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Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security


NUMBER 052 
l
1st SESSION 
l
42nd PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (1535)  

[English]

     I'm going to call our 52nd meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to order.
    We continue our study on the national security framework and we want to welcome Noah Shack, our witness today, from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
    I was just saying to Mr. Shack before we started that when we have only one witness and we have an hour booked, it can be a long time. I'll give him the privilege of being able to say when it's enough. Normally when we have two witnesses, we have 20 minutes of presentation, and then they split 40 minutes, which is about a 20-minute sentence.
    This is a life sentence if we do it this way, so we make sure you're not feeling grilled by our committee.
    Welcome. We can signal when you think and everybody thinks we've had all the expertise we're able to get.
    Thank you for coming and for representing CIJA as well. We're very appreciative of all the work CIJA does, and we're glad to have your comments on our national security framework.
     Thank you, Chair and honourable committee members, for having me. Hopefully you'll be able to squeeze out quickly everything I have to offer.
    I'm pleased to be here this afternoon on behalf of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada, which represents about 150,000 Jewish Canadians affiliated coast to coast through their local federations.
    According to Statistics Canada, Jewish Canadians are targeted by hate- and bias-motivated crime at a rate higher than for any other identifiable group. The ancient toxic hatred of Jews is not unique to our country and is rightly constrained to the margins of liberal democratic societies like ours. Alarmingly, though, anti-Semitism continues to manifest in brutal acts of terrorism, often inspired by warped Islamist ideology.
    Jewish communities represent a primary target for terrorist violence all over the world. Attacks against Jews have taken place in Israel, Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, and the United States, with innocent men, women, and children murdered in their homes, places of worship, and community centres. As an at-risk community, we have a major stake in Canada's approach to preserving national security generally and in counterterrorism in particular. There's significant fear within our community, not only of Jewish Canadians being harmed in attacks abroad, but also that such attacks are possible or even likely here in Canada.
    The memory of the 2004 firebombing of a Jewish school in Montreal looms large, compounded by threats made by the would-be VIA Rail bombers regarding Jewish targets, and the call by al Shabaab, a listed terrorist entity, for an attack on Jewish-owned businesses in North America, which included a call against the West Edmonton Mall.
    Additionally, Public Safety Canada's 2016 public report on the terrorist threat to Canada notes that Hezbollah, the listed entity widely believed to be responsible for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, has networks operating here.
    We're encouraged that the current government and its predecessors have consistently taken significant steps to protect Canadians from terrorist violence, and we appreciate the opportunity to contribute our perspective and hope it will be helpful in continuing the development of a national security framework that keeps Canadians safe at home and abroad.
    Many terrorist attacks, like the one that claimed the life of Corporal Nathan Cirillo here in 2014, are inspired by the messages of terrorist groups but are not necessarily the result of direct calls for specific actions. The Criminal Code provision allowing for the seizure of terrorist propaganda addresses this, contributing to broader efforts to counter radicalization and prevent terrorist recruitment here in Canada.
    The al Shabaab video that I referenced is relevant here. Were something like this to be posted online in Canada tomorrow, a judge could order that Canadian Internet service providers remove it, limiting the scope of its impact. Critics of this provision have raised concerns about the possible breadth of what might be considered terrorist propaganda and whether this provision would cause the censorship of offensive ideas that aren't directly linked to violence. Our community is deeply committed to promoting civil liberty and free expression for all Canadians, but neither can be absolute in a liberal, democratic society.
    While the seizure of terrorist propaganda places limits on acceptable speech, it is in our view a legitimate restriction, demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society, that strikes an appropriate balance between freedom of speech on the one hand and the right to life and security of the person on the other.
    This provision is complemented by the criminalization of advocacy or promotion of terrorism offences in general. Critics have argued that previously existing provisions outlawing incitement were sufficient and that this one is too broad. However, terrorist recruiters are often sophisticated in their approach. They can take note of the law's limitations and adjust their approach accordingly so that while still instigating terrorist activity, their statements are general enough to remain beyond the reach of the law.
