Author: cforcese

Law professor at uOttawa. Specialize in national security, international and public law. Also write on endurance sport and law.

Bill C-51: Roach and Forcese Submissions to the Senate Standing Committee

Opening Statement

Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence

April 2, 2015

Study of Bill C-51 (Antiterrorism Act 2015)

Kent Roach* and Craig Forcese**

Kent Roach:

Introduction

Thank you for allowing me to appear again before this Committee. Professor Forcese and I have produced over 200 pages of detailed analysis of parts 1, 3 and 4 of Bill C-51. It is a complex omnibus bill that would add two new security laws and amend another 15 existing, including most notably the Criminal Code and CSIS Act. We have provided and also published to antiterrorlaw.ca a table proposing many carefully considered amendments. We will not have time today to go into them but would welcome any questions on them.

In the Commons, the government has made a few amendments, but they do not alleviate our concerns that the bill will have major implications for rights and unintended but harmful effects for security, particularly criminal investigations and terrorism prosecutions. The amendments also do not respond to the fact that the bill ignores or contravenes major parts of the 2006 recommendations of the Arar Commission, the 2010 recommendations of the Air India Commission and 2011 recommendations of the special Senate committee chaired by Senator Segal. The bill’s radical rejection of the evidence compiled by these commissions in large part explains the persistence of our critique of the bill.

Need for Parliamentary Review and Sunsets

Bill C-51 combined with Bill C-44 drastically changes Canada’s security laws. It encourages CSIS to have a firmer foreign footprint and the two bills may have the unintended effects of making terrorism prosecutions, including prosecutions for the 4 new terrorist fighter offences that Parliament wisely added to the Criminal Code in 2013, more difficult. We have genuine concerns that C 51 will threaten rights and freedoms without making us safer and that combined with C 44, that the radical changes it makes may even make us less safe.

The Senate, as the chamber of sober second thought, is the last chance to change this bill. Because of the unanticipated effects of the bill as well as the dynamic threat environment, we would urge that the Senate to require a three year Parliamentary review of this complex bill- a review that should have access to secret information that will be relevant on to understanding the effects of the bill on information sharing, no fly lists and the RCMP and CSIS relationship and the downstream effect on terrorism prosecutions. This review will be most meaningful if the entire bill is subject to a 4 year sunset.

Information Sharing Act

Part I of the Bill recognizes, as the Arar Commission did, the need for information sharing. At the same time, it goes well beyond terrorism by introducing a novel concept of activities that undermine the security of Canada. This concept is the broadest definition of national security interests that we have seen.

We welcome the exemption of all forms of protest- not just as originally proposed only lawful protests. Nevertheless the government has not adequately explained why such a broad definition of security is necessary and why existing definitions of threats to the security of Canada in the CSIS Act cannot be used.

The Maher Arar story has warned us about the dangers of sharing information- intelligence which may be less than reliable, but s.6 of the proposed Information Sharing Act seems to forget these lessons in authorizing further sharing of information “to any person, for any purpose” so long as it is in accordance with existing law, law which itself is highly permissive of information sharing. The government’s proposed amendment in our view simply reaffirms that the new act itself does not justify further sharing, but that such sharing is allowed so long as it is accordance with existing law which includes wide exemptions for example under s.8 of the Privacy Act. This sort of information sharing must at least be matched as the Arar Commission recommended by commensurate independent review. There is no judicial review of information sharing in Part I- indeed as the Privacy Commissioner has indicated – there is no review for 14 of the 17 recipient departments. There is only stove piped or siloed review for the other three.

Finally, we note that the new information sharing act does not include the Air India Commission’s recommendation for mandatory information sharing subject to enhanced oversight by the Prime Minster’s National Security Advisor. We note that a Senate Committee chaired by Senator Segal echoes this recommendation in 2011.

Save Air Travel Act

There is judicial review for the no fly list, but no provision for special advocates to be able to see and challenge the secret information- often intelligence- that fails to meet evidentiary standards used to remove a person’s ability to fly. The IRPA amendments also will make it more difficult for special advocates to perform their constitutionally required role. Adversarial or independent review should not be seen as the enemy of security or of the dedicated people who work hard to keep us safe. We all understand that we do better work if we know that our worked by closely examined and, if necessary, criticized by others.

