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Anti-terrorism Act, 2015

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Title: Anti-terrorism Act, 2015  
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Anti-terrorism Act, 2015

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015
An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
Citation S.C. 2015, c. 20
Enacted by Parliament of Canada
Date of Royal Assent June 18, 2015
Legislative history
Bill citation C-51, 41st Parliament, 2nd Session
Introduced by Peter Van Loan[1]
First reading January 30, 2015[1]
Second reading February 23, 2015[2]
Third reading May 6, 2015[3]
First reading May 7, 2015[4]
Second reading May 14, 2015[5]
Third reading June 9, 2015[6]

The Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 (also referred to colloquially as Bill C-51) is an Act of the Parliament of Canada that broadened the authority of Canadian government agencies to share information about individuals easily. It also expanded the mandate of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS),[7] and was described as the first comprehensive reform of this kind since 2001.[8]

The bill was introduced and passed by the Conservative Party, who held a majority in Parliament, with support from the Liberal Party, which promised to amend the bill to increase oversight if elected. It was opposed by the Green Party of Canada, the Bloc Québecois, Forces et Démocratie, and the New Democratic Party, which filibustered Parliament to increase the time allocated to expert witness testimony on the bill.


  • Background 1
  • Objective 2
  • Legislative history 3
  • Criticism 4
  • Response 5
    • Open letters from Canadians 5.1
    • Public protest 5.2
    • Political response 5.3
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Between 2013 and 2014, there had been twelve threat-to-VIP incidents according to the RCMP.[10]

On October 20, 2014, Martin Couture-Rouleau deliberately rammed a car into a pair of Canadian Armed Forces soldiers in a shopping centre parking lot in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. "Ahmad" Couture-Rouleau had been radicalized after converting to Islam.[11] One month before, the spokesman of ISIS, Abu Muhammad Adnani, asked exactly for this kind of vehicular homicide.[12] As such the attack was linked to terrorism by government and police officials including in a statement by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.[13][14]

