Tag Archives: Bill C-51

MP McGuinty to chair parliamentary committee to monitor spying, security - Ottawa Citizen 20160108

MP McGuinty to chair parliamentary committee to monitor spying, security - Ottawa Citizen 20160108

The Liberals are planning to table legislation by June creating the first all-party committee of parliamentarians to monitor the top-secret operations of Canada’s expanding national security establishment.

Veteran Ottawa Liberal MP David McGuinty will chair the committee, the Prime Minister’s Office announced Friday.

The news comes as Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, responsible for Canada’s spy agencies and national security policing, is heading to London Monday to learn about the workings of Britain’s long-standing intelligence and security committee of Parliament and its enviable track record of never leaking classified information. McGuinty will accompany the minister.

Goodale will travel to Paris Wednesday to discuss counter-terrorism and counter-radicalization issues with French officials.

Scott Bardsley, Goodale’s spokesman, said Friday it is Goodale’s hope to “introduce (the) legislation in the first half the year,” and before the House recesses for the summer on June 23.

In opposition, the Liberals called for increased oversight of Canada’s national security apparatus after the former Conservative government unveiled its sweeping Bill C-51 national security legislation. The Grits supported the controversial bill, but promised to reform some of its more contentious provisions if elected.

A review committee of parliamentarians to monitor the effectiveness and lawfulness of Canada’s intelligence operations was a key element of that pledge. Canadian parliamentarians currently have no access to confidential and high-level information about national security institutions and policies — unlike politicians in the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and some other NATO nations.

As well, public opinion polling shows many Canadians want a tighter watch over spy agencies and other federal intelligence gatherers, commensurate with their extended powers under C-51.

Currently, only the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the electronic spy agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), are reviewed by government-appointed watchdog agencies.

There is no independent oversight or review of the Canada Border Services Agency, which has a dual intelligence and law-enforcement role. Nor is there dedicated, independent monitoring of the intelligence arms of the RCMP, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Privy Council Office, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.

A crucial concern over the establishment of a parliamentary committee of rival politicians has always been ensuring air-tight secrecy of the highly-classified operational security intelligence of Canadian and foreign allied agencies before the committee.

“The United Kingdom committee is regarded as one of the best,” said Bardsley. “In particular, it has never leaked. As we go about setting up our committee of parliamentarians, we want to make sure we do everything we can to put the right structure in place from the get-go. So, the U.K. committee, in particular, is a very important role model.”

Previous Liberal private members’ bills calling for such a committee suggested the panel be composed of three members of the Senate and six members of the House, all sworn to secrecy for life. No more than four members could be from the same political party.

It would have access to any information under federal control that relates to the performance of its duties and functions, including compelling federal employees to divulge information, reports and explanations it deemed necessary to do its job.

The proposals called for the committee to report annually to the prime minister, who would table a copy, likely redacted, in Parliament.

In announcing the appointment, a statement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “McGuinty brings a wealth of national and global experience to this position.”

Since 2004, the lawyer by profession has won five consecutive elections as the member of Parliament for Ottawa South.

Liberals plan swift overhaul of anti-terror law - Ottawa Citizen 20151021

Liberals plan swift overhaul of anti-terror law - Ottawa Citizen 20151021

Police on the scene after the shooting last October of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the Cenotaph.
Police on the scene after the shooting last October of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the Cenotaph. PAT MCGRATH / OTTAWA CITIZEN

The controversial security bill rammed through Parliament by the Conservative government in the spring is expected to be overhauled without delay by the new Liberal government, say party officials and other sources.

Proposed legislation to add new measures and repeal some existing parts of the law, now known as the Anti-terrorism Act of 2015, or C-51, is already being drafted and is to be tabled early in the new parliamentary session. Consultations with the public and various experts are planned before the replacement legislation is put to a final House vote.

The bill was brought in by the Conservatives after the killings in October 2014 of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in Ottawa by lone-wolf extremists.

A key feature of the replacement legislation is expected to be the creation of a multi-party, joint House of Commons-Senate committee, sworn to secrecy and reporting to the prime minister and through him to Parliament. It would have a full-time staff, access to the necessary secret information and be tasked with strategic oversight of every government department and agency with national security responsibilities, according to a source familiar with the content.

Early reaction is positive, but with a note of caution.

“It would be a new departure for the Canadian Parliament and what would be a very difficult task,” said Wesley Wark, a security and intelligence historian and scholar at the University of Ottawa.

