Good afternoon, Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen, esteemed members of the committee. Good afternoon also to everyone else here.
I will briefly introduce the Congrès Maghrébin au Québec and tell you about my journey so as to provide a context for my statement, and then move on to my testimony as such.
The Congrès Maghrébin au Québec is an organization created in 2009 by professionals of the Maghreb community in Quebec. Its objective essentially is to encourage the civic participation of Quebeckers of Maghrebian origin, and also to help the Maghreb community to integrate, especially in the scientific, economic, cultural and other areas. It also promotes entrepreneurship within the Maghreb community. For two or three years now, we have also examined the issue of radicalization.
As for my personal journey, I have been in Canada for 17 years. I am an engineer by training and I work in a large Canadian aeronautics firm in Montreal. I have a BA in Islamic studies, with a major in theology. For several years I worked with the Quebec Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities, as it used to be called, to promote integration. I became a member of the Maghreb Issues Table. Two years ago, I was among the members of the Muslim community chosen by the Premier of Quebec, Mr. Couillard, to be appointed to a task force on radicalization. I am also a research assistant at the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Ethno-Religious Montreal, GRIMER, and I have hosted radio and television programs for about 15 years within the Muslim community.
I will now read my statement as such, which will focus essentially on the issue of prevention. We consider prevention to be a very important element in countering radicalization leading to violence.
We launched several initiatives within the Arab-Muslim community of Montreal to raise the awareness of its members regarding the importance of their participation in this debate. This testimony is based on what we have observed on the ground.
We also followed the work done by the CPRLV, the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence, created in Montreal two years ago. We believe there are three important elements that make up the biggest challenge in any prevention efforts.
The first element is the issue of trust.
I apologize, I forgot to mention that I was invited by the American government in the month of August to visit four American cities that have set up anti-radicalization programs. This gave me some understanding of what is happening in the United States. We visited four cities where there were violent incidents related to radicalization.
I'd like to get back to the issue of trust. All of the anti-radicalization programs, whatever their effectiveness and structure, require and need trust. This trust is established by the type of intervention the government adopts—this is what we have observed, and it is not a criticism. This is a conclusion based on our observation of the CPRLV. In our case, when the centre was launched, the ambiguity of its relation with the police did not allow it to establish proper links with the community.
We are not saying that police involvement is a problem. Paradoxically, experience in Montreal has shown that RCMP involvement was much better accepted. The reason is that the community police, in its community role, when it is transparent—that is the second very important point in any attempt at radicalization prevention—is viewed in a more positive light. This has been the case with the RCMP since young Canadians who left the country to join terrorist groups were identified. The community involvement has to be open, and recognize that police officers have a role in fighting crime, but also play a role in the community. That role is not to impose programs, but simply to participate in programs and activities.
Another important element in the process to fight radicalization is to avoid that this be done in parallel with community activities as such. One of the criticisms we make of the centre is that its work involves a lot of international marketing. It is not perceived as a main actor that promotes sports, cultural or social activities within those communities that can be affected by this phenomenon. This approach is done in parallel and creates distance; there is a lack of trust among the members of the communities in general, toward all prevention activities.
I heard the same comments in the United States, whether in California, Chicago or Atlanta. All of the communities, particularly the Muslim communities, show a certain mistrust when the process is not clearly identified, such as when a centre is created that claims not to be in contact with the police, but is in reality. People prefer, as in the example I quoted with reference to the Montreal radicalization prevention centre, that the RCMP get involved through community activities.
For example, our activities currently include judo, soccer for youngsters, and cultural activities. By participating in such activities, having open discussions with the young people, being open about being members of the large RCMP family, and by working through the community to establish good relationships with the youngsters, the image of police authority is improved, and we consider this very important.
Concerning young people who are likely to be radicalized, we have observed in the field that radical groups on the Internet will work on one aspect particularly, the weak link which is the feeling of belonging, a fundamental link. The young person who loses that sense of belonging to society becomes vulnerable and likely to be recruited by ill-intentioned groups on the Internet or by persons who are agents of radicalization.
