B'nai Brith is Canada's oldest membership-based Jewish organization. Through its League for Human Rights, which maintains an anti-hate hotline and prepares an annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents, it is the premier advocate of human rights for Canada's Jewish community.
B'nai Brith testified before this committee in 2015, focusing on our support for one particular aspect of Bill relating to the creation of an offence for the promotion of terrorism, seizure of terrorist propaganda, and deletion of terrorist propaganda from computer systems. We offered several recommendations for amendments. My colleague David Matas, who serves as the senior legal counsel for B'nai Brith in Canada, will update our position in that regard in his statement.
We know the Jewish community is particularly vulnerable to hate propaganda throughout the world, and many of the most powerful terrorist organizations in existence today, such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Daesh, rely upon the promotion of hatred with a particular focus on anti-Semitism to inspire acts of terror.
There are many examples of this internationally, such as the Hyper Cacher supermarket attack aimed at French Jewry, which was tied to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and the horrendous attack on a Jewish religious centre in Mumbai that was specifically targeted as part of a larger Islamist-inspired terrorist attack in 2008.
In fact, terror attacks against Jews have taken place right across the globe. The Jewish community is quite cognizant of the threat it faces and knows that based on history, our community will continue to be the subject of terror attacks so long as incitement to hatred and radicalization continue around the world.
There is a tendency to think of terror as a foreign problem, but it is a Canadian problem too. In Canada the Jewish-owned West Edmonton Mall, as well as Jewish businesses worldwide, were the subject of a terror threat by al Shabaab, to the exclusion of non-Jewish-owned malls. We are not immune here in Canada.
The 2016 report on the terrorist threat to Canada cites Hezbollah, a listed terror group supported by the Iranian regime, as using its worldwide and Canadian networks for recruitment, fundraising, and procurement. Hezbollah remains a terror threat not only to the Jewish community but also to all Canadians, and it is believed to have a history of international terror operations, including the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Argentina. This is one of the reasons that B'nai Brith was supportive of the closing of the Iranian embassy in 2012 and believes it should not be reopened until the Iranian regime ends it support for terror and anti-Semitism.
B'nai Brith's annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents shows that anti-Semitism in Canada has remained relatively constant since 2011. With no active conflict occurring in Israel in 2015, 1,277 incidents were reported in that year. Harassment, including online harassment, has shown a general increase over five years. Vandalism declined to a 15-year low that year, while violence decreased slightly to 10 incidents. Our 2016 numbers will be released this spring.
Our Prime Minister is in Washington today, meeting for the first time with President Donald Trump. Canadians wish to maintain a positive relationship with the United States to enable efficient and speedy border crossings and trade. This requires taking our national security very seriously. Canada's counterterrorism and anti-radicalization efforts must acknowledge that specific identifiable groups—including Jewish, LGBTQ, Muslim, women, and others—are often the target for violence, and we must create a balanced framework to protect vulnerable societal groups from terrorism while maintaining important principles of freedom of speech within society.
Many often forget that minority Muslim groups are also targets of radical Islamist terror groups. Our community appreciates and supports the federal security infrastructure program, which supports the security needs of at-risk communities. It's unfortunate that children growing up in Canada today are made to realize that a police presence is required at Jewish synagogues during high holidays because of the ongoing threat of hate and violence.
Hatred is taught, and may prove the inspiration towards a violent pathway to radicalization. In this regard we should not forget that hate speech in Canada might play a role in sensitizing individuals to future radicalization efforts, whether in person or via the Internet, by desensitizing them to the humanity of their fellow human beings. Recently B'nai Brith exposed an Arabic-language local television show in Toronto, AskMirna, that had promoted holocaust denial. Rogers Television was not aware of any problems with the content, since they rely on the honour system and a complaint process. There is much work to be done in removing channels of hate from Canadian society, even from television and newspapers.
Those are my opening remarks, and Mr. Matas will now provide his update.
