Wednesday, March 18, 2015

In Bill C-51, you can be ORDERED to help CSIS violate the Charter

Oh, there are so many things wrong with Bill C-51, the government's proposed Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015. But one aspect that I find particularly frightening has not received much attention. Under new amendments to the CSIS Act, you can be ordered to help CSIS violate the Charter rights of others.

Yup. Bill C-51 expands the sort of warrants that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service can obtain. It used to be that they could make secret applications, in secret, in front of a judge in a secret bunker for secret warrants to do things like wiretap, install bugs, etc. Now, CSIS is given a broader mandate to take measures to reduce "threats to the security of Canada". (Which is an incredibly vague term that should send chills up your spine.) And under C-51, CSIS can apply for warrant permitting its agents to break laws, including the Charter, to reduce such threats:

21.1 (1) If the Director or any employee who is designated by the Minister for the purpose believes on reasonable grounds that a warrant under this section is required to enable the Service to take measures, within or outside Canada, to reduce a threat to the security of Canada, the Director or employee may, after having obtained the Minister’s approval, make an application in accordance with subsection (2) to a judge for a warrant under this section.

So such a warrant would allow CSIS to do things, inside or outside of Canada, that would otherwise violate our criminal law or the Charter. That's bad enough. But Bill C-51 also gives CSIS the ability to get an order requiring others to help them violate our criminal law or the Charter.

Assistance order

22.3 (1) A judge may order any person to provide assistance if the person’s assistance may reasonably be considered to be required to give effect to a warrant issued under section 21 or 21.1.

And to make it worse, the order can include a gag-order preventing you from complaining about it.


(2) The judge may include in the order any measure that the judge considers necessary in the public interest to ensure the confidentiality of the order, including the identity of any person who is required to provide assistance under the order and any other information concerning the provision of the assistance.

I don't think that this would survive Charter scrutiny, but it's very troubling that the government wants CSIS to be able to deputize anyone and to force them to help in CSIS's "kinetic activities".

That's incredibly troubling.

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