Allowing the police to build community relationships serves two objectives. On the one hand, we are furthering prevention by ensuring direct support of current activities and not in parallel with them, and on the other hand, we are strengthening the rule of law. Even if he disagrees with the country's policy, the young person understands that he is living in a state governed by the rule of law and democratic processes that allow him to express his disagreement on issues like international policy.
The last point I want to raise is the matter of assessment. Studies done around the world have shown that all of the anti-radicalization programs can be counter-productive and even generate radicalization if transparency and trust are not well established. In Canada, we need to find a way of putting in place a neutral authority that would evaluate the various existing anti-radicalization programs, including local programs. That authority could be made up of persons who are known throughout the country. Something needs to be done, because anti-radicalization programs that are poorly implemented can produce the opposite effect. A poorly made distinction, for example, between prevention activities and criminal law activities can create mistrust, eliminate trust and cause an irreversible break between Canadian youth and the Canadian government.
Please allow me to go back to a very important point with regard to radicalization prevention. In consultations, the issue of the list of groups considered to be terrorist groups came up. When the government updates that list, it is very important to manage the transition between the phase when a group is not considered a terrorist group and when it becomes so, because any person or any Canadian who has a relationship with that group is then considered to be involved in something criminal. The management of that phase is very important, communication-wise. In other words, you have to ensure that people are well informed about the situation of organizations which, entirely legally, dealt with an organization that is subsequently added to the list of terrorist organizations, so that the transition in the status of the group is done entirely transparently.
I will conclude my statement on the issue of radicalization. The Muslim community as a whole very much appreciated the statement by the that radicalization is a phenomenon that is not well known. That is also what the American political authorities said during my visit there. We have to be careful of organizations or centres that claim to have easy solutions, but are only looking for subsidies.
I think we are in discovery mode, and we have to take the necessary time to make all of the actors aware of things, as well as the Muslim community. On the ground and in my open mike programs, I have observed that the Muslim community is mobilized and wants to participate. I would say that there are a lot of differences of opinion on a lot of topics, but on the matter of radicalization, the community can play a very important role. The majority of its leaders are ready to participate actively despite their differences.
Good afternoon. I thank the members of the committee for having come to Montreal to hear what we have to say.
The Ligue des droits et libertés is a non-profit and non-partisan organization founded in 1963. Its objectives are to defend and promote the rights recognized in the International Declaration of Human Rights, and we support its principles of universality and visibility. The Ligue des droits et libertés is a member of the International Federation for Human Rights. Is also one of the oldest rights advocacy organizations in the Americas.
I am accompanied by my colleague Denis Barrette, who is a lawyer and a member of the Ligue des droits et libertés. Regarding the standing committee's interest in public and national security, Mr. Barrette represented the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group—of which the Ligue is a member—at the commission of inquiry on Maher Arar, presided by Judge O'Connor. He will speak to you more particularly about the problems regarding accountability and the mechanisms to monitor the agencies.
We are very pleased that the government has initiated a public discussion on national security. I am aware that we will not be able to cover everything in 10 minutes, but I want to point out today that we would like the national security framework, which goes back to the events of September 11, 2001, to be reviewed.
To provide some context, I want to read two quotes. The first one reads as follows:
“Shall we fail to remember that nothing can so weaken security as the loss of liberty?”
These are the words of Ramsey Clark, the former American Attorney General.
The second quote is from the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan: “Upholding human rights is not only compatible with successful counterterrorism strategies. It is an essential element.” Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, anti-terrorism measures have generally been adopted in fear and haste in the wake of specific events, without substantive discussions on the appropriateness of these measures, and what is more important, without assessing their impact on our human rights regime and on the freedoms which must be protected.
Some of the rights that have been put at risk are the presumption of innocence; the right to privacy and protection against searches and invasions of privacy; the right not to be harassed, questioned, arrested or detained on the basis of suspicion or racial, religious or ethnic profiling; the right of everyone to a fair and equitable public trial, and the right of appeal; the right to a full and complete defence; the right to be protected against arbitrary imprisonment and torture; the right of asylum; the right to information and freedom of the press; and freedom of expression, including the right to demonstrate publicly and collectively.
All of these rights have been affected in one way or another since the attacks of September 11, 2001. The idea that has been promoted among the population is that if we want more security, we have to sacrifice freedoms and that this is a matter of balance. We want to emphasize that this is a profoundly erroneous and dangerous idea. We will not obtain greater security by sacrificing our rights. Rights and freedoms are the basis of security.