On behalf of B'nai Brith Canada, I would like to address only one question posed in the “Our Security, Our Rights” green paper. The question, found on page 46 of the background document, is this: “Should the part of the definition of terrorist propaganda referring to the advocacy or promotion of terrorism offences in general be removed from the definition?”
Our answer to that question is no. Freedom of expression is a right that must be jealousy guarded, but so must the right to be free from terrorism. Generally, human rights have to be viewed as a whole, and rights have to be balanced off against each other. Practically, what this means is that the rights of one set of people have to be balanced off against those of another. In this case, it is the right to security of the person of victims and potential victims of terrorism that must be balanced against the free speech rights of those advocating or promoting terrorism.
We see the addition to the definition of “terrorist propaganda” of advocacy or promotion of terrorism offences in general as a re-equilibration of the balance in light of the enhanced terrorist threat with which the planet in general and Canada in particular have been confronted. The world has changed, and the balance has to change too. Victims and potential victims need better protection than they have had. Whether the addition overshoots the mark requires consideration, but conceptually the drift makes sense.
We have three suggestions, which we believe are consistent with the spirit of the current legislation.
One is to import a defence for the offences of promotion or advocacy that already exists for the offence of promotion of hatred. The Criminal Code now provides that no person shall be convicted of wilful promotion of hatred who in good faith intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters tending to produce feelings of hatred towards an identifiable group. Something similar could be drafted for the offences of advocacy and promotion of terrorist activity.
Second, the legislated offence prohibits promotion and advocacy of “terrorism offences in general” without indicating what those offences are. We assume that this phrase “terrorism offences in general” refers to terrorism offences set out in the definition of that phrase in the Criminal Code. We suggest that whether the assumption is correct or not, the phrase “terrorism offences in general” be defined so that it is clear which offences are intended.
Our third suggestion relates to the requirement of consent of the Attorney General. A requirement of this consent, which we welcome, has its own problems. The relevant attorney general for these offences is the federal government Attorney General only for the territories. For the provinces, the relevant attorneys general are the attorneys general of the provinces in which the alleged offences occur. Our experience with the offence of wilful promotion of hatred has been that some attorneys general were most reluctant to consent to prosecution of this offence, even in clear-cut cases.
From our experience with the hate speech laws, we have learned that allowing for any member of the public to launch proceedings against any other member of the public without screening means too little in the way of safeguards to free speech. Conversely, legislating a requirement of consent of the Attorney General, without more, is too much of an obstacle to the effective working of the law.
We would suggest that in addition to the requirement of Attorney General consent, there be guidelines. Attorneys general, we certainly hope, would not end up having experience combatting advocacy and promotion of terrorism sufficient to make them become experts in the matter. They would benefit from guidelines.
We have a few proposals to make by way of what these guidelines should be, but obviously they could be added to. Here are some of our suggestions.
First, generally consent should be forthcoming if the Office of the Attorney General is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that a prosecution will lead to a conviction.
Second, given the gravity of the offence of terrorism, exercise of the discretion not to prosecute and therefore not to consent, even when the prosecution is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that a prosecution will lead to a conviction, should be uncommon.
Third, the right to freedom of expression is a factor that must be considered in determining whether to consent to prosecution, but the right of potential victims to be free from terrorism and the threat of terrorism must be given priority.
Fourth, freedom of expression considerations alone should not justify denial of consent when the offence is otherwise made out.
Fifth, a person commits the offence whether he or she personally promotes or advocates terrorism or causes another to do so.
Sixth, promotion or advocacy of terrorism includes glorification of terrorism for the purpose of emulation.
Seventh, for the offence of advocacy or promotion of terrorism to be committed, there need not be a direct linkage between the advocacy or promotion and any specific terrorist act.
Eighth, for the offence to be committed, it is not necessary to establish that a person was in fact encouraged or induced to commit an act of terrorism because of the advocacy or promotion.
I'll stop there. Our general approach, both in proposing amendments and in suggesting guidelines, is that a law criminalizing advocacy or promotion of terrorism should not be too easy to invoke, but it should not be a dead letter either.
