OTTAWA (Reuters) - New legislation being put forward by the Canada’s Conservative government is designed to close gaps in existing laws that enable people considered terror threats to evade authorities, the country’s public safety minister said on Tuesday.
The legislation, aimed at giving more powers to police and security agencies in the wake of two attacks by Muslim converts last year, will be put before Parliament on Friday.
“Within government, agencies don’t have the legal authority to share information related to the travel of high-risk passengers, for example between (the) foreign affairs (department) and police services,” Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said.
“It’s important to correct these gaps, and this is what we intend to do with the legislation.”
Canadian security officials have been on alert since a gunman was killed after entering the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa in October. A short time before, the gunman had fatally shot a soldier at the nearby National War Memorial.
The attack by the so-called “lone wolf” Canadian citizen came two days after another Muslim convert rammed two soldiers in Quebec with his car, killing one.
After the Parliament attack, Canadian police said they have been tracking 93 individuals, so-called “high risk travelers,” who were suspected of taking part in militant activities abroad or planning to do so.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the Quebec attacker, who was shot dead by police, had been on this list.
Blaney said existing laws already make it illegal for people to promote terrorism but the new legislation would clarify what this means.
“It’s important in the current context, when we’re observing an upsurge of incitations to violence to clarify these elements of the law,” he said.
In announcing the new legislation on Sunday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it would respect the country’s Constitution and its Charter of Rights.
Reporting By Mike De Souza; Editing by Peter Galloway