I quoted Kofi Annan, but in a United Nations report on terrorism, it was pointed out that the societies that have the greatest respect for rights are the ones where there is the greatest security, and where there is the least violence and the fewest attacks.
Moreover, we wish to reiterate our position that the Criminal Code prior to 2001, as well as the 12 international treaties against terrorism which Canada subscribed to, already allowed us to fight effectively against terrorism. In its brief tabled when Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, was adopted, the Canadian Bar Association reminded us quite rightly that the Canadian government already has many legal tools to repress terrorist offences, and that the Criminal Code contains a solid arsenal of provisions aimed at fighting terrorist organizations.
We also wish to point out that the terrorist threat, as well as the search for security, have to be evaluated in a broader context. In a report submitted to the Secretary General of the United Nations in 2004 entitled “A more secure world: our shared responsibility”, an impressive list of threats to international peace and security was drawn up. The report also identified the main challenges, including war between states, and violence within states; poverty, infectious diseases and the deterioration of the environment; nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons; terrorism; and organized transnational crime.
In other words, terrorism is a threat to security, but there are many others, that in fact cause the deaths of many more people throughout the world.
Moreover, it is quite dismaying to note to what extent governments refuse to learn lessons from the past 15 years. Western countries, including Canada, have waged many wars against Muslim countries. These wars have sown death, destruction and chaos, and have created conditions conducive to the development of terrorist breeding grounds. Rather than revising this disastrous policy, which only leads to endless war on terrorism, governments persist in making us believe that our security rests with the surveillance of populations and extraordinary police powers.
In this short presentation, we cannot critique all of the anti-terrorism laws and measures that exist in Canada. However, the law based on Bill C-51 adds a particularly worrisome level to the measures that already exist. The power to minimize the measures granted to CSIS reminds us of the abuses uncovered by the McDonald Commission, such as the fact that the RCMP stole the list of members of the Parti québécois, burned down a barn, and issued false FLQ communiqués to counter the separatist menace.
The new crime which consists in advocating or promoting the perpetration of terrorism-related offences in general is a threat to freedom of expression. People may be put on the no-fly list on the basis of simple suspicion, without knowing what is being held against them, and without really being able to defend themselves. The possibility of detaining people for a week on the basis of simple suspicion when no charges have been brought against them is extreme and unacceptable. We also share the opinion of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, who criticized the new Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, based on Bill C-51.
Finally, we still do not have a mechanism to monitor and oversee national security activities. The proposed parliamentary committee is absolutely essential, and will be one of the ways of ensuring that the organizations concerned respect the charters and rights of citizens. However, improvements must be made to Bill which creates this parliamentary committee. It is essential that an independent body, with the capacity to closely examine all national security activities, be created. Otherwise, the committee will not be able to function.
In this regard, we share the point of view of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, which will testify in the second panel. That said, we could go back to that issue, if you have questions on this topic for us.
In conclusion, you have the obligation not only to question anti-terrorist measures, but also to generate debate and promote real public discussion, both on the full exercise of fundamental rights and on the identification of true threats to security, as well as their causes and the means to curtail them. We are in favour of this consultation. It is a first step. We nevertheless expect this government to continue to set itself apart from previous governments by placing the rights and freedoms of individuals at the heart of security policies.
We considered the issue of vulnerability. In general, youth can't be radicalized from one day to the next. There's a socioeconomic and international policy context. There are many reasons why a person can lack a sense of belonging to Canadian society. For example, the person's parents may not have integrated well because they failed to find a job despite their qualifications.
There are also external factors, essentially websites. The United States has developed very good programs to find out the recruitment methods and analyze the dialogue on these sites. Canada doesn't have these programs. I know the RCMP is working a little on these things, but the government could equip the volunteers on the ground with this type of program and develop ways to investigate this type of dialogue. The volunteers could therefore develop certain indicators.
The danger is that no typical profile exists. A person must not be stigmatized directly. That's when the role of volunteers on the ground becomes important. These are people who can be trusted. For example, I received calls from parents who trusted me. I met with them. We spoke with their children, and, in the end, there was no need to worry. These people from outside the community have a certain reputation in the community. We can see that the young person is more comfortable talking to these people than to his or her parents. That's when we see whether any isolation issues exist.
