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By: Greg Staley
Written On: 2023-02-20
Recommendation 31: The incorporation by reference into the Emergencies Act of the definition of “threats to the security of Canada” from the CSIS Act should be removed.
Justice Rouleau recently put out his decision regarding Trudeau’s use of the emergencies act which was used to suspend civil liberties and clear out the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa – a decision where he declared the use of the emergencies act justified. What is perhaps more alarming, is Justice Rouleau’s recommendation that the threshold for the use of the Emergencies Act essentially be lowered.
What Justice Rouleau has recommended is the removal of the CSIS Act reference of threats to the security of Canada that is contained within the public order emergency portion of the Emergencies Act. Essentially, for a public order emergency to be declared, the definition of “threats to the security of Canada” incorporated within section 2 of the CSIS Act must be met.
The Emergencies Act says that a “public order emergency means an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada” and then makes reference to those threats being defined by section 2 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act – see below.
Public Order Emergency – Threats to the Security of Canada
Threats to the security of Canada as defined by CSIS Act
This isn’t exactly surprising considering that former Directors of CSIS Ward Elcock and Richard Fadden had both told the Public Order Emergency Commission that any reference to the CSIS Act should be removed from the Emergencies Act. According to Global News, both of these men argued that the government should redefine national security threats and potentially include threats to the economy and even those posed by climate change.
If those recommendations are taken up by the Liberal government, could we potentially see a public order emergency declared for climate change? Perhaps the government will declare that Canadians are driving too much and that there is to much carbon in the air and therefore a public order emergency needs to be declared! Perhaps they will say certain industries need to shut down because of climate change. Who knows where all of this can lead but its not exactly comforting is it?
Rouleau also said in his decision that democracy is being challenged by a “new threat environment” in which authoritarian movements are on the rise globally and anti-government conspiracy theories flourish across the internet. Justice Rouleau added that the modernization of the CSIS Act and that of national security is a complex topic that is beyond the mandate of the commission but that he believes the calls for reform are “well-founded.”
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