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Canada

Should CSIS have more powers to investigate potential homegrown threats?

RCMP intervention team members walk past a gate on Parliament hill in Ottawa Wednesday Oct.22, 2014. .
RCMP intervention team members walk past a gate on Parliament hill in Ottawa Wednesday Oct.22, 2014. . Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press
    Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney says it’s time to increase the powers of Canadian intelligence and law enforcement officials to investigate potential terror threats.Blaney was supposed to table a bill in the House of Commons on Wednesday — the same day Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was fatally shot at the War Memorial in Ottawa and the gunman stormed the halls of Parliament where Blaney and members of the Conservative caucus were meeting.The gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was shot dead inside Centre Block.RCMP indicated Zehaf-Bibeau had become radicalized, but he was not among the more than 90 individuals being monitored for suspected terror-related activities. Martin Rouleau — the man who ran down two Canadian Forces soldiers in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., two days earlier, killing one of them — was being monitored and had his passport revoked after trying to leave the country to go to Syria, but there was not enough evidence to charge him with any offence.READ MORE: Could Canadian authorities have prevented the Quebec ‘terror’ attack?Blaney told Global News Canada’s law enforcement and security agencies, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency (CSIS), have the “dedicated resources” to keep the country safe.“We have invested and beefed up [the] budget by more than one-third, both for RCMP and CSIS,” Blaney told Global News’s Tom Clark on Friday, in an interview for The West Block.

    You can watch Tom Clark’s full interview with Tom Clark on The West Block this Sunday

    Blaney said what CSIS needs is “clarity” in the way it can deal with intelligence on potential security threats.The CSIS act is now 30 years old and, as Blaney’s Parliamentary Secretary Roxanne James said in the House of Commons on Friday, technology and terrorism have changed greatly in that time.Former CSIS agent and now security analyst Michel Juneau-Katsuya agreed, but he cautioned augmenting the intelligence agencies powers, to keep up with the times, isn’t the only way Canada is going to stop potential security risks.READ MORE: How confident are you in Canada to prevent homegrown terror attacks?“It’s not the kind of terrorism that we’re used to,” Juneau-Katsuya said, referring to homegrown or self-radicalized individuals who may carry out a so-called “lone wolf” attack on Canadian soil.He said investigating one of these individuals requires different measures than are needed to investigate the activities of a terror cell, and right now CSIS and the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) are limited in what they can do with intelligence gathered by international partners.READ MORE: Military told to stop wearing uniforms in public after attacksCanadian intelligence can intercept the communications foreigners, but not the communications of Canadians. As far as Canada’s partners in the Five Eyes alliance — the U.S. , U.K., Australia and New Zealand — are concerned, Canadians are foreigners and can be subject to such surveillance.“What we need now…is to adjust the law in order for Canadians to be capable and get the information that some of our allies could have intercepted and eventually be capable to use this in a court of law,” Juneau-Katsuya said. “It’s not just a question of monitor and record, it’s now a question of being able to act, to arrest and imprison these people if we can.”The reason this needs to change is because the “radicalization process is happening in the home,” he said.He doesn’t want Canada to become a “big brother” society, but he sees the difficulty in establishing a clear difference between when someone is just posting opinion on social media and when somebody is “starting the process of becoming radicalized.”READ MORE: How the internet plays a role in radicalizationBlaney also indicated last week he wants greater protection for intelligence sources, in the same way RCMP protects it’s sources. Juneau-Katsuya said that would likely be challenged and he’s not sure the Supreme Court will allow that.“It’s been 30 years since CSIS was created,” he said. “It started when we were in the Cold War. … Now we’re facing a form of international Islamic radical terrorism that we’ve never seen before.”But changing what intelligence agencies are allowed to do in their investigation of potential threats is only a part of the solution — a reactionary solution at that, Juneau-Katsuya said.“We’ve got to work on the big picture. Security forces will not resolve the issue of terrorism. Let’s forget about it,” he said. “Let’s stop thinking CSIS and the RCMP have a magic bullet.”He said the root cause of Islamic terrorism comes from overseas and until that’s dealt with Canada will be dealing with the spillover.
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