“I’m glad we’ve arrived at this moment, it’s something that should have been done in Canada a long time ago. (But) it would be important to be cautious about expectations around the early performance of such a committee.”

Canadian parliamentarians currently have no access to confidential and high-level information about national security institutions and policies – unlike politicians in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and some other NATO nations.

Public opinion polling shows many Canadians want a tighter watch over spy agencies and other federal intelligence gatherers, commensurate with their extended powers under C-51.

A day after the Oct. 22, 2014 terror attack on the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Commons that an existing government initiative to strengthen laws dealing with the surveillance, detention and arrest of national security suspects would be “expedited.” Two months later, he unveiled Bill C-51, which the Conservative government used as the centrepiece of a security narrative on protecting Canadians from the Islamic State and its followers.

The omnibus bill, made law in June, dramatically expanded the mandate and powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), criminalized promoting and advocating terrorism, and required airlines to help stop extremists from flying to overseas battle zones.

It also allowed more than 100 departments and federal agencies to begin sharing Canadians’ personal information more easily and made it simpler for police to arrest and detain individuals without charge as suspected national security threats, among other measures.

Five days after Harper unveiled C-51 on Jan. 30, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau surprised many by agreeing to support it. But at the same time, Trudeau said his party would demand – unsuccessfully as it turned out – that the Tory government amend some provisions. Failing that, Trudeau said a Liberal government would make changes once in power.

The Liberal plan for a parliamentary oversight committee is fashioned on a failed 2014 Senate bill introduced by senators Grant Mitchell, Roméo Dallaire and Hugh Segal.

It called for a body to review “the legislative, regulatory, policy and administrative framework for national security and intelligence in Canada, and activities of federal departments and agencies in relation to intelligence and national security.”

The Liberals say a three-year automatic review, or sunset clause, of the entire Anti-terrorism Act of 2015 act would be added.

As well, they want to narrow some of the “overly broad” definitions of what constitutes a threat to national security, including defining “terrorist propaganda” more clearly.

Current oversight and review is chiefly the responsibility of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), which conducts after-the-fact reviews of the operations of CSIS, the country’s human spy service.

The activities of the electronic spy service, the Communications Security Establishment, are reviewed by a watchdog known as the Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner (OCSEC). Increasingly, in the era of the Edward Snowden leaks on U.S. spying, CSE’s domestic cyber-spying activities are raising privacy and legal concerns, though the agency has never been charged with law-breaking.

There is no independent oversight or review of the Canada Border Services Agency, which has a dual intelligence and law-enforcement role. Nor is there dedicated, independent monitoring of the intelligence arms of the RCMP, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, thePrivy Council Office, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.

Wark believes a parliamentary committee would be best suited to a broad mandate looking at the security intelligence community in all its moving parts.

“It’s going to have to maintain a strategic-level look at that community and its functions. It could be matched with organizations like SIRC and the CSE commissioner who have a much more focused review mandate. (They) could both feed into the work of a parliamentary committee.”

Libs seek advice abroad on C-51 overhaul - Toronto Sun 20160108

Libs seek advice abroad on C-51 overhaul - Toronto Sun 20160108

Goodale
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale responds during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale will head to the U.K. and France this weekend for advice on how to transform Canada's security oversight from an arms-length model to one overseen by politicians.

Goodale's meetings will focus on "countering terrorism, radicalization and cyber-security," spokesperson Scott Bardsley told the Sun.

The fact-finding mission is part of the Liberal election platform pledge to "establish an all-party national security oversight committee." That was part of the proposed reforms to Bill C-51, the former government's anti-terrorism act.

Britain's intelligence and security committee oversees a number of agencies and consists of parliamentarians. This is in contrast to Canada's Security Intelligence Review Committee - that oversees CSIS - which is composed of appointees and operates at arms-length from Parliament.

This likely means SIRC's duties would be rolled into the parliamentary committee. This would bring CSIS oversight more into the open, but it could also make it more partisan.

"It's good to have that distance between them and partisan politicians," former SIRC member Deborah Grey said, responding to the news.

It's unclear if the government plans to include the less partisan Senate in the committee. But Sen. Daniel Lang, chair of the Senate committee on national security and defence, said "any oversight committee must include members from both houses of Parliament in order to ensure total parliamentary oversight."

