REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence has the honour to present its
Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Thursday, May 14, 2015, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment but with observations, which are appended to this report.
OBSERVATIONS to the
Fourteenth Report of the
Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence (Bill C-51)
The Committee notes that in testimony to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence on May 25, 2015, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness confirmed that the government is prepared to consider measures to ensure greater accountability by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in the use of warrants by requiring the Service to report back to the Security Intelligence Review Committee on its execution of warrants. With regard to privacy rights of Canadians, Minister Blaney advised the Committee that all departments and agencies affected by the information sharing provisions of the Bill will be required to complete a privacy impact assessment in consultation with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, to ensure the privacy rights of Canadians are protected. The Committee welcomes these positive steps by the government.
Following its hearings, the Committee makes the following four observations for consideration by the government.
- Extend the period of time for the laying of charges in summary conviction proceedings under s. 25 of the Secure Air Travel Act, from one to five years; take steps to ensure that implementation of the Act can be achieved without placing front-line airline and other staff, as well as members of the public, in unnecessary physical jeopardy and consider future inclusion in s. 8(1) of the words “photograph or other suitable image” to the information that can be kept in the database.
- Enhance Canada's capacity to combat terrorist threats by utilizing the laws passed by Parliament as an effective deterrent. To achieve this, the government should establish a specialized team of lawyers within the department of the Attorney General of Canada to prosecute terrorism cases and ensure judges who are selected to hear terrorism cases have specialized background and training about terrorism.
- Make it a criminal offence to be a member of a “designated” terrorist group in Canada or a de-facto terrorist group (as defined by the courts).
- To increase accountability, the government should develop statutory authorities among the national security bodies, in order to provide for the exchange of operational information, referral of investigations, conduct of joint investigations and coordination in the preparation of reports.
Finally, given the rapidly evolving threats to the national security of Canada, and the importance of this legislation to ensuring the safety and security of Canadians, the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence will, with the approval of the Senate, conduct a review of Bill C-51, within five years of it receiving Royal Assent.