Good morning. My name is Laura Tribe, and I am the executive director of OpenMedia, a community-based organization committed to keeping the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free.
I'm here today with Tim McSorley of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, who were unfortunately not invited by the committee to testify in these proceedings, but whose contributions OpenMedia believes to be critical for an informed discussion of Bill .
OpenMedia's work on privacy and digital security dates back to Bills and , but has focused more recently on the serious security violations introduced by the previous government's Bill . The OpenMedia community's lengthy efforts on these issues include producing “Canada's Privacy Plan”, a positive vision for the future of privacy in Canada that was crowdsourced from over 125,000 contributors; over 300,000 people speaking up against Bill C-51; two national days of action against Bill C-51, organized in partnership with organizations across the country; over 15,000 citizen comments submitted to the government's national security consultation; and over 6,000 submissions to this committee's written consultation on Bill .
Public Safety Canada's report summarizing the national security consultation results showed that Canadians are overwhelmingly in favour of increased protections for personal privacy. More than four in five responses indicated that their expectation of privacy in the digital world is the same as or higher than in the physical world.
As a result, when Bill was introduced, we were relieved; it was a sign that change was coming. However, the more we analyzed the bill, the more our worries returned. The changes are less substantive than we had hoped, and invasive new powers were even introduced.
Bill fails to adequately address the information disclosure provisions and terrorist speech offences brought in by Bill , but also brings in new data collection, cybersecurity, and information-sharing powers that further threaten our privacy and security.
Today this committee has a chance to make this right. Over 6,000 Canadians submitted their concerns about Bill via OpenMedia's written submission to this consultation. Since then, in the past two weeks, we've had almost 10,000 more Canadians sign a new petition concerning the expanded cyber-operations powers proposed in the CSE act included within Bill . It's addressed to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security and reads:
“As a concerned Canadian, I am urging you to address the dangerous new powers being proposed for CSE in Bill . Throughout the process of reforming Bill , Canadians have been very clear on the need to scale back the drastic and invasive national security measures in the bill.
“Public Safety Canada's own 'What We Learned' report, which formed the basis of Bill , confirmed that a majority of stakeholders and experts called for existing measures to be scaled back or repealed completely, and that most participants in the consultations 'opted to err on the side of protecting individual rights and freedoms rather than granting additional powers to national security agencies and law enforcement...'.
“The new active and defensive cyber-operations powers proposed in Bill for CSE are directly opposed to the wishes of the majority of Canadians. We asked for privacy, but instead we got an out-of-control spy agency with even more extreme powers than before.
“Security and privacy experts throughout Canada have expressed in great detail the issues with the proposed bill and the changes that need to be made to protect the privacy and security of Canadians. Experts have warned of the consequences of granting powers like these, powers that will be all the more dangerous given the lack of adequate oversight included in the bill.
“I would like to point you to the 'Analysis of the Communications Security Establishment Act and Related Provisions in Bill ' report, produced by the Citizen Lab and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, CIPPIC. The recommendations laid out in this report should be adopted by the SECU committee.
“In a world and time where digital technologies are being used by so many to threaten our digital safety, we need our government to be helping make the world better, not actively undermining our security.”
As of this morning, our petition has been signed by 9,633 Canadians. On behalf of these signatories, plus the over 300,000 against Conservative Bill , and the other concerned civil society groups who have been unable to join these proceedings themselves, we respectfully ask that you make things right. We are asking you, our elected representatives, to stand up for our privacy and continue the work of repealing Bill . Digital security is critical to Canada's infrastructure, economy, and future. Please do not compromise this in the name of fear or following other countries' bad practices to lead us in a race to the bottom. We need to be stronger than that.
Thank you. I'm very glad to be able to present today on behalf of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and our 45 member organizations. I'd like to thank OpenMedia for inviting us to join them today.
I'd like to touch on three main points: first, review and oversight; second, some of the changes to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act; and third, the no-fly list.
Regarding oversight and review, the ICLMG greatly welcomes the creation of the national security and intelligence review agency, as well as the intelligence commissioner. However, we believe there are important ways in which both bodies could be strengthened. We hope the committee and government take this opportunity to ensure that both the NSIRA and the intelligence commissioner have the powers and resources they need to carry out their important work. Others have given feedback, which we largely support, regarding the intelligence commissioner, so I will focus on the NSIRA.
The ICLMG has long supported an overarching review mechanism as a way to ensure Canadians' rights are not violated, and to monitor the effectiveness of Canada's national security activities. Bill does away with the silos that have restricted the various review agencies' work, which alone is a major improvement.