For example, in a number of neighbourhoods in Montreal, we integrated radicalization prevention into daily activities. The biggest mistake is to establish an external program because it's seen as a stigmatization of the community.
We connect young people who practice judo with trainers. It's a multicultural environment. It's not one community in particular. We tell them that, as youth, they have a very important role to play in countering radicalization. We don't give them an accuser or victim role, but a proactive role. Each time we involve young people in the process, we educate them on the issue. We share very basic investigation methods with them. We tell them they can speak with the RCMP, for example. We then introduce them to someone from the RCMP who is well-informed, who knows how to do things and who is familiar with the environment.
Training is very important. Today, there are many workers. There's an industry of radicalization prevention programs, and people are looking extensively for funding. Some act as specialists, but they don't know the communities.
We did this experiment, and the youth started asking questions. They consider themselves on a mission. A young person who may be vulnerable to radicalization ends up on a mission to ensure that no youth in his or her neighbourhood or environment fall victim to terrorist groups who spread propaganda over the Internet.
Young people have a great deal of energy and knowledge. They want to have plans. Unfortunately, the plan to go to Syria is a personal challenge. The government must also make many other improvements in terms of international policy. I agree with what was said on the topic. There are things we can control and things we can't control. We can at least transform the young people's energy into positive energy so they can help counter the radicalization phenomenon. I can assure you that some young people were very mistrustful.
Two things are required. First, the community must be very active—I'm not referring to a particular ethnic group—and the leaders must be ready to act. Then, the authorities must not be indifferent. They must be prepared to get involved, but in a spirit of non-interference. Their involvement must not be seen as spying. The authorities need to provide guidance to create this dynamic among the youth.
This has happened in a number of neighbourhoods in Montreal. There have been soccer, singing, music and judo activities. It works very well. Now the young people are asking whether a program exists because they want to make sure other young people join their activities.
In the presentation I'm going to make today, I want to talk about the relationship between parliamentary review by the committee that will be created by Bill , and independent review, which will be done, hopefully, by an expert body that is independent of government. I have prepared a presentation, which I understand will be given to you after it has been translated.
Now, having been commission counsel to the Arar inquiry and a special advocate for a number of years, I can attest to the fact that national security agencies and police agencies working in national security make mistakes. I don't say that they do it maliciously. They do it innocently, but they do make mistakes because they are human beings. Indeed, in Mr. Arar's case, what happened to him was that he was sent to Syria for a year of torture as a result of inaccurate information given to the FBI and the CIA by our Canadian agency, the RCMP.
His case is not an anomaly. Many Canadians have been caught up in the response of our agencies to terrorism.
One of the main problems that the agencies are facing is that they're dealing in intelligence. They're not dealing in evidence. Intelligence has been described as “glorified rumours”. Intelligence comes from human sources, foreign agencies, and whatever, and it is often not reliable.
The other problem we have with our agencies is that they're not totally forthcoming with our adjudicative bodies when they do make mistakes. Indeed, last year and in the last few years, the Federal Court of Canada has been severely critical of CSIS because it felt that CSIS had not been forthcoming in respect of its mistakes.
The other aspect, which is very important in terms of why we need effective oversight and review, is that most of the activities of these national security agencies, like CSIS, are conducted in secret. They are conducted in secret. Indeed, even the court proceedings respecting the activities of CSIS are conducted in secret.
At the same time as their activities are conducted in secret, both CSIS and other national security agencies have unbelievably intrusive powers, which can intrude upon the rights and freedoms of Canadians. When we look at that total package, we have to say to ourselves that obviously we want to protect ourselves in respect of national security, but at the same time, we want to protect our fundamental freedoms, which are guaranteed in the Charter of Rights. How do we do that?
These are very important questions. Probably one of the most difficult questions in our legal system today is about balancing national security along with our fundamental freedoms, and I think the answer to that is effective oversight by a parliamentary committee and independent review by an expert body. Let me take you through that.
