|For immediate release||September 9, 2016|
Law Society of British Columbia welcomes public consultation phase of national security review
Vancouver, September 9, 2016 – The Law Society of British Columbia welcomes the federal government’s announcement of the public consultation phase of its national security review. The Law Society urges Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to consider concerns outlined in the submission the Law Society presented in March this year to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
The current Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 allows the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to take reasonable measures to reduce a threat to the security of Canada and includes safeguards that preclude CSIS from, for example, causing death or bodily harm, willfully obstructing, perverting or defeating the course of justice, or contravening a right or freedom guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
However, the Anti-terrorism Act provides that these limitations operate unless CSIS is authorized to do so by a warrant issued by a judge. The Act in effect authorizes a state agency to seek judicial approval to violate the law. While judicial oversight of police powers is a longstanding function of the courts, it has always been to ensure compliance with the law, not to authorize its violation.
“The Law Society supports measures to protect and preserve public safety, but is concerned that several aspects of Bill C-51 do not appropriately balance efforts to protect public safety with rights and freedoms guaranteed to all Canadians,” said David Crossin, QC, President of the Law Society.
The Law Society is required by the Legal Profession Act “to uphold and protect the public interest in the administration of justice” by, among other things, “preserving and protecting the rights and freedoms of all persons.”
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