Feds looking to expand no-fly regime, detention provisions in anti-terror fight

The Conservative government wants to retool Canada’s no-fly list procedures to make it easier to stop a suspected terrorist from boarding an airplane.

OTTAWA — The Conservative government wants to retool Canada’s no-fly list procedures to make it easier to stop a suspected terrorist from boarding an airplane.

In addition, it is looking to give police greater ability to generally restrict the movements of purported extremists by lowering the threshold for obtaining a peace bond, The Canadian Press has learned.

An internal federal review of two deadly attacks on Canadian soldiers last October has also highlighted a lack of suitable laws to crack down on radicals who openly encourage others to wage terrorism.

The government plans to address these areas in legislation that was promised following the killings, said a source familiar with the review who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The legislation is expected to be introduced soon. The House of Commons is scheduled to resume Monday.

On Oct. 22, Michael Zehaf Bibeau shot Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, an honour guard at the National War Memorial, before storming Parliament’s Centre Block. Zehaf Bibeau was gunned down outside the Library of Parliament.

Two days earlier, Martin Couture-Rouleau fatally rammed Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent with a car in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. After a chase, police shot and killed Couture-Rouleau when he advanced on officers with a knife.

It soon emerged the RCMP had been monitoring the man — who harboured jihadist sympathies — for months. The Mounties even prevented him from travelling overseas, presumably to join militant fighters. But they did not have enough evidence to arrest him or further limit his movements, saying extreme beliefs were not a crime.

At the time, the Mounties had some 63 active security investigations on 90 suspected extremists who intended to join fights abroad or who had returned to Canada.

Some legal experts are puzzled as to why new laws are being contemplated when existing ones aren’t being fully used.

Authorities say it is often difficult to take dangerous suspects off the streets because the cases do not meet the threshold to use criminal tools, such as peace bonds, that can mean jail unless individuals abide by strict conditions, such as restrictions on where they go and with whom they associate.

Existing law requires a fear that someone “will commit” a terrorism offence before a peace bond may be granted — a standard the government is looking to lower in the legislation.

Police would welcome such a move.

“We haven’t really spent a lot of time thinking about terrorist activity in our own country, and particularly the kind of activity that we’ve just recently seen,” said Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association, which represents front-line officers.

It is already against the law to travel abroad for the purpose of joining extremist hostilities, which meant the RCMP would have been able to prevent Couture-Rouleau from taking an overseas flight. However, it can be harder to curb other air travel, especially within Canada.

The Conservatives created a no-fly list in 2007, but authorities can prevent a person from getting on an airplane only if they pose “an immediate threat to civil aviation.”

It is expected that any new legislation would broaden that definition to allow officials to deny a boarding pass to someone police consider a genuine security concern, even if there is no explicit plan to attack a plane.

“It could be because you don’t know what they’re going to do once they get off the plane,” said the source, who was not authorized to discuss the review. “Are they going to try to cross the border into the U.S. and disappear?”

In the review, the government also identified a need to more readily share security-related information about passport holders and the importation of dangerous chemical substances. Currently, privacy law can restrict the exchange of passport information, and there are legal impediments to sharing word of possibly diverted shipments.

Concerns about the threat of homegrown extremism have prompted the RCMP to shift more than 300 officers to the terrorism file from organized crime and other areas.

University of Ottawa law professor Craig Forcese said he suspects this makes it “a very good time to be in the Mafia.”

However, in a time of fiscal restraint, there appears to be no federal appetite to give the Mounties more resources.

Several national security experts and civil liberties advocates have called for more extensive oversight of intelligence agencies, particularly given the move to boost security powers.

They point out that recommendations for a more robust watchdog system — made more than eight years ago by the federal commission of inquiry into the Maher Arar affair — have not been implemented.

“There’s been precisely zero movement on the accountability side,” Forcese said.

It is expected the government will stress the oversight mechanisms already in place, including the judicial controls on peace bonds and the ability to appeal a no-fly order.

Just Posted

Alberta hiring more paramedics and buying new ambulances, none for Red Deer

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is not concerned the provincial government didn’t… Continue reading

‘My nightmare began again’: Close call as bus carrying Humboldt crash survivor rear-ended

CALGARY — A terrifying ordeal for Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki this… Continue reading

Halifax airport operations normalize after Boeing 747 runway overshoot

HALIFAX — The Halifax Stanfield International Airport has resumed normal operations a… Continue reading

Bentley family left without a home grateful for community support

Central Albertans are coming together to support a Bentley family left homeless… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP ready for new mandatory alcohol screening law

Red Deer RCMP are ready to enforce a new law intended to… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer and District Kennel Club Dog Show at Westerner Park

The Red Deer and District Kennel Club is holding a dog show… Continue reading

Pence aide out of running to be Trump’s next chief of staff

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top pick to replace chief of staff… Continue reading

Swath of South faces wintry mess: Snow, sleet, freezing rain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain… Continue reading

‘I killed my best friend’: Opioids’ fatal grip on mayor, pal

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

Brothers, 20, face second-degree murder charge in death of teen: police

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Police west of Toronto say two brothers have been… Continue reading

A young mayor, his friend, and a fatal attraction to opioids

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

GM fights to retain key tax credit amid plant closing plans

WASHINGTON — General Motors is fighting to retain a valuable tax credit… Continue reading

TTC union asks provincial government to step in on transition to Presto

TORONTO — The union representing transit workers in Canada’s most populous city… Continue reading

Small pot growers find roadblocks on path to microcultivation licences

Yan Boissonneault’s daughter was turning blue. Without warning, his baby had stopped… Continue reading

Most Read