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Bill proposed to give CSIS tools to investigate, track and prosecute potential terrorists
Colleen Schmidt, CTV Calgary
Published Thursday, October 16, 2014 1:00PM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 16, 2014 2:51PM MDT
Canada’s Minister of Public Safety joined justice ministers from across the country in Banff on Thursday to unveil new measures to give CSIS agents more authority and better tools to track potential terrorist threats to Canada’s national security.
Steven Blaney held a press conference from the Banff Centre and outlined the decision to join Canada’s global allies to fight the terrorist acts of ISIL.
“We are taking a clear stand against those who are committing atrocities against innocent civilians. We are also discussing how this action works in tandem with our efforts here in Canada under the Counterterrorism Strategy to address terrorist threats and to prevent Canadians from travelling to the Middle East, joining ISIL and other terrorist groups.” said Blaney.
Blaney says the government will take steps to thwart the radicalization of Canadians by terrorist groups.
“We are firmly committed to take strong action to address the threat of individuals who become radicalized to violence and the growing problem of extremist travellers. Canada like all nations has a responsibility to guard against its citizens travelling to areas of turmoil and participating in terrorist acts,” he said.
Blaney says the CSIS Act, which was created in 1984, is now outdated and needs to be adapted to allow agents to better operate and investigate threats to our national security from abroad.
“The threat from terrorism is now more complex and diffuse. Now more than ever a motivated individual or group of extremists with access to technology can do significant harm to Canada from thousands of miles away,” said Blaney. “Threats to our security do not stop at our border. That’s why CSIS must have the tools it needs to investigate threats to the security of Canada originating abroad.”
“Technology has dramatically changed the way in which threats evolve and materialize. Social media and Internet enable wide-spread and often anonymous distribution of information which has led to radicalization taking place in Canada and Internationally. The CSIS Act must keep pace with the changes to ensure that the service has the appropriate tools and authorities to fulfil its duties and functions in effectively investigating threats to Canada’s national security,” said Andy Ellis, CSIS Assistant Director of Operations.
The public safety minister says recent court decisions have allowed the government to bring legislation forward to clarify the authority given to CSIS to act on those threats. “These tools will ultimately allow CSIS to conduct investigations into potential terrorists when they travel abroad meaning that those potential terrorists will be tracked, investigated and ultimately prosecuted.”
Blaney says the government will also take action to help agents protect the identity of sources, which is critical in the fight against home-grown terrorism.
“We make every attempt to ensure that the information we’re getting is accurate and corroborated so we do not act on single source information,” said Ellis. “What we’re trying to do is to give our sources a class-privilege protection akin to that of law enforcement.”
Ellis says the new measures will bring the willingness of sources to work with them to a legal standing and formalize it to ensure there is no ambiguity, which did not exist before.
Blaney says the legislation will be tabled as soon as possible.