 

Speech Crime

Bill C-51 still an overbroad offence with respect to advocacy or promotion of “terrorism offences in general”. It has no defences for legitimate expression of political or religious thought. The Minister of Justice has correctly noted in his testimony to the committee that the advocating genocide has no defences but genocide involves mass violence whereas terrorism offences in general could include financing of the non violent activities of a listed terrorist group. The Minister defends the knowledge requirement with reference to the Hamilton judgment on counselling but this new offence is designed to be broader than counselling. We still maintain that the higher

willful fault requirement and good faith defences are necessary because the offence is designed to be broader than counselling offences. We also maintain that s.83.22(2) (instructing terrorist activity) makes that offence a better tailored but still broad alternative to the proposed offence. The new speech crime in our view violates freedom of expression because it reaches well beyond the sort of speech that threatens actual violence and the ability of existing offences to capture much terrorist propaganda is relevant to its proportionality.

This unclear new offence harms and chills freedom of expression, but may also impede our ability to work with those who may hold radical views- who may advocate, for example, sending funds to a listed terrorist group- but who, with multidisciplinary intervention of the type contemplated in recent UK legislation, may be persuaded to resile from violence. The decision not to tie to the offence to the established and constitutional concept of terrorist activities opens up the possibility of prosecuting those who advocate sending money to a terrorist group or even reporters who knowingly reprint a plea by another person urging people to join foreign terrorist fights while aware of the possibility that someone might do so as a result.

My colleague Professor Forcese will continue with our joint submission

Craig Forcese

Introduction

Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to once again appear before this committee.

CSIS Act

I am happy to address in questions peace bonds and preventive detention, which we generally support with provisos. I wish, however, to focus most of my comments on the very concerning CSIS Act amendments.

We begin by underscoring the security consequences of the new powers. We must all worry about by the long-standing “deconfliction” difficulties between police and CSIS operations.

We run a considerable risk that the new CSIS powers may end up overlapping, affecting and perhaps even tainting a subsequent police criminal investigation into terrorist activity. We worry whether our most successful anti-terror tool – criminal law – will be degraded by CSIS operations that muddy waters. Any veteran of the Air India matter must be preoccupied by the possibility.

We do not have time to raise other security implications, of the sort that SIRC itself raised in 2009 when it reviewed CSIS’s existing, much more banal disruption practices.

But even if the government thinks that all the security downsides are worth the risk, we can meet the government’s stated security objective without opening the door so wide to possible mistakes by a covert agency. The government says it needs these powers so that CSIS can warn families that a child is radicalizing, something the Service does already. But the bill reaches much, much further. There is a mismatch between government justifications and the actual text of the law.

We beseech you to amend the bill to remove any reference to the Charter being contravened by CSIS. The government persists in its novel legal theory that this is just a variation on what already happens. In Minister Blaney’s words “nothing new under the sky”. But this is more than new, it is radical, and, as the Canadian Bar Association points out, it is untenable. I wish to underscore, given Minister Blaney’s comments, that the CBA is an accomplished 119 year organization representing 37,000 lawyers, judges, notaries, law teachers and law students. So let me be specific on the government’s flawed legal logic:

  • The new proposed warrant power is very different from search and arrest warrants — those are tied to Charter rights that have qualifying language in the right itself (Section 8 of the Charter only guards against unreasonable searches and seizures.  Section 9 only protects against arbitrary detention). A search or an arrest warrant exactly satisfies this qualifying language, and therefore a government acting under such a warrant does not breach the Charter.
  • In comparison, most other Charter rights are not imbued with built in qualifying language.  There is no concept of permissible free speech, or arbitrary cruel and unusual treatment, or appropriate mobility rights to enter or leave the country or limited habeas corpus.
  • Such rights can only be trumped under s.1 of the Charter (or if the government uses the s.33 notwithstanding clause, which it is not doing in C-51)
  • But we must underscore: s.1 issues simply aren’t dealt with through the peculiar mechanism of a warrant. But now, for the first time, judges are being asked to bless in advance a violation of any or all our Charter rights, in a secret hearing, not subject to appeal, and with only the government side represented. What the government proposes now is a “constitutional breach warrant”. It is a radical, idea that contorts basic constitutional understandings and the role of the courts. It has correctly been compared to a stealth use of the notwithstanding clause, in which judges and not Parliament are being asked to do the dirty work of abrogating rights.

On Monday, the Minister repeatedly referred to s.25.1 of the Criminal Code as precedent. It is not. It does not authorize police officers to breach the Charter. It applies only to criminal investigations, and not the much vaster concept of security in the CSIS Act. More than this, s.25.1 has checks and balances absent from C-51. The police must report when they break the law, publicly. And they must, where the breach of the law is more than minor, also notify the target, after the passage of a period of time.

