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Results: 1 - 15 of 57
View Michel Picard Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Michel Picard Profile
2018-03-22 11:10
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In this committee's previous discussions, we have received comments on the offensive dimension of certain powers or capabilities of the CSE. It is well known that groups that are terrorists or associated with terrorists, such as Daesh, benefit from online informal networks of sympathizers, structures and communications. This new armada or new equipment at the disposal of these terrorist groups represents an additional threat.
How should the offensive approach of the CSE be defined? How will this offensive approach respond to the new threat?
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View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
Lib. (BC)
One aspect in particular that is extremely important, since the Minister of National Defence is also responsible for our Canadian Armed Forces, is that CSE will now actually have the ability to provide the right support to the Canadian Armed Forces. They obviously provided the right intelligence, but now with Bill C-59 they can provide the right expertise. They'll be able to leverage their knowledge base and their technology and keep up to date with some of the terrorist networks and what they're trying to do, especially when it comes to keeping our soldiers safe. That includes everything, as I mentioned, from somebody detonating an IED to disrupting the network to keep it from getting to that point.
We also have to be mindful that even with the best technologies, we had to wait for a cyber-attack on us to occur before we could actually do anything about it. We need to make sure that we are proactive in having a defensive mechanism so that when we see a threat we are able to shut it down beforehand. These are the things that are very important here to making sure that we protect our infrastructure in a very proactive manner.
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Scott Newark
View Scott Newark Profile
Scott Newark
2018-02-15 11:10
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Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. It's good to see you again.
I'd like to thank the committee for the invitation to appear before you with respect to this very important Bill C-59. I've had the opportunity to follow some of the proceedings and to read some of the transcripts, and it's very encouraging to see the depth and substance of the questions asked of the individual witnesses who are appearing, including with different perspectives.
I've had a long history, and I was thinking about it before I came here today. It's been almost 30 years, I guess, since I first testified before a parliamentary committee. I was a crown prosecutor from Alberta, and as I put it, I got tired of tripping over the mistakes of the parole system in my courtroom, and realized that the only way to try to change it was to change the laws. That meant coming to Ottawa, because we were dealing with federal correctional legislation. I was appearing before parliamentary committees where I exposed what had happened in a couple of cases.
The important work of the legislative branch struck me then, and it has remained with me throughout. That sometimes gets overlooked, and depending on how things are being handled at the executive branch of government, the really important and critical analysis that committees can do is quite significant. A bill like this is a very good example of that, because you can have different opinions about things on different subjects, but you have the ability to ask questions and to try to elicit information to analyze whether or not the intended results are going to be achieved by the legislation in the way that it's drafted or if other things need to be done. That is particularly true, I think, in relation to legislation like Bill C-59, which is obviously pretty complex legislation and deals with a whole lot of subjects.
In fairness, the discussion itself has raised issues that are not contained in Bill C-59. I think a very encouraging sign was the way that the government sent the bill here in advance of second reading so that you could have input and suggestions on other subjects. I have some suggestions to make on things like that. I must admit, though, that I would suggest that it probably is a better idea, simply from a procedural perspective, to confine your recommendations to the specifics of the bill, and perhaps, in an ancillary report, make suggestions on other subjects rather than adding huge new amendments to sections and opening up different issues that are not specifically contained in Bill C-59. There's so much of value in Bill C-59 that it's a good idea to move it forward.
My presentation today will touch on essentially three aspects. The first is just to take some examples of things that I think are notable and quite important in Bill C-59. I also have a couple of comments on things, and one in particular I have a problem with, but I suppose, to put it in a larger sense, they're just ones where I would suggest you may want to ask some questions and make sure you understand that what you are anticipating is the case is, in fact, the case. Then, because the minister has invited suggestions on other issues, if we have time—and probably not in the opening statement, but during questions and answers—I have some suggestions on other issues that I think might be of interest.
Let me just give you a little bit of background as well on my personal experience in this, because it impacts on the insights. As I mentioned, I was a crown prosecutor in Alberta. Ultimately, because of one of the cases I was involved in, in 1992 I became the executive officer of the Canadian Police Association. This is the rank-and-file police officers, the unions. We were involved very heavily from 1992 to 1998 in criminal justice reform, policy advocacy. It was from that, in particular, and my work as a crown prosecutor, that I got the sense of the importance of learning from front-line operational insights how you can then shape legislative or policy tools so as to achieve desired outcomes.
Also, not everything needs to be done by legislation. There are frequently instances—and I was struck by this as I was watching some of the evidence from some of the witnesses that you've had—where we don't necessarily need new laws. We need to enforce the ones we already have, and we need to make sure that the tools are in place to use them appropriately. There are some examples of that, I think, in Bill C-59 specifically.
I ended up working with the Ontario government in 1998 as an order in council appointment. That government had intended to achieve some criminal justice reforms, and they weren't getting it done, so they wanted some people with some understanding of the justice system.
