With the release of a report on Canada’s National Security Framework, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security presented 41 recommendations emphasizing that it is the Canadian government’s responsibility to both keep Canadians safe and protect their rights and freedoms.
The report is calling on the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Hon. Ralph Goodale, to continue to follow through on 2015 Liberal campaign commitments concerning changes to the former Bill C-51. In addition, the Committee is recommending further actions stemming from witness testimony and public hearings.
To that end, MPs are reiterating that all warrants for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) must respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that overly vague definitions in the Criminal Code such as “terrorist propaganda” must be clarified, and that the government should be required to review all appeals from persons on the so-called “no-fly list.”
The Committee report is also responding to the concerns of Canadians who did not have their voices heard during the 2015 process surrounding the former Bill C-51. We need to be able to understand and respond to new and evolving national security threats, while protecting Canadians’ rights and freedoms at the same time. Even while maintaining a high level of vigilance due to growing and changing security threats, the Report recognizes that it is important to proceed with the clarification of definitions in the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act to ensure that Canadians’ privacy is protected. We are also calling on the government to empower women and youth through a strategy based in communities for the prevention of radicalization, recognizing both their leadership role and their vulnerability.
MPs also responded to concerns from civil society regarding extraordinary disruption powers granted under Bill C-51 to CSIS. The report recommends that disruption measures that violate Canadian law should be subject to advance judicial oversight and the authorization of the responsible minister. With respect to the Passenger Protect Program (also known as the “no-fly list”), MPs recommend the creation of a rapid redress system for persons mistakenly identified as someone on the no fly list and that the Passenger Protect Inquiry Office be granted additional resources to assist travellers. For greater transparency, the report also recommends that Public Safety Canada publish annually the number of individuals on the no-fly list. This isn’t just about being able to go on vacation. Being denied air travel can have a real impact on a person’s life and livelihood. We need to ensure that the system is fair, open, and transparent and that people who should not be denied travel have a quick and effective system to get help.
While the government has already made significant progress on the parliamentary oversight of Canada’s security agencies with Bill C-22, which will create a Committee of Parliamentarians on National Security and Intelligence, the Report calls for additional oversight measures. We need to give the existing oversight bodies, responsible for our national security agencies, the resources to keep up with those agencies’ increasing activities. Canada also needs an independent, external oversight body for the Canada Border Services Agency, and a National Security Review Office for government agencies with national security mandates that currently have no oversight at all.
During its study, which began in September 2016, the Committee has received 39 briefs and heard from 138 witnesses. The committee held public consultations in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montréal, and Halifax. Additionally, the Committee received more than 1800 emails from citizens regarding privacy protections. The Committee’s study was conducted in parallel with Public Safety Canada’s public consultations on national security and the publication of the green paper entitled: Our Security, Our Rights: National Security Green Paper, 2016.