The Minister also suggested that the new CSIS powers simply replicate those deployed by allied agencies. We are not experts in foreign law. But we have now spoken to four law professors in the UK, two in Australia and several in the United States, some of whom have also then spoken to security service personnel. I would also point to a report in Le Devoir on March 14. The story recorded the views of foreign embassy officials from governments the Minister says have C-51 style powers. The resulting responses do not bear out the Canadian government’s claim that foreign services have the power to break domestic law or constitutions. Accordingly, I hope that this committee will ask the Minister to produce his study – which would not be solicitor client privileged – detailing the basis for his claim. If made available to us, we would happily share with international colleagues for peer review.

In sum, the new CSIS powers amount to an unprecedented constitutional adventure with serious security downsides. With a simple line or two, this committee could eliminate the notion that our covert service will be violating the Charter. It could add new, and reasonable limits on CSIS’s powers, including, for instance, an emphatic bar on detention – we cannot risk a parallel system of detention by a covert agency able to act against people who have committed no crime. But as the government itself acknowledged in clause-by-clause, the limit on “law enforcement powers” language added on the Commons side does not close the door to detention. It also publicly acknowledged that the bill does not close the door even to rendition. Rendition, as you know, is the term used to describe a person being kidnapped from one jurisdiction and taken to another, sometimes for trial and sometimes for abusive interrogation.

No country’s laws should ever grant this much discretion to a covert service.

Review and Accountability

And especially a covert service that is presently subject to only modest review. And so I will end with observations on SIRC and also on this legislative process.

Whatever the truth as to whether these new C-51 powers are constitutional or necessary, their introduction is breathtakingly irresponsible without a redoubled investment in our outmatched and outdated accountability system.

SIRC is no longer state of the art. It is no longer, to paraphrase the minister, the envy of the world. Its constraints and design mean that it is capable of reviewing only a small aspect of CSIS’s activities. We are only repeating concerns that SIRC itself has voiced. It has already told you that it is concerned about its ability to keep pace.

More than this, SIRC (and other review bodies) are unnecessarily hamstrung by legal limitations that prevent them from “following the trail” when government agencies collaborate – an increasingly common practice that C-51 will unquestionably increase.

A few paragraphs of legislative language could create new powers by review bodies to collaborate, as a stepping stone to a broader rethink of national security review.

And finally, I will hold out to you the precedent of the original enactment of the CSIS Act. On Monday, Minister Blaney seemed to suggest that the BC Civil Liberties Association and other groups raising concerns in 1983 about the original CSIS bill were, in his words, “fear mongering” and so were not credible on this bill. He misunderstands history. The first CSIS bill was introduced in 1983. It ignited stern concern from civil liberties groups, including the concern cited by the minister from the BCCLA. But the government in 1983 listened to many of those concerns. It let the 1983 CSIS bill die on the order paper, because of these concerns. Instead, your predecessors established a special senate committee. It worked through the summer, hearing many witnesses, and making recommendations to create (in the Senate committee’s words) “a more appropriate balance between collective and individual security.” Among those were stronger warrant provisions and wider powers of review for SIRC. Almost all the senate changes – more than 40 – were accepted by the government, which then tabled a new, improved bill. That bill became the CSIS Act, which has endured for 30 years. We owe those who improved the flawed 1983 bill a debt of gratitude.

And if we were capable of such deliberation then, surely we are no less able now.

We thank you for your interest and for your work.

*           Professor of Law, University of Toronto

**          Associate Professor of Law, University of Ottawa

Bill C-51: Hard Questions for the Government on the Security Implications of C-51

I have posted a list of “a Baker’s Dozen of Hard Questions on Security Raised by C-51” on my regular national security law blog, in case reader of this feed are interested.

Bill C-51: Collation of Evidence on C-51 before Commons Committee

As best as I can tell, Parliament does not appear to be in the practice of posting witness briefs, even those translated at taxpayer expense. In an effort to track testimony on C-51, a group of diligent students has prepared annotated versions of the bill that includes as much about what witnesses have said about various parts of the law project as possible.  There are gaps, and readers should be aware of these.  Students relied on the public electronic record — hardcopies of submissions were not always available.  Witnesses in oral hearings may have alluded to amendments without providing more details.  More than this, written submissions made by persons who did not appear were generally not available.  So this record is probably incomplete, but should be helpful anyway in creating a “legislative history” for this particular bill.  The annotated sections have been uploaded in Word by “part” of the bill.