Thank you for your invitation to address the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. Muslims have felt under siege since 9/11 and generally excluded from public discourse about us, so we appreciate the opportunity to be part of the process re-examining Canada's national security framework.
The Islamic Society of North America of Canada, or ISNA Canada, was incorporated in 1982 and is an outgrowth of the Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada, founded in the early 1960s. We have around 1,000 members across the country, from Vancouver to Prince Edward Island.
My name is Safiah Chowdhury. I hold an M.Phil. in Islamic studies and history from the University of Oxford and I am a member of ISNA Canada's executive committee.
With me is Dr. Katherine Bullock. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Toronto and teaches Islamic politics at the Mississauga campus of the University of Toronto. She was elected to the ISNA Canada board in 2015.
ISNA Canada is a grassroots community organization that serves the spiritual, psychological, educational, and social needs of the Muslim community. It operates mosques and Islamic schools; assists the poor through disbursement of charitable donations; operates food banks; provides pastoral care to congregants; organizes religious festivals, conferences and lectures, matrimonial services, and family events; and conducts funerals.
ISNA Canada promotes living in peace and with good relations with neighbours. It is part of the Canadian interfaith community. It is thus grounded in the everyday experiences of Muslims in Canada. Our imams, our religious leaders, face an overwhelmingly constant stream of people turning to them for assistance on all matters to do with life, often in crisis situations.
As Canadians working very closely with communities and families, we understand and share the need to protect against violence. We recognize that we live in an increasingly globalized and digitized world and that threats to our safety can thus come from anywhere and are more complicated than ever to track. This violence and these threats compromise not only our safety but the very quality of life that we cherish so dearly that ultimately allows us to thrive.
We know that you will be hearing or have already heard from a number of organizations, Muslim and non-Muslim, such as the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, and other civil liberty organizations, that the Anti-terrorism Act, the even more frightening Bill , and now Bill privilege fear of threat over real rights. This bill compromises the very Charter of Rights and Freedoms upon which we purport to exist. The people whose rights it compromises, who now feel targeted and, ironically, unsafe, are the country's almost 1.1 million Muslims.
We are not here to repeat those arguments, most of which we endorse. We are, as you've heard, not legal experts. As representatives from a large community-based organization, we are here to tell you about the very human impact anti-terror legislation has on our communities, our dignity, and our ability to thrive. We will refer to two points in particular. The first is how the narrative around terrorism leads to a rise in fear of Muslims. The second is about the impact on freedom of speech.
On Islamophobia, since 9/11 there has been a sharp rise in hate crimes against Muslims in Canada. As the “war on terror” centralized Muslims as the primary source of terrorism, Muslim communities—everyday average individuals who are at home or going to work, school, the grocery store, or the community centre—came under scrutiny.
Statistics Canada data tells us that crimes against Muslims are increasing despite the overall drop in identity-based attacks on other communities. Despite these accounts, as Canadian Muslims ourselves, we know that these are under-reported numbers. People in our community don't report hate crimes. We typically tend to brush them off as isolated, perpetrated by “lone wolves”, because historically this is what we have always been told.
That is despite the rise of right-wing extremism in Canada, which has been thriving and growing at alarming rates. Internal documents from CSIS, a body from this committee, suggest that extreme right-wing and white supremacist ideology has been the main ideological source for 17% of attacks in Canada. This is more than Islamic extremism. We know so acutely that this extreme right-wing hatred is often directed toward the Muslim community, from street harassment to the firebombing of a mosque in Peterborough, to the most recent example, on January 29, when six Muslims were ruthlessly killed in a Quebec mosque that had previously been targeted by these “lone wolf” white supremacists. These acts of violence by hatred-filled individuals are yet to be tried as terrorism, a term that seems to apply only to Muslims.
From what we know of the perpetrators of anti-Muslim attacks, they are propelled by dangerous rhetoric that positions Muslims as problems, as threats to the security of the state. The discourse around the Anti-terrorism Act and Bill speaks to this. In fact, in your very own green paper on national security, the only threats identified come from organizations or countries associated with Islam.