I would highlight three issues, though, that we think the committee should examine regarding strengthening the NSIRA. First, to ensure independence we suggest that the NSIRA members be appointed via vote in Parliament and not through Governor in Council. Second, the complaints mechanism in the NSIRA act should apply not just to the RCMP, CSIS, the CSE, and security clearances, but be expanded to include, at a minimum, the national security activities of the CBSA as well as Global Affairs Canada, although ideally the complaints mechanism would actually include all federal national security related activities.
Third, SIRC has faced important criticism over the lack of transparency in its complaints system. There is, in fact, an ongoing lawsuit over this issue. We have also raised concerns about SIRC's inability to make binding recommendations. The NSIRA act would transpose these problems onto the new agency. We urge the committee to take this opportunity to improve on the SIRC model and ensure we have a strong, effective, overarching review body.
Next, regarding changes to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, CSIS's threat-reduction powers were introduced with Bill and were heavily criticized at the time. Bill attempts to solve some of these issues by restricting the powers to a set list of activities. However, we must reiterate in the strongest possible terms our opposition to granting an intelligence agency, which operates in secret, powers akin to those of law enforcement.
My time does not allow me to go into all our specific concerns, but at the heart of this is that CSIS's creation was meant to separate intelligence activities from law enforcement, and today we continue to have the same concerns we had at that time. Even in cases that require a warrant, we believe that a non-adversarial system will not ensure the protection of a target's civil liberties. We do not believe that this is an issue of “if” the system will violate an individual's rights, but “when”.
We are also concerned about new powers granting CSIS agents immunity for acts or omissions that would otherwise constitute an offence. The Canadian Bar Association, among others, raised serious concerns when these powers were granted to law enforcement officers, calling it antithetical to the rule of law. We believe this even more so when such powers are granted to intelligence agents operating in secret, and we think this section should be removed from Bill .
Finally, regarding the Secure Air Travel Act and the no-fly list, we support the tremendous efforts by the No Fly List Kids and other groups to bring about a redress system. However, we believe the government must go further and address the more fundamental problems with the no-fly list regime. Bill does not address the due process issues that have been raised since 2007. We cannot condone a system that is used to restrict individuals' travel and to place them on what amounts to a terrorist watch list but does not allow them full access to the information against them, in order to mount a full and adequate defence. We have also yet to be shown that it improves upon Criminal Code provisions already in place that can be used to restrict the activities of an individual suspected of planning a crime. While we appreciate potential solutions put forward by others, such as introducing a special advocate system into the appeals process, we do not believe it is sufficient to restore due process. We maintain our fundamental opposition and call for the repeal of the no-fly list regime.
For more on our positions, we sent a brief to the committee, which I believe was circulated yesterday. I'd also be happy to take any questions, or follow up with any members, following the meeting.
I think we've confused citizen activism with state surveillance, but that's a whole other discussion.
I want to ask about this notion in the bill of publicly available information. When the Canadian Bar Association was here, there was a discussion about how there isn't really any kind of jurisprudence or legal definition in Canadian law about what publicly available information is. I think a lot of people have assumed, perhaps wrongly, that this basically means that if I Google something right now, that's publicly available information. What some witnesses brought up was that it could mean information being sold for advertising purposes by social media or search engines like Google, and it could perhaps even go further than that. I know that at OpenMedia you've been very active on some of these “digital clauses”, for lack of a better term, in trade agreements and things like that, which, arguably, from this very broad discussion that's happened over publicly available information, could potentially be what that means when companies start being able to freely exchange information across borders in that way.
First of all, I'm just wondering what you think publicly available information means. Secondly, why would that be a cause for concern in the context of what's being presented here, both with the datasets for CSIS but also with the capabilities of CSE?
The majority of comments that were received—in fact, almost the entirety of the comments that the OpenMedia community submitted—were not asking for us to compromise our privacy. I think that we say in the consultation results that over 80% of submissions asked to increase our individual privacy, feeling that we've already overstepped those boundaries of individual privacy in the name of protecting national security and that it isn't actually a balance.
I think that's the biggest problem we keep running into, which is acting as though we have to sacrifice all of our personal information in order to be safe. In effect, we haven't seen any evidence that the mass surveillance and mass collection of data has helped prevent any national security incidents. We also haven't seen any evidence that the information will be lacking in future; we haven't seen that it's providing the insights we need.
