The former director of Canada’s Security Intelligence Service says Bill C-51 should remain untouched. He does, however, support the government’s plan to re-examine the controversial piece of anti-terror legislation.
“I would leave it as it is, but as a Canadian, I’m glad the government’s carrying through on its promise to review things,” Richard Fadden told the West Block’s Tom Clark this weekend.
“(Bill C-51) has been in effect for a while now, so Parliamentarians and others will be able to see the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Last week, the Liberals formally announced a review of the law as part of an overall consultation on national security.
Fadden said he is aware that many Canadians have concerns about parts of the law that allow agencies and government bodies to share information. Privacy is an important consideration, he acknowledged, but it must be balanced with security.
“When I was director of CSIS, the thing that worried me more than anything was if something went wrong and there was a terrorist act that was successful, and we subsequently found out that another department (had) the information and didn’t share it. That’s not an artificial concern, it’s real.”
Clark also asked Fadden specifically about the parts of Bill C-51 that give CSIS more power to ‘disrupt’ potential terror threats. Fadden said that allowing the agency to take a more active role, rather than just monitoring and gathering intelligence, will help Canada confront security threats and possibly prevent them from ever occurring.
“CSIS coming across a couple of young people who either want to do something stupid here or who want to get on a plane to go to Turkey and Syria, (could) prevent them from going by talking to their parents or their Imam, which is disruption in terms of the law,” he said.
“I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.”
Screening for anti-Canadian values not effective
Fadden was also asked to comment on a recent idea floated by Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch, who asked her supporters whether the government should screen new arrivals to Canada for so-called “anti-Canadian values.”
“First of all you have to define Canadian values. I don’t think it’s clear and beyond debate what they are,” Fadden replied. “Secondly, anybody who intends us harm is going to answer in a way that makes us entirely comfortable.”
In other words, they would just lie.
“Is it a bad thing to ask them? … I don’t think so,” Fadden added. “But from a security perspective you want information, intelligence and corroborating evidence. I’m not sure that being asked a question like that will give you a great deal.”