After 9/11, I was appointed as the special security adviser on counterterrorism because of some work I had previously been involved in. I had significant interactions with Americans in relation to that. In the old days, it was the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, which became INSET. I had a role, essentially, in being the provincial representative in some of the discussions, and I saw the inter-agency interactions, or lack thereof, and the impact that potentially had.
Since then, I'm actually one of the guys who did the review that led to the arming of the border officers. I still do work with the union on policy stuff. I also do some stuff with security technology committees. The value of that is that you get an understanding of some of the operational insights and what is necessary to achieve the intended outcomes.
I should add, I suppose, the final thing. Last year, I accepted a position at Simon Fraser University as an adjunct professor. I know you'll be shocked to hear that. It's for a course they offer, a master's program, the Terrorism, Risk, and Security Studies program. The course I teach is balancing civil liberties and public safety and security. To go on from a point that the general made, I think the case is that these are not either-or situations. We are fully capable of doing both, and there is a balance involved in this. As a general principle, it is a very good idea, when you're looking at what is proposed in legislation, especially in legislation like this which has national security implications, to keep in mind the general principles of protecting civil rights.
There are two points about that. You'll notice that in “civil rights”, “rights” is modified by “civil”. In other words, they are rights that exist in the context of a civil society. That has ramifications in the sense, I think, of what citizens are entitled to expect of their government. I don't want government intruding on my privacy, but, at the same time, if government has the capability of accessing relevant information and acting on someone who is a threat to me and my family, I expect, under my civil right, that, in fact, government will do what it needs to do to extend that protection.
The other side of that—and I know, Monsieur Dubé asked many questions about this, as did other members of the committee—is the importance of looking at it generally, at what is proposed, to see that there is, in effect, oversight initially and, as well, appropriate review so that the balancing can take place. In my opinion, and more accurately in my experience, having the executive branch reporting to itself for authorization is something that should raise a red flag. There are provisions within the act that ultimately address that, although there are some that raise some questions about it.
In the very brief time left, let me just say that I think that among the important things in the legislation are the extensive use of preambles and definitions about the importance of privacy and what we would generally call civil rights in consideration of why we're doing things. That, I think, was a deficiency in BillC-51. I can tell you that it is critically important in today's charter world to make sure that is included so that the courts can consider whether or not what was being done by legislative authority in fact took into account the charter issues. A rule of statutory interpretation is “thou shalt consider the preamble in a statute when actually drafting it”.
With one minute left, I think probably the most important operational aspect of this bill is the proactive cyber-activity authorized to CSE. That is a reality of the world in which we live. We are totally cyber-dependent, which also means we have enormous cyber-vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity, in effect, has been an afterthought. This is a step; it is not the complete answer. I do some work in the cyber field as well, and that is something that I think is extremely important.
The one issue I would raise, in closing, which I have a concern about specifically, is in relation to the change in what I think is the evidentiary threshold in the terrorism propaganda offence. I can get into that in more detail, but my concern is, essentially, that it may be making it, for no good reason, no justifiable reason that I can see, harder to use that section, which has extreme relevance now in the changing domestic terrorism environment in which we are living.
I look forward to answering any questions and, hopefully, touching on the other subjects.
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View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
I don't mean to cut you off.
You alluded in your remarks to your concern about the speech crime provision in Bill C-51 being modified under Bill C-59. I was reading a piece that you wrote—it might have been for iPolitics as a matter of fact, back in the fall—where you pointed to your opposition to this.
Just for the record, under Bill C-51, it was a crime for one to “knowingly advocate or promote the commission of terrorism offences in general”. Under Bill C-59, this has been replaced with something much more common in criminal law: “counselling another person to commit a terrorism” act.
I have read your criticism, so I want to jump immediately to ask you a question about how the offence was phrased in BillC-51. Take the example of a journalist or a group of protestors who were supporting a group—now the times don't align here but I think you'll appreciate the example—of anti-apartheid activists, under the ANC and under Mandela. You know very well that, particularly in the early history of their activism against apartheid, they advocated for non-lethal attacks on public infrastructure.
Now if a journalist here in Canada were writing in favour of that kind of an approach—again, the anti-apartheid movement was one of the most important struggles of the 20th century—it's entirely conceivable, and I'm not the only one to use this example, that they could have been charged under the wording in BillC-51.
To shift now, to pivot to a counselling offence, doesn't this clarify and bring greater understanding to what is permissible and what is not permissible?
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Scott Newark
View Scott Newark Profile
Scott Newark
2018-02-15 11:29
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As I say, the biggest one I have questions about is the terrorism propaganda. To circle back and answer, precisely because the proposed definition is section 22 of the Criminal Code—which is counselling another person to commit a criminal offence—the way I read the language of that, in effect that offence is already there.
I guarantee you, sir, that if that wording is used, there will be occasions when defence counsel will come to court when somebody is charged, and ask, “Who was it that he was counselling to commit the offence?” If you don't have another person involved, you aren't able to prove the offence.
