Former top spy says anti-terror bill unnecessary -

Former top spy says anti-terror bill unnecessary

Pre-emptive arrest and forced testimony turn “our judicial system somewhat on its head”


Reid Morden, the former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, says the Conservative government should re-think its plans to re-introduce controversial anti-terrorism measures initially adopted in the wake of 9/11. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Friday that Ottawa was looking at reviving extraordinary powers that would allow police to arrest people as a preventive measure and force suspects to show up at secret hearings to testify about possibly pending criminal acts. “Speaking strictly of those two particular provisions, I confess I never thought that they should have been introduced in the first place and that they slipped in, in the kind of scrambling around that the government did after 9/11,” Morden said. “It seemed to me that it turned our judicial system somewhat on its head.” The initial provisions expired in 2007 and a Conservative move to revive them was defeated by Parliament that same year. Neither power was ever used in its original five-year lifespan.

CBC News

Filed under:

Former top spy says anti-terror bill unnecessary

  1. "…allows police to pre-emptively arrest suspects without a warrant and detain them for three days without charges, provided police believe a terrorist act may be committed. The other measure allows judges to compel witnesses to testify in secret…"

    If these provisions were never used, why bother having them? The statement this government is making by considering them here is very concerning.

  2. No more power without more disclosure.

    The government wants more power for its spies but citizens should know more about what they are really doing.

    Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has introduced last week the Combating Terrorism Act. The bill will amend the Criminal Code to give government more tools to, Nicholson says, “prevent and investigate terrorist activities”. With it, the government will be able to compel witness to appear in court and give information by force. It allows pre-emptively arresting suspects without a warrant and detaining them for three days without charges. These provisions were first created by the Anti-terrorism Act in 2001 and voted down in 2007. Recently, CSIS also reintroduce a program launched in the early 1990s. Spy agency contact various aerospace, biotechnology, petroleum and agriculture corporations to prevent threats that may have an impact on national security interests. Distinctions between terrorist networks managing their financial operations with bank accounts in different countries and legitimate multinational corporations are less and less clear.

    The problem, with giving more power to spies, is that up to this day, little is known about what they are doing. An April CSIS decision to block the full release of police files on Tommy Douglas put oil on the fire showing its political side. The leader of the social democratic New Democratic Party, Tommy Douglas, who died in 1986, was spied at, even as he served as Saskatchewan premier from 1944 to 1961 and was a federal NDP leader from 1961 to 1971. So, Saskatchewan New Democrats want the federal government to release all of its police and security files on him. An other problem is that Canadian law does not limit CSIS actions. Previous deputy director of operations Jack Hooper admitted to a Senate committee in May 2006 that CSIS use other techniques if prosecution is not viable. When the Canadian spy agency faces a situation were they got insufficient evidence to bring suspect to court, it adopt a «diffuse and disrupt mode». According to the CSIS officer, it counters suspects by making their lives hard in less-conventional ways. No more power should be given without more detail disclosure of what is really done with it.

  3. Harper has no respect for the rule of law and has proven same over and over again. Our legal system while not perfect is one of the best in the world. Harper would like to bring us down to tin pot dictator status.