On October 22, 2014,

  • LEGISinfo page on the bill

External links

  1. ^ a b  
  2. ^  
  3. ^  
  4. ^  
  5. ^  
  6. ^  
  7. ^ a b "Bill C-51 Could Be Used To Target Activists: Amnesty International". The Huffington Post. 
  8. ^ "Insecurity and Human Rights: Canada’s proposed national security laws fall short of international human rights requirements". 
  9. ^ "Joe Oliver: National Security Becoming A Top Election Issue". The Huffington Post. 
  10. ^ a b "Parliament Hill Security Incidents Few And Tame Before Oct. 22 Shooting". The Huffington Post. 
  11. ^ René Bruemmer (November 9, 2014). "From typical teen to jihadist: How Martin Couture-Rouleau became radicalized after converting to Islam". National Post. 
  12. ^ René Bruemmer (November 9, 2014). "It was exactly the form of vehicular homicide Abu Muhammad Adnani, spokesman for the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), had suggested followers inflict on Canadians on Canadian soil one month before.". National Post. 
  13. ^ National Post Staff (October 21, 2014). "Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu attack was ‘clearly linked to terrorist ideology,’ safety minister says - National Post". National Post. 
  14. ^ Ellis, Ralph (October 21, 2014). "'"Canada: Soldier attack suspect 'radicalized. CNN. 
  15. ^ "Attack on Ottawa: PM Harper cites terrorist motive". The Globe and Mail. 
  16. ^ "Prime Minister labels shootings as ‘terrorist’ acts". The Globe and Mail. 
  17. ^ "Privacy, security and terrorism: Everything you need to know about Bill C-51". The Globe and Mail. 
  18. ^ "C-51: Legislative Summary".  
  19. ^ a b Barry Cooper, National Post (4 March 2015). "Barry Cooper: Bill C-51 is rightly aimed at violent Islamic jihadi terrorists". National Post. 
  20. ^ a b "Liberals Are Supporting Bill C-51 So Tories Can't Make 'Political Hay,' Trudeau Says". The Huffington Post. 
  21. ^ a b "'"Bill C-51: Steven Blaney Says Concerns About Liberties Are 'Ridiculous. The Huffington Post. 
  22. ^ "Interview: Trudeau defends his Anti-Terrorism Act stance". Macleans. 18 June 2015. 
  23. ^ a b "Bill C-51: Anti-terror bill passes 2nd reading in House of Commons". 23 February 2015. 
  24. ^ "Bill C-51: Maher Arar but no ex-PMs on committee's draft witness list". Yahoo News Canada. 3 March 2015. 
  25. ^ "Liberals Are Supporting Bill C-51 So Tories Can't Make 'Political Hay,' Trudeau Says". Huffington Post Canada. 9 March 2015. 
  26. ^ "Wayne Easter: Our amendments". Liberal Party of Canada. 26 March 2015. 
  27. ^ "Bill C-51 amendments seem unconnected to committee process". CBC News. 31 March 2015. 
  28. ^’s-proposed-national-security-laws-fall-short
  29. ^ "Bill C-51 Could Be Used To Target Activists: Amnesty International". The Huffington Post.
  30. ^ """The Government Can't Intimidate Activists By Calling Us "Extremists. The Huffington Post. 
  31. ^ "Biography of Daniel Therrien - Privacy Commissioner of Canada". 
  32. ^ a b "Without big changes, Bill C-51 means big data". The Globe and Mail. 
  33. ^ "Chuck Strahl, Ex-Watchdog Chair: Existing Security Oversight Is Enough". The Huffington Post. 
  34. ^ "CSIS Eyeing Threat Of Growing Anti-Islam Movement Online". The Huffington Post. 
  35. ^ "Conservative MP Disagrees With Party's West Edmonton Mall Post". The Huffington Post. 
  36. ^ "Tories Criticized Over 'Fear-Mongering' Facebook Post On Bill C-51, West Edmonton Mall Threat". The Huffington Post. 
  37. ^ a b "Open letter to Parliament: Amend C-51 or kill it". National Post. 
  38. ^ "Bill C-51 'May Fail In Its Obligation To Protect' Canadians, First Nations Chief Warns". The Huffington Post. 
  39. ^ "Vancouver C51 Rally Facebook Event". 
  40. ^ "I Am Planning Canada Wide Protests for C-51 and Need Your Help /r/Canada : canada". reddit. 
  41. ^ a b Pirate Party C-51 Press Release
  42. ^ "#StopC51 National Day of Action - we.leadnow". we.leadnow. 
  43. ^ a b "Demonstrators across Canada protest Bill C-51". CTV News. 
  44. ^ Fekete, Jason (17 June 2015). "Government of Canada websites under attack, hacker group Anonymous claims responsibility". The National Post. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  45. ^ "Tom Mulcair: It is crucial that anti-terrorism measures do not erode fundamental freedoms". National Post. 
  46. ^ "Christy Clark says we could 'regret' giving away personal freedoms in Bill C-51". CTVNews. 
  47. ^ "Tell Parliament: Stop Bill C-51". 
  48. ^ "CPC supports Cross-Canada Day of Action on Bill C-51". 
  49. ^ "Anti-terrorism bill's powers could ensnare protesters, MP fears". 18 February 2015. 
  50. ^ "Why Tom Mulcair’s NDP finally opposed terror bill: Walkom". 18 February 2015. 
  51. ^ a b "Bill C-51: 4 Former PMs Call For Better Intelligence Accountability". The Huffington Post. 
  52. ^ Bill C-51 Secret Court Appeals §16(6)
  53. ^ "Without big changes, Bill C-51 means big data". 6 March 2015. 
  54. ^ [2]


See also

On April 16, 2015, Powell River passed a municipal resolution to petition the federal government to withdraw the bill.[54]

On March 6, 2015, Daniel Therrien, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, stated that the powers of Bill C-51 "are excessive and the privacy safeguards proposed are seriously deficient." He speaks to the potential of limitless powers within the 17 federal agencies that would exist if this bill were to be passed.[53]

On March 1, 2015, the Pirate Party of Canada provided a press release in opposition to the bill, calling for debate, criticism and discussion.[41] Among their criticisms, they believe that the bill is redundant as there are existent laws dealing with terrorists, and this proposal opens the potential for governmental abuse as it "will also allow the government to arrest and incarcerate any citizen based on subjective evidence, then have that evidence destroyed".[52]

