Area of Law: Government and The Justice System
Answer Number: 723
Anti-terrorism ActRegion: Ontario Answer Number: 723
Canada’s Anti-terrorism Act, Bill C-51 (the Act) received Royal Assent on June 18, 2015.
There is a great deal of controversy surrounding this new law. Some people believe it infringes the individual’s rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Definitions under the new Act are quite broad and as a result there is great uncertainty as to what is considered dissension and acts of terrorism. It is feared that Canadians will lose their right to voice their opinions and their right to protest. Others are unsure just how effective it will be in keeping Canada safe. The Government, however, says that the Act is meant to reflect it’s commitment to the safety of all Canadians, while at the same time, respect and promote our rights as stated in the Charter.
Purpose of the Act
The Act is intended as a tool that increases the powers of law enforcement and national security agencies to stop those who engage in terrorist threats. In addition, the Act has made significant changes to Canada’s national security and privacy laws, including: the Criminal Code of Canada, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, the Secure Air Travel Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act.
This legislation is intended to prevent terrorism, by:
1. Stopping the promotion of terrorism
- A new criminal offence was created that criminalizes the advocacy or promotion of the commission of terrorism offences.
- The new law provides witnesses, and other participants in national security proceedings and prosecutions, with additional protection.
2. Preventing terrorists from using Canada as a recruiting ground
- The new Security of Canada Information Sharing Act enables the responsible sharing of relevant national security information across federal departments and agencies.
- New laws broaden the scope of the Passenger Protect Program, and are intended to prevent people, who are travelling for the purpose of engaging in terrorism-related activities, from flying.
- The Act gives courts the authority to order the seizure and forfeiture of terrorist propaganda material, and the removal of terrorist propaganda from Canadian websites.
3. Disrupting terrorist plots and preventing planned attacks on Canadian soil
- The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has been given the ability to intervene against specific terrorist plots.
- The new laws increase the authority of police forces to temporarily detain people suspected of being terrorists, and toughens penalties for suspects who violate court-ordered conditions.
- Amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act make it is easier for the Government to prevent people who pose a threat to Canadians, and who are not citizens, to enter and remain in Canada.
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