First of all, at the outset, let me say that I'm very pleased that the government is intending to create a committee of parliamentarians to oversee the activities of our national security agencies. I have a number of problems with Bill , which I will share with you at the end of my presentation. I understand you're going to be dealing with it next week, and I have some comments on Bill C-22, but certainly, parliamentary oversight by this committee is a step in the right direction to strengthen our national security system, both national security agencies and national security reviews.
The question is, is it enough? My firm answer, having dealt with national security issues for the last 10 years and in dealing with top secret evidence and national security agencies, is that we need something more, and this something more has to complement the parliamentary overview of this committee or whatever committee there will be in respect of dealing with our national security agencies. On the one hand, we have oversight, which is done by a parliamentary committee, and on the other hand, we have review, which is done by an independent expert body.
Let me tell you the differences between that, because Commissioner O'Connor in the Arar report dealt with those concepts dealing with oversight. It's a good step, as I said before, to have parliamentary oversight by a committee. Most liberal democracies have that, and it's good that we're going in that direction.
What is oversight? Oversight deals with efficacy issues, such as how the national agencies are running and what policy system should be applicable to our national security agencies. It's a blue-sky review or analysis. As parliamentarians, you don't have the time to get on the ground to deal with the review issues.
What is review? Review looks at the national security agency, after the fact, on the basis of propriety against standards of lawfulness, policies, and other kinds of standards. It's what SIRC does. As you know, SIRC is the review body of CSIS.
On the one hand, we have parliamentary oversight dealing with systemic issues and policy issues, and on the other hand, we have review.
You may ask yourself, now that we're going to have parliamentary oversight with this committee of parliamentarians, we have SIRC, and we have the CSC commissioner. don't we have the best of both worlds? The answer to that is clearly not.
Over 10 years ago, Commissioner O'Connor, in the Arar report, said that our review system is inadequate. Now, with Bill , the problems with review are even more glaring.
I will give you three examples of why the review system is not sufficient and adequate today.
First, our review system is siloed. It only has jurisdiction over one agency. It doesn't have jurisdiction over all of the agencies. All of our national security agencies operate jointly. You just can't have a review body over CSIS when it's working with the CBSA, RCMP, and so on. That siloed jurisdiction is totally inadequate.
Second, national security agencies have been given more and broader powers by Bill , and our review agencies have to be given more powers and resources that deal with these expanded powers.
The third example is about personal information. Bill gives over 100 Canadian agencies the power to send personal information to 17 Canadian agencies, such as CSIS. Of these 17, 14 of these agencies receiving this information do not even have a review mechanism. There's a number of reasons why the system is fraught with difficulty and why we need a broader review mechanism that has authority over all of the national security agencies.
In the last minute or so that I have, I'll deal with the problems with Bill .
The main problem is that the government can interfere with the mandate of the committee. The committee is given authority to do a national security review, unless the minister says it would be injurious to national security.
It's the same thing with respect to access to information. The committee can ask for information from a minister or an agency, but it can be refused on the basis that it's injurious to national security. The problem with that, as the Supreme Court of Canada said in the Harkat case, is that governments constantly over-claim national security confidentiality assertions not only in this country, but in the United States, the U.K., and elsewhere.
The decisions made by the minister under Bill to refuse information and to refuse this committee to investigate is not reviewable by a court, which is a power I have never seen in this country.
You'll see in my paper a number of difficulties with Bill , which is going in the right direction, but it's not quite there yet.
I will be addressing you in French, but, as you can see, I can certainly answer your questions in English.
I am here on behalf of the Association des juristes progressistes, or AJP. It's an association of lawyers, law professors, law students and other women and men who work in the legal field. Founded in 2010, it has several hundred members, and intervenes on a number of issues of current interest, and on recent laws and regulations.
In my own practice, I do a lot of work in the realm of constitutional law, and on the constitutional validity of laws. For example, I challenged a provision of the Labour Code that limited farm workers' freedom of association, a provision of the Highway Safety Code that limited the right to demonstrate, and by-law P-6 enacted by the City of Montreal. At the moment, I am challenging the pit bull by-law—this always makes people smile—but I think that principles related to the validity of laws are of great concern, especially at the AJP.
