The bombings in Boston, and an alleged plot to derail a Canadian train, seem to have accelerated the intentions of Canada’s ruling Conservative government as it pushed through the adoption of an anti-terror bill that was first presented in Canada’s Senate in 2012.
Supporters of Bill S-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Security of Information Act, say the amendments to the criminal code are essential to helping fight the war on terror.
The bill was passed Wednesday night by a vote of 183 to 93. The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has an outright majority in the House of Commons, but was also supported by the opposition Liberal party on the bill.
Civil rights advocates say the provisions of the bill are not necessary, and are concerned about some of the wide-ranging provisions of the bill.
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews feels the legislation will ensure Canada will be able to deal with terrorism: “Terrorism and violent extremism are real threats to Canada,” said Minister Toews. “Bill S-7 will provide additional tools for law enforcement to help in the investigation of terrorism offences and thereby help to protect the safety of Canadians”
The original legislation this bill affects was enacted after the events of September 2001. The new legislation will have to be reviewed in five years time.
Among the provisions of Bill S-7 are the possibility of secret hearings, and preventative arrest.
Some excerpts from Bill S-7:
83.23 (2) Everyone who knowingly harbours or conceals any person whom they know to be a person who is likely to carry out a terrorist activity, for the purpose of enabling the person to facilitate or carry out any terrorist activity, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years.
CANADA EVIDENCE ACT
38.11 (1) The judge conducting a hearing under subsection 38.04(5) or the court hearing an appeal or review of an order made under any of subsections 38.06(1) to (3) may make an order that the hearing be held, or the appeal or review be heard, in private.
SECURITY OF INFORMATION ACT
21. (1) Every person who, for the purpose of enabling or facilitating an offence under this Act, knowingly harbours or conceals a person whom they know to be a person who has committed an offence under this Act, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment
(a) for a term of not more than 14 years, if the person who is harboured or concealed committed an offence under this Act for which that person is liable to imprisonment for life; and
(b) for a term of not more than 10 years, if the person who is harboured or concealed committed an offence under this Act for which that person is liable to any other punishment.
Bill S-7- An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Security of Information Act – here
Press release Public Safety Minister Vic Toews – here
National Post – Controversial anti-terror bill passes, allowing preventative arrests, secret hearings – here