It is a strange situation, honestly, to navigate. Rhetoric on national security targets and typecasts Muslims, who then are increasingly becoming the victim of terrorism-related offences due to this very same rhetoric.
It places us in the perilous position of needing to protect ourselves against threats of violence because the world and our country position us as the threat.
Hello. I'm Katherine Bullock. When I start my lectures at my university, I usually explain why my name is Katherine Bullock and I'm dressed like this. I converted to Islam in 1994 and I started wearing the head scarf in the same year. I decided not to change my name when I converted.
What I teach as a professor is that one of the key problems of Bill —indeed, of the Canadian counterterrorism approach in general—has been the move from what's called criminal space to prevention space. This is the move from “will” commit an offence to “may” committee an offence. In the move from “will” to “may”, we enter the realm of interpretation.
In an environment of increasing Islamophobia, the “may” space becomes a space of problematizing and criminalizing Muslim faith communities for their everyday practices. Growing a beard or putting on a head scarf becomes a potential security threat rather than a spiritual expression. We have indeed seen this through the recent travel limitations to the United States that were imposed on visibly Muslim individuals simply for who they are.
As a professor in the university system, I am deeply committed to the importance of freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and freedom of conscience. I am especially worried about how Bill can lead to the curtailment of these core liberal values.
A recent round table with Muslim youth found that while most of them saw political and civic engagement as a key, core aspect of Canadian identity, most of them also felt that there was not enough of it in their community. One reason they gave was the fear amongst the youth of being attacked for voicing their opinions on controversial topics.
A similar finding is in the data collected by the last Environics survey of Canadian Muslim opinion, conducted in 2016, which found that “One in six (17%) says he or she has felt inhibited about doing so because of [race], ethnicity or religion. This impact is...to be expressed [most] by Canadian-born Muslims (32%), those under 35 years of age (24%), and those who have experienced difficulties crossing borders (27%).”
This finding is troubling for three reasons at least. The first, of course, is the signal that a segment of a democratic society feels less than equal to their fellow citizens in expressing their points of view, without which a democracy cannot properly function. The second problem is that the feelings of inhibition, of not feeling free to speak out, are higher amongst Canadian-born and the youth, who are the future of our community, the very segment of the Muslim community who should feel most embraced for their Canadianness. Finally, those who feel inhibited in expressing their political or social opinions also express a weakening sense of belonging to Canada, 13%. I'm sure we don't have to tell you that the best defence Canada has is a population that feels a strong sense of belonging to Canada.
Candice Malcolm, a journalist for TheRebel, in her praise for Bill C-51, argued that “while our rights and freedoms [are sacred and] should never be needlessly sacrificed, freedom means nothing if we are not safe.” In fact, this is not true. Over the centuries, people have sacrificed their lives to bring freedom to their country. Safety without freedom is Pinochet's Chile, Stalin's USSR, Mao's China, Castro's Cuba.
We do not want to turn Canadian Muslims into the canary in the mine, making them into scapegoats, political prisoners, or prisoners of conscience. The terrain for what constitutes support for terrorism currently represents a slippery slope whereby core Muslim traditions and concepts—noble concepts, like sharia, hijab, and even the much-maligned jihad, which is a concept that means “to struggle for justice”, wrongly slandered as “holy war”—are refracted through an Islamophobic lens into prohibited speech in a liberal democracy.
The youths, the converts, the uninformed among the Muslims as well as the wider community need to be able to hold seminars and lectures and round tables and private conversations about these religious verses and traditions and concepts, the very ones the Muslim extremists call upon when trying to justify their turn to violence: what remains of jihad, what are the proper rules of engagement in war, what about participating in secular democracies, what is extremism from an Islamic point of view, what is the sharia, and what is the caliphate?
Bill , Bill , the preceding Anti-terrorism Act and the narrative swirling around it in the mainstream, especially in the right-wing media, do not give us this space to investigate these questions. A thought that cannot be debated in the open, in the cleansing light of day, will go underground and grow up twisted in the swamps of darkness.
Actually, I don't know if you would like the product of that panel, because it was very critical of the government's approach to the whole counter-radicalization concept.
