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Canadian bill to permit detention without trial passes second reading
September 30, 2010 9:22 AM   Subscribe

The Combating Terrorism Act (C-17) has passed second reading in Canada's House of Commons with the support of both Liberals and Conservatives. The bill would allow terrorism suspects to be jailed without trial for up to 12 months. So far it has been completely ignored by Canada's mainstream media.

For those unfamiliar with Canada's legislative process, here's an explanation from Wikipedia. The bill still has to go through review by the Public Safety and National Security Committee, a third reading in the House of Commons, and readings by the Senate (which is usually a rubber-stamp process). So it's got a little ways to go before it becomes law. What's notable here is that the Liberals are supporting the bill; by contrast, the most controversial provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act (originally passed after 9/11) expired in 2007 when the Liberals sided with the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois and voted not to renew them.
posted by twirlip (30 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Just as well then I didn't expatriate to Canada after Bush was re-elected.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:28 AM on September 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Wow, that's jacked. Being an American, I don't have much room to complain, though. We're not exactly strict in our application of the "speedy trial" rule.
posted by wierdo at 9:31 AM on September 30, 2010


I wonder what our courts will have to say about that.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:40 AM on September 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


The bill would allow terrorism suspects to be jailed without trial for up to 12 months.

My interpretation: The bill admits that Canada's law enforcement apparatus is so incompetent that it needs a year to come up with a case against someone even after they're already suspected of terrorism and Canada's police are so incompetent that they can't keep the populace safe from a terrorism suspect unless the suspect is in prison. By the way, many of the people they're so incompetent at catching and prosecuting are poor immigrants who don't speak English or French as a native language.

That's what always gets me about these law enforcement power grabs. They're a tacit admission that the police are actually terrible at their jobs even when up against really pretty unsophisticated, uneducated criminals who don't have a very strong track record of success and, on an average annual basis, really don't cause much damage to society.
posted by jedicus at 9:42 AM on September 30, 2010 [16 favorites]


I would agree with jedicus. The RCMP are severly understaffed, underfunded and undertrained.
posted by chugg at 9:50 AM on September 30, 2010


It's a shame that the only Liberal to vote against the bill, Peter Mikkiken did so because he was compelled to as Speaker. The OpenParliament.ca website has a good interface for reading the Hansard debate.
Liberal homeowner: "I have a sump pump in my basement and I may never use it, but if I have a flood I want to have that sump pump there. I want to be ready for something that may happen in the future."
posted by HLD at 9:53 AM on September 30, 2010


HLD, his name is spelled "Peter Milliken".
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 10:00 AM on September 30, 2010


It's not like Canada wasn't already outsourcing unlawful detention.
posted by srboisvert at 10:07 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


It is indrrd.
posted by HLD at 10:17 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wonder what our courts will have to say about that.

Me too. I'm not terribly optimistic, to be honest. Here's an excerpt from the Supreme Court ruling that overturned the security certificate process in 2007:
It is clear that there may be a need for some flexibility regarding the period for which a suspected terrorist may be detained. Confronted with a terrorist threat, state officials may need to act immediately, in the absence of a fully documented case. It may take some time to verify and document the threat. Where state officials act expeditiously, the failure to meet an arbitrary target of a fixed number of hours should not mean the automatic release of the person, who may well be dangerous. However, this cannot justify the complete denial of a timely detention review. [s. 93]
So in principle the court is not opposed to lengthy detention periods for terrorism suspects.
posted by twirlip at 10:24 AM on September 30, 2010


The RCMP are severly understaffed, underfunded and undertrained.

Hah - I'm guessing this is sarcasm. The RCMP is dysfunctional because it is totally crippled by internal politics and a paramilitary culture. Regardless of how much money you throw at it, it's still incompetently run.
posted by mek at 10:29 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Just as well then I didn't expatriate to Canada after Bush was re-elected.

You and about sixty million other people, amirite?
posted by Sukiari at 10:35 AM on September 30, 2010


Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!

That was Canada sliding headfirst down the slippery slope.
posted by rusty at 10:39 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has a "notwithstanding clause", what is the point of having a Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
posted by Dr. Grue at 10:41 AM on September 30, 2010


Yay Tories! Individual Freedom (unless you might be a terrorist)! Privatize the Crown Corporations, then complain about the high prices! Oh Tories, you hate us so much!
posted by NiteMayr at 10:47 AM on September 30, 2010


Wow, that's really stupid. At least I get to complain about domestic issues now, I guess. I was getting kind of tired of getting enraged by proxy at US terrorism politics
posted by tehloki at 10:49 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I have a sump pump in my basement and I may never use it, but if I have a flood I want to have that sump pump there. I want to be ready for something that may happen in the future."

Let me get this straight: terrorism suspects are like flood water, which first might never actually appear, but in the event it does, you want to be able to store the water for some time that you actually know what to do with it. Did I get your analogy, Brian Murphy?

Soundbite analogies are great, but please, please, think about what they mean. Instead of handing out your viewpoint in a nice carry-away message, you've shown yourself to be concerned about something others might care about yet have no idea how to address that concern.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:50 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


So far it has been completely ignored by Canada's mainstream media.