"One important part to note about that committee (in the UK) is it hasn't leaked," Bardsley says of concerns that a committee of politicians would be less secure.

Liberals aim to balance national security with rights and freedoms in Bill C-51 revamp - Toronto Star 20160110

Liberals aim to balance national security with rights and freedoms in Bill C-51 revamp - Toronto Star 20160110

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says Canadians will be consulted on changes to controversial bill drafted by Conservatives after 2014 terror attacks.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says his Liberal governnment will repeal the "problematic elements" of Bill C-51, along with any other changes needed to protect our collective charter rights.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says his Liberal governnment will repeal the "problematic elements" of Bill C-51, along with any other changes needed to protect our collective charter rights.

OTTAWA—The Liberal government is open to an expansive revamp of national security legislation, not just a handful of promised changes to the controversial anti-terror bill known as C-51, says Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

The government will give Canadians a chance to have their say before deciding what changes to make, Goodale said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“If the consultation leads to a broader set of action items, obviously we would be guided by what that consultation tells us,” he said. “The subject matter is large, it’s complex, the solutions aren’t particularly easy to achieve. But our whole point in having consultations is to listen to what we hear. And if the messages indicate that something more needs to be done, obviously we would try to pursue that.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked Goodale to work with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to repeal the “problematic elements” of Bill C-51 and introduce new legislation that strengthens accountability with respect to national security while better balancing collective security with rights and freedoms.

The government has pledged to ensure all Canadian Security Intelligence Service warrants respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That would roll back new provisions allowing CSIS to disrupt terror plots through tactics that breach the charter as long as a judge approves.

It has also committed to creating a special committee of parliamentarians to keep an eye on national security operations.

Organizations including Amnesty International Canada and the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group have urged the Liberals to go further, by implementing neglected 2006 recommendations on comprehensive security review from the inquiry into the overseas torture of Maher Arar.

Others have called for a fundamental rethinking of the tools needed to counter jihadi-inspired extremism, as well as stronger measures to protect privacy.

Goodale says the Conservative government failed to consult the public properly when it ushered in C-51 after attacks that killed Canadian soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and Ottawa just days apart in October 2014.

“I think there was a moment there when collaboration of a rare and extraordinary kind was possible. The government chose to go a different way,” Goodale said. “They chose to proceed unilaterally without that kind of consultation or engagement. And the end result produced a flawed piece of legislation in C-51.”

The government hasn’t yet decided whether to have a standing committee of Parliament carry out the review or to create a special committee to do the job, he said.

The government may also engage in public consultations through “tools and techniques that take us beyond the parliamentary precinct.”

“The point here is that we genuinely want to hear from Canadians,” Goodale said.

“They didn’t have the opportunity before, we want to give them the opportunity now, to make sure that, in the resetting of the national security framework, we get it right.”

Liberals open to broad security revamp, Goodale says - CTV News 20160109

Liberals open to broad security revamp, Goodale says - CTV News 20160109

Public Safety Minister Ralph GoodalePublic Safety Minister Ralph Goodale responds during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

OTTAWA -- The Liberal government is open to an expansive revamp of national security legislation, not just a handful of promised changes to the controversial bill known as C-51, says Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

The government will give Canadians a chance to have their say before deciding what changes to make, Goodale said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"If the consultation leads to a broader set of action items, obviously we would be guided by what that consultation tells us," Goodale said.

"The subject matter is large, it's complex, the solutions aren't particularly easy to achieve. But our whole point in having consultations is to listen to what we hear. And if the messages indicate that something more needs to be done, obviously we would try to pursue that."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked Goodale to work with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to repeal the "problematic elements" of Bill C-51 and introduce new legislation that strengthens accountability with respect to national security while better balancing collective security with rights and freedoms.

The government has pledged to ensure all Canadian Security Intelligence Service warrants respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That would roll back new provisions allowing CSIS to disrupt terror plots through tactics that breach the charter as long as a judge approves.

It has also committed to creating a special committee of parliamentarians to keep an eye on national security operations.

Organizations including Amnesty International Canada and the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group have urged the Liberals to go further by implementing neglected 2006 recommendations on comprehensive security review from the inquiry into the overseas torture of Maher Arar.

Others have called for a fundamental rethinking of the tools needed to counter jihadi-inspired extremism as well as stronger measures to protect privacy.

Goodale says the Conservative government failed to consult the public properly when it ushered in C-51 after attacks that killed Canadian soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and Ottawa just days apart in October 2014.

