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Jul 31, 2015 at 11:21 AM

Welcome to my online office. I have set up this website to give you a chance
to interact with me directly and to learn a little bit more about my work to
Stand Up for St. Catharines in Ottawa. I hope you will take the time to read
my blog, check out the community calendar and look at the services available
through my Community Office. Most of all, I hope you will take the time to
communicate your ideas and concerns by commenting on my blog, voting for the
online polls or sending me an e-mail. This website is here for you, so
please share your thoughts and ideas.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Rick Dykstra

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage


Updated: Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 - Questions & Answers, Myths & Facts
Mar 27, 2015 at 12:00 AM

Questions and Answers

The Bill states that it does not target individuals who engage in “lawful advocacy and protest.” Does this mean that unlawful protests will be targeted?

The Bill specifically excludes “lawful advocacy or protest” from its application. A protest that is unlawful (for instance, peacefully occupying a pipeline construction site) could only be subject to the information sharing provisions of C-51 as “interference with critical infrastructure” if the protest also met the definition of “activities which undermine the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada or the lives or the security of the people of Canada”. In this way, C-51 is able to distinguish between illegally but peacefully protesting a pipeline from, for example, the bombing of a pipeline and endangering the lives of Canadians.

The Bill states that CSIS would not require warrants for all its threat disruption activities. What activities will not require a warrant?

CSIS’s present mandate prohibits it from engaging in any disruption activities. That means that CSIS cannot currently approach the parents of a radicalized youth and encourage them to dissuade their child from traveling to a war zone or conducting attacks here in Canada. CSIS does speak with parents at present, but only in the context of its current mandate of intelligence collection (ie, asking questions) rather than threat disruption (ie, preventing and persuading). Threat disruption that would not require a warrant can be understood as any activity that is not contrary to Canadian law. For example, it would not make sense to require CSIS officers to obtain warrants in order to ask parents to speak to their children, or engage in conversations in an online chat room. CSIS would, however, need a judicially-approved warrant for any activity that would infringe upon an individual’s privacy or other rights, or any activity that would be contrary to Canadian law. Furthermore, a judge would need to be convinced that such activities were reasonable and proportional to the threat.

Canada already has laws against hate speech. What will be criminalized that isn’t already covered by existing legislation?

Canada’s current hate speech laws apply only to the incitement of hatred toward an “identifiable group”. As such, general threats against, for instance, "Canada" or "all infidels" are not crimes under the current Criminal Code. ISIS and Al-Qaeda propaganda often generalizes against “the West” or the “infidels”. While clearly in conflict with Canadian values, the imprecise nature of these threats are a challenge to existing legislation. The new C-51 definition will better enable law enforcement to effectively pursue those distributing radicalizing propaganda and advocating violence "in general."

Why does C-51 contain no additional oversight mechanisms, particularly Parliamentary oversight?

Independent, expert, non-partisan oversight of our national security agencies is a better model than political intervention in the process. Further, the key powers of the new legislation are subject to judicial review and judicial authorization. The Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) carries out reviews and investigations of CSIS activities, and reports publicly on the findings. Currently, there are 18 employees who work for this agency, in addition to five board member slots. C-51 does provide a new review obligation that requires SIRC to examine annually one aspect of CSIS’ performance of its new threat disruption mandate.




Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015: What People Are Saying

On the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC):

SIRC is an “…example of the Canadian legal system striking a better balance between the protection of sensitive information and the procedural rights of individuals.” – Supreme Court of Canada, 2007

“Our model of ongoing and methodical review also has the distinct advantage of allowing for a full and impartial assessment of CSIS’s performance, arguably better positioning it to detect potential problems earlier.” – SIRC Annual Report 2013-14

On the letter from lawyers against C-51:

It is: “…way over the top. You’ve got to come back to what we’re dealing with – a serious problem of terrorism in Canada. You can’t have a half-hearted war against that. You’re going to have some abuses that creep up no matter how carefully the legislation is drawn. But you’ve got to arm our people with some authority to root out terrorists.” – Justice John Major, former Supreme Court Justice and Chair of the Air India Inquiry

Support from stakeholders:

“Bill C-51 is aimed at violent Islamic jihadi terrorists, and those are the persons against whom its provisions are to be enforced. The reasons are clear enough provided one makes reference to facts and events of the real world, today. Unlike their critics, the authors of Bill C-51 are sensible enough to have recognized the danger.” – Barry Cooper, Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.

“We welcome this legislation which enhances the capacity of authorities to address a growing threat in our society. We are supportive of the Government of Canada’s efforts to respond to the terrorist threat in as comprehensive and forceful a way as possible.” – David Cape, Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA)

Why we need C-51:

“This is a message to Canada and all the Americans, we are coming and we will destroy you… after Iraq we are coming for you Barack Obama.” – Farah Shiradon, Canadian foreign fighter

"If you can kill a disbelieving American or European --especially the spiteful and filthy French--or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be.” – ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani



Myths and Facts

Some have said that C-51 is not effective. Can you give me some tangible examples of exactly what this Bill will do?

  1. Allow Passport Canada to share information on potential terrorist travelers with the RCMP.
  2. Stop known radicalized individuals from boarding a plane bound for a terrorist conflict zone.
  3. Criminalize the promotion of terrorism in general, for example statements like “kill all the infidels wherever they are” would become illegal.
  4. Allow CSIS agents to speak with the parents of radicalized youth in order to disrupt terrorist travel plans.
  5. Give the Government an appeal mechanism to stop information from being released in security certificate proceedings if it could harm a source.