All we've seen is that Canadians are scared. They're scared of the information their government is collecting about them. They're scared about how it could be misused in future, maybe not by this government, but the government after that, or the one after that.
We've seen a lot of fear after the change in government in the United States about the way the information is being misused, about what happens when that information gets into different hands—and that's only when it stays within the government. If that information gets into the hands of someone outside of government, which we hope never happens, our intelligence agencies will themselves be compromised. We have and will be collecting the information on our own citizens that hand it over to any other government. That's terrifying.
I think what we're hearing from our community is prove to us that you need it, prove to us that it helps.
Right. Our concern is that without allowing for the definition of what datasets are on a yearly basis.... It is concerning. We believe there should be more clarity on what those datasets could and should be.
As well, we're worried, just as others have pointed out, that throughout the process of collecting those datasets has a changing threshold for what can be collected, what can be retained, and then what can be queried. Instead of allowing for so much information to be collected at the beginning and then narrowing it as we go, there should be strong requirements from the very beginning on of what information can go into those datasets.
Of course, as we've already mentioned, the fact that publicly available information could form a kind of dataset is a concern.
There is also concern that, at the very tail end of CSIS datasets, information collected in Canadian datasets can be accessed at a lower threshold for foreign surveillance purposes and that information collected by CSIS for foreign purposes can be collected, albeit at a higher threshold, from those datasets for domestic intelligence purposes. We believe that to fix that problem we need stronger authorization and stronger thresholds from the beginning. As we've mentioned, we also need an increase in the transparency and powers of the intelligence commissioner to verify those datasets and authorizations.
One of our concerns, beyond just intergovernmental, inter-Canadian departmental information-sharing, is how that feeds into the Five Eyes network and all the different agencies within it. I think the DEA providing information to the RCMP is a great example of that.
I think one of the big concerns we have is that we don't know, or have any information about, how many information-sharing agreements Canada has. We don't know whom they're with. We don't know what all of them are about. When we give our information to the Canadian government or it's being collected, we don't know where it could end up. Conversely, when we take part in agreements with other countries, we don't know how that information could end up back in Canada.
One of the concerns we have, and one that our community continues to express, is feeling that no matter what the information it is, eventually anyone can get it within the Five Eyes agencies or within any of the related countries' departments. Once it's in one dataset, it's in everyone's. There are a lot of concerns around that when it comes to accurate record-keeping and how that data can be misused. I think Maher Arar is a great example of how that data can be misused to demonstrate some of its more extreme consequences.
It also comes to simple things like no-fly lists. It comes to all kinds of things where simple mistaken identities from a different agency outside the Canadian government can give us a total spiral of how our information is handled domestically, and vice versa. I think that's where outlining who can share what information and with whom, and what those information-sharing agreements are, would go a long way.
Thank you very much, Chair.
Thank you to both of you for being here today.
For the sake of full disclosure, almost 20 years ago, Steve Anderson, the founder of OpenMedia, was my roommate at Western University, so please say hello.
In any case, I want to begin with Ms. Tribe, if I could, and follow up on some of the questioning we've heard with respect to CSE.
This committee has heard a great deal of testimony on the threats to Canada's critical infrastructure: hydroelectric systems, nuclear energy, the banking system, and in particular health information. I take what you say about CSE seriously, although I disagree because I think we have to have an offensive capability that can protect that critical infrastructure.
From your perspective I'd like to understand how you would advise this or any Canadian government to guard itself from the very real threats that exist in the cyber network or cyber sphere? It's not a loaded question; I'm sincere in asking it.
Let me start by thanking you all for this wonderful opportunity and for undertaking the crucial task of reviewing Bill . It is truly indeed an honour and a privilege to be here today and to sit with you.
I have been asked to focus my attention today on part 3 of Bill , the proposed CSE act, and that is what I intend to do. In general, there is no question to me that updating the antiquated authorities governing the CSE and putting the establishment on solid statutory footing is vitally important. As a result, I am strongly in favour of the initiative to craft a CSE act. Indeed, it is obvious to me that the result of this endeavour is a carefully crafted piece of legislation that tries hard to balance the operational needs of CSE to protect Canada's national security interests with Canada's commitment to democracy and the rule of law.
Obviously, given its size and complexity, there will also be much work to do. That simply goes with the territory. In this regard, I have had the distinct benefit of reading the briefs and testimonies of the witnesses that have already presented to this committee. While each guest has offered thoughtful commentary that I encourage you to strongly consider, my overarching sense is that none of us will foresee all the legal or operational challenges to come.