    A founding member of al Qaeda-turned-MI5 double agent, Aimen Dean, recounted to the BBC his experience working around U.K. incitement laws with regard to terrorism. He was free to give theological justification for attacks and to promote al Qaeda's actions through those theological justifications without violating the law. He noted, and I quote, “You can't specifically urge someone to go. You can't specifically call for an attack.... You have to be clever about how you phrase your words.”
     This provision denies those seeking to radicalize or recruit Canadians the legal leeway to be clever, but dangerous, with their words.
    The call by al Shabaab for attacks on Jewish-owned businesses was deemed by the RCMP to be a very general comment, not a specific threat. That's what they said. Criminalizing general calls for terrorist violence makes it more difficult for individuals or groups to inspire attacks against Canadians in this way.
    CIJA looks forward to the establishment of the Office of the Community Outreach and Counter-radicalization Coordinator, which I understand will happen soon. This is an important initiative, and if given the resources and mandate necessary to succeed, it will constitute an essential component of Canada's national security framework. In order to maximize the impact of this institution and ensure its success, it's imperative that this office be given a mandate not just to de-radicalize those who are already on the path to violent extremism but also to prevent those vulnerable to radicalization from being seized in its grip. By countering hate, we can help disrupt the radicalization process at its starting point. In this respect, Jews are often a canary in the coal mine.
    Retired Major-General Ed Fitch led the Canadian Forces red team in simulating terrorist attacks against the Vancouver Olympics to test the vulnerabilities and the security plan that was being put in place. He recently noted in The Hill Times that:
Security services in Europe recognize that Islamist attacks against the general population have been foreshadowed by similar acts of terror against Jewish targets, including a Jewish museum in Belgium, a synagogue in Denmark, and a Jewish school and kosher supermarket in France—all in the past few years.
    Here in Canada the security establishment must continue working closely with the Jewish community to monitor anti-Semitic extremism as an early warning sign in identifying those prone to radicalization.
    The city of Berlin is implementing a pilot program now along these lines. It's funded by the German federal government and it focuses on the role of teachers in identifying anti-Semitism specifically as one of the precursors to radicalization, and training these teachers to intervene and steer vulnerable youth away from this dangerous path.
    Whether we are considering the attacks on a synagogue in Jerusalem, a gay nightclub in Orlando, an African-American church in Charleston, or a mosque in Quebec City, extreme hate continues to precipitate extreme violence. Canada's counter-radicalization efforts should specifically address hatred directed toward Jewish Canadians, black Canadians, LGBTQ Canadians, Muslim Canadians, women, or any other identifiable group as a potential foundation for violent extremism.
    Spray-painted hate messages, rocks thrown through windows, and other hate-motivated destruction of property could also be indicators of radicalization or precursors for more serious violent crime down the road. Under current law, hate- or bias-motivated mischief targeting a religious institution such as a synagogue is a specific offence with specific and serious penalties. However, this designation doesn't extend to other institutions such as schools or community centres, which are similarly targeted all too often.
    Bill C-305, which I hope you will all be supporting this evening at second reading, would close that gap in the Criminal Code, extending the penalties in place for targeting places of worship to other communal facilities as well. We urge all parties to ensure the swift passage of this bill through committee and third reading to make it law.
    It is exceedingly important that government also help vulnerable communities to prevent attacks from taking place, or at the very least, to minimize the danger they pose. The federal security infrastructure program, or SIP, assists those at risk of hate-motivated crime to improve security infrastructure, sending a clear signal that those targeted by hate don't have to shoulder the burden alone.
    The nature of the threats and the cost of security measures have changed significantly since the SIP was first launched in 2008, as have the needs and number of at-risk groups. While synagogues are disproportionately targeted and impacted by hate crimes, Sikh temples, Islamic mosques, Hindu temples, and Christian churches have all been targeted as well.
    According to Statistics Canada, an average of three hate crimes take place every day in this country, ranging from racist graffiti to more serious vandalism to arson to assault and, in some cases, more extreme acts of violence.