I think that with the interpretations of the issues around the “will“ space and the “may” space that I've mentioned, the rising Islamophobia, the curtailment of freedom of speech, the targeting of the Muslim identity as the religious identity of radicalism, what emerges is that basically the whole preventive approach focuses on Islam as if it were the problem, whereas in fact there's a big socio-political context that is ignored.
Youth were upset, for example, when Canada was in Afghanistan fighting against fellow Muslims. This leads people to feel that there's injustice in the world against Muslims. It has nothing to do with being religious or with a religious identity. It's about how to react to political issues in the world.
Counter-radicalization focuses too much on the religious aspect and pulls it out of context. It doesn't focus on state violence. It doesn't focus on exclusion, discrimination, Islamophobia, alienation, or any of those things.
It wasn't a policy panel. It wasn't something for government people to take notes about to make policy. It was more like an academic approach.
Probably I should stop there. I think I have that professorial talking-too-long thing.
We will go back and forth, but seamlessly, and thank you for letting us go first. I assure you, Mr. Chair, you would not want to lose Béatrice Vaugrante.
Since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, a misleading debate has taken hold about the relationship between national security and human rights. The debate assumes an inescapable trade-off between the two goals, that more security requires weaker human rights protection and that stronger regard for human rights will inevitably leave us more insecure.
That could not be further from the truth.
Governments have a vital obligation. Part of their responsibility is to uphold human rights, to prevent terrorist attacks, and hold accountable individuals who commit such acts. It is also essential that laws and actions taken to counter terrorism comply with international human rights. These two responsibilities do not compete with each other; they are one and the same.
The current view of Canada's national security framework offers a valuable opportunity to reject this false dichotomy and affirm that the strongest approach to upholding national security is one grounded in full regard for human rights.
The timing and the necessity of your deliberations on this review are imperative. It is indeed both opportune and urgent. It is opportune because an opening such as the present one, a wide-ranging review of our national security framework, comes along infrequently. It's an opportunity that should not be squandered.
It is opportune as well because a range of lessons have been learned in Canada over the past 15 years through individual cases, court rulings, and UN recommendations that highlight the human cost of national security practices that violate rights and point to the needed reforms.
The urgency is threefold.
First, as we highlight in our submission—you've heard from many others as well—numerous Canadian security laws, policies, and practices contravene our country's international human rights obligations. Those shortcomings must be addressed.
Second, Amnesty International continues to document extensive, serious, and, in many cases, mounting human rights violations associated with national security practices around the world. In that context, it is so crucial that Canada set a different course and example.
Third, of course, the urgency has increased dramatically with the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. President Trump has made it clear that he does not agree with, for instance, the ban on torture when it comes to national security operations. Faced with that prospect of disregard for human rights by our closest national security partner, it is absolutely crucial that our own national security framework be strengthened as never before in its clear regard for human rights.
Amnesty International has recommended a human rights-based approach to national security for Canada with three main elements.
I'm now going to turn to my colleague Béatrice Vaugrante, who will speak about the first two elements, and then I'll come back to the third.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I will deliver my remarks in French.
Human rights are a foundational pillar. When governments adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, they noted that the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. That means that human rights are also the foundation of security.
As governments have elaborated binding treaties pertaining to human rights, the relationship between security and human rights has been at the very core. Some rights, such as freedom of expression, are defined so as the recognize the inherent limitations of imperatives such as national security, narrowly defined and carefully circumscribed. Other rights, such as liberty and security of the person, have no inherent limitations but can be suspended for a short period when a government faces a “public emergency threatening the life of the nation”.
Finally, there are a number of rights, including the prohibition against torture and ill treatment and the right to freedom, which cannot be abrogated under any circumstance. This approach illustrates that governments have always been attuned to the interconnected relationship between rights and security.
As a result, Amnesty International's first recommendation is that Canada recognize regard for human rights as a foundational pillar of Canada's national security framework. A foundational pillar risks being empty rhetoric unless backed up by effective safeguards.