This is the reality of dealing with such a large, important, complex, and highly technical bill. Therefore, more than anything else, it will be vitally important that the current review of the CSE act is thorough and rigorous and that such rigorous review and oversight continues, particularly in the early days and years. This is not an act that should look precisely as it does now, by this summer, or when it is first reviewed, years after coming into force. It will have to be updated to keep pace with technological, operational, and legal developments.
In my mind, the best bet is to focus on robust review and oversight, such that, the issues that do arise in the coming days and years come to the attention of Parliament, to the public, and to the CSE itself, and that there is an opportunity to make the necessary corrections when the time comes.
Neither the law nor Canada's security is well served, if the CSE's legal and/or operational fault lines are kept in the shadows, and it is my sense that the CSE would agree with that sentiment. For this reason, I would start by encouraging you to adopt Professor Kent Roach's recommendation that the review contemplated in part 9 of the act take place sooner, rather than later.
The same goes for the CSE Commissioner's recommendation with regard to the need for the proposed intelligence commissioner to produce an annual report on his or her authorizations, to be tabled in both Houses yearly. Also, there is the need to ensure that any activities that implicate a reasonable expectation of privacy, and thus implicate section 8 of the charter, by necessity, are properly overseen by the intelligence commissioner.
Here, I have three things in mind. First, the CSE Commissioner has recommended that proposed section 37(3) of the CSE act be amended to require the IC approval of ministerial authorizations to extend foreign intelligence operations. Indeed, if the original operation requires IC approval, so too should any follow-up. Arguably, the IC will have more information on which to base a decision at this re-authorization stage. More to the point, it is at this later stage that we will really see whether, and how much, incidental collection of Canadian content is forming a part of the foreign intelligence collection.
This brings me to my second point fairly neatly. I encourage you to focus your legal review of the proposed CSE act on those sections that implicate the collection of incidental information not, as we commonly say, directed at Canadians. In the past, including recently in both the U.S. and Canada, we have seen that lack of oversight over just this sort of incidentally collected information can cause great legal and political controversy that I don't believe anyone is looking for.
In the context of the proposed CSE act, I would then encourage you to adopt Professor Craig Forcese's call to amend subsections 23(3) dealing with the collection of foreign intelligence, and 23(4) dealing with cybersecurity. CSE is made to seek ministerial authorization, and thus IC oversight, where its activities will contravene an act of Parliament, as it currently states, or involve the acquisition of information in which a Canadian or person in Canada has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Our charter demands oversight where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. Therefore, it is very hard to see how, without ministerial authorization and IC oversight, the bulk collection of information that implicates the reasonable expectation of privacy, which under the current wording could be permitted, would hold up in any court of law in Canada.
Third and finally, I believe that you have heard testimony that has expressed concern about the collection of publicly available data, without the oversight of the IC. I'd be happy to provide more detail here during the question period. For now, I will simply say that one can certainly be sympathetic to the carve-out for publicly available data. If the public can access it, surely there is no need for the CSE to get approval to do the same, or so the theory might go.
But not all publicly available information is the same, and bulk publicly accessible information in the hands of the state is a very different thing indeed from that information in the hands of an individual like you or me. For example, unlawfully obtained information, hacked passwords for example, can become public but nevertheless will also be thought of as private information—at least in the eyes of those who hold those passwords. Moreover, discrete pieces of public information may seem harmless on their own, but when harnessed together by the state to produce big data analytics that can also be publicly purchased and then collected as one piece of information, the amalgam of public information can offer very private insights into the lives of individuals. Of course, all of this adds to the thinking, which is already present with respect to some publicly available information, that in the right context public information can itself implicate a reasonable expectation of privacy and thus implicate section 7 of the charter once again.
Put another way, just because it was accessed publicly, does not mean it doesn't implicate the privacy protections of our charter. This will, of course, have ripple effects for how that information can be used and shared. With IC oversight, for example, such private “public” information might be shared with the RCMP for prosecutorial purposes. Without IC oversight, information collected in violation of the charter will not likely be able to be used in support of such prosecutions.
In short, unless CSE's collection of public information is brought under the purview of the IC, there is real reason to fear that we have both a security and a liberty concern here.
Thank you very much for your time.
Thank you. I will be sharing my time with Mr. Matas.
We thank the committee for inviting us to appear. I will provide some introductory remarks. My colleague David Matas, our senior legal counsel, will elaborate on some of our key points on the proposed legislation.
