Canada’s new counterterrorism legislation, The Anti-terrorism Act 2015, highlights Canada’s “continued commitment to taking swift action to combat jihadi terrorism and protect Canadians,” according to a government announcement, which noted the new powers provides Canada’s "police forces with the tools and flexibility they need to protect Canadians against serious and evolving threats from terrorist organizations like ISIS while at the same time incorporating measures to ensure the civil liberties of Canadians.
“Canadians know that Canada is unfortunately not immune to the ever-evolving threat of terrorism,” jointlystated Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General Peter MacKay.
This legislation “will directly address the threat of terrorism by enhancing our government’s ability to share information between relevant government departments and agencies for national security purposes; criminalizing the advocacy and promotion of the commission of terrorism offences; preventing terrorists from travelling and recruiting others; and providing our police forces with the additional tools they need to prevent, detect, deny and respond to the threat of terrorism.”
“Without security, there can be no liberty,” the announcement stated, adding, “Our government knows that that the Anti-terrorism Act 2015, strikes the right balance, with a range of provisions to strengthen safeguards.”
“Recent attacks on Canadian soil in Saint-Jean-sur Richelieu and at our National War Memorial and Parliament buildings in the heart of our democracy are reminders that jihadi terrorism is a global threat, and that Canada is not immune to the menace of terrorist organizations like ISIS,” Blaney said. “Our government’s top priority is ensuring the safety and security of all Canadians. With the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, we are providing police forces with the additional tools they need to prevent, detect, deny and respond to the threat of jihadi terrorism while fully protecting our civil liberties. Without security, there can be no liberty, and our Government knows that these measures serve to protect both.”
MacKay said, “As we have all witnessed, terrorism knows no borders and Canada is facing an unprecedented threat to our national security. Attacks in Canada, which led to the deaths of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, as well as recent attacks in France and Australia, are stark reminders that the world is a dangerous place and that the threat of terrorism is very real. That is why our government has adopted the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, to provide our police forces with the tools they need to protect Canadian families and keep our communities safe.”
Michel Coulombe, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), added that, “The terrorist threat to Canada’s national security interests has never been as direct or immediate. The scope of the threat, the speed of change, and the ease with which people engaged in threat related activity can connect means we no longer have the luxury of time to contemplate our response. The new measures are essential for this evolving threat environment.”
”The recent terrorist attacks in Canada, and similar attacks around the world, are clear examples of how a terrorist act can move from an idea to action overnight,” said Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commissioner Bob Paulson. “These new provisions give the RCMP, and all law enforcement in Canada, new authorities to react at the earliest possible opportunity to help ensure the safety of Canadians.”
The legislation "is a reflection of the international extremist pressures on Canada as well as the generously funded deep networks in Canada that create the social, cultural and political space for extremism and radicalization. This generationalstruggle against jihadist based extremism will cause Canada and other free nations to constantly update their criminal laws as well as other societal responses to these issues,” noted Tom Quiggin, senior researcher at the Canadian Center of Intelligence and Security Studies at Carleton University. “Canadians should expect a series of long term debates over how we balance the Constitutions and the Charter of Rights against foreign based extremists who seek to exploit and weaken our society and to adjust to their ideology.”
The new counterterrorism legislation is intended to stop those who promote terrorism by creating a new criminal code offence that will criminalize the advocacy or promotion of the commission of terrorism offences, and counter terrorist recruitment by giving Canada’s judges the authority to order the seizure and forfeiture of terrorist propaganda material and the removal of terrorist propaganda from Canadian websites.
The law also provides CSIS with the ability, under the authority of a court, to intervene to prevent specific terrorist plots, and enhances the Passenger Protect Program by further mitigating threats to transportation security and preventing travel by air for the purpose of engaging in terrorism-related activities.
The new law also is expected to make it easier for Canadian police forces to temporarily detain and apply to a court to have conditions imposed on suspected terrorists before they can harm Canadians, and toughening penalties for violating court-ordered conditions on terrorist suspects.
It further will enable the responsible sharing of relevant national security information across federal departments and agencies and ensure the government is better able to protect and use classified information when denying entry and status to non-citizens who pose a threat to Canada.
Separately, Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide $292.6 million over five years to Canadian police forces for additional investigative resources to help them keep pace with the evolving threat of jihadi terrorism.