  (1540)  

     Security infrastructure is required to protect at-risk community institutions from an array of threats. Jewish community centres, schools, and synagogues are increasingly concerned about active-shooter scenarios, similar to the terrorist attacks that we've seen take such a horrific toll elsewhere.
    CIJA welcomed the recent steps taken by the Minister of Public Safety to modernize the SIP. In particular, support for internal security measures and access controls will have a really meaningful impact on the safety and well-being of vulnerable groups. At the same time, we've encouraged the government to consider a number of additional improvements to SIP that would further enhance its effectiveness, which I would be happy to discuss in the round of questions.
    I think that I'm probably at around 10 minutes now, so I'll stop here. I'd be happy to speak further about any of the things I've raised so far, including those recommendations about bolstering the SIP, in addition to our position on CSIS's expanded role and proper oversight.
    Thank you very much.

  (1545)  

    Thank you, Mr. Shack.
    Mr. Spengemann, go ahead for a seven-minute round.
    Mr. Chair, thank you very much; and Mr. Shack, thank you for being here. It's good to see you again. Thank you for the important work you're doing.
    We are meeting in the immediate aftermath of a very heinous, callous terrorist attack in Quebec City in which six men were gunned down in the act of prayer, which is one of the holiest, if not the holiest, act in any faith. Really, it has led to a very different tenor in the conversation, and the conversation will be ongoing after the funerals are over.
    I wonder if I could take you up on your offer to elaborate a bit more on the SIP. To start out, what sort of improvements would you favour? How concretely can this program make a difference, and how can it help us to also maintain the balance of openness, of tolerance, of discourse, and of dialogue we've established in this country without going too far down the fortification of our sites of prayer?
     I think it's important that we're having these conversations now after the horrific attack in Quebec City. I remember how I felt, as a Jewish Canadian, after seeing the synagogue in Jerusalem attacked in a similar fashion. Of course, a Torontonian was in attendance in prayer there as well and lost his life. My heart just goes out for everybody who has been impacted so similarly here in Canada. This is something that should not happen.
    It's my understanding that the mosque in Quebec City had security cameras in place outside but did not have sufficient access controls or locks that might have provided an additional barrier and protected people inside. That's one of the elements that the government added to the security infrastructure program recently, to move beyond the external measures such as security cameras and fences to things on the inside that, once somebody has entered the building or the property, can prevent them from moving further inside and causing such horrendous damage.
    What we're looking to build on, in addition to that, are three things. The first is to amend the funding formula. Currently the government will match funds 50/50, up to a limit of $100,000, for security infrastructure projects that are approved. This is a tremendous support. I can speak to our community. We are very appreciative of the extent to which this has helped us. However, there are institutions that don't have the resources to match the 50/50 threshold, and we believe that in cases where they can demonstrate need, there should be a relaxing of that criterion for those at-risk institutions that do not have the ability. There should be a needs-based approval process for disadvantaged institutions.
    Our second recommendation is to expand the program to include security guards. People are often surprised to know that many Jewish institutions have full-time security guards, but at acute periods of heightened concern such as the Jewish high holidays, there are paid duty officers brought in to protect synagogues while people are praying inside. This is a tremendous expense for communities and I'm sure we're not alone in terms of this need. I imagine that during the period of Ramadan this might be appreciated in the Muslim community as well, to expand the program to include support for occasional security guards at times of acute threat.
    The third recommendation we have is to change the funding cap. I mentioned 50/50 shared costs up to $100,000. There are some programs that cost more than $100,000, and in many instances those aren't happening. Whether it's a fencing project around a property or another example, that can get very expensive very quickly, so we would like to see the cap raised beyond $100,000 for any individual project. I don't think that's for the majority of projects; I think it's for a minority. However, it's something that would definitely improve the program.

  (1550)  

     Thank you for that. That's very helpful.
    Mr. Shack, if there's some good that came out of the Quebec tragedy, the most recent of attacks in our country, it is the tremendous coming together of faith communities. Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, and other faiths came together and in many cases surrounded the mosques and tried to symbolically protect our sites of prayer. This leads to an opportunity to focus the dialogue we're having now with renewed energy and to say that we need to do something against radicalization.
    I'm wondering if you could give us more of a fine-grained perspective on what your expectations are of the community outreach and counter-radicalization program. Specifically, how can we change hearts and minds, with respect to both de-radicalization and prevention of radicalization in the first place?
    As I mentioned in my remarks, I think one of the most important areas to which we can channel resources and attention is countering hate. I believe that's a core ingredient in transitioning somebody from a normal citizen to somebody willing to commit such atrocious acts of violence, and research in Europe has indicated that to be the case.
    From the perspective of the Jewish community, if national efforts included a focus on detecting and combatting anti-Semitic attitudes, I think that would go a long way. Certainly it's not limited to that. We're not the only group that has been targeted or that is implicated here.
    Are there proven pathways to countering hate, for those people who are not involved in the art or science of doing so? To what do people best respond when they've taken up whatever drives hate? How do you undo it?
    The German pilot program has been going on for one year, and it's a five-year program. I'm hopeful that, at the end of that, we'll see tremendous results. Teachers, who have a relationship with students who are with them day in and day out, can help to guide them and to nip this type of thing in the bud.
    In the previous hearings on Bill C-51, we recommended convening a national counter-radicalization effort that would do essentially one of the things you were talking about before, which is to bring communities together so that there's a humanized face, and it would create a platform for face-to-face dialogue and interaction. Whether it's between the Jewish community and the Muslim community and the Christian community, whether it's faith communities or otherwise, it's important that we don't have people living in silos where the only interaction they have with this other group is hate messaging.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr. Clement.
    Thank you, Mr. Shack, for being here and for representing your organization's views. I know you've done a lot of thinking about some of these issues, so it is much appreciated.
    As you indicated in your very multi-faceted remarks, certainly the Jewish population is a massive target for hate crime activity in this country, unfortunately. The statistics that have been indicated to me are that the Jewish community is one of the most, if not the most at-risk community in our country, with 55 hate crimes per 100,000 Jewish people per year. This is a continuing problem, and I'm glad that you've raised these issues.
    I'd like to open the floor to you. You've mentioned a lot of things already in terms of how to frame a counter-radicalization program. Can you dig a bit deeper into how we change the psychology involved in this? I noticed that in your remarks you talked about how the Jewish population could be the canary in the coal mine. Things that start off with graffiti or some specific kind of assault can then lead to other acts of violence.
    Sometimes though, because of the online nature of the development of radicalization, it just goes from online to action. Again, I put it to you to drill a bit deeper on how we can best counter this kind of phenomenon.

