House of Commons Passes a New Law: Bill S-7 Combating Terrorism Act – An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Security of Information Act

Update:

Canadian senate, with senators seated. In an unusual move, the Senate had already passed the bill has already been through the Senate, and has been awaiting third reading in the Commons for months, but was rushed suddenly into debate on Monday in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Canadian senate, with senators seated. In an unusual move, the Senate had already passed Bill S-7 (Combating Terrorism Act) through the Senate, and has been awaiting third reading in the Commons for months, but was rushed suddenly into debate on Monday in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. Normally, government bills are debated in the House of Commons and are then sent to the Senate.

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Preventive arrests and investigative hearings return, terrorism-related penalties increase.

A bill that would revive some provisions of Canada’s Anti-terrorism Act passed in the House of Commons last night.

The Liberals joined the Conservatives to pass the bill — known as S-7, the combating terrorism act — by a vote of 183 to 93. It would bring back two central provisions that were originally instituted by the Jean Chrétien government after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York in 2001 but were “sunsetted” after a five-year period.

This new law will imprison individuals up to a year
This new law will allow “preventive detention” for 3 days on a mere “suspicion” and will impose probationary conditions, if refused, will land the individual in jail, for up to 12 months.  If an individual refuses to answer questions in an “investigative hearing”, he/she will go to jail for up to 12 months.  The one (1) year imprisonment appears to be a common theme running through this new law. Bill S-7 “Combating Terrorism Act amends the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Security of Information Act.

One allowed for preventive detention, meaning someone can be held without charge for up to three days just on suspicion of being involved in terrorism. The person can then be bound by certain probationary conditions for up to a year, and if he or she refuses the conditions, can be jailed for 12 months.

The second provides for an investigative hearing in which someone suspected of having knowledge of a terrorist act can be forced to answer questions. The objective is not to prosecute the person for a criminal offence, but merely to gather information.

Above, the Supreme Court of Canada. The first individual charged and convicted under Canada's former "Anti-terrorism Act", Mohammad Momin Khawaja, appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court of Canada.  Not only did the Supreme Court of Canada reject Mr. Khawaja's appeal, but it unanimously upheld the Anti-terrorism Act on December 14, 2012.
Above, the Supreme Court of Canada. The first individual charged and convicted under Canada’s former “Anti-terrorism Act“, Mohammad Momin Khawaja, appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court of Canada. Not only did the Supreme Court of Canada reject Mr. Khawaja’s appeal, but on December 14, 2012 it unanimously upheld the Anti-terrorism Act and stated that “violent acts” are not protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

If he or she refuses, that person can be imprisoned for up to 12 months. When the Harper government, during its first term, tried to bring back the terrorism measures in 2007, the Liberals opposed the move. Now, however, the government has Liberal support and only the official Opposition, the NDP, is protesting the bill.

Bill S-7 would also amend the Criminal Code and other acts to increase existing penalties for certain terrorism-related offences and introduce new terrorism offences to prohibit individuals from leaving Canada for the purpose of committing terrorist acts, among other changes.

The bill has already been through the Senate, and has been awaiting third reading in the Commons for months, but was rushed suddenly into debate on Monday in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. A final vote expected Tuesday was deferred for a day.

Opposition critics have accused the government of trying to exploit the events in Boston and have skeptically pointed out the coincidence of pushing the bill to debate on the same day a major terrorist arrest was announced in Toronto.

In debate, the NDP pointed out it had proposed 17 amendments to the bill at the committee stage, but all were rejected by the Conservatives, who dominate the committee. The Liberals proposed no amendments.

The first individual charged and convicted under Canada’s former “Anti-terrorism Act“, Mohammad Momin Khawaja, appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court of Canada.  Not only did the Supreme Court of Canada reject Mr. Khawaja’s appeal, but it unanimously upheld the Anti-terrorism Act on December 14, 2012.

The unanimous (7-0) decision (R. v. Khawaja, 2012 SCC 69) from the country’s highest court, was authored by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said the purpose of the Anti-terrorism Act did not infringe upon the freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that violent acts are not protected under the Charter.

 

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