"I think there was a moment there when collaboration of a rare and extraordinary kind was possible. The government chose to go a different way," Goodale said.

"They chose to proceed unilaterally without that kind of consultation or engagement. And the end result produced a flawed piece of legislation in C-51."

The government hasn't yet decided whether to have a standing committee of Parliament carry out the review or to create a special committee to do the job, he said. The Liberals may also engage in public consultations through "tools and techniques that take us beyond the parliamentary precinct."

"The point here is that we genuinely want to hear from Canadians," he said.

"They didn't have the opportunity before, we want to give them the opportunity now, to make sure that in the resetting of the national security framework, we get it right."

Liberals to model new national security committee after leak-free U.K. version: Ralph Goodale - National Post 20160108

Liberals to model new national security committee after leak-free U.K. version: Ralph Goodale - National Post 20160108


Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale: “There needs to be adequate review and scrutiny … to make sure that (federal agencies with intelligence powers) are conducting themselves in a way that’s consistent with Canadian values.”

OTTAWA — The Liberal government plans to model its national security committee of parliamentarians after the one in Britain because it has successfully kept secret information under wraps over the years, says Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

It is very important that sensitive intelligence secrets be kept in the strictest confidence, Goodale said Friday in an interview with The Canadian Press.

He will be in the United Kingdom next week to learn more about its parliamentary intelligence and security committee, which oversees Britain’s spy agencies as well as the broader intelligence functions of the government.

Goodale said he is particularly interested to know how its members maintain the self-discipline to avoid spilling secrets. “One obvious merit of the U.K. system is that it has not leaked.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that veteran MP David McGuinty, a lawyer and former mediator, would take a leadership role in Canada’s proposed committee, with details to emerge in coming months.

Goodale said he is working with House leader Dominic LeBlanc to introduce legislation before the Commons rises for summer to create the committee of security-cleared parliamentarians. He envisions the body keeping an eye on a range of federal agencies with intelligence powers, not just the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and other key organizations.

“This will be a whole-of-government approach,” the minister said.

“Wherever those extraordinary authorities are vested, there needs to be adequate review and scrutiny to make sure they’re being effective, and also to make sure that they’re conducting themselves in a way that’s consistent with Canadian values.”

Critics have long pointed out that some federal agencies with intelligence powers, such as the Canada Border Services Agency, have no dedicated watchdog. In addition, the few watchdogs that do exist cannot easily share information to get to the bottom of a complaint or problem that involves several security services.

The previous Conservative government resisted calls for a full-fledged parliamentary security committee, suggesting arm’s-length review agencies — not partisan politicians — should oversee spy services. Still, Britain and Canada’s other chief allies, including the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, have embraced the concept.

“Canada is the odd man out for not having this kind of review mechanism,” Goodale said.

He has already spoken to officials in New Zealand about their approach, and expects to consult the Americans in the weeks ahead.

“We want to go to school on this and make sure that we get it right. This is not a committee just for the sake of having a committee, this is in order to provide a very vital function in the whole national-security apparatus of Canada,” Goodale said.

“Why the previous government did not pick it up and run with it is a bit mystifying. Because I think they could have enhanced their own credibility and avoided a lot of doubt and suspicion on the part of Canadians if they had embraced this concept, rather than pooh-poohing it.”

The Canadian Press, with files from Ottawa Citizen

Canadian Civil Liberties Association welcomes concluding observations for Canada by UN Human Rights Committee - 20150723

Canadian Civil Liberties Association welcomes concluding observations for Canada by UN Human Rights Committee - 20150723

UN_Geneva

This morning, the UN Human Rights Committee — the independent treaty body that monitors state implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) — released its concluding observations on Canada. CCLA had provided written submissions to the Committee in advance of the hearings. On July 7th and 8th, CCLA Executive Director and General Counsel Sukanya Pillay (accompanied by Brenda McPhail, CCLA Director, Privacy, Technology and Surveillance Project) made oral submissions in Geneva about our specific concerns.

“CCLA welcomes the observations of the UN Human Rights Committee,” said Pillay. “We presented it with serious concerns, including the range of problems with Bill C-51, such as accountability deficits, excessive and unchecked CSIS powers, information sharing without caveats, and no fly lists without due process. We also called for accountability for excessive use of police force during the G20 and Montreal student protests and for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. Further, we came out strongly on ending the overuse of segregation and solitary confinement in Canadian prisons, particularly in the case of mentally ill individuals.”