B'nai Brith Canada is this country's oldest national Jewish organization, founded in 1875, with a long history of defending the human rights of Canadian Jewry and others across the country. We advocate for the interests of the grassroots Jewish community in Canada and for their rights such as freedom of conscience and religion.
B'nai Brith Canada testified before this committee in 2015 and, most recently, in February 2017, on what was then Bill . Our testimony today will develop the same points we had previously expressed, and we will focus on specific areas that touch on our work, particularly part 7.
Our latest audit of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada contains a key truth: Jews are consistently targeted by hate and bias-related crimes in Canada at a rate higher than that of any other identifiable group. Statistics Canada recently released its report on 2016 police-reported hate crimes, and once again Jews were targeted more than any other group in the country. But police-reported hate crimes are only the tip of the iceberg. We require better tools—data and analysis—to gain greater insights into all hate crimes and to do a better job of countering them.
Bill includes proposals to change the Criminal Code aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the terrorist entity listing regime. We endorse those proposals providing for a staggered ministerial review of listed entities and granting the minister the authority to amend the names, including aliases, of listed entities.
In the past, B'nai Brith has been supportive of measures to empower security officials to criminalize advocacy and promotion of terrorism, and seize terrorist propaganda. We supported these measures to deny those intent on inspiring, radicalizing, or recruiting Canadians to commit acts of terror and who exploit the legal leeway to be clever but dangerous with their words. Bill seeks to change the law's articulation of this offence from “advocates or promotes” to “counselling” the commission of a terrorism offence. This is a weakening of the law that we believe is unhelpful. We have noted the assurances provided by the , but we are still uncertain that such a change, which in our view weakens the law, is needed.
The change of advocacy and promotion to “counselling” also impacts on the definition of “terrorism propaganda”. Bill would remove the advocacy and promotion of terrorism offences in general from the definition. This is also a weakening of the law.
We accept that the right to freedom of expression is an important consideration, but the right of potential victims to be free from terrorism and the threat of terrorism must be a greater priority.
The importance of a clear articulation of the penalties for advocacy and promotion of terrorism should include the glorification of terrorism, something that should be of concern to all of us.
These are specific points I wanted to raise. There are others that, while not specifically part of the proposed amendments to Bill , are intimately associated and are of interest and concern to B'nai Brith Canada. There are further points here. I'd like to highlight some.
The continuing manifestation of anti-Semitism, hate crimes, and hate speech in Canada affects not only the Jewish community. B'nai Brith Canada sees these worrying trends as national security issues. Organizations such as ours working with law enforcement agencies at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels must address these issues collaboratively.
The government's framework to counter youth radicalization is also extremely important. We endorse the work of the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence. We look forward to a stronger dialogue with them.
How can we collaborate in the more effective monitoring of groups engaged in hate speech or incitement directed at children, including those using coded messages that are nonetheless threatening, even where these might fall short of actual crimes? This is very much the focus in countering radicalization at an early stage, where civil society can have better dialogue with law enforcement.
How can we ensure that government agencies shun questionable organizations and groups, particularly those that receive government grants and nonetheless are operating in ways inimical to the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadian society? We would welcome a channel of dialogue for this purpose.
Lastly, how can we better engage in dialogue with the Canada Revenue Agency to ensure diligent follow-up to complaints regarding organizations engaged in or supporting those expressing hate speech at odds with their charitable status?
There are other points, as I mentioned, in our paper. I'm sure we can answer those in questions.
I'd like to cede the floor to my colleague David Matas.
Thank you very much, and thanks for allowing us to be here.
I want to restrict my remarks to one particular component of the bill, the proposal to remove from the Criminal Code the offence of advocating or promoting a terrorist offence, and to replace it with the offence of counselling a terrorist offence. We are sympathetic to the expressed government motivation that led to the introduction of this change. Nonetheless, we believe the proposal is problematic.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale expressed concern that there were no prosecutions under the existing law. He introduced the change, so he said, in order to introduce a more familiar offence for which prosecution would be easier. We, too, of course, are concerned by the absence of prosecutions under the existing law. However, it is far from obvious that changing the offences of advocacy and promotion to the offence of counselling will resolve this problem.
For one, we note, as you've already seen in the submission of the International Civil Liberty Monitoring Group, that there is the view that the offence of counselling is superfluous now because that offence already exists in the Criminal Code. If that submission is right, and the offence is already there, then shifting the offence of advocacy and promotion of terrorism to counselling of terrorism will do nothing to solve the problem of inactive prosecution. Saying the same thing twice does nothing to spur prosecutions. If incitement to commit a terrorist offence was not prosecuted under the present counselling law, there's no reason why it would be prosecuted under a repetition of that law.