NB: Professor Roach and I obviously have our own views on the bill, but kept at arms length on this process and I have confined my comments to the working groups to structure and format and not substantive content.  Our hope is that this will be a resource for the community.

Thanks to the student researchers, including: Taskeen Abdul-Rawoof, Lila Amara, Elsa Ascencio, Monica Befa, Mark Bourrie, Matt Bradley, Prashanth Chandrapal, Michaela Chen, Pinar Cil, Miriam Czarski, Hinal Ghelani, Sam Hamza, David Hebb, Lauren Jamieson, Levi Karpa, Bela Kosoian, Athena Narsingh, Julio Paoletti, Tyler Paquette, Meaghan Patrick, Nicole Rozario, Martin Roy, Christiane Saad, Raya Sidhu, Danielle Swartz, Michele Valentini, Jasmine van Schouwen, Kendra von Eyben, Nicholas Woodward

Bill C-51: Our Statement to the Standing Committee on National Security & Public Safety

Opening Statement

Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security

Meeting No. 55 March 12, 2015

Study of Bill C-51 (Antiterrorism Act 2015)

Kent Roach* and Craig Forcese**

[A summary of our proposed amendments is posted here.]

Kent Roach:

Introduction

Professor Forcese and I have produced over 200 pages of detailed analysis of parts 1, 3 and 4 of Bill C-51. It is a complex omnibus bill that would add two new security laws and amend another 15 existing, including most notably the Criminal Code and CSIS Act.

In our analysis we have tried to bear in mind the effects, including unintended ones, that the bill could have on both security and rights. Security and rights go hand in hand in both our democracy but also in our legal analysis of the proportionality of the proposed measures.

We wish to underscore: we have published to antiterrorlaw.ca a table proposing many carefully considered amendments. This was too lengthy a document to submit as our testimony. But the ideas are there for every parliamentarian and citizen to consider. We believe that those amendments meet every single one of the justifications the government has offered for C-51 – and in some cases do more to achieve them. We think they also minimize the negative and possibly dangerous collateral consequences of this bill. We are trying to do our part to improve the bill.

Information Sharing Act

Part I of the Bill recognizes, as the Arar Commission did, the need for information sharing. At the same time, it goes well beyond terrorism by introducing a novel concept of activities that undermine the security of Canada. This concept is the broadest definition of national security interests that we have seen. It risks drowning the 17 designated recipient institutions in information ranging from concerns about terrorism to illegal protests by disapora groups that could undermine the security of perhaps repressive states.

It would facilitate information sharing about illegal protesters including Aboriginal and sovereignist groups who threaten Canada’s territorial integrity. Canada should pride itself as perhaps the only country that democratically debates secession. We should not be a country that shares secret information about peaceful protesters.

We do not accept the interpretation of “lawful” protest that the ministers have offered this committee. It is contrary to the legal advice the Minister of Justice offered this committee in 2001, when it was considering the original 2001 Anti-terrorism Act and introduced amendments deleting the requirement that protests must be lawful- in other words that they must respect every law- before being exempted. We believe the legal advice offered in 2001 to be correct.

The overbroad Part I raises concerns about security efficacy as well as democratic freedoms. Quite simply, if everything is a security matter, nothing is.

The Maher Arar story has warned us about the dangers of sharing information- intelligence which may be less than reliable, but s.6 of the proposed Information Sharing Act seems to forget these lessons in authorizing further sharing of information “to any person, for any purpose” so long as it is in accordance with existing law, law which itself is highly permissive of information sharing.

Secure Air Travel Act

Similarly s.12 of the proposed Secure Air Travel Act contemplates the sharing of Canada’s no fly list with other states. The provision appropriately requires a written arrangement for such sharing, but does not provide that the shared information should only be shared by Canada and used by others for air traffic reasons.

All of these concerns about Part I and Part II of Bill C-51 are aggravated by the lack of independent review for most of the departments involved in information sharing. There is no judicial review of information sharing in Part I- indeed as the Privacy Commissioner has indicated – there is no review for 14 of the 17 recipient departments. There is only stove piped or siloed review for the other three.

There is judicial review for the no fly list, but no provision for special advocates to be able to see and challenge the secret information- often intelligence- that fails to meet evidentiary standards used to remove a person’s ability to fly. Adversarial or independent review should not be seen as the enemy of security or of the dedicated people who work hard to keep us safe. We all understand that we do better work if we know that our worked by closely examined and, if necessary, criticized by others.

