Late 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The best news: the vast majority want to see the main components – if not all – of C-51 repealed.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.
- 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.
- This focuses on the controversial attempts to address the “root causes of radicalization” which often end up stigmatizing Muslim and racialized communities. So it is good to see that most respondents believe the focus needs to be on community engagement, education (to reduce stigmatization), and addressing social determinants like poverty, access to health care, and adequate housing.
Threat reduction (CSIS disruption powers)
- Most people want to see CSIS’s new threat disruption powers limited or eliminated
- More than two-thirds believe we need more oversight of these powers to protect Charter rights
- Even more want the repeal of the section of C-51 that allows CSIS to request a warrant to violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
No fly list
- Strong consensus that measures are needed to reduce the number of false positives and improve the appeal process for anyone on the list
- Individuals should be informed if they are on the list
- While individual responses were divided over the need for the list, 22% still called for it to be abolished.
- Most civil society groups who responded challenged the effectiveness of the list, with many questioning its constitutionality.
Criminal code amendments from C-51
- Overall, most people wanted modifications or the repeal of the criminal code amendments under C-51, expressing concern over preventative detention, and the impact on civil liberties, especially free expression.
- Just over half of respondents believe that the threshold for terrorism-related peace bonds and preventative detention are too low and are open for abuse
- Two-thirds believe the “advocacy of terrorism” laws should be clarified or repealed because of their impact on civil liberties and free expression
Listing terrorist entities
- 62% believe that the current system needs more safeguards around how groups are listed, including clarifying criteria for listing, making the list public, and being able to appeal being added to the list.
Intelligence to evidence (use of secret evidence in courts, etc.)
- Most participants said that there is no way to balance withholding evidence and allowing for a full defence (including both criminal and immigration proceedings). Instead, they stated that individual rights for a full defence must always take precedence to ensure a fair trial.
- 56% also believe that the section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that allows for secret information to be used in hearings (such as security certificates) must be reformed to protect the right to a fair trial.
- And a shout out to those who addressed security certificates: “The few organizations that addressed this issue want the security certificate regime repealed because it is contrary to fundamental justice”
Since you’re here…
… we have a small favour to ask. Here at ICLMG, we are working very hard to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties in the context of the so-called “war on terror” in Canada. We do not receive any financial support from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.
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