By Tom Parkin, Postmedia Network
Note: I deleted the first part of the article focusing on the Bill C-51 (Secret Police) portion.
. . . Triangulation is the same strategy that, a year ago, lead Trudeau to support Bill C-51, Harper’s version of homeland security.
As with C-14, many respected constitutional lawyers and rights groups said sections of C-51 violated the Charter. When an uproar over the moral hollowness of Trudeau’s position offended actual liberals, he promised a Liberal government would fix C-51.
Recently, the Minister of Public Security told the Commons he hopes a C-51 fix-it bill will be tabled “before Parliament rises for the summer.” But will the Liberals fix C-51? Or “balance” it? How will we know?
Paul Cavalluzzo – former commission counsel in the Maher Arar inquiry – has done the research on what needs to be fixed to make C-51 Charter-compliant. He’s filed an application asking an Ontario court to strike down several provisions of C-51 because they trample Charter rights. His analysis is a valuable scorecard for any forthcoming Liberal bill.
“Our main concern is the power C-51 attempts to give a judge to authorize a violation of Charter rights and freedoms if CSIS applies for a warrant to break the Charter,” says Cavalluzzo in an interview. “In our view this is totally alien to our constitutional order.” He argues the entire idea needs to be scrapped.
Cavalluzzo is also concerned about C-51 provisions that “criminalize speech.” These efforts result in language “too broad and vague to be an effective check on conduct.” Existing Criminal Code provisions are sufficient, he argues. C-51’s criminal code sections also need to be scrapped, he argues.
And then there’s oversight. Bill C-51 included new inter-agency information sharing provisions. But existing oversight mechanisms are agency-specific silos. With an increased flow of information between agencies, “the Charter requires cross-government oversight.” Cavalluzzo argues for a broadened, multi-agency, integrated oversight mechanism.
Cavalluzzo lauds the government for promising a parliamentary committee for security oversight – something he believes is needed for broader policy decisions. But argues protecting Canadians’ Charter rights requires another sort of review mechanism “to deal with the day-to-day investigations.”
In any upcoming fix to C-51, Cavalluzzo’s points might be an effective guide to determine if these Liberals are liberals who defend Charter values, or triangulating centrists who leave that dirty work to social democrats.