CUSJ Bill C-59 recommendations: Amend vague wording and improve transparency

CUSJ was one of several of social justice organizations that submitted a brief in response to Bill C-59, “An Act Respecting National Security Matters.” The bill sets out the scope of powers of the Intelligence Commissioner, makes amendments to the criminal code, and much more. To weigh in on every provision of the act would be a gargantuan task. Nonetheless, CUSJ’s security expert, Jack Dodds, attempted to address some of the provisions of the Bill, and we hope that the 24 other agencies and individuals who submitted briefs will also provide valuable insights. The CUSJ brief makes these recommendations:

  • In reviewing each provision of C-59 and its predecessor C-51, carefully consider whether the resulting law will unduly extend security agency effectiveness to the detriment of the legitimacy of government and fundamental democratic principles.
  • Remove references to the category of ”undermining the sovereignty and security of Canada or the lives or security of the people of Canada”. Replace it with the category “threats to the security of Canada” defined in the CSIS Act, as recommended in other testimony and briefs, and previously by SECU itself.
  • Amend the Secure Air Travel Act to require annual publication of statistical information on its operation, including the number of names on the Specified Persons list.
  • Amend the Secure Air Travel Act to require that names on the no-fly list be identified at the time of ticket purchase, and that the government immediately investigate to determine if the passenger is a false positive or a genuine threat, so that innocent passengers will not be inconvenienced.
  • Limit CSE’s collection of “publicly available information” to cases that are “necessary” and pre-authorized with a warrant, consistent with SECU’s previous position on the Spencer case.
  • Define metadata and require the same authorizations for the collection of metadata as are required for the content of communications.
  • Mandate a review of the new Communications security establishment (CSE) powers in three years.

NOTE: At the time of the publication of this post, Bill C-59 had passed first reading and was under review by the Standing Committee of Public Safety and National Security (SECU). For status, click here.


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