#CyberFLASH: What Aaron Driver means for the debate on amending Bill C-51

rcmp-terror-20160811The case of Aaron Driver, the ISIS sympathizer who was killed in Strathroy, Ont., on Wednesday, comes to the fore amid the outstanding question of federal anti-terror laws and the fate of Bill C-51, the former Conservative government’s controversial legislation of last year.

And on Thursday, the Conservatives spoke of both in nearly the same breath.

“I salute and thank the law enforcement and intelligence officers who put their own lives on the line to stop this potential attack on innocent Canadians,” interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose said in a statement distributed on Thursday morning.

“Unfortunately, the Liberal government campaigned on a promise to strip these officers of some of the essential investigative and enforcement tools to do this work, which the previous Conservative government provided through Bill C-51, and which have already been wisely used to disrupt terrorist activities nearly two dozen times since last fall. I call on the Liberal government to ensure all of Canada’s security and intelligence services keep the tools they need to do their jobs.”

On a very basic level, Driver’s fate might well factor into the general debate: a case of suspected terrorism informing a debate about how the law should be used to respond to the threat of terrorism. “This disturbing event serves to remind us that Canada is not immune to the threat of terrorism,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said on Thursday.

But on the particulars, it is unclear what precisely Driver’s case might have to do with C-51.

Liberal commitment to rewrite C-51

In bestowing new powers on law enforcement and national security agencies, C-51 raised various concerns about civil liberties.

In opposition at the time, the Liberals support the bill’s passage, but vowed they would amend the legislation if they were to form government.

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#CyberFLASH: Awareness campaign and challenge to Canadian “security” bill C-51

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It’s known more commonly as “the anti-terrorism act” and was passed into law last year by the former Conservative government.

Bill C-51’s official, long and complicated name is, “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”.

The group, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) has launched a publicity campaign called “#my privacy campaign” and along with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has also launched a legal challenge saying the law contravenes aspects of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The public awareness campaign is to push the current Liberal government to follow up on their election promise to repeal what they deem the “problematic elements” of the bill, and the government’s recently announced intention to hold a broad consultation process.

Bill C-51, now law, was inspired by several indirect threats and two high-profile killings of soldiers in Canada in 2014, labelled jihadist-inspired terrorist actions.

In one, a man used his car to run down two soldiers, killing one. He was chased by police and when his car crashed, police shot him as he approached carrying a knife. In the other, a lone gunman shot a soldier on honourary guard duty at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before running across the street to the Parliament buildings where a shootout occurred and that gunman killed.

The former Conservative government then proposed the omnibus bill as a way to increase Canadian security.

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