Our second recommendation is therefore that Canada adopt four essential safeguards. First, there is no specific reference to, let alone requirement to ensure compliance with, human rights under the Charter of Rights, the Canadian Human Rights Act or binding international standards in most Canadian national security legislation, except the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
The first safeguard should be that Canadian national security laws should be amended...
Thank you very much, and my apologies to the interpreters.
All Canadian national security laws should include a provision requiring legislation to be interpreted and applied consistent with the Charter of Rights, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and binding international human rights standards.
Additionally, there should be specific and binding reference to the rights most frequently at stake: the right to life; the ban on torture and ill-treatment; the prohibition of discrimination; safeguards against unlawful arrest, arbitrary detention and unfair trials; freedoms of expression, association and assembly; freedom of religion; privacy rights; and the protection against refoulement.
Next, a clear lesson highlighted in the Maher Arar inquiry was the inadequacy of national security review and oversight bodies and processes in Canada. Commissioner Dennis O'Connor proposed a comprehensive new model of integrated review that would subject all agencies to robust review, by bodies that possess the necessary powers and operate in an integrated manner. Unfortunately, ten years later, that recommendation has not been taken up.
Bill would establish a national security committee of parliamentarians, but that proposal is not enough.
This leads to our second safeguard. Building on Bill , Canada's model of national security review and oversights must be reformed to ensure all agencies are subject to robust, real-time review by expert and independent bodies which are able to cooperate with each other in an integrated manner.
Third, national security measures that encroach on rights should be exceptional and not permanent. However, national security measures adopted by governments are rarely temporary. Most national security provisions are part of Canadian law, including some that violate or undermine human rights provisions. Regular review helps safeguard against that possibility.
As the third safeguard therefore, Parliament should ensure regular reviews of national security laws, at least every three years.
Our final proposed safeguard is accounting for national security-related human rights violations from the past. The compensation and official apology provided to Maher Arar and Benamar Benatta are rare instances of redress being provided to individuals who have experienced serious violations.
Mr. Almalki, Mr. Abou-Elmaati and Mr. Nureddin have not been compensated for human rights violations documented in a 2008 judicial inquiry report from former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci. Omar Khadr has had no redress for charter violations upheld in unanimous 2008 and 2010 Supreme Court of Canada judgments. Other cases remain similarly unresolved.
Our fourth guarantee is therefore to appoint a judge or other independent expert to quickly review and resolve, consistent with international human rights principles, all pending legal cases involving claims for redress related to human rights violations arising in the context of national security operations.
My colleague Alex Neve will conclude our remarks.
Recommendation one is the recognition of human rights as a foundational pillar. Recommendation two is the adoption of a number of effective safeguards to deliver human rights in our national security framework. The third recommendation is, of course, for a number of specific reforms that need to take place in order to ensure compliance with our international human rights obligations.
I do not have time to go through all of those. I would just like to point to nine reforms that we think need to happen.
The first is to reform Canadian law to ensure compliance with the absolute ban on deportations to torture.
Second, repeal security certificate and other security-related immigration proceedings that do not live up to international fair trial standards.
Third, withdraw or reform ministerial directions on intelligence sharing and torture, which presently allow intelligence to be shared with other governments even if it may lead to torture and which similarly allow intelligence to be received even if it may have been obtained under torture.
Fourth, amend terrorism-related definitions to protect protest and free expression rights, as the exceptions currently protecting those rights in a variety of terrorism-related offences in several different statutes are inconsistent.
Fifth, reform the CSIS threat reduction warrants to conform to human rights obligations. There should be no consideration of activities by CSIS, or by any Canadian agency, that violate the charter or international human rights obligations.
Sixth, repeal the offence of promoting the commission of acts of terrorism in general, as it is vague, overreaching, and in violation of free expression rights. Existing criminal offences that deal with counselling, aiding and abetting, and other similar offences are sufficient.
Seventh, reform the information-sharing regime to better protect human rights, including strict safeguards to ensure the relevancy and accuracy of the information that is shared.
Eighth, update the proposed no-fly list appeal provisions to meet requirements of fairness.
