Canada’s spy agency to get more power to fight homegrown terrorism
BANFF – The federal government is toughening rules to better track home-grown terrorists abroad.
Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, Steven Blaney, joined justice ministers from across the country in Banff on Thursday to unveil a bill that will give CSIS agents more power.
Officials say recent court challenges and changing technology means it needs better tools to tract potential terrorists, both outside the country and when they return home.
Blaney says the CSIS Act, which was created in 1984, is now outdated
“While we had authority… potentially and in some cases to intercept communications once they left the country, we were unable to continue to do that. It’s common sense to suggest that might cause a problem. It causes a gap. What happened to these people overseas?” says Any Ellis, Assistant Director of Operations at CSIS.
The government believes up to 30 people from Calgary are among a group of 130 nationwide that have become radicalized and have left the country to join terrorist organizations around the globe.
“Now more than ever a motivated individual or group of extremists with access to technology can do significant harm to Canada from thousands of miles away,” says Blaney.
Calgary terrorist, Collin Gordon, for example was using the name Abu Ibrahim in an attempt to hide activities from authorities.
“They have changed their identity, changed their looks and we are unable to track them… what happens with that changed identity and the training and exposure overseas? They come home. It makes it very difficult for the Canadian government to perform its function of protecting Canada, Canadian citizens and Canadian interests,” says Ellis.
The Public Safety Minister says it’s Canada’s responsibility to do what it can to make the world a safer place.
“Canada, like all nations, has the responsibility to guard against its citizens travelling to areas of turmoil and participating in terrorist acts.”
Blaney says the legislation will be passed as soon as possible.