your MP is and to obtain constituency address, telephone, and fax details about any Member of Parliament call 1-800-667-3355. (e) Write your MP at House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1AO86 (no stamp needed to mail MP). Senators' tel nos. addresses1-800-267-7362; House of Commons, information 1- 613-992-4793
25. Reverend Niemoeller, a German Lutheran pastor, was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Dachau in 1938. He was freed by the allied forces in 1945.
Updated to June 20, 2008.
Section 145 of the ATA required a committee or committees of Parliament to conduct a "comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of the Act", within three years from the date that the Act received Royal Assent (December 18, 2001). A motion of the House of Commons on December 9, 2004, authorized the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to review the ATA. Its Subcommittee on Public Safety and National Security began its review in February 2005. The Senate adopted a similar motion on December 13, 2004, establishing a Special Committee to undertake a separate review.
The House of Commons Subcommittee on Public Safety and National Security and the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act conducted hearings during the 38th Parliament. Transcripts of these hearings can be accessed on the Parliament of Canada website:
• The House of Commons Subcommittee on Public Safety and National Security
• The Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act . (Put in the word "anti terrorism" in the search on this site)
The dissolution of the 38th Parliament on November 30, 2005, ended the work of the Parliamentary review committees. The 39th Parliament saw one committee resumed, and a new committee established, to continue the review of the ATA. Transcripts of these hearings can be accessed on the Parliament of Canada website:
• The House of Commons Subcommittee on the Review of the Anti-terrorism Act
• The Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act .
On October 23, 2006, the House of Commons Subcommittee on the Review of the Anti-terrorism Act (“House Subcommittee”) released its Review of the Anti-terrorism Act Investigative Hearings and Recognizance with Conditions Program: Interim Report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
The final report of the House Subcommittee – Rights, Limits, Security: A Comprehensive Review of the Anti-terrorism Act And Related Issues – was released on March 27, 2007. The Government filed its response to the Subcommittee’s recommendations, Government Response to the Seventh Report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security on July 18, 2007.
On February 22, 2007, the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act released its main report (Third Report) entitled Fundamental Justice in Extraordinary Times . On March 28, 2007, the Special Senate Committee issued a supplementary report (Fourth Report). The supplementary report notably commented on the Supreme Court of Canada’s Charkaoui decision and the immigration security certificate process.On October 22, 2007, Bill C-3, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Certificate and Special Advocate) and to Make a Consequential Amendment to Another Act , was introduced in the House of Commons. The Bill amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to provide a new procedure relating to immigration security certificates and, in particular, to provide for the appointment of a special advocate to represent the interests of a person named in a security certificate. The Bill was introduced after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in February 2007 that IRPA’s procedure for judicial approval of security certificates infringed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and was therefore of no force or effect. The Court suspended its declaration for one year to provide time for Parliament to amend the procedure. The Bill received Royal Assent on February 14, 2008, and was proclaimed into force on February 22, 2008. On October 23, 2007 the Government introduced in the Senate Bill S-3.
Bill S-3 proposes amendments to the Criminal Code that would reinstate anti-terrorism provisions that expired under a sunset clause in March 2007. The proposed provisions are substantially similar to the original provisions, which came into force with the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2001. Bill S-3 proposes:
•provisions to bring individuals who may have information about a terrorism offence before a judge for an investigative hearing,
•and provisions dealing with recognizance with conditions, including preventive arrest to avert a potential terrorist attack.
The Bill also:
•contains a 5-year sunset clause;
•requires that the Attorney General and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to report annually on their opinion together with reasons as to whether these provisions should be maintained;
•incorporates other technical amendments.
Bill S-3 was passed by the Senate. It was in the House of Commons at Second Reading when the House of Commons recessed on June 20, 2008. The House of Commons is adjourned until September 15, 2008 .
Updated to June 20, 2008.
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S., the federal government created Canada's first anti-terrorism legislation defining what terrorism is and making it a punishable offence within Canada's Criminal Code. The Anti-terrorism Act (Bills C-36 and C-42) , was the subject of heated debate and controversy as the Liberal government of the time fast-tracked it through the House of Commons and the Liberal-dominated Senate.
The act became part of the Criminal Code on Dec. 18, 2001. The changes to the code are "aimed at disabling and dismantling the activities of terrorists groups and those who support them."
