February 07, 2015 - 7:00 AM
OTTAWA - The privacy rights of Canadians will be respected under new anti-terrorism legislation that would allow more information-sharing with the United States, says Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.
Blaney has been discussing security issues in London with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and ministerial counterparts from Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
On the sidelines of the Five Eyes meeting, he and Johnson talked about strengthening bilateral information exchanges, including case-specific sharing on citizens suspected of terrorism-related activity.
Blaney pointed out that the Conservative government's new bill would allow sharing of data from Canada's no-fly list with close allies.
In an interview Friday, the minister said that doesn't mean handing U.S. officials the full list of people suspected of being a threat to the skies.
"I made clear that, from a Canadian perspective, we have to first take into consideration the privacy of Canadians."
Blaney said only information about high-risk travellers would be shared under a memorandum of understanding that conforms with Canadian privacy law.
The Conservatives have recently introduced two bills to help Canadian security agencies investigate and derail extremist threats.
Legislation tabled late last month would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service powers to actively disrupt threats, not just collect and analyze information about them. It would also make it easier for police to control the movements of terror suspects and to detain them longer without warrant.
In addition, the legislation would expand the no-fly regime to cover those travelling by air to take part in terrorist activities, whereas currently there must be an immediate risk to the plane.
Opposition MPs and civil liberties advocates have called for stronger oversight of Canadian intelligence services in light of the proposed new powers — something the government has rejected as unnecessary, given existing watchdog mechanisms.
When it comes to critical anti-terrorism outreach at home, the Conservatives are "missing in action," NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison told the House of Commons on Friday.
Blaney defended the government's efforts, saying in the interview the bill would allow CSIS to intervene at an early stage with people at risk of becoming radicalized through Internet propaganda.
"But we agree, we need to keep working in that direction with more strategy, especially in the prevention aspect," Blaney added.
Countries must share best practices and create an "effective counter-narrative" to help break the grip of radicalization on young people, he said.
Canada has agreed to share the findings of its counter-terrorism research under the Kanishka initiative, a multi-year effort recommended by the commission of inquiry into the Air India bombing, Blaney said.
He also expressed admiration for British efforts to ensure "all citizens have a sense of belonging to the nation" as well as respect for democracy, gender equality and freedom of expression.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015