  (1555)  

     The online-to-attack phenomenon is something that we all need to take stock of. I think there's a perception, and I don't know how prevalent it is anymore, but you have.... I mean, there are different models. You have highly organized terrorist groups, in which you will have centralized planning of an attack, training of people to carry out that attack, and orders that come through to carry out the attack. It's very systematic. Those attacks are a lot easier to disrupt, because there are a lot of points along the way from A to D.
    That's why the measures that were put in place in Bill C-51, as I mentioned previously, are so important. They give some tools to be able to mitigate or disrupt those organic attacks that are inspired by messages but aren't necessarily directed from a headquarters. I think it's important that as we look at counter-radicalization writ large, yes, it's about bringing communities together and focusing on dispelling notions of hate within communities, and for sure a lot of the work has to be done internally within communities. There's certainly utility in bringing different communities together, but ultimately, for communities that are affected by radicalization, that's a problem they have to deal with internally as well.
    But it's not just that. It also requires tools for our security apparatus and for law enforcement to be able to put some roadblocks in the way of those attacks that are inspired by the messages rather than directed by an organization.
    Just to shift tack for a second, we obviously have provisions in the Criminal Code. We have organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, for instance, who operate in the country and have been identified as promoters of terrorism in other countries.
     I know that the U.K. has what is called a “no platform” provision. Is that something you're familiar with or can comment on? Or are there other techniques that can be used to combat these international organizations?
    I'm not familiar with the specifics of what's in place in the United Kingdom. Certainly, the seizure of terrorist propaganda and the criminalization of advocacy or promotion of terrorism are important things for groups that don't fit the traditional terrorist organization designation and for individuals who don't operate within that framework. If a message from a group like the Muslim Brotherhood were to veer into that territory, it's an important way to deal with that and to stop it. There is recourse.
     It may be difficult, if not impossible, to list an organization such as the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist entity, in that they may not meet the criteria, but certainly, if they are engaged in activities that are considered terrorism offences here, such as the promotion of terrorist activities, or if they are disseminating terrorist propaganda, these tools are in place specifically to stop that.
    Larry Miller had a question, if we have time.
    You have a minute and a half.
    To change channels a bit on security issues, with what happened in Quebec City recently, one of our Liberal colleagues has brought forth motion M-103. I don't know if you're familiar with it or not. There's a lot of good stuff in it, but my critique of it, based on what I've noticed at the start, is that it's not inclusive. It names one religion and what have you. If you've had a chance to look at it.... I think it would be a much better bill if it were amended. I know that's not why you're here today, but I just wondered about inclusiveness and trying to stop any kind of thing that keeps people from practising their religion or whatever it is in their place of worship. Could you comment on that?
    I haven't looked carefully at the motion, so I can't really speak to the specifics, but I can tell you that on both sides we of course need to make strong statements about the importance of freedom of religion here in Canada and the importance of people being able to have their conscience respected and to be free from hate. That's for all people in Canada. On the other hand, for the Jewish community, I understand that consistently the highest rate of hate crimes is for those perpetrated against Jews in Canada. As Mr. Clement noted, this has been consistent for a long time. Incidents targeting Muslim Canadians, although not as numerous, have been rising the fastest, so I understand that there's some anxiety among Muslim Canadians, and I think it's important that we acknowledge what they're going through. It can be scary.

