Bill extends CSIS source protection, extends judicial warrant powers

Long-awaited anti-terror legislation introduced today by the Conservatives would strengthen protection of intelligence sources, but it stops short of shielding an identity crucial to proving someone’s innocence.

OTTAWA — Long-awaited anti-terror legislation introduced today by the Conservatives would strengthen protection of intelligence sources, but it stops short of shielding an identity crucial to proving someone’s innocence.

As expected, the government bill also gives the Canadian Security Intelligence Service more latitude to obtain a court-ordered warrant authorizing security investigations abroad.

In addition, the legislation tweaks the CSIS Act to prohibit the naming of individuals who might be involved in covert operations in the future.

Finally, the bill contains technical amendments that would speed up implementation of provisions passed in June to permit the government to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of terrorism.

The government says the measures will help CSIS conduct investigations into potential terrorists when they travel overseas.

Canada and other western nations fear that citizens who go abroad to take part in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s guerrilla-style battles could come home with intent to do harm.

The bill was on the drawing board even before the events of last week, when two soldiers were killed in separate attacks — one in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., the other in Ottawa — in broad daylight.

The government is characterizing the deadly assaults as terrorist incidents, though some are openly questioning the state of mind of the assailants.

The legislation follows revelations from the national spy watchdog that it had to push CSIS to hand over crucial information.

The Security Intelligence Review Committee said it faced “significant delays” in receiving requested documentation over the last year and had to press CSIS to obtain complete and consistent answers to several questions.

In its annual report to Parliament, the review committee — which has a right to see all CSIS records — also said it was “seriously misled” by the spy service in one complaint investigation.

The committee report, quietly tabled Friday, criticizes CSIS for failing to point out a highly relevant document in another complaint probe.

It also says CSIS failed to keep Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney apprised of a particularly sensitive program that could stir controversy if exposed publicly.

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