As it was being drafted politicians and protesters raised concerns that the legislation as proposed trampled on civil liberties because it gave police sweeping new powers, including the ability to arrest people and hold them without charge for up to 72 hours if they are suspected of planning a terrorist act.
The Liberals used their majority to pass a motion to curtail debate, and rejected all of the remaining opposition amendments. The motion passed easily in the House of Commons with a vote of 190 in favour and 47 against.
However, in a nod to civil libertarians, the bill contained a five-year sunset clause on some of its more controversial elements and it is the proposal to extend these provisions that has provoked enormous controversy in Parliament in recent weeks.
The Conservative government has tried to paint the Liberals as hypocritical and weak on terrorism for refusing to extend two provisions in particular. Because both the NDP and the Bloc Québécois are also against an extension, Liberal support is necessary if these elements of the act are to continue. [Remember it was a Liberal government that brought this in to begin with - Now as the opposition, they were oppposing the extension of the sunset clauses]
What's at stake
The other would allow a judge to compel a witness to testify in secret about past associations or perhaps pending acts under penalty of going to jail if the witness doesn't comply.
Neither clause has been used by police or prosecutors in the five years the act has been enforced but, in October, a parliamentary committee recommended extending the two provisions for another five years.
As well, Prime Minister Stephen Harper caused a partisan stir last week when, reading from a news report, he said a relative of a Liberal MP was on a secret list to be questioned by authorities in their reinvestigation of the Air India tragedy and implied this was the reason the Liberals were switching sides.
In the Commons this week, deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff explained his party's change of position, arguing that the curtailment of civil liberties can only be justified under emergency provisions and when public safety absolutely requires it.
"If this is the test," he said, "the clauses should sunset because they have not proven absolutely necessary to public safety. The government, in essence, has not proven its case and on these questions where our liberties are at stake the government has to prove the case of public necessity beyond a shadow of a doubt."
Motive and history
The bills also contained provisions to comply with new UN rules on combating terrorism as well as with similar laws that were being put in place in the U.S. and Britain.
"We believe that people everywhere are entitled to live in peace and security," McLellan said.
In June 2006, then Conservative justice minister Vic Toews said the government had no plans to toughen the Anti-terrorism Act after the arrest of 17 people in Toronto suspected of planning a bombing campaign. However, he said, it may consider changing the law's definition of terrorism, which is called the motive clause.
This clause defines a terrorist act as one committed "for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause." Toews said there are two problems with that definition: it could lead to profiling of people of a particular religion, Islam especially, and it could be difficult for prosecutors to provide evidence of a suspect's personal beliefs.
On Oct. 24, 2006, a Superior Court judge struck down the motive clause, saying it violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The judge was working on the case of Mohammed Mormin Khawaja, the first person charged under the new anti-terror provisions.
Khawaja, a software developer, was arrested on March 29, 2004, and faces seven criminal charges alleging that he participated in and gave assistance to an alleged British terrorist organization.
Although the judge struck down part of the law used to arrest Khawaja, he said his trial on the charges could go on.
Highlights of the Anti-terrorism Act:
• It gives the police wide, sweeping powers to act on suspected acts of terrorism.
• It allows suspected terrorists to be detained without charge for up to three days.
• It makes it easier for the police to use electronic surveillance, which used to be seen as a last resort.
• It allows for preventive arrests.
• It allows judges to compel witnesses to give evidence during an investigation. [? Are we talking torture here ?]
• It allows for the designation of a group as a terrorist organization.
The legislation makes it a crime to:
• Knowingly collect or provide funds, either directly or indirectly, in order to carry out terrorist crimes. Using this definition, the Crown must prove that the accused collected, provided or made available funds that he or she knew would be used to help a terrorist group. Canadian courts would be given the jurisdiction to try this offence even if it were committed outside Canada, when the accused is found in Canada. The maximum sentence for this offence would be 10 years.
• Knowingly participate in, contribute to or facilitate the activities of a terrorist group. The participation or contribution itself does not have to be a criminal offence and would include knowingly recruiting into the group new individuals for the purpose of enhancing the ability of the terrorist group to aid, abet or commit indictable offences. The maximum sentence for the offence of participating or contributing would be 10 years imprisonment. The maximum sentence for facilitating would be 14 years imprisonment.
• Instruct anyone to carry out a terrorist act or an activity on behalf of a terrorist group (a "leadership" offence). This offence carries a maximum life sentence.
• Knowingly harbour or conceal a terrorist. The maximum sentence for this offence would be 10 years.