  (1600)  

     Thank you.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr. Dubé.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

[English]

    Mr. Shack, thanks for being here.
    I want to focus on the counter-radicalization question. I like the phrase you used: “nipping it in the bud”. I think that's one of the important pieces here. As part of this study, we actually had the opportunity to visit the centre in Montreal. One of the points that the folks working there raised was about the rise in all forms of radicalization, including for young people becoming neo-Nazis.
    In the tragic circumstances in Quebec, we saw an attack that was fed by Islamophobia, but it could very well have been an attack fed by anti-Semitism as well, obviously. The numbers don't lie, unfortunately, about what the community faces.
    I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this. It hasn't been perfect, but it's certainly one of a kind in North America, and I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on what has gone on in Montreal and what lessons can be learned from that. Do you have more thoughts on the federal government plan going forward and what they should be doing? I know that we've talked about the coordinator, but obviously we have to move beyond that one role. Could you share a bit more of your thoughts on that?
    Yes. I think you've made an important point: there has been a rise in radicalization among many different groups. Certainly, different types of hatred have been feeding into this. You've seen attacks on the LGBTQ community, on black Canadians, and internationally as well. This is very scary. I wouldn't want to give the impression that our community is only afraid of attacks emanating from people with a twisted Islamist ideology. neo-Nazis are something to be dealt with as well, of course. I think we do need to look at things comprehensively, without losing sight of the particularities of individual circumstances.
    As I said, I do think it's important to focus on hate, if you can, through activities like those run by the institute in Montreal and those that hopefully the coordinator will be funding and spearheading, and through individual communities coming together as well. It's not just for government to be doing things. To the extent possible, communities coming together around these issues, I think, really needs to be a focus. It's easy to lose sight of that. It's a focus exclusively on deprogramming people who are along the path. That's an important element, but rooting out hatred in Canada to the extent we can, even looking beyond the radicalization and terrorism, is a good thing. Thankfully, we live in a country where damaging hatred is confined to the margins. We need to keep it that way and push it further away.
    Certainly, I didn't mean to imply that—
    No, no. I just wanted to make sure—
    —there is fear of only one group. In fact, I think what we're struggling with—and I'm certain my colleagues would agree with what was being shared with us at the centre when we visited—is the fact that hate in all its forms is perhaps growing. Perhaps we're also more sensitive to it, but there's also the fact of ease of information, right? Unfortunately, not all information is necessarily good, and it certainly can propagate hate.
    You mentioned, for example, as an idea of the kind of initiative that could come from the coordinator, something like a round table. Do you folks have any other ideas of the kinds of initiatives that could be brought forward to counter radicalization? Also, I think there needs to be an education component. Are there any other ideas you might be willing to float by us?

  (1605)  