Speech Crime

The same dual concern about unintended adverse effects on both rights and security are in play with the advocacy offence proposed to be added to the Criminal Code. It contains an overbroad reference to “terrorism offences in general” and no defences for legitimate expression of political or religious thought. This harms and chills freedom of expression, but may also impede our ability to work with those who may hold radical views- who may advocate, for example, sending funds to a listed terrorist group- but who, with multidisciplinary intervention of the type contemplated in recent UK legislation, may be persuaded to resile from violence.

And more than that, the new provision seems not to respond to a real concern. The government states it needs this crime to penalize those who instruct others to “carry out attacks on Canada”, without identifying the terrorism offence they want others to do.

The government’s rationale for offence is not convincing, given the breadth of existing offence. People have already gone to jail for terrorist propaganda. And we continue to view s.83.22 of the Criminal Code (instructing someone to carry out a terrorist activity) as reaching calls for attacks on Canada. Strangely, no one seems to be discussing this existing offence.

But even if we are wrong, the new offence is a sledgehammer where a scalpel is needed. We have serious doubts that it is consistent with the Charter – it reaches well beyond the sort of speech that threatens actual violence. And given its remarkable ambiguity, we have no doubts that it is capable of chilling constitutionally-protected speech.

Interaction with Bill C-44

This brings me to my genuine concerns that Bill C-51, like Bill C-44, may have the unintended effects of making us less safer. I served for 4 years as the director of research (legal studies) of the Air India Commission. Bill C-51 as proposed allows information sharing about illegal protests – irritating to some but hardly a pressing security threat- but it does not as suggested by the Air India Commission recommendation 10, require CSIS to share information about actual terrorism offences. Lest you think that the Air India Commission’s recommendations were idiosyncratic- they were echoed by a Special Senate Committee chaired by Senator Segal in a 2011 report.

Combined with Bill C-44’s broad CSIS human source privilege (a privilege that the Air India Commission recommended should not be enacted), the combined effects of CSIS’s new powers and privilege in the two bill will likely have the unintended effect of making terrorism prosecutions, including prosecutions for the 4 new terrorist fighter offences that Parliament wisely added to the Criminal Code in 2013, more difficult. We have genuine concerns that C 51 will threaten rights and freedoms without making us safer and that combined with C 44, that the radical changes it makes may even make us less safe.

For this reason, should Parliament enact this bill it is extremely important that it be subject to a review of its effects on RCMP and CSIS co-operation including terrorism prosecutions. Such a Parliamentary review in our view cannot be done in sufficient detail without giving Parliamentarians access to secret information about actual operations. The changes made by C 51 are so far reaching and radical, we believe that a sunset is necessary and also that having a review followed by a sunset will allow for the most informed and meaningful Parliamentary debate on the effects and continued need for this legislation in what we acknowledge is a dynamic and challenging security environment.

My colleague Professor Forcese will continue with out joint submission

Craig Forcese

Introduction

Thank you. I come before you as someone who has regularly appeared before this committee generally supporting this government’s security laws. I did so, with important provisos, in the area of special advocates with immigration security certificates. I did so, with provisos, in the reenactment of preventive detention powers in s.83.3. And this Fall, you’ll recall I appeared in support of the bill C-44, clarifying CSIS’s overseas surveillance power.

Each time, however, I have proposed amendments designed to minimize negative repercussions, including repercussions producing unnecessary litigation.

The details matter. And it is the details we are here to discuss.

Preventive Detention

I start with a few brief words on preventive detention by police in s.83.3 of the Criminal Code, as modified by Bill C-51. In the past, I have spent considerable time looking at equivalent laws in other countries. Professor Roach and I have drawn inspiration from these laws – and most notably that of Australia – and are recommending a series of specific safeguards designed to govern the nature of preventive detention and what exactly may happen to persons in such detentions.

CSIS Act

I wish, however, to focus most of my comments on the CSIS Act amendments.

If bill C-51 passes, CSIS will be authorized to act physically to reduce “threats to the security of Canada”. Where authorized by Federal Court warrant, these “measures” may “contravene the Charter” or may be “contrary to other Canadian law”.

The government says it needs these powers so that, for example, CSIS can warn families that a child is radicalizing. No one in good faith could object to this. But the bill reaches much further. Indeed, the only outer limit is: no bodily harm; no obstruction of justice; and, no violation of sexual integrity, along with a more open ended and subjective admonishment that the Service act reasonably and proportionally. There is a mismatch between government justifications and the actual text of the law.