Our association stated a position when Bill was enacted. We came out against the measures in the bill for a number of reasons. One significant reason was that, in our humble opinion, most of the measures in the bill probably violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That's why I'm here today to speak primarily about these measures. We intend to tell it like it is. A bill has been introduced to repeal certain provisions of Bill C-51, and consultations were promised during the election campaign. You will recall that the Liberal Party of Canada voted in favour of the bill, saying it would review the legislation later. We feel the time has truly come to do just that. Hence this presentation, which is the result of my colleagues' work. I won't spend much time on the subject being studied by the Committee; instead, I will focus on C-51.
I want to address two aspects. The first is the green paper, which was released to the public. The AJP has done a lot of legal education on the subject, and considerable public awareness work. What disappointed us about the green paper, and what disappoints us about these consultations, is that the green paper seems to present the current framework, including C-51, as something eminently necessary and/or positive. Naturally, we don't expect you to present the contrary view, but since this is a consultation, we believe the public should be able to comment with all the information in its possession.
It would have been interesting to note the controversies that the bill has sparked within the legal community, since most legal experts believe the law likely contains human rights violations. A constitutional challenge of these provisions, spearheaded by my distinguished colleague Mr. Cavalluzzo, is under way before the Ontario courts. We believe the public is entitled to this background.
As for the merits of the question, it's obvious we have a great deal to say, but I will limit myself to certain aspects of the provisions amending various acts, and will tell you why we think those provisions should be repealed.
The first consideration is the new crime of advocating or promoting terrorism. Specifically, anyone who knowingly communicates statements, while knowing that a terrorism offence will be committed or being reckless as to whether such an offence may be committed, is guilty of an indictable offence.
In our opinion, this provision serves no purpose, as there are already roughly 15 provisions governing all the terrorism offences, including terrorist or hate propaganda. The provision poses enormous problems with regard to freedom of expression. It is not just about people who have opinions different from that of the government of the day—we believe, of course, that this was the case at the time the law was enacted. It also applies to people with neutral positions, like journalists, professors and analysts. Such people might have an opinion about a conflict, but refrain from expressing it because that might cause someone, somewhere, to engage in some act. We believe the provision infringes freedom of expression, and that its usefulness has in no way been demonstrated.
On the contrary, this type of provision has an immense chilling effect.
Before my remarks, much was said about prevention initiatives, and about what is done to determine who is making such statements. You have created a provision for that purpose. I use the word "you", but I'm speaking in general terms, because I haven't heard anyone say they'd like to repeal this provision, other than something about a private member's bill.
You're ensuring that these discussions don't take place. Someone who might have thoughts of this kind, who needs support, and needs to talk with people from his community who would then ask him if he's really thought about what he's said, would refrain from talking about it, for fear of being charged under this provision. As a result, the discussions occur in somewhat more secret places. I think the provision is ineffective. In my view, it violates freedom of expression, and we will see what the court decides in that regard.
Furthermore, statements made in private benefit from no exception either, whereas other provisions do contain such an exception. I'm referring to discussions that take place in venues where one wants people to talk. One of the witnesses referred to a community where one wants people to discuss these ideas freely. Let me be very candid: as a lawyer, I would not advise my clients to have such discussions, due to the provision you've enacted.
Very briefly, I'd like to address the new powers granted to CSIS.
Mr. Cavalluzzo said that truly effective oversight power is needed, and I obviously agree, but first of all, we need to call on the Liberal government. It's the Liberal government that removed information-gathering powers from the RCMP, in the wake of the McDonald Commission.
You noted that granting these powers to CSIS was a step back. We're told that a judge can be seen beforehand. With respect, this does not account for our legal system, in which judges need to make decisions based on evidence. In this instance, a judge is being asked to guess whether a given measure could reduce a threat. So a judge who is not necessarily an expert in the field would have to determine whether a given measure would help prevent a threat, and after that, CSIS could act. Naturally, there is no way to present the judge with all the unforeseeable and spontaneous situations that can arise and justify granting a warrant. All kinds of things can happen in the course of a proceeding. Will it be necessary to go back before the judge each time?
We have a hard time understanding why this provision is needed, especially since, under the previous system, CSIS did not have these powers, and was already committing mistakes in good faith, according to my colleague Mr. Cavalluzzo.
I would now like to discuss a third point: preventive detention.
