By: Dana Wagner on
Daryl Kramp, Conservative MP for Prince Edward - Hastings, and chair of the public safety committee, in an interview posted on February 20, 2015
According to Daryl Kramp, only criminal offences fall within the scope of the government’s proposed anti-terrorism bill. That’s not what the bill says.FactsCan Score: False
Daryl Kramp, the chair of the public safety committee that is reviewing the government’s proposed anti-terrorism bill C-51, said the law only covers criminal activities.
“You have to commit a criminal offence,” Kramp told the CBC. “But if they’re not going to commit a criminal offence, my goodness, dissent and protest and that, that’s accepted within the Canadian society and within our laws and rules and regulations. And to my mind this security legislation does not impede that whatsoever.”
This is not accurate.
There are at least two new powers that cover non-criminal offences: 1) information sharing among government bodies, and 2) disruption measures for Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
The bill defines an activity that undermines Canadian security in part 1, which introduces the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act. The purpose of this act is to “encourage and facilitate” information sharing among government bodies about “activities that undermine the security of Canada” (section 3).
The word “criminal” is not used in the definition of an activity that undermines the security of Canada, but the terms “lawful” and “unlawful” are. One of the undermining activities is “unduly influencing a government in Canada by force or unlawful means” (section 2.(b)).
The definition only excludes “lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression” (section 2). That leaves “unlawful” activities, which is not the same thing as “criminal” activities.
Craig Forcese, a national security law expert who has written several backgrounders on bill C-51 with colleague Kent Roach, said in an email that “‘unlawful’ in practice means a lot more than [criminal], unless something in the statute defines it narrowly (and nothing does).”
For example, an unlawful activity is a protest without the right city permit, or an unauthorized strike, said Forcese, who also pointed out in a recent blog that concerns about a too-wide definition of “lawful” were hashed out over a decade ago during debate over the original Antiterrorism Act.
The proposed bill gives CSIS powers to disrupt threats to Canada’s security in part 4, which introduces amendments to the CSIS Act. The agency “may take measures, within or outside Canada, to reduce the threat” (section 12.1(1)). This moves CSIS beyond current duties of surveillance and intelligence gathering.
Types of disruption activities are not listed in the bill, apart from those that require a warrant, like measures that contravene the Charter or Canadian law, and those that are prohibited, like causing death or bodily harm, obstructing justice, and violating sexual integrity.
What about the types of activities CSIS can disrupt? Those that count as a threat to Canada?
The definition above of an “activity that undermines the security of Canada” is not to be confused with the definition of “threats to the security of Canada,” which is found in the CSIS Act and is core to the agency’s mandate, and which would not change under C-51.
The list of threats in the CSIS Act definition includes espionage, sabotage and acts of violence. Excluded is “lawful advocacy, protest or dissent” but with the caveat “unless carried on in conjunction” with one of the listed threats, like espionage, sabotage, etc. (section 2).
Forcese and Roach point out this caveat is quite significant. In a backgrounder on C-51, they wrote that at present, “the exemption still allows CSIS to investigate many otherwise democratic activities with a loose and distant relationship to actual espionage, sabotage, foreign-influenced activities, political violence or terrorism or subversion.”
The agency’s new powers of disruption cover this same set of activities. Disruption would therefore not be restricted to criminal offences.
It is false to say that only criminal offences are within the scope of the bill. At least two new powers go further. Unlawful and some lawful activities could also be fair game.