B.C. Civil Liberties Association disappointed that so much of Bill C-51 is still intact

Micheal Vonn

THE B.C. Civil Liberties Association on Tuesday welcomed some important and long-needed “fixes” in Bill C-59 – “An Act respecting national security matters” – but said it remained disappointed that so much of “Bill C-51” was still intact.

Micheal Vonn, Policy Director of the BCCLA, said: “We are very pleased that the government is introducing an all-agency review body for national security. This is long overdue and urgently needed. That said, this is a complex re-arrangement and we can’t say at this time whether all the pieces are in place. There are many questions that will need to be answered, particularly with regards to the powers and mandate of the Intelligence Commissioner. But in the main, this proposal is moving in the right direction.”

The BCCLA also welcomed the amendments to the terrorism speech offences.

The association had less positive responses to other aspects of the bill, such as changes to the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act (SCISA), the “no-fly” regime, and warrants for CSIS “disruption powers”.

“The bill does several things to try to reign in the unprecedented surveillance powers created by SCISA, but as no credible justification for SCISA was ever made, it would have been much better to repeal it and introduce any clarifying amendments required in the federal Privacy Act. While the bill’s provisions on information sharing are an improvement, they speak to tinkering as opposed to reform,” said Vonn.

“Likewise, we see clear attempts to improve the dreadful lack of due process protections in the no-fly scheme, but the fundamental flaws of the scheme remain. There is still too little transparency in the decision-making process and too many ways to postpone providing a remedy to people unjustly affected. As for the warrant provisions for the use of CSIS “disruption powers” which were cited by many legal experts to be unconstitutional, the bill doubtless improves the terrible state of the law that currently exists, but legitimate concerns remain, including the threshold question of the discretion to apply for the warrants,” Vonn added.