BRAMPTON Ontario/OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will introduce legislation next week to give more powers to its spy agency, a bill that will be largely unchanged from one drafted before this week’s attack in Ottawa, a government source said on Friday.
The government will put forward more measures later, the source said, and they will include wider powers to address security threats in the wake of the killing this week of two soldiers and the assault on Parliament on Wednesday.
“I expect that will be introduced very soon, as in I expect within the week,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “I expect they will be largely what they were intended to be before Wednesday happened, but there will be more coming.”
The original bill is meant to enhance the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS) ability to track people who are potential terror threats when they travel abroad, and ultimately lead to their prosecution.
It will enable CSIS to rely on help from the other spy agencies in the so-called Five Eyes alliance to monitor individuals. The alliance consists of Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
Earlier on Friday, Justice Minister Peter MacKay said there is a need for preventive measures to head off threats.
“We want to build on those elements of the Criminal Code that allow for preemptive action, specifically in the area of terrorism, but not to rule out areas in which we think we can prevent crime,” he told a news conference.
On Monday, Martin Rouleau killed a soldier and injured another in a hit-and-run attack in Quebec before being shot dead by police. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot dead a soldier in Ottawa on Wednesday and then launched a gun attack in the Parliament building before he was killed.
Police had taken Rouleau’s passport away in July to prevent him from joining Islamic State fighters, but had not detained him because he had not yet committed a crime.
“We have a guy on Monday who kills a Canadian soldier, injures another one, has clear links to ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), is openly demonstrating his support for a group that has publicly called for its supporters to kill Canadians using whatever tools are at their disposal..., has tried to leave the country for the apparent purpose of participating in terrorist activity, and they (were) still unable to press charges,” the government source said.
All may not be smooth sailing for the CSIS bill, however.
“I don’t believe that when it comes to enforcement that we should just turn a blank checkbook over to our security services,” said Norman Boxall, an Ottawa lawyer, who predicted the bill will be challenged in court.
In addition to measures to try to get potential assailants off the streets, MacKay said the government was looking at British laws against encouraging terrorism as “the UK and other countries do have more specific legislative responses to the incitement of hatred and violence.”
Such measures are particularly important in light of increasing online activity, he said.
“Young people are particularly vulnerable,” MacKay said. “We know that some of the radicalization that contributes to violence is happening very much on that venue, so we’re examining that closely and we’ll have more to say about that in the coming days.”
Additional reporting Leah Schnurr and David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Allison Martell in Toronto; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson; and Peter Galloway