The alternative, of course, is that the proposed counselling offence does add something new, that it is not just a re-enactment of the already-existing offence. However, if that is the case, then the advantage of familiarity with an existing standard that the minister touted does not exist. If this counselling offence is different from already-existing counselling offences, then the new law will suffer from the same teething problems that the existing advocacy and promotion law have arguably suffered.
The rationale of the minister for the need to enact a familiar offence to make the law work is further undermined by the fact that advocacy and promotion are not new and different offences. The offence of advocacy exists for both genocide and sexual activity with a person under the age of 18. The offence of promotion exists both for genocide and hatred. In my written materials, I go through a number of cases in the Supreme Court of Canada that look at, define, and circumscribe these offences of advocacy and promotion. Therefore, we already have plenty of legal guidance about the meaning of the concepts of advocacy and promotion.
The notion that prosecutors have stayed their hands because they're uncertain about the meaning of the current law or worried about its overbreadth is not supported by an examination of the Criminal Code and the jurisprudence.
The minister has identified a real problem: a failure of prosecutions under the existing law despite the multiplicity of apparent violations. The solution he proposes, we suggest, does not directly address the problem. The solution, we suggest, lies elsewhere. The prosecution of incitement to terrorism within crown investigation and prosecution offices needs to be given a higher priority. There need to be more resources, more expertise, more training. There needs to be more international co-operation, more experience-sharing, more learning from others, including Israel, who have had to grapple with this problem.
We would encourage Canada to sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, which incorporates the specific obligation to prohibit public provocation of terrorism. Ratifying the treaty would not only allow for closer collaboration between Canada and other terror-combatting states, it would also make directly relevant to Canada the jurisprudence in other countries and the European Court of Human Rights, which interpret the relevant treaty provisions.
The government could publish advisory guidelines on its understanding of the meaning of the advocacy or promotion of terrorism. The guidelines would not bind prosecutors but could help dispel uncertainty. One suggestion already indicated by my colleague, Michael Mostyn, is that the guidelines should state that glorification of terrorism should be included in advocacy or promotion of terrorism.
We welcome the fact that the government and the committee are giving the combat against incitement to terrorism the attention it deserves. It remains, nonetheless, for us all to choose the best course to follow in combatting this scourge.
Thank you to all three of our witnesses for being here today. I believe you were here when we were studying the national security framework the last time. I seem to recall being on a panel with both of you when we were looking at that, so I appreciate your coming back.
It always concerns me when our discussions on terrorist attacks focus solely on ISIS and not on the attacks on our Muslim community and by right-wing groups. That has come up. I think I mentioned the last time you were here that when there is an attack on the Muslim community, I am always struck by the fact that the first people to step up are from the Jewish community. I think it's because of that long history of hatred towards the Jewish community that you recognize the impact. Certainly in my own community, I know there's Halton Interfaith Council and tremendous co-operation, and that it is the Jewish community that is always the first to step up when there is an attack on the Muslim community.
I just want to thank you for that and make sure that our conversation is on the broader terrorism threat, not just on ISIL.
We had the here—and this is directed to B'nai Brith, because you were talking about advocacy versus counselling—and law enforcement here, and I believe there were other witnesses as well, although I don't recall for sure. They agreed with what the minister said about the ability to prosecute, that advocacy did not give them the tools they needed and that counselling actually would give them the tools to go out to get those prosecutions.
I'm wondering if you saw that testimony and if you would agree with what they were saying. I will put that to both of you, just quickly.
It's a good question, frankly.
I would start by saying that I do have some concerns about the changes, or lack thereof, to the part of the act that deals with information sharing itself, which is—and I won't get into the details, as you've heard this from others—that the definition of “threat to security of Canada” is not the definition that exists in the CSIS act but a new and very broad definition. So, to answer your question, I don't think that is the right approach.
More broadly, I think the benefit to what is happening now is that we're looking at information sharing more holistically. We're not just talking about opening up the avenues to information sharing within government. We're also looking at how it can be encouraged culturally, and how review across agencies can break down the silos of review, and then, hopefully, break down these silos of information sharing. It can force people, if the job is done correctly, to get in the same room, which is often a problem within any large organizations, really.
I'd have to think more closely about whether there is anything else we could do. I hadn't, frankly, prepared for that. I'd be happy to get back to you on that if that's of interest.