We underscore both the security and legal consequences of such a proposal. On the security side, we must all be preoccupied by the long-standing difficulties of “deconfliction” between RCMP and CSIS operations, even under the present law.

We run a considerable risk that new CSIS operations may end up overlapping, affecting and perhaps even tainting a subsequent RCMP criminal investigation into terrorist activity. A criminal trial may be mired in doubts about whether the CSIS operation contributed too, or otherwise was associated with, the crime at issue. Will our most successful anti-terror tool – criminal law – be degraded by CSIS operations that muddy waters? Any veteran of the Air India matter must be preoccupied by the possibility.

But even if the government thinks that CSIS/RCMP operational conflicts are worth the risk, we can meet its stated security objective without opening the door so wide to possible mistakes by a covert agency.

For instance, amend the bill to remove any reference to the Charter being contravened by CSIS. The current proposal is a breathtaking rupture with fundamental precepts of our democratic system. For the first time, judges are being asked to bless in advance a violation of our Charter rights, in a secret hearing, not subject to appeal, and with only the government side represented. There is no analogy to search warrants – those are designed to ensure compliance with the Charter. What the government proposes is a “constitutional breach warrant”. It is a radical idea, one that may reflect careless drafting more than considered intent.

It deserves sober second thought by Parliament.

Moreover, with a simple line or two, this committee could add new, and reasonable limits on CSIS’s powers, including, for instance, an emphatic bar on detention – we cannot risk a parallel system of detention by a covert agency able to act against people who have committed no crime. At present, whatever the government’s claims to the contrary, there is no prohibition on such a system.

In the final analysis, we are dependent on good judgment by the Service. I do not doubt CSIS’s integrity. I do doubt its infallibility.

Good law assists in exercising good judgment. As does robust review.

Review and Accountability

And that brings me to SIRC. We need to reinvest in our national security accountability system. SIRC’s constraints and design mean that it is incapable of reviewing all of CSIS’s activities, or even CSIS’s conduct under all its existing warrants. A partial approach to review will be spread even thinner, as CSIS’s powers expand.

More than this, SIRC (and other review bodies) are unnecessarily hamstrung by legal limitations that “stovepipe” their functions to specific agencies, and prevent them from “following the trail” when government agencies collaborate – an increasingly common practice that C-51 will unquestionably increase.

The Arar Commission recommended that “statutory gateways” be created allowing SIRC to share secret information and conduct joint investigations with Canada’s two other existing independent national security review bodies. The government has not acted on this report.

In some respect, we are only repeating concerns that SIRC itself have voiced. Indeed, SIRC has already told your senate counterpart this week that it is concerned about the implications of C-51 for its effectiveness. That message about limited powers should not be lost.

A few paragraphs of legislative language could create these statutory gateways, as a stepping stone to a broader rethink of national security review. In doing so, you would be doing a service for Canadians, and also for CSIS itself. If SIRC makes CSIS better, as its director has often suggested, make sure SIRC can continue to do so.

Meanwhile, not even SIRC reform would address the fact that Canada, alone among its “Five Eye” security partners, does not give parliamentarians access to secret information. A special security committee of parliamentarians can perform valuable “pinnacle” review by examining the entire security and intelligence landscape. Someone needs to see the forest, not just the individual trees. And our allies have made it work.

A few pages of legislative language would create this process and it could also ensure a meaningful and informed Parliamentary review of the effects of this far reaching legislation after a few years of its operation.

Conclusion

I conclude with a single observation, as a capstone to our submissions:

In its present guise, bill C-51 violates a cardinal principle we believe should be embedded in national security law: any law that grants powers (especially secret, difficult to review power) should be designed to limit poor judgment, not be a law whose reasonable application depends on excellent judgment.

And whatever the truth as to whether these powers are constitutional or necessary, their introduction is irresponsible without a redoubled investment in our outmatched and outdated accountability system. Anyone who has worked on accountability in the security sector knows that there is core maxim in this area: “trust but verify”. We do not believe that this standard will be met.

It is within your competence to pass a law that protects our security and liberty, and does so without the sort of incoherence that risks actually undermining our security. Such amendments to C-51 require good will, and a willingness to consider suggestions made in the earnest hope of a good law that protects our country and our rights.

We thank you for your interest and for your work.