    I think the model in Germany that's being piloted right now is a good one. I know they're looking to implement it nationally if it's successful in—
    I don't want to cut you off, but I'm interested in that and I was going to ask you about it. Just before you go on, I know you mentioned that it was perhaps too early to talk about it, but is there anything preliminary you'd be able to share with us?
    Preliminarily speaking, it seems to be successful. They seem to be moving forward. The reports of anti-Semitism appear to be diminishing.
    I don't think the radicalization process happens overnight, so I think it's something they need to look at over a period of time. Preparing teachers to deal with this is certainly an important element. I'm sure that individual teachers are well equipped just naturally to handle a situation like this and to handle a student who's susceptible or vulnerable or who is being groomed for radicalization, but most, I imagine, are not. I don't presume that there's a formal training to assist them and to give them the tools they need in order to help youth.
     Teachers are on the front lines. Teachers are some of the most important people in terms of shaping future Canadians, and if we can integrate our radicalization-prevention efforts and our hate-prevention efforts at that level, I think we'll have a big impact.
     I'm going to change gears a bit. Certainly, the SIP is something that's important, and certainly we're happy. Especially after what happened in Quebec City, I think it was the right move on the government's part to extend the deadline, because people become more sensitive to the need for and even the availability of a program like that.
    There's one thing I'm particularly interested in hearing about. I'll admit—and you said it yourself—that not everyone realizes that security guards and things like that.... Especially in a place of faith where people go to pray and come together as a community, those things can be jarring. I'm wondering how we reconcile the need for physical security with this, and what other measures can be taken to make a community feel that it can be at home in its place of worship.
    That's a very interesting question. Certainly, we all feel it when we see the security guards and when we have to pass through. I work in the Jewish community centre in Toronto. To get to my office, I have to clear, I think, two security checkpoints in order to get through. It's something you notice. You notice the measures that are in place outside as well, or at least I do.
     I don't think there's an easy answer there. I think we're willing to make the sacrifice of having those things in our face in order to prevent terrible things from happening. When you see....
     Yes, I have to pass a security check, the same as I would here. I have a pass, so it's easier. This is just the reality of how it is. Seeing successful attacks that have taken place internationally scares people more than do the actual measures put in place to prevent that kind of thing.
    Yes, certainly.
    You can look at the alternative in a place such as France. After the attack that took place in Paris, France, you had 5,000 French soldiers deployed to Jewish community institutions to safeguard them. I prefer to have some security infrastructure put in place that monitors the outside, that prevents unfettered access to the inside, and that has a security guard when things are acute, rather than having soldiers with automatic weapons posted at every single building.
    I have to tell you that there are many in our community who feel that they should have soldiers posted outside community buildings, because they're scared without them there. It's a complicated thing.
    Thank you.
    Thank you, Mr. Shack.
    Ms. Damoff.
     Thank you for being here. As I was listening to you speak, I was thinking that because the Jewish community has been targeted more than any other group over the years, I find that the community itself is probably the most sympathetic and most proactive in supporting the Muslim community as they are facing hate crimes. That's just a comment about what you were saying. I've noticed it in my own community.
    About five years ago, CIJA ran a pilot program in Toronto. It was called the “community security network”. It trained volunteers with observational and counter-surveillance techniques to mitigate terrorism threats and vandalism to area synagogues, schools, and community centres. I wonder if you could comment on how the program went and whether you could give us any recommendations based on that pilot.

  (1610)  

    I'm going to take the opportunity afforded by your kind comment about our working with other groups to plug Bill C-305 again. I know that we have been working hard to mobilize, and I think we had 20 other groups across all faiths mobilize, in support of it. It's actually a good example of what we can accomplish beyond ourselves when we all come together.
    In terms of the security training and programs of that sort, certainly focused in the GTA but nationally as well, we provide audits to Jewish community institutions. We go in and have some experts on staff give advice to the institution about how they can better secure the premises, whether it's putting bulletproof film on the windows or suggesting what types of infrastructure they may need to be putting in place, or how to apply for SIP grants and things like that. That has been tremendously impactful.
    In addition, we train lay people, groups of volunteers, at these institutions, whether it's synagogues or community centres, about how to approach security and how to respond when there's an incident, so that there's an understanding of what to do and who to call when something happens, and so there's a coordinated approach that's based on best practices from law enforcement.
     Do you see any way that it could be incorporated into a larger federal initiative? Obviously you're limited in how many places of worship you can visit.
    In addition to the infrastructure, people need to know what infrastructure they need. There are a lot of consultants out there who will tell them. Some of them are great; others are less great, and that's the way it is.
    They are trying to sell something.
    If there's a way to minimize the less-great ones, that would be great, and for sure, training people.... We have a tremendous working relationship with police on this stuff. It's an informal relationship. It's not something that's institutionalized, but I think it would really be helpful to other communities as well to develop those relationships with the police. You know who to call, you know who's going to respond, you know, if there's an incident, how to approach the police in a way that will make everything work as seamlessly as possible. There's definitely a lot of room for coordination in that regard.
    We had a witness appear who said that the solutions or strategies should not be legislative or come from the top down, and he talked about how they come from police clubs, mosques, church organizations, and social clubs. It's not exclusively or primarily lodged in law enforcement but instead takes a broad view of community safety and well-being. You and I were speaking earlier about Rabbi Wise in my community, who was one of the founders of the Interfaith Council of Halton. Last Friday they organized a circle of peace at the Al Falah Islamic Centre in my riding. I'm wondering if you could speak about community programs like that, whereby we're bringing the community and faith groups together, and how we can use those types of programs and initiatives to fight hate and radicalization.
    Certainly having members of a faith group can see that the other, who is often the target of hate, isn't loathsome and isn't what they've been built up to be is important. That's the core of it. Sometimes that's difficult to do at the institutional level, and it's easier to do people to people, individual to individual, clergy to clergy, but it's something we prioritize in our work. We have a team within our organization focused exclusively on building partnerships with other communities, not just faith communities but all different segments of Canadian society, because even in terms of advocacy, we can accomplish way more working together than any of us can individually. It's important that we find those opportunities to work together on things of common cause and to build bridges wherever possible across all levels.