Ninth, abolish recognizance with conditions provisions allowing detention without charge. Bill C-51's expansion of the length of time and the lowering of the threshold for such detentions falls below international norms with respect to arbitrary arrest and detention.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
The challenge here, of course, is that the state on the one hand has an obligation to keep people safe and to maintain order, and on the other hand to safeguard our core and fundamental values of freedom, equality, and justice. We want to find the effective balance, as I think the previous speakers emphasized. We want to make sure that we always review our legislation and our framework, which I think is what the committee is doing here.
I think that's a very helpful thing to do. Ultimately we won't be able to enjoy these values if we can't provide for a safe, secure, orderly environment where people can enjoy them. Why do people want to come to Canada? It's because we are a safe, secure, orderly society where people can then live out their values.
We live in a globalized world where the institutions we have, and much of the legislation we have, were designed in the 19th and 20th centuries and are ill adapted to the movement and the flows we see in the 21st century. The challenge is how to craft new institutions of governance to try to get a handle on the flows that we see, both legal flows and illegal or illicit flows.
Part of the way we've worked at this is to push the borders out—that is, to stop thinking about borders as these lines in the sand and to start thinking about what borders look like in a world where, for instance, data or financial capital moves with relative freedom across the world.
I'm just coming from an hour in the Senate, where we were talking about terrorist financing. I think it's important that we make sure that we have discussion based on evidence rather than on various propositions. In this conversation there are always lots of propositions and relatively little evidence to support them.
We've having 85 reviews across the federal government, and I've always thought it important that we have a conversation about the national security framework. We're having all these isolated reviews about cyber, about the defence policy review, and about Bill C-51. I think this is an important, cohesive discussion to have.
I have concerns about the problem of what some people call “securitization”. Since 9/11 we've become very good at securitizing various problems. There's no more expensive way to deal with an issue than to securitize it, in part because every dollar we spend on security is money that we don't have to spend on prosperity, social harmony, and whatnot, so how do we pull back on that?
I think the most important contribution, which the committee is already making, is to make sure that we have a more informed discussion about these issues, because I think they're poorly understood.
In the case of the threat mitigation mandate, people didn't understand that CSIS couldn't technically talk to parents if they thought their kid was up to nothing good. There's good evidence that the mandate is working.
With regard to the intelligence-to-evidence problem, even among lawyers who think they know the issue quite well and have appeared before the committee, it's still not well understood.
Then there's the no-fly list. Most Canadians don't understand that when Canadians get refused, the main reason is not the passenger protect program but the fact that the majority of flights in this country pass over U.S. territory. Names get drawn against other lists. They think it's the Canadian government, when it's really not the Canadian government that's at fault here.
Here are a bunch of quick thoughts around some of these issues.
I think we want an effective tool kit and we want a broad tool kit, because we're dealing with a challenging threat environment and we need to innovate. When we innovate on security, however, there's always this big outcry. In other areas, such as health, education, or whatnot, we take it for granted that every now and then things change. We want to change some of the frameworks. We live in a challenging environment, so of course we want to make sure we innovate.
There are interesting conversations about zeros and ones. Do we have relatively few problems in this country because we do such a terrific job and our agencies and legislation are so effective, or is it perhaps because we don't have all that big a problem?
There's a question about resource allocation. Since October 2014 we have dedicated an inordinate amount of resources to counterterrorism, to the detriment of most other aspects of national security. It's been a field day for organized crime. You just need to read some of the threat assessments to understand that. Do we have the balance right? We will face a continued, persistent threat with regard to criminal extremism and violent criminal extremism. We need to make sure that the legislation evolves.
The strategic importance of signals intelligence is also poorly understood. I think there are innovations within the signals intelligence community that need to happen and that are not currently happening. There are the unfunded mandates that the government has implicitly created since 9/11. It is provincial and local governments that are now getting stuck with much of the counterterrorism bill. What are we going to do to make sure we support them in that?