*           Professor of Law, University of Toronto

**          Associate Professor of Law, University of Ottawa

Bill C-51: Our Proposed Amendments

Kent Roach and I are scheduled to appear Thursday, March 12, 6:30 pm before the Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, in its study of Bill C-51.  Our table of proposed amendments is too long to present as a formal document, or to translate in a timely fashion.  We are, however, posting it to the world here.  We shall also post our written statements from the hearing.

In our document containing proposed amendments, we report government statements supporting each element of the bill. We then summarize our concerns with that element. Finally, we suggest amendments designed to mute our chief concerns that would, at the same time, satisfy government objectives. In other words, we try to square liberty with security, and propose language that will minimize “second order” impacts from current provisions that we believe could undermine security.

We thank the several legal and security experts who commented on the draft amendments as part of our “crowdsourcing” effort.  We have done our best to address their ideas and comments.

To download the document, visit our download site here.

[Please note that while SSRN catalogs this paper into its collection, “Under Review by SSRN” will appear as a watermark on this screen. The paper will nevertheless be available for download]

Bill C-51: First Thoughts on Proposed Amendments

Parliamentary committee hearings on bill C-51 begin next week.

We have created a table consolidating recommended amendments to bill C-51. We will continue to tinker with these through the week. On balance, we would be much more ambitious if we thought there any serious prospect that the parliamentary process would accommodate a full and open effort to reconcile clear and informed security preoccupations with clear and informed “second order” consequence considerations (e.g. in relation to rights and also in relation to the possibility of such things as more difficult criminal trials and RCMP/CSIS “confliction” problems). As is, we have proposed changes that we think are reasonable and square the circle between the government’s core objectives and at least mute concerns we and others have been raising.

As always, we are “crowdsourcing” and we welcome comments directed at our email accounts cforcese@uottawa.ca or kent.roach@utoronto.ca or twitter @cforcese.

Please forgive us is we can not respond to every message that comes out way.  We are two individuals operating without any administrative support, whose families wonder where they have disappeared to since bill C-51 was tabled in January.

We have posted our draft table of recommended amendments in Word and PDF format.

Bill C-51 Backgrounder #5: Oversight and Review: Turning Accountability Gaps into Canyons?

Canada’s system of national security “oversight” is imperfect. Its system of national security “review” is frayed, perhaps to the breaking point. The government’s antiterrorism law, bill C-51, will accelerate this pattern. Without a serious course correction, we risk the prospect of avertible security service scandals.

There is often a misunderstanding about the distinction between “oversight” and “review”.

In Canadian practice, oversight is usually an executive branch function. This system has not always worked – the Air India Commission suggested (and the government rejected) new centralized oversight systems for reconciling competing national security interests.

C-51 does not introduce new reforms in this area. The government instead points to judicial warrants authorizing the new CSIS powers – a form of oversight. But this is, at best, a partial form of oversight. CSIS will not always require warrants. Judges will issue warrants in secret proceeding in which only the government side is represented. Nor will they always know what is then done in their name. There is no formal “feedback” loop between CSIS and the judge concerning the execution of the warrant, a key concern where (as with CSIS warrants) the conduct is covert and the warrant never disclosed.

In these circumstances, accountability depends on review. “Review” is an audit of past performance, to ensure compliance with law and policy. CSIS’s review body is SIRC. The idea that SIRC review is adequate and enhanced review is needless red tape is simply wrong.

SIRC’s resource constraints and design mean that it is incapable of reviewing all of CSIS’s activities, or even CSIS’s conduct under all its existing warrants. A necessarily partial approach to review will be spread even thinner as CSIS’s powers expand.

More than this, SIRC (and other review bodies) are unnecessarily hamstrung by legal limitations that “stovepipe” their functions to specific agencies, and prevent them from “following the trail” when government agencies collaborate – an increasingly common practice that C-51 (and C-44) will unquestionably increase.

The Arar Commission recommended that “statutory gateways” be created allowing SIRC to share secret information and conduct joint investigations with Canada’s two other existing independent national security review bodies. The government has not acted on this report, or the Privacy Commissioner’s 2014 report that its powers were inadequate to review security information sharing – and information sharing is to be dramatically increased in C-51.

Meanwhile, not even SIRC reform would address the fact that Canada, alone among its “Five Eye” security partners, does not give parliamentarians access to secret information. As pointed out recently by four former prime minister’s (and others) a parliamentary review is not redundant – it can perform valuable “pinnacle” review by examining the entire security and intelligence landscape.