  (1615)  

    Do you find it difficult to engage youth in those programs? I've noticed adults come out and are part of the circle of peace. There's a young lady in my riding who's reached out to Rabbi Wise from a mosque to see if they can engage younger people, but there hasn't been an awful lot of uptake on getting young people involved in those interfaith and community groups. I wonder if you could comment on that.
    I think youth engagement is a problem writ large, not just on this front. I can tell you that there's a lot of outreach happening on university campuses. I know there's Hillel, which is the Jewish campus organization that tries to create a Jewish space on campus and a centre for Jewish life on campus. I know that at a number of universities there have been partnerships with Muslim students, for example, and Christian student groups on a number of things, inviting groups to participate in the Jewish activities and going out and participating in the activities of others, whether they are Indo-Canadian clubs or LGBTQ clubs. Whatever it is in terms of engaged students in campus life, those connections have been happening. It's very difficult for institutions to bring in youth anyway. I don't know the answer.
    Thank you. That's my time.
    Ms. Watts.
     Thank you very much. I appreciate all the good work you do.
    I always think of a focal point, of how things can come together, of how we have discussions to come up with plans to deal with some of these issues. We've heard a number of pieces throughout the hearings of some of the things that can be done.
    A number of years ago, the Office of Religious Freedom was set up. That mandate was to protect and advocate on behalf of religious minorities under threat, to oppose religious hatred and intolerance, and to promote Canadian values of pluralism and tolerance. That office had a $5-million budget. I would have thought that would provide a platform and an avenue for dialogue in terms of bringing people together. That has since been shut down.
    There's talk about an office for counter-radicalization. I want to talk about the difference between the two, because I think there are two spectrums in this piece: the radicalization of people and the overall umbrella where people of all faiths get together and have a discussion around what each one can do and how each one can support another.
    Do you think there is value in looking at both of those pieces or do you think there's more value in just concentrating on counter-radicalization? From your knowledge and what you've been through, how should we approach this?
    I wish there was a silver bullet to this problem and that there was one measure that would take care of it.
    And there isn't. It's multifaceted.
    I think that's why this is so challenging, because it's so multi-faceted.
    The Criminal Code alone is not going to solve the problem. Counter-radicalization efforts alone are not going to solve the problem. The activities of the former Office of Religious Freedom or the office that has come into being that's sort of subsumed its mandate isn't going to solve the problem alone, but these are all important pieces of the puzzle.
    I can tell you that we opposed the dismantling of the Office of Religious Freedom at the time. We've been very pleased with the activities of what's come after, specifically in terms of its treatment of anti-Semitism. It recently formalized Canada's adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of anti-Semitism as a matter of Canadian policy, which I know was an initiative of the previous government that continued under this government. I think the more we can do on the those types of things, the better.

  (1620)  

    Since it is multifaceted, we as legislators can do only so much. It is about bringing everybody together and having that dialogue. I think we're going to see change occur at the community level and on the ground. It's a matter of making sure that communities have the resources and the connectivity in order to do that.
    In my riding, CIJA is very active, as are many other religious orders. We have those interfaith discussions. I guess it becomes problematic when people become isolated. I think there are multiple levels in all of this. I think, as you said, we can't do it alone. We all have to come together and deal with these issues.
    That is easier said than done.
    It is a lot harder than saying it.
    Who attends multifaith events? People who are interested in multi-faith.
    Exactly.
     And those are not necessarily the people—
    They're the people—
    —who need to experience what the other is like. It's a big challenge.
    Thank you.
    You're shocked. He is shocked.
    They're on time. It's a nice shock.
    Monsieur Picard.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    We are going to distribute a copy of an email I received at my office this week to all participants. The content is so disturbing that I don't want to publicize it.

[English]

    I just want to be clear that only the clerk is meant to distribute anything at the committee, so I just want to make sure he did. Similar to in the House of Commons, we can't have people distributing material. We need unanimous consent, because it's in English only. I don't have unanimous consent.
     You can explain what it is, but we can't have it distributed. Sorry.