She added, “There are serious human rights concerns at play today in Canada and they must be urgently addressed.” 

CCLA urged the Committee to consider Canada’s recent passing of Bill C-51 and its impact on fundamental human rights, including due process; fundamental justice; liberty and security of person; privacy and the dangers of mistaken information sharing and mass surveillance; and failures of oversight and review regarding national security agencies.

CCLA also provided argument on the following:

  • Recent amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and contraventions of the principle of non-refoulement (not to remove an asylum-seeker or refugee and send them to a place where they are at risk of being harmed);
  • The need to have a national inquiry into murdered and disappeared Aboriginal women;
  • The overrepresentation of Aboriginal men and women in the criminal justice system;
  • The need to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission;
  • The need to ensure that policies promote and do not obstruct equality between men and women;
  • The use of force by police, particularly during the 2012 and 2015 Quebec protests, and the kettling and arrests of the 2010 Toronto G20 protesters;
  • Constraints upon protest by indigenous groups and environmental groups;
  • Restrictions on protest and the shrinking of public space and impact upon freedoms of expression and association;
  • Concerns about overcrowding in prisons, the overuse of administrative segregation of prisoners, the continued use of segregation and solitary confinement in federal prisons, and, in particular, CCLA argued against the use of segregation for persons with mental health issues;
  • Guidelines regarding the use of CEWs (conducted energy weapons, such as tasers) by police and CCLA’s call for a higher threshold for use;
  • Concerns about Canada’s failure to comply with interim measures and decisions of the Committee pursuant to the Optional Protocol’s Individual Complaints Process of the Covenant.

Note, these issues are actively being pursued by CCLA within Canada. In addition to our advocacy on all of the issues above, CCLA has:

  1. Launched a constitutional challenge of Bill C-51 (Anti-terrorism Act 2015);
  2. Launched a constitutional challenge of legislative provisions which permit solitary confinement/segregation in federal prisons;
  3. Launched a constitutional challenge to federal privacy law which permits the private sector to unlawfully provide personal identifying information to Government, and
  4. Taken up the cause of representing someone who has submitted an individual complaint to the Committee arguing against deportation because he was born and raised and has lived his entire life in Canada and considers it his own country.

In issuing its concluding observations this morning, the UN Human Rights Committee has made recommendations that closely align with CCLA’s recommendations. In particular, the Committee has called upon Canada to:

  • Give full effect to the Committee’s views pursuant to the Optional Protocol and in keeping with General Comment 33 (2009);
  • Ensure gender equality between men and women, particularly with respect to pay gaps;
  • Conduct a national inquiry into murdered and disappeared Aboriginal women and girls and into the root causes for violence;
  • To amend C-51 to make it compliant with the ICCPR and not to undermine human rights — particular comment was paid to CCLA’s submitted concerns, including new CSIS warrant provisions; lack of oversight or review mechanisms, resulting in accountability failures for national security agencies; mass surveillance and privacy rights; ensuring that the new Security of Canada Information Sharing Act does not result in further human rights abuses through information sharing errors; and calling on Canada to ensure effective due process regarding the No Fly List;
  • Detention of refugees and migrants should be a measure of last resort — health care services should be provided and the principle of non-refoulement should be upheld; in particular, sections of the IRPA which result in refoulement and proposed legislation including Bill 60 which would threaten refoulement should be amended;
  • Reduce overcrowding in prisons, minimize the use of administrative segregation in prisons and use disciplinary segregation only as a measure of last resort; and avoid segregation for individuals with mental health issues;
  • Restore the state’s commitment to principles of freedom of association, assembly, and expression by supporting these rights; removing unnecessary restrictions, and engaging in dialogue with civil society and indigenous groups;
  • Excessive use of force by police during protests must be promptly and impartially investigated, and violators must be prosecuted and punished with appropriate penalties
  • Implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Additionally, the Committee made important recommendations, which CCLA supports, regarding Canada’s requirement to ensure Canadian businesses do not commit human rights abuses abroad, and that Canada must consult with indigenous groups and work to ensure their land title rights are upheld.

>> View the Committee’s full concluding observations

>> View CCLA’s shadow report to the Committee

>> View Sukanya Pillay’s oral remarks to the Committee

Roach, Kent and Forcese, Craig - Canada's Bill C-51 and related issues

Bill C-51