Other democracies have made parliamentary review work well with independent expert review bodies. They have also shown that parliamentary review powers contribute to a broader parliamentary competence in an area where it is essential: national security law.

Download the paper at the download site on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN).  Or use the mirror site (we shall not keep the paper on the mirror site up to date with additions).

[Please note that while SSRN catalogs this paper into its collection, “Under Review by SSRN” will appear as a watermark on this screen. The paper will nevertheless be available for download]

Bill C-51 Backgrounder # 4: The Terrorism Propaganda Provisions

Proposed s.83.222 of the Criminal Code creates a new concept of “terrorist propaganda”. It also allows judges to order deletion of “terrorist propaganda” from the internet.

We support the concept of deletion orders for “terrorist propaganda” in principle. We believe they can have a role as part of a balanced and evidence-based counter-radicalization strategy that aims both to reduce the supply of terrorist material and (even more importantly) the demand for it.

However, the details matter. We remain concerned about the breadth of the definition of “terrorist propaganda”. It includes cross-referencing to the new speech crime proposed by bill C-51. As we discuss in backgrounder #1, that new offence risks sweeping in too much speech that is not tied to violence or threats of violence.

We think instead the terrorist propaganda concept should be anchored to existing terrorist crimes, which capture already the vast range of actually dangerous speech.

Such an approach would ensure that deletion orders were appropriately focused on material proximately related to actual and threatened violence, as opposed to extremist and objectionable ideas that advocate the use of political violence for any number of causes, including ones that many would regard as “mainstream” (e.g., contesting the Assad regime in Syria).

The first part of this backgrounder will examine the definition of “terrorist propaganda” set out in bill C-51 and the procedures it contemplates for deletion of this material from the internet.

The second part will discuss consequential amendments that would add the broad new category of “terrorist propaganda” to the Customs Tariff that allows officials with the Canadian Border Service Agency to seize obscenity and hate propaganda at the border. The last part of this backgrounder will also discuss how the proposed deletion procedures will fit into what is known in the research literature about counter-radicalization programs.

This backgrounder will suggest that the focus of the “terrorist propaganda” should be drawn more narrowly in bill C-51 to include material that is already criminal – something it accomplishes in part by simply by listing material that counsels the commission of terrorist offences. The much broader and vaguer reference to material that advocates or promotes “terrorism offences in general” should be deleted from the bill.

[Note: We have posted this paper for immediate download on SSRN. While SSRN catalogues the paper for inclusion in its holding, this page will be watermarked “Under review by SSRN”. Readers will still be able to access the paper.]

Bill C-51: Brief Explainer Video

I have prepared a brief explainer video on the more concerning aspects of C-51.  If you have 15 minutes and don’t mind that I misspoke twice (and said C-59 rather than C-51), this may help viewers understand the broad contours of this complicated law.  (Or it may just be more confusing!)

Craig Forcese

Bill C-51 Backgrounder # 3: Sharing Information and Lost Lessons from the Maher Arar Experience

This is the third of a series of independent “backgrounder” documents that we shall author on Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act 2015. All of these documents are archived at http://www.antiterrorlaw.ca.

The proposed Security of Canada Information Sharing Act in Bill C-51 declares a legitimate government interests in sharing information about security threats. Yet after close textual review, we conclude that the proposed law is both excessive and unbalanced. Why do we reach such strong conclusions?

The Act will relax constraints on the flow of information about “activities that undermine the security of Canada”. This is a new and astonishingly broad concept that is much more sweeping than any definition of security in Canadian national security law. In comes very close to a carte blanche, authorizing a “total information awareness” approach and a unitary view of governmental information holding and sharing. In that respect, we consider it a radical departure from conventional understandings of privacy.

The proposed legislation is unbalanced because it authorizes information sharing without meaningful enhanced review. While the bill pays lip-service to accountability, it does not incorporate an accountability regime matching its scope. Even as it erodes privacy, it fails to learn from the lessons of the Arar and Iaccobucci commissions of inquiry about the injustice that may stem from poorly governed information sharing.

The claims in the government’s backgrounder that the existing accountability institutions, including the Privacy Commissioner, are equipped for this task is not convincing to anyone familiar with the Arar report.

[NB: We have posted this paper for immediate download on SSRN. While SSRN catalogues the paper for inclusion in its holding, this page will be watermarked “Under review by SSRN”. Readers will still be able to access the paper.  We plan to upload revised editions as we add details and refine points. We have also posted to a “mirror” site, but will not update the paper here.]