[Translation]

    In the context of the new realities that are arising in 2017, I have to tell you that this email received at our office this week directly encourages the commission of a crime, in the very wake of the events that happened in Quebec.
    This type of clear encouragement is directly related to the new offence created in the Criminal Code, that of inciting terrorism.
    Unfortunately, your committee has sometimes, perhaps too often, been the subject of hateful comments. I would like to know your position on this type of behaviour.
    In your opinion, are there a sufficient number of offences on hate propaganda, were they sufficient in the past to condemn it, or should we rather condemn this type of hateful behaviour through offences such as the new inciting of terrorism offence?
    Were the offences created in the past sufficient, or should we act, and go further?

[English]

    Thank you for the question.
    I think the law should be enforced to the full extent. I'm not a lawyer and I don't work for the Attorney General's office, but if this can be deemed promotion or advocacy of terrorism, then it should be considered and prosecuted to the full extent.
    We shouldn't just have the laws on paper gathering dust; these are things that should be taken out and used. They're important tools and they're meant to protect people, and if they're not going to do that, then there's something wrong, and we need to evaluate whether something else is needed that will be used. I don't know if this would meet the test of those laws, but certainly somebody should test them, I imagine.

  (1625)  

[Translation]

    I am not the only one to have received this email, and I assure you that we advised police authorities so that they may investigate given the harshness and seriousness of the text of the email.
    On this same issue, some witnesses have said that this new offence on inciting or advocating terrorism is unconstitutional because it is too vague. Because of that it may impose unreasonable limits on freedom of expression—if we are talking about freedom of expression.
    One witness even told us that this offence could hinder the setting up of an anti-radicalisation community program. The people who said that are people who devote their time to defending civil liberties.
    Last November, someone painted antisemitic graffiti on the walls of a synagogue in the south of Ottawa.
    Mr. Shack, I want to give you an opportunity to comment on the importance of fighting hate propaganda. In connection with this incident, do you have an opinion on the constitutionality of such a measure?

[English]

     The provision to criminalize the advocacy or promotion of terrorism offences specifically requires that a statement be communicated in which the person knowingly advocates or promotes the commission of an offence, knowing that those offences will be committed, or being reckless as to whether or not they will be committed. I would hazard that somebody engaged in good faith in counter-radicalization efforts wouldn't meet those tests. They wouldn't be doing this knowing that the person was going to go out and commit a terrorism offence. They wouldn't be considered reckless in terms of whether or not somebody's then going to take what they've said and go out and commit a terrorism offence, so I don't think that this is necessarily a valid concern in terms of impeding the ability to deal with radicalization.
    Similarly, the “seizure of terrorist propaganda” provision is subject to a court decision. There's the ability to appeal that decision. The person whose propaganda it is, or whoever wrote the thing or posted the thing, has the ability to appear to explain why they don't believe that it counts and to advocate on their own behalf. There are sufficient elements in place to prevent people who mean well from getting swept up in something that's overly draconian.
    In terms of our community and the hate propaganda and vandalism, we actually had an issue with one of the synagogues that was targeted here in Ottawa, in that everything came off so quickly. Everybody was quick to just get the thing off, and they wanted to deal with it quickly, and they didn't notify police. They just got rid of the swastikas that were spray-painted so people wouldn't see them when they came into the building. It was only after it was recognized that this was part of a pattern that they realized they probably should have done something different. This speaks to one of the questions before, about people needing to have training on how to respond to these incidents so that there is a uniform response, so we can provide as much support to law enforcement as possible, so they can do their job and help our communities, and so we are all working together.
    Thank you.
    I shouldn't have doubted that we could fill an hour—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    The Chair: —because we were able to do that quite well.
    Thank you for your time.
    You made a number of assertions in your presentation today. If CIJA has any quantifiable data or research as opposed to qualitative research, things like “some people in the community are worried about this or this”, that would be helpful for us. Any factual evidence would be helpful.
    Mr. Clement mentioned the rate of hate crime. I was trying to get some statistics as the meeting was going on, and actually over the years it's gone down in some years in Canada as opposed to going up. If we have some data on incidents that you have collected.... We have StatsCan data that I'd like to be able to offer to the committee. That would be helpful, because we're attempting to look at the magnitude of the issue.

  (1630)  

    That's not a problem.
    Anything you have you could submit to the clerk, and we could put it into evidence.
    Okay, wonderful.
    Is there anything else? I think we're good.
    We're going to move now in camera for a brief business meeting, and we're going to take a few moments to thank our witness.
    Thank you.
    [Proceedings continue in camera]
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