Ah, yes, the mainstream Canadian media: One crown corporation, and two media empires recently purchased by telecom companies that are likely "working closely with law enforcement."

I don't think it's remotely surprising that they're ignoring this issue.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:01 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ok, so from my reading of the bill is very different.
If it is determined the person should enter into a recognizance, the person is bound to keep the peace and respect other conditions for up to 12 months. If the person refuses to enter into such a recognizance, the judge can order that person to be imprisoned for up to 12 months.
-s 2.2
So roughly, a cop can, with the A-G's consent, go to a judge with info that there might be a terrorist attack. The judge can bring that person before a provincial judge.

OR, they can do a preventative arrest. If they do that, they have to bring the person before the judge within 24 hours, at which time a show cause hearing happens (in which they, well, show the cause for the arrest).

At this point, the judge can either release them, or make them enter a recognizance (think bail, similar stuff). If they won't enter into a recognizance, the court can throw them in jail.

That is very much not the same as "terrorism suspects to be jailed without trial".

None of this is to say I support the bill. I support people talking about the actual words of the bill, though.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:07 AM on September 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


I would like to reply to the question posed above:

If the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has a "notwithstanding clause", what is the point of having a Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
posted by Dr. Grue at 10:41 AM on September 30 [+] [!]

I personally regret that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is weakened by the notwithstanding clause. However, even so, the charter still has a point. Whenever the government (federal or provincial) uses the notwithstanding clause to overrule the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, they are openly admitting that they have chosen to violate the rights and freedoms of the public, in pursuit of some other objective that they consider to be more important. And they are not always willing to make such an admission. That is why Canada legalized same-sex marriage in compliance with court decisions based on the Charter. Parliament could have done whatever it wanted to do, by invoking the notwithstanding clause, but they were embarrassed to do so (although admittedly, the legalization passed by the smallest possible margin).
posted by grizzled at 11:53 AM on September 30, 2010


I was always alarmed at the 'lol amerika' rhetoric leveled at the US during the Bush years. It seemed like cheap jingoism that precluded cautious introspection.

Sadly, I'm being proved right. If it can't happen here it will happen here; wherever here may be.
posted by clarknova at 11:56 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't tase me, eh?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:14 PM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


That is very much not the same as "terrorism suspects to be jailed without trial".

There is a judicial review process, yes. But show cause hearings and recognizance are not the same thing as a trial.
posted by twirlip at 12:22 PM on September 30, 2010


I'll add to what grizzled said about the notwithstanding clause. The clause can only be invoked on certain rights within the charter (although some pretty important ones), and any legislation enacted via the clause automatically expires after five years. It can be re-invoked without limit, but the five year period guarantees that any legislature making such a move will have to face a general election before getting the chance to do so.
posted by rocket88 at 12:29 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Uh, to elaborate on my last comment, the bill would allow the police to make preventative arrests of suspected terrorists. The suspect then goes before a judge within 24 hours; the judge decides whether there is sufficient cause to continue to detain the person, and can set conditions on their release. Note that this is a hearing, not a trial. That could have ramifications for, among other things, what evidentiary standard applies and whether the burden of proof rests with the Crown or the detainee (I don't know the details on that stuff); there's certainly no opportunity to present a proper defence the way there is at a trial.

If the decision is detention, the person can be held for up to 12 months without charges and without a trial. As for setting release conditions, you can argue that this is justifiable, though it has been abused by the courts in the past -- to prevent activists from attending legitimate protests, for example. And, again, no charges need ever be brought against the suspect, and no trial ever need happen.

I'll stop commenting now.
posted by twirlip at 12:51 PM on September 30, 2010


Ah, so that's why all the attention to the long gun registry and the long form census. I suspected they were show pieces to distract attention from something, I just didn't know what. I wonder how much more isn't being reported.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 1:09 PM on September 30, 2010


"A new life awaits you in the Off-World colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure..."
posted by blue_beetle at 1:38 PM on September 30, 2010


Just as well then I didn't expatriate to Canada after Bush was re-elected.

You can't just decide to "expatriate." Immigration into Canada is usually a long, expensive process that ideally entails selecting people who want to immigrate for reasons other than "I don't like how we treat suspected terrorists."

Speaking as an emigrant from the US, I'm unthrilled about legislation like this, but recurrently thrilled to live in a country where we have universal healthcare coverage and 100% equality for same-sex couples. These things, along with meaningful gun control, a rate of immigration almost double that of the US's, an almost complete lack of US-style race politics, the fact that my "most conservative city in the country" is more liberal than, oh, 95% of American cities, and a political realm that is virtually completely-and I mean COMPLETELY, even in our alleged "bible belt-unsullied by any talk of religion at all, and I am very happy that I emigrated.

I would actually sooner die than move back to the US.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:40 PM on September 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Remember that little kerfuffle in those late June Toronto G-20 protests?

Alleged G20 "co-conspirator" re-arrested after speaking at Ryerson University.
posted by ovvl at 5:55 PM on September 30, 2010


WTF Canada? Also, what's with the Liberal's voting with the Conservatives on this?
posted by chunking express at 9:56 AM on October 1, 2010


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