Mark Collins – Counter-Terrorism: CSIS’ New C-51 Powers Not So Threatening in Practice

The civil liberties sky has not fallen–and surely will not under the Liberal government:

John Ivison: Fear of oppressive surveillance by spy agencies under Tories’ anti-terror legislation unfounded

Remember how the Conservative anti-terror legislation was going to usher in a new era of omnipresent government surveillance?

Well, it hasn’t happened — at least not according to the scraps of information that are publicly available.

The latest figures made available were on electronic surveillance, released by the Department of Public Safety [report here].

As part of the anti-terror bill, it became a crime to “knowingly” advocate or promote the commission of a terrorism offence.

Critics claimed that there would be a rash of wiretap authorizations, as police sought to crack down on speech crimes.

But the numbers for 2015 suggest there were precisely two cases where the authorities were given authorization to listen in on people suspected of promoting terrorism.

We don’t know how many prosecutions resulted from the authorizations but it’s a good bet there were none…

CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, was [also] given wide-ranging powers to disrupt suspected terrorist plots, rather than just gathering information about them.

The new law gave CSIS the power to ask judges to approve warrants, even if its preventative measures breached rights or freedoms otherwise protected by law.

As critics Craig Forcese and Kent Roach have made clear, the law risked making judges “enablers of illegality [more here].”

Yet here again, it appears the security forces have not used their new powers.

When he was before a Senate committee last March, CSIS chief Michel Coulombe said the agency had used the disruption powers nearly two dozen times but had not sought judicial approval in any of the cases. Rather, the disruption powers were more benign — for example, talking to family, friends and community leaders close to the person suspected of being at risk of radicalization…

The Liberals are currently reviewing Canada’s national security laws. They have promised to repeal “problematic elements” of the legislation, and amending what Forcese and Roach call the “outer limits” to the speech-crime and threat-disruption provisions would seem to be a reasonable compromise between preserving freedoms and protecting Canadians…

Now see what the Aussies are planning:

Australia: Dangerous Terrorists? Just Keep’em Locked Up

Related:

Under PM’s Thumb: Proposed Canadian Parliamentary Security/Intel Review Committee

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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