News from ICLMG

Fundamental flaws will hinder work of National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, warns civil liberties watchdog

Canada_Parliament_BuildingsOttawa – “While Canada is in great need of a mechanism to allow parliamentarians to review national security activities, we are disappointed that the Senate did not take action to improve Bill C-22,” says Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. Bill C-22 passed third reading in the Senate on June 20, 2017. Once granted royal assent, it will establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.

“We have supported the goal and intention of Bill C-22 from the start. However, as it stands, fundamental flaws in this bill will hinder the ability of parliamentarians to properly investigate Canada’s national security activities,” adds McSorley.

The concerns include:

  • Committee members will not have access to all documents and information necessary to accomplish their work;
  • The Canadian government, including ministers and the Prime Minister’s Office, will have the power to block investigations on broad grounds of national security;
  • The Committee of Parliamentarians will not have the same power as parliamentary committees to compel people to appear and for documents to be provided (a solution here would be to transform the Committee of Parliamentarians into a Special Joint Parliamentary Committee);
  • The committee cannot seek judicial review of government decisions that would restrict the committee’s access to information, deny their ability to carry out specific investigations, or block sections of committee reports from being made public.

The ICLMG will continue to advocate for reforms to the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and hopes to work hand-in-hand with committee members to ensure greater accountability and transparency in Canada’s national security activities.

To read ICLMG’s complete brief on Bill C-22, visit http://iclmg.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2014/03/Brief-C-22-ICLMG-SENATE-COMMITTEE-final.pdf.

-30-

Continue reading

Preclearance Agreement Trumps Protection of Travelers from Canada to US

canada-u.s.-grain-trading-uscanadaborder_color1-1020x339

Amendments to protect rights of travelers to the US and ensure accountability of preclearance officers rejected at Committee: “Our hands are tied.”

Ottawa, June 15, 2017 — Civil liberties groups are expressing shock that Canadian MPs say they are unable to strengthen protections when traveling to the US because of an agreement signed between the countries’ governments.

“Regardless of a document signed between two countries, if you believe that the rights of Canadians are being weakened, you must do something about it,” says Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG).

The reaction follows the final review of Bill C-23, the Preclearance Act, 2016, by the House of Commons Public Safety Committee on Wednesday night.

Civil liberties and human rights advocates have raised multiple concerns about C-23, warning it will grant too much power to US officers operating in Canada, with absolutely no mechanism for accountability unless their actions cause death, bodily harm or damage to property. The Preclearance Act, 2016, will allow US officers to strip search a traveler, even if a Canadian agent declines to do so; allow US officers to carry firearms; and remove the ability of travelers to withdraw from preclearance areas without further interrogation.

While various motions were moved at the committee to address the most severe problems that civil liberties and human rights experts have highlighted, they were systematically voted down. Often, the justification given by the majority was that C-23 must adhere to the provisions of the Agreement On Land, Rail, Marine, And Air Transport Preclearance, finalized without public scrutiny by the Canadian and US governments in early 2015.

At one point, a Liberal member of the committee stated that their “hands are tied” because of the deal negotiated by the Harper and Obama era governments.

“It’s disappointing that an agreement that did not receive any real public scrutiny or debate is now being approved without genuine opportunities for elected representatives to ensure our rights are protected when traveling,” says Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).

Continue reading

The government published its report on the National Security Consultation: Our reaction

nat sec consultation govt reportLate last year, tens of thousands of Canadians, including many of you and our members, participated in the Ministry of Public Safety’s consultation on national security. We put in a lot of hard work drafting ICLMG’s submission, working with members to submit their own, and encouraging the public to also speak up to ensure that the government put civil liberties and human rights first.

We’re still waiting for the government’s action on these issues, including the fate of Bill C-51. On Friday May 19, however, the government finally released their third-party analysis of the consultation, and the results point to strong public support for our positions.

The report clearly states that on all questions, Canadians put the protection of our rights first. Read the report.

The best news: the vast majority want to see the main components – if not all – of C-51 repealed. That sends a huge message to the government about what their next steps should be. Beyond that, many of our concerns on oversight and review, the no fly list, attacks on free expression and political organizing, surveillance and information sharing, and even security certificates, feature prominently in the report.

Thank you, and congratulations, to everyone who put in hard work and participated in the consultation to make sure the government heard our voices on this issue.

HIGHLIGHTS

Surveillance/privacy

  • The scaling back of government surveillance and the protection of privacy rights received the most feedback – and have received the most coverage in media reports – with an overwhelming number of respondents to the consultation saying that they want to see greater protection of privacy and telling the government not to bring in any greater surveillance powers for agencies like CSIS.

Accountability, review & oversight

  • Accountability was a central issue in all sections of the consultations, with 81% of respondents wanting independent review mechanisms for agencies dealing with national security that currently don’t have review bodies (CBSA, CRA)
  • 77% believe there is a need for an independent, expert review body beyond the Committee of Parliamentarians being established by C-22, a main demand of the ICLMG since the Arar Inquiry.

Continue reading

Page 3 of 4212345...102030...Last »