There's continued confusion around issues of radicalization. I always compare this to the opinion pyramid and the action pyramid. These are separate problems. The opinion pyramid is people moving to thoughts that we would prefer them not to have. The action pyramid is about people moving to actions, ultimately violent extremism, that we would rather not have them take.
The problem of the opinion and of mass radicalization of people having views you'd rather not have them hold and the problem of people moving to violence are two completely separate problems. Religion or radicalization per se is not driving much of the violence that we're seeing. A number of other factors are involved, and they combine differently in different types of cases. Religion is often used to justify the violence, rather than driving the violence. If religion drove the violence, of course, we'd see a lot more of that violence.
I would encourage the government to think less about countering radical extremism, whatever it wants to say, and I would encourage the government to think more about preventing violent extremism.
With regard to cyber, we face significant threats. Loss in the global economy to nefarious organizations was estimated last year at about $1 trillion. They pose a threat. We now understand the sort of threat that cyber can pose to democratic institutions and the way organized crime and other elements consistently exploit the cyberenvironment for their benefit.
When we talk about the Canada-U.S. border, inherently much of the national security framework is about ensuring our prosperity, because we saw after 9/11 what happens when the Americans close the border. Ensuring that Canadians understand that we are their partner is key here. In that regard, of course, how we need to think about this is in terms of the Kingston Dispensation of 1938 and of the Ogdensburg Declaration of 1940, wherein we agreed we're going to work with our American partners to keep troubles away from North America and in other parts of the world and work collectively to try to provide regional and international security. This co-operation with the Americans, regardless of administrations in the U.S., remains an overriding priority.
I have five quick recommendations.
One is the GCHQ model on cyber. Of course, the U.K. is a unitary state, so it is somewhat easier to use, but we need one agency in charge of coordinating cybersecurity efforts in this country. The collective action problems are simply astounding.
The second is on the RCMP. We need a capable organization that has the capacity to do federal and national policing, and follow it. To that effect, the RCMP needs to be restructured to be a completely independent federal and national policing organization with its own recruitment, remuneration, and whatnot. We can't have an organization that supposedly is in charge of federal and national priorities that spends 85% of its resources, time, and energy doing contract policing. It is failing in the obligations it has to Canadians on its federal and national priorities.
My third recommendation is on the CBSA. There's a long-standing conversation in this town about what CBSA should be in charge of. Why do we have one organization in charge between ports of entry and another organization at ports of entry? Let's have one organization in charge of both. I would suggest that CBSA might be that organization, but of course there are people who like their budgets and who would rather not do that.
The fourth is that I think Canada needs a centre for open-source intelligence. We are missing many of the boats and many of the trains because we don't have effective access to open-source intelligence in a way that is compatible with our constitutional and legal obligations to protect the privacy of Canadians.
The fifth recommendation is to fund more research, because there's a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of elements in this country that are poorly understood, and we ultimately want to have made-in-Canada solutions for these challenges that conform to the Canadian legislative framework and to the priorities and expectations that Canadians have.
I have a number of other things that I could talk about, but I'll leave it at that for now.
As my colleague Madame Vaugrante laid out, what we come back to is that the international human rights system itself already strikes the balance we're talking about, so you do not need to look outside of or beyond human rights in order to anticipate or decide what the balance is.
As she noted, there are a number of human rights that are defined in the provisions of international treaties. Freedom of expression is a perfect example of acknowledging that there's a balance that needs to be found. There are very careful limitations on that, but it's right there in the definition of the right.
There are a handful of other rights that international law recognizes in extreme circumstances, and international law is very strong here, saying that in the case of “threatening the life of the nation”, it's even possible to suspend some rights for a limited period of time and only as is absolutely necessary.
Then, finally, international law recognizes there are some rights that are so profoundly important, so essential to the notions of human integrity that are at the heart of human rights and also at the heart of us being secure, that they can never be violated. The protection against torture is a perfect example there.
That's what we're putting in front of governments: that you do not need to look beyond the human rights framework to figure out how to resolve that tension and find the balance. Governments—and of course, it was governments, not Amnesty International, that crafted those treaties over many decades—have already done so.