NEWS

Stephen Harper to make case for new powers to combat terror

01/30/2015 11:30 EST | Updated 04/01/2015 05:59 EDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will unveil the details of his government's latest bid to boost the anti-terror powers of Canada's law enforcement and intelligence agencies when he appears at a Richmond Hill, Ont., community centre this afternoon.

The legislation was introduced in the House of Commons shortly after noon ET.

CBC.ca will have live coverage of the announcement, which is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. ET.

As reported by CBC News last night, the new bill is expected to give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) the authority to monitor, track and even preemptively disrupt the activities of suspected terrorists and terrorist sympathizers.

In the lead-up to today's reveal, government sources have indicated the legislation will expand the spy agency's ability to take direct action to counter potential threats, including:

- Cancel plane or other travel reservations made by Canadians suspected of wanting to join the Islamic State or other extremists groups overseas.

- Block any financial transactions linked to suspected terrorist activity.

- Intercept shipments of Canadian-made equipment or material to Canadian individuals or groups that could be used in an attack.

- Switch out or disable suspect equipment being shipped as part of an ongoing investigation.

Under the current regime, those operations are handled by the RCMP, which government officials say can result in costly delays that can hinder the agency's ability to act swiftly to stop an imminent attack.

Court authority to be required

Those new powers will be accompanied by increased oversight, however: the agency will be required to get court approval before flexing its new muscles.

CSIS agents will also not be given the power to arrest or detain Canadians, which will remain the exclusive purview of the RCMP and local police.

The new bill is also expected to include potentially controversial provisions to criminalize the promotion or glorification of terrorism on the internet, a move civil liberties group have expressed concern about because of possible implications on freedom of speech.

It is also expected to propose new measures — and funding — to combat radicalization and recruitment efforts, particularly those targeting youth.

Although the bill itself must be tabled in the House of Commons, the logistics for today's announcement strongly suggest that, as far as the government's strategy for selling the contents to Canadians goes, the main event is the prime minister's announcement in the Toronto area.

Harper is expected to be flanked by Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and Justice Minister Peter MacKay, the two lead ministers on the anti-terror file.

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