That compares to the general notion, which reflects the reality of what we're dealing with now: we know that what would be included in the definition of terrorism propaganda is what is being used in radicalization, recruitment, and facilitation, including and especially in domestic circumstances. That's what we're actually facing.
To your point, though, about the larger issues, I'll go back to what I said before. I actually think there are things in Bill C-59 that help us deal with the reality of returning jihadis. The most important thing is that the government did not change the evidentiary level in section 810.011, the terrorism peace bonds. It's still “may commit”. Had that been raised up to “will commit”, that would have put a much more significant barrier on things.
The other thing that is very important in this bill is the provision that requires annual reporting on the number of peace bonds that are actually used, and also a five-year reporting on the impact of the bill itself. In my experience in government, that tends to bring about accountability. I assure you that if those provisions are included, throughout the different offices of the security branches and agencies there will be whiteboards going up with people writing on them, “Okay, I'm responsible for this. I've actually got to deliver this.” That's a good thing, because I think accountability tends to produce results.
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View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2018-02-15 11:54
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Mr. Newark, just to reiterate what you said earlier about the current provisions that BillC-51 put in place where it is an offence to broadly counsel someone to propagate terrorist propaganda. This means that in a particular case somebody who is propagating terrorist propaganda could unknowingly influence somebody to commit a terrorist act without that person who is propagating the propaganda even knowing that somebody was going to commit the offence.
Let me get to my point. Bill C-59 is proposing that somebody would only be charged if they had counselled somebody, which means that somebody would have to commit the act, and we would have to trace that back to whoever counselled them, whereas the legislation as it currently exists could stop the person from propagating the terrorist activity in the first place, thereby preventing the activity from happening.
Is that a fair assessment?
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View Sven Spengemann Profile
Lib. (ON)
I wanted to broach the question of youth policing in context of the question of potential radicalization of young Canadians or them being vulnerable to radicalization by foreign or even domestic terrorist organizations, both right-wing and others.
Is this work that your commission has intersected with, and if so, how does that play into the question of whether this is a national security issue or something that is dealt with on more local levels within the RCMP structure?
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Guy Bujold
View Guy Bujold Profile
Guy Bujold
2018-02-15 12:21
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I'm not aware that we've actually dealt with it as a specific subject. In a world where Bill C-59 did not exist, it would be an issue that would be on our list of systemic review issues that we might want to consider looking at in the future. Therefore, in the new context where the new agency is created, they might very well, using their own powers, do a review of that subject. Yes, I think it would be in that case definitely related to national security, certainly the way you framed the question.
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View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much.
If I could, with the last question here, I'll ask anyone who wishes to to take it. I've been reading the 2017 public report on the terrorist threat to Canada, produced by Public Safety. In that report, there are a number of references to far-right extremism and what that means for Canada from a terrorist-threat perspective. The report says that a dedicated module on extreme right-wing groups is currently under development. It's being developed by the first responder terrorism awareness program team. The report says that while far-right activity, far-right extremism, has always been a concern, this is the first time—at least that's what the report implies—that a dedicated approach in the form of a module here has been created. Does this mean that the Department of Public Safety is particularly concerned, now more than ever, about the threat of far-right extremism in Canada?
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Malcolm Brown
View Malcolm Brown Profile
Malcolm Brown
2018-02-13 12:12
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Really briefly, I'm not sure I can say more than ever, but I will ask Gilles Michaud to respond to the specific question.
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Gilles Michaud
View Gilles Michaud Profile
Gilles Michaud
2018-02-13 12:12
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That specific module is really a law-enforcement push. We've seen the increase in activities, and we would say that an aspect of the threat that we have is that we had taken our eyes off the ball, I guess, for a number of years. Right now there's a push to really delve into it. With our police of jurisdiction, because that's mainly where those activities occur and where the responsibility lies, we're trying to get a better understanding as to the existence of that threat and the level.
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View Sven Spengemann Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much.
Mr. Brown, with regard to the issue of domestic violence, terrorism, extremism, radicalization—perhaps using as one anecdotal example the incident in Sainte-Foy just over a year ago—in your assessment, how important is our proactive work with Canadian young people? I have the sense that the vast majority of these cases do involve young people under 35 years of age. By my anecdotal knowledge, 60- and 70-year-olds don't self-radicalize. What do we need to do within the framework that we have? How important is this work to counter violence and radicalization, and what are its principal elements?
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Malcolm Brown
View Malcolm Brown Profile
Malcolm Brown
2018-02-13 12:25
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There's no question that it's a very important element. The principal element is the work that's led by the Canada centre that operates out of the department. It works with local community groups and provides funding and support for initiatives in Montreal, Calgary, Toronto, and across the country, in part because the solutions for Calgary will be different from the solutions for Montreal. That's really a key part of our response to that particularly vulnerable age group.
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View Sven Spengemann Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are we, as Canada, out front on this challenge, or are there experiences among, say, the Five Eyes that could be useful in constructing our own framework?
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