Elizabeth May’s brief on C-51 and national security

Elizabeth May

Respond to the Online Consultation on National Security before Dec. 15 here.

The following is a shortened response to the Green Paper, Our security, Our Rights: National Security Green Paper, 2016. By design, the discussion paper misses key issues. This list highlights some of the key points from Elizabeth’s nine page brief, and responds to each of the four bulleted points as set out in the Ministers’ message:

  1. “Guarantee that all Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) warrants comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”

    • The elephant in the room is ignored: Was the previous government justified by evidence of good public policy to convert the Canadian Security Intelligence Service into an active agency for “disruption of threats”?

    • It must be on the table for public consultation that Part 4 of C-51 (the amendments to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act) be repealed.  The fundamental question is “Will empowering CSIS to disrupt plots and threats improve Canadian security?”  (NO.)

    • Why should Canada, alone in the democratic world, unlike any of our Five-Eye partners, allow a “warrant for constitutional breach?” (to use Craig Forcese and Kent Roach’s term).

    • The safest course for public security is to ensure that CSIS revert to its intelligence gathering role ONLY.

  2. “Ensure all Canadians are not limited from legitimate protest and advocacy”

    • Section 1 on information sharing’s greatest risks are in the lack of reviewable tests or screens before information about Canadians is shared with foreign governments.  The recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar must be brought to bear on this section, as well as the “no fly list” of Part 2 of C-51(Secure Air Travel Act).  The threat to Canadians abroad of being shopped out to foreign governments and unable to board a plane home is deeply alarming.  

  3. “Enhance the redress process related to the Passenger Protect Program and address the issue of false positive matches to the list”

    • This consumer concern about interference with holidays, while serious and annoying, is easily handled and does not focus on the far deeper threats to Canadian democracy of C-51.  By all means, let’s protect those accidentally on the list.  But if C-51 is a Frankenstein’s monster, this problem is a pimple on his nose. Another red herring in a public consultation.

  4. “Narrow overly broad definitions, such as defining  ‘terrorist propaganda’ more clearly”   

    • This committee must make an issue the term “terrorism in general.”  The term “terrorism” is understood. It has legal meaning.  “Terrorism in general” has no meaning.  The Criminal Code sections must be amended to eliminate this vague term.  

    • The sections on internet promotion of terrorism lack crucial protections found in other such provisions of Canadian law.

      • This law does not specifically exclude private conversations.

  5. Additional comments on the Green Paper

    • The paper fails to note that there is not adequate over-sight and review of security agencies even with the improvement of a Parliamentary Committee as proposed in C-22

    • C-51 makes us less secure

    • This committee should seek the opinion of Professor Donald Galloway from the University of Victoria Law School, and re-examine the implications of the C-51 changes to the Immigration and Refugee Act.

    • Gaps in mental health programmes a key issue in reducing terrorism.

    • Not too late to call for a public inquiry into the events of October 22, 2014

    • We must remove the existence of “warrants for Constitutional breach.”

Using the original C-51 sections, sections 1, 3, 4, and 5 should be repealed and section 2 modified to ensure protections for Canadians travelling abroad.