Last October, Canadian soldiers were killed in two separate attacks on Canadian soil: one in Quebec and the other in Ottawa. Both attacks were carried out by individuals inspired by the radical Islamic extremism used as an ideological foundation for similar attacks around the world.
The attacks of last October and the revelation of the radicalization that has been occurring in Canada bring cause for not only concern, but cause for action. Just as we have seen allies like the U.K. and Australia strengthen and integrate their security legislative regime to meet these challenges, so must we.
To date in Canada, we have been fortunate. The good work of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Security Intelligence Service have averted terrorist plots by the Toronto 18 to storm the Parliament Buildings and kill MPs and behead the Prime Minister, the plot to blow up a VIA Rail bridge in Ontario and a plot to kill people celebrating Canada Day at the B.C. Legislature.
However, after the attacks of last October and revelations of radicalization of Canadian citizens who wish to join forces with radical Islamists, the RCMP and CSIS informed the minister of public safety and national security that they need more tools legislated to both investigate and prevent similar threats to Canadians.
Canada’s government has taken action by introducing the Anti-Terrorism Act in the House of Commons Jan. 30.
Bill C-51 will give the people that protect us the tools they require to do their job.
The critics of this bill are suggesting that it will infringe on the rights of Canadians to protest or demonstrate peacefully. This suggestion is incorrect.
Section two of the CSIS Act clearly defines what is considered a threat to the security of Canada and clearly states that threats to the security of Canada do not include “lawful advocacy, protest or dissent.” C-51 does not seek to change these definitions.
The Anti-Terrorism Act would enhance the ability of Canadian institutions and agencies to collect information, share information and disrupt the activities of suspected terrorist groups.
The bill proposes a list of activities to be considered as threatening the security of Canada such as interference with critical infrastructure or the economic or financial stability of Canada.
Despite what the critics are saying, the proposed bill qualifies that list by stating that “activity that undermines the security of Canada does not include lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.”
I am very concerned that the opposition has taken a matter as serious as our national security and politicized it.
Although we all hope and pray that Canadians never face another terrorist attack, the effective prevention of a future attack requires effective action that enables our security agencies to prevent such attacks. Canada’s government has proposed a bill that will do just this in balance with respecting our civil rights.
I will support this bill to ensure I fulfill my duty to Canadians, as a member of Parliament, to legislate for the protection and security of our nation.
Colin Mayes is the MP for Okanagan-Shuswap.