On February 19, 2015, a joint statement was published and signed by four former prime ministers: Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, Joe Clark, and John Turner. Eighteen others signed the statement, including five former Supreme Court justices, seven former Liberal solicitors general and ministers of justice, three past members of the intelligence review committee, two former privacy commissioners and a retired RCMP watchdog.[51] The statement calls for stronger security oversight, as "serious human rights abuses can occur in the name of maintaining national security".[51]

On February 18, 2015, Thomas Mulcair of the NDP showcased his party's opposition to the bill. During Question Period in the Canadian House of Commons, Mulcair stated that Canadians "should not have to choose between security and their rights."[50]

On February 17, 2015, Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada voiced that she has "a number of concerns with the proposed legislation and wants it scrapped entirely."[49]

On February 4, 2015, the Communist Party of Canada began a campaign against Bill C-51 stating they "will do everything in our power to help defeat Bill C-51."[47] On March 4, 2015, the party publicly supported the cross-Canada Day of Action against Bill C-51.[48]

On March 8, 2015, during an interview on CTV's Question Period, B.C. Premier Christy Clark expressed opposition to the Bill.[46]

Political response

On June 17, 2015, the hacker group Anonymous claimed responsibility for a denial of service attack against Canadian government websites, which they said was to protest of the passage of bill C-51.[44] The attack temporarily affected the websites of several federal agencies.

The main website for the coalition of groups working to stop C-51 can be found at The #StopC51 campaign has seen over 275,000 online actions as of June 20, 2015 in addition to in-person events across the country.

Through '', forty-five protests occurred across Canada on March 14, 2015, which organizers called a Day of Action.[42] The rally drew thousands of demonstrators across fifty-five Canadian cities.[43] NDP leader Thomas Mulcair joined demonstrators in Montreal in a march to Justin Trudeau's office, while Green Party leader Elizabeth May joined the rally in Toronto.[43]

[37] Within a few weeks, over 70,000 Canadians spoke out against the bill.[41][40] Under the leadership of Paul Finch, the

Anti Bill C-51 rally in Calgary

Public protest

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke sent an open letter against the bill writing: "We feel that Bill C-51, in its current state, could potentially and perhaps even predictably be used to future oppress our defense of our Aboriginal rights and Title."[38]

Over 150 Canadian business leaders signed an open letter to the government condemning bill C-51, circulated by

One hundred law professors have written against the bill.[37]

Open letters from Canadians


On March 4, 2015, the Conservative Party released a promotional graphic over Facebook featuring an UGUS spokesperson threatening western shopping malls, naming West Edmonton Mall specifically. The post was judged to be "fear mongering".[35][36]

Lorne Dawson, a University of Waterloo sociology professor, stated that "CSIS is likely more interested in the kind of anti-immigrant, anti-Islam sentiment that has taken root in some parts of northern Europe."[34]

Former British Columbia MP and cabinet minister Chuck Strahl says there is no need for greater oversight, and the existing five-member Security Intelligence Review Committee has done a good job to date.[33]

Law professor Craig Forcese suggests that the increase of information the bill permits would "create a new concept of information sharing that is so vast that it risks increasing the size of the haystack to such a magnitude that it becomes more difficult to find needles".[20]

Daniel Therrien, the appointed federal Privacy Commissioner,[31] suggests that the bill fails to protect the safety and privacy of Canadians, for it grants unprecedented and excessive powers to government departments and agencies.[32] His analysis indicates that Bill C-51 "opens the door to collecting, analyzing and potentially keeping forever the personal information of all Canadians," including every instant of "a person’s tax information and details about a person’s business and vacation travel." Ultimately, Therrien calls for significant changes and amends to Bill C-51, so that it respects privacy rights.[32]

The Canadian arm of Amnesty International indicated that the anti-terrorism bill could be used to target environmental activists and aboriginal protesters, or any other form of protest without an official permit or court order.[29] An RCMP report names Greenpeace in language that would permit CSIS powers against them.[30]


The Liberal Party supported the amended bill on its third reading on May 6, which took place in the House of Commons with a final vote of 183-96. It later passed in the Senate on June 9 following a vote of 44-28 in favour.