The Association des juristes progressistes believes the preventive detention scheme is already quite dubious under the Anti-terrorism Act, 2001. Indeed, the scheme permits preventive arrests if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a terrorist act will be committed. Even in such a case, a warrant must be obtained, whereas the provision proposed in Bill states that a peace officer can lay an information or arrest someone without a warrant, if he or she has reasonable grounds to believe that a terrorist act may be carried out.
I will cite the example given by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which others have spoken about. It's the example of young Muslim adults having a lively conversation in the street. We don't know what they're talking about because we don't understand their language, but we wonder whether they might commit a terrorist act and whether they can be arrested preventively.
We believe this kind of provision goes very far and constitutes a major lowering of the thresholds for arrest and detention. For these reasons, it will probably be found contrary to section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In the current context, where terrorism is the major concern and connections are made with the Muslim community, we believe it could lead to political profiling.
I was hoping to address other elements, but I will conclude my remarks with some comments on the no-fly list.
In our view, this list was already very problematic. Essentially, Bill codified the power of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to put Canadians on such a list. And in order to be removed from the list, one must apply to the Federal Court. I don't need to talk to you at length about access to justice, but I can certainly say a few words if you wish. It's not enough to show that the Minister was wrong; it must be shown that he acted unreasonably. It's a positively Kafkaesque scheme.
It's also interesting that people who are not entitled to fly can still go into schools and shopping centres, and to take the bus and the subway. When seen from this perspective, I think a no-fly list is absolutely useless. We have a lot of trouble understanding how it could be necessary.
I will conclude by telling you about certain reports on the subject from the United States. According to these reports, certain people's names were put on the no-fly list so they could be asked questions, and told that their name might be withdrawn if their answers were satisfactory. I am not saying that's the intention in Canada—far from it—but I think the risk is grave.
Obviously, we feel this violates the right to liberty. It's not the same thing as being arrested, but we believe it could violate the right to liberty, and section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Those are just a few examples of the problems caused by the provisions of Bill ; there is more.
Thank you very much.
I certainly have some comments on the subject.
It obviously ties in with what the Honourable Nicola Di Iorio said about best practices in this regard.
We must always bear in mind that although we can draw inspiration from these practices, there's not necessarily a Charter of Rights and Freedoms in other countries, even some very developed ones. So we must be careful when importing what we consider to be other countries' best practices. It poses a problem.
We saw with Mr. Arar, and with everything the commissions showed, that information can be obtained under torture. Such practices are prohibited in Canada. However, the information can be shared and used by CSIS against people. Moreover, with Bill , a chain can be established. It can justify an arrest, because it's believed the person could commit a terrorist act. Charges can be based on information of dubious origin, using secret procedures.
In short, this is what happens.
If the threshold for the consequences is reduced, that means whatever information you get under torture or under conditions that aren't acceptable in Canada can lead to consequences that are much more grave for the person involved.
That, I think, is where the problem is. If information has been obtained through torture, we must be careful not to make the consequences even more grave. That's what Bill C-51 does.
Furthermore, Bill C-51 allows all agencies and all governments to transmit the information as well, even though we don't exactly know where the information is from. That's even more problematic.
Thus far, I think what we've heard from today's witnesses, and indeed from all witnesses who have spoken about accountability through oversight, has to do with a review of the options. The area I'm struggling with is mapping out the statutory gateways we need, both the committee and parliamentarians, to whatever final version this is going to be legislated in, along with whatever other independent expert review that will exist on the other side of the ledger, in order to reconcile those two notions.
The options I have written down thus far are these. First, we have just a committee of parliamentarians. I don't think anybody on this panel favours that option, although we heard from Senator Hugh Segal that this is what he prefers in the long run.
The second option would be to have a committee of parliamentarians and a series of independent review bodies, including SIRC, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, and the Communications Security Establishment commissioner. This would essentially be the existing apparatus on the other side, the two together.
The third option would be would be the committee of parliamentarians plus a super-SIRC, which would oversee all of the existing subject matter and independent review bodies.
The fourth and final option we heard a little bit about today from Mr. Cavalluzzo. This would be a committee of parliamentarians plus just a super-SIRC, which is what I think you are advocating. Am I right about that?