In addition to the changes to the Criminal Code, the anti-terrorism legislation makes changes to:
The Official Secrets Act - renamed to the Security of Information Act it creates new offences against threats of espionage by foreign powers and terrorist groups and allows ministers to declare certain actions secret.
The Canada Evidence Act - amended to include changes to courtroom and other proceedings to protect classified information.
The National Defence Act - amended to clarify the mandate of the Communications Security Establishment to intercept communication of foreign targets and undertake security checks of government computer networks to protect them from terrorist activity.
Canada Anti-Terrorism Laws: Harper Conservatives Will Reintroduce Controversial Measures
“The Prime Minister needs to explain to us why if these measures were so important and necessary they were not in place for four years,” Rae said. “Is the Prime Minister saying that for the last four or five years we were at risk, at greater risk because the measures have not been in place?”
NDP MP Paul Dewar said in an email to Huffington Post Canada on Tuesday that Harper's plan isn't necessary.
“Stephen Harper's plan to reintroduce these draconian provisions simply isn’t backed up by the facts. The government has produced no evidence to justify this move. Security is obviously important to Canadians, and we can make Canada secure without resorting to measures like these.
“In fact, the former Director of CSIS Reid Morden has said that these provisions were needless and crossed the line between state security and individual rights.”
Harper tried to re-introduce the police-broadening powers in 2008, but his efforts failed in 2008 because the Conservative minority government didn’t have the required seat count. Now that Harper has a majority in both chambers, the hurdle he once faced is no longer an obstacle.
The Liberal caucus was divided over the necessity of the measures four years ago, with some MPs who agreed with the governing Tories sitting out the vote.
The Conservative government will reintroduce controversial anti-terrorism measures that were allowed to expire amid privacy concerns and Charter rights complaints, Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed to the CBC Tuesday.
On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Harper told CBC’s Peter Mansbridge that Canada needs better tools to combat the ongoing threat of major acts of terrorism and Islamist violence.
Among other controversial measures expected to be made law again are preventative arrests and the ability to force individuals to testify at “investigative hearings” if officials suspect they have knowledge of terrorist activity.
“That is our plan (to reintroduce the measures). We think those measures are necessary. We think they've been useful. And as you know, they're applied rarely, but there are times where they're needed,” said Harper in an interview to be broadcast in its entirety Thursday.
The measures were initially included in the Liberal government’s anti-terrorism act passed soon after 9/11 under then prime minister Jean Chrétien. The controversial provisions of the bill were allowed to expire five years later after a majority of Parliamentarians voted not to reinstate them.
The NDP was especially adamant that the measures were a breach of fundamental freedoms and compromised key features of Canada’s justice system and Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Investigative hearings provide officials with a way to force someone suspected of having information about terrorist activity to testify before a judge. Preventive detention allows the state to incarcerate anyone suspected of involvement in criminal activity without having to prove allegations. Both provisions gave the government far too much power, the NDP argued.
“Not everyone who chooses to remain silent is guilty. People may have very legitimate fears and concerns, such as fears and concerns about their own personal safety,” then NDP MP Bill Siksay told the House of Commons in 2008 when the Tories first tried to reintroduce the measures.
“Jailing people because we think they might do something criminal is very problematic, to say the least,” he added.
But Harper suggested the measures are a rational response to very real threats faced by Canada.
“The major threat is still Islamicism. There are other threats out there, but that is the one that I can tell you occupies the security apparatus most regularly in terms of actual terrorist threats,” Harper said.
“Now, as we've seen in Norway, terrorist threats can come out of the blue. It can come from something completely different, and there are other groups and individuals that if given the chance would engage in terrorism. But that one is probably still the major one,” he noted.
The Prime Minister said Canada not only faces threats from outside its borders, but also from within, in the form of homegrown terrorists.
“When people think of Islamic terrorism, they think of Afghanistan, or maybe they think of someplace in the Middle East, but the truth is that threat exists all over the world. We've seen some recent bombings in Nigeria, domestic Nigerian terrorists,” Harper said, adding “Homegrown is also something that we keep an eye on.”
In its annual report tabled in June, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) noted that the main threat to Canada continues to be Islamist violence.
"Canada is a tangible target for Islamist extremist-inspired violence," CSIS Director Richard Fadden wrote.
The service was also concerned about terrorist plots being planned by individuals or groups "we do not know about," Fadden said.