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What’s in Harper’s proposed Bill C-51 ‘Security of Canada’ legislation?

The Harper government introduced its new “anti-terror” legislation on Friday.

Bill C-51, the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, is 62-pages long and, according to various news reports, would:

1. Allow CSIS to “disrupt” activities

The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) would have the power to disrupt suspected terror activity, including by interfering with travel plans and financial transactions. They could also “misdirect” the delivery of materials deemed dangerous. The bill does not explicitly define “to disrupt”.CSIS could also “counter-message” by challenging the online communications sent to those suspected of becoming radicalized. CSIS is currently only allowed to collect intelligence and pass that on to the RCMP.

2. Expand the no-fly list

The government could add anyone to the no-fly list that it believes might be travelling to engage in terrorism. Officials could deny a boarding pass to anyone deemed a threat to national security. The government would define the appeal process.

3. Criminalize promoting terrorism

A person could be sentenced for up to five years in prison if they promote terrorism or the international advocacy of it. This reportedly does not extend to the “glorification” of terrorism. To ‘promote’ could mean to actively support or instigate. Right now, it’s an offence to counsel or actively encourage someone to commit a specific terrorism offence. 

4. Allow bugging

CSIS agents, with a court order, could require a building owner to allow them to bug a tenant’s room.

5. Give the power to remove terrorist material from the Internet

Officials could apply for a court order for the “seizure of terrorist propaganda” and require Internet service providers to remove from a website “any materials that promote or encourage acts of terrorism against Canadians in general, or the commission of a specific attack against Canadians”. Propaganda is defined as any writing or “sign” that promotes terrorism.

6. Allow information to be shared

Government departments would be given the power to share private information, including passport applications, income tax forms and confidential commercial data, to law enforcement agencies. It would allow officials to proactively share information with other security agencies.

7. Allow court proceedings to be sealed

The government could ask the court to seal the proceedings of deportation trials at any point in the process to protect information it defines as classified.

8. Lower the threshold for arrest

Law enforcement agencies would be able to arrest somebody if they think a terrorist act “may be carried out,” instead of the current standard of “will be carried out.”

9. Lengthen the period of “preventive” detention.

A person not charged with a crime could be held in preventive detention for seven days, up from the current three days.

10. Require a person to surrender their passport, submit to electronic monitoring

If the police believe that a person “may commit” an offence, a “peace bond” could require the person to surrender their passport, submit to electronic monitoring, and not leave a jurisdiction.

11. Provide no additional oversight

Despite the broad range of new powers, there are no new provisions for oversight of CSIS in this bill.

12. Be permanent

These new powers would be permanent, not lapse unless renewed by a future Parliament.

The bill itself can be read in full here.

Are you already violating the feds’ new anti-terror bill? (Global News)
Canada’s new backward-looking terror law (Toronto Star)
Anti-terror bill gives new powers to Canada’s spies (CTV)
Anti-terrorism powers: What’s in the legislation? (CBC News)
Harper proposes new powers for spies, plays down civil liberties concerns (The Globe and Mail)
5 things to know about Ottawa’s new anti-terrorism measures (Toronto Star)
Canadian government introduces new powers to counter terrorism (Digital Journal)