  • Removing the word "lawful" from the section listing exemptions to the new counterterror measures addressing protests
  • Clarifying that CSIS agents, while newly empowered to "disrupt" potential threats, will not be able to make arrests.
  • Establishing limits on inter-agency information sharing.
  • Adjusting a provision that would have given the public safety minister the power to direct air carriers to do "anything" that, in his or her view, is "reasonably necessary" to prevent a terrorist act.[27]

The Conservatives amended the bill to include:

On March 26 the Liberal Party unveiled their proposed amendments to the bill in an online posting. Liberal Wayne Easter summarized the amendments as, "We believe that our amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act, if accepted, will strike the right balance and address Canadians’ general concerns. Our amendments fall into three categories: ensuring parliamentary oversight, instituting mandatory legislative reviews, and narrowing overly broad definitions.;[26]

Prior to voting in favor of the amended bill Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said to students, "My hope is that this government actually realizes from public pressure that it is going to have to make significant amendments to this bill."[25]

In order to supervise the proper construction of the bill, the Conservative government planned to allot three sessions to witness testimony. After an NDP filibuster, the number of testimonies expanded to nine.[24]

On February 23, 2015, Bill C-51 passed the second reading in the House of Commons with a vote of 176-87.[23]

Prime Minister Stephen Harper proposed the legislation, stating that the bill offered "considerable" oversight, and that it is a fallacy to suppose that "every time you protect Canadians, you take away their liberties."[23]

Legislative history

During the same exchange, when asked about what he would like to see amended further, he also said, "narrowing and limiting the kinds of new powers that CSIS and national security agencies would have.” Trudeau also said the Liberals would bring in mandatory review of the Anti-Terrorism Act every three years, and introduce oversight of CSIS by a committee of MPs.[22]

  1. by making “preventive arrest” easier when police suspect someone may be planning to carry out a terrorist activity;
  2. by strengthening Canada’s “no-fly list”; and
  3. by improving communication and coordination on potential threats among federal agencies.

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau listed three ways the law will, in his view, improve the safety of Canadians:

The Bill provided that the Canadian government would have the ability to intercede and stop "violent Islamic jihadi terrorists" inspired by the existence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[19] Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney stated that the international jihadi movement had "declared war on Canada" and other countries around the world.[21] He also stated that the new tactics granted to CSIS would only be used if there are reasonable grounds to believe a particular activity constitutes a threat to the security of Canada.[21]

Under the bill's changes, seventeen Canadian departments would be able to exchange information easily between each other, including tax information from the Canada Revenue Agency.[20]

With an expanded mandate, CSIS would be granted the ability to "disrupt terror plots, make it easier for police to limit the movements of a suspect, expand no-fly list powers, crack down on terrorist propaganda, and remove barriers to sharing security-related information."[7]

Significant provisions in the Act[18]
Part Act affected Description
I Security of Canada Information Sharing Act (new) Authorizes Government of Canada institutions to disclose information to Government of Canada institutions that have jurisdiction or responsibilities in respect of activities that undermine the security of Canada.
II Secure Air Travel Act (new) A new legislative framework for identifying and responding to persons who may engage in an act that poses a threat to transportation security or who may travel by air for the purpose of committing a terrorism offence.
III Criminal Code (amended)
  • recognizances to keep the peace relating to a terrorist activity or a terrorism offence
  • an offence of knowingly advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general
  • provides a judge with the power to order the seizure of terrorist propaganda or, if the propaganda is in electronic form, to order the deletion of the propaganda from a computer system
  • increased protection of witnesses
IV Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act (amended) permits the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to take, within and outside Canada, measures to reduce threats to the security of Canada, including measures that are authorized by the Federal Court.
V Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (amended) provision or exemption of information in certain proceedings under that Act[19]


The Conservative government argued that various legislative amendments were needed to address and preempt such security threats, as well as to discourage Canadian nationals from participating as foreign terrorist fighters in conflicts abroad. The government introduced multiple pieces of legislation that affect security, privacy and the power of policy agencies such as the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, the Digital Privacy Act and the Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act.[17]

[10] After the incident security on Parliament Hill was transferred to the RCMP.[16]

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