Some have alleged that the Conservative Government is not correct in stating that other allies allow their national security agencies to disrupt threats. What allies can do this work?

In the US the Central Intelligence Agency can, pursuant to the National Security Act, conduct domestic threat disruption with an executive order. In the United Kingdom, MI5 can, pursuant to section1 of the Security Service Act conduct any activity to protect national security. The Norwegian Police Security Service has a mandate to prevent and investigate any crime against the state, including terrorism. The Finnish Security Intelligence Service is mandated to prevent crimes that may endanger the governmental or political system, and internal or external security, pursuant to section 10 of the Act on Police Administration. We must ensure that CSIS has the same tools to keep Canadians safe.

Some have said that this legislation will transform CSIS into a secret police force with no accountability, while also violating our basic freedoms and Charter rights. What is wrong with oversight?

Everything about this statement is wrong. C-51 gives no law-enforcement powers to CSIS. CSIS cannot arrest any individual. It cannot charge any individual. What is proposed in C-51 is efforts to stop terrorist attacks while they are still in the planning stages. And what’s more, these efforts are subject to robust judicial oversight, and review by the Security Intelligence Review Committee. This is far more in-depth than our allies. At all times, rights under the Constitution are protected.

Will the Communications Security Establishment be able to spy on Canadians as a result of C-51?

No. CSEC’s mandate does not change under C-51. CSE acts within the law to protect Canada’s national interest and keep Canada and Canadians safe from threats. CSE works to monitor terror and other threats globally.



C-51 – What Canadians are Saying

If C-51 had been in place on October 19, Martin Couture Rouleau would have been in prison and my brother would not be dead today - Louise Vincent, sister of slain Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent

The NACC and our member airlines understand the need to update Canada's passenger protect program in light of the evolving nature of security threats, and we continue to support the program under C-51. – Marc-Andre O’Rourke, National Airlines Council of Canada

Bill C-51 is the most important national security legislation since the 9/11 era. It is designed for the post-9/11 era. It's a new legislation for a new era in terms of security threats. While it's understandable that various provisions of the legislation attract attention, we need to keep our focus on the fundamental purpose and the fundamental challenge of combatting emerging types of terrorism. – Professor Elliott Tepper, Carleton University

Bill C-51 is directed against Islamist jihadists and to prevent or pre-empt them from their stated goal to carry out terrorist threats against the West, including Canada. The measures proposed in Bill C-51 to deal with the nature of threats that Canada faces, I believe, are quite rightly and urgently needed to protect and keep secure the freedom of our citizens.– Professor Salim Mansur, University of Western Ontario

So-called “Civil Liberties” Groups, Then and Now

This is truly a blank cheque, for there is nothing which falls outside that description of terrorism. One’s reading matter, record library, video collection, writings, teaching, etc. suddenly become suitable objects of surveillance, as does how one spends one’s leisure time and with whom. – BC Civil Liberties Association, 1983 discussing the creation of CSIS

The government's proposed definition of “terrorist activity” is simply too broad. Aside from the fact that you could have targeted Martin Luther King's civilly disobedient freedom rallies and marches through the American South, because they disrupted local transportation, it would potentially brand as terrorists doctors, teachers, and nurses who threaten to strike or withhold services in the face of provincial orders deeming their work an essential service. It could also brand as terrorist the actions of first nations individuals who blockade an airport or a highway.– BC Civil Liberties Association, 2001, discussing the Anti-terrorism Act

It would make criminals of individuals whose sentiments may never even leave the confines of their own living room, so long as their listener is someone who might commit a terrorism offence. The new offence contains no requirement that the speaker actually intends a terrorism offence to be committed. It contains no requirement that the listener commit a terrorism offence, either. – BC Civil Liberties Association, 2015, discussing the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015

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  • Last Updated ( Mar 27, 2015 at 03:08 PM )
    Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada one year after the Russian annexation of Crimea
    Mar 19, 2015 at 04:31 PM

    Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada one year after the Crimean “referendum” and Russian annexation of Crimea

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark the so-called Crimean “referendum” held one year ago and the subsequent illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia:

    “A year ago this week, the so-called Crimean ‘referendum’ was held under the Putin regime’s influence to legitimize the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia two days later.

    “Whether it takes five months or 50 years, Canada will never recognize this annexation as being the genuine will of the Ukrainian people. We have instead maintained our call that the Putin regime cease the destabilization campaign it has orchestrated and fully withdraw from Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

    “Toward this objective, Canada and its partners have imposed a broad range of sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian individuals and entities, including targeted sanctions on Russia’s finance, defence and energy sectors and key officials involved in the illegal annexation of Crimea.

    “Furthermore, in support of NATO measures in response to Russian aggression, Canada has played a leading role in deploying air, land and maritime forces in the area to promote security and stability in Eastern and Central Europe, as part of the Alliance’s Assurance Measures. It is also contributing to the NATO Trust Funds for Ukraine, as well as to each of the three NATO Centres of Excellence in the Baltic States, which play a key role in enabling the Alliance to better address regional security challenges related to strategic communications, energy security and cyber defence.

    “In addition, our Government has taken a number of other steps to help the Ukrainian people as they work to restore political and economic stability, most notably through electoral assistance, support for economic and social development, and providing military training and non-lethal equipment to the Ukrainian government.

    “Canada will not forget Vladimir Putin’s reckless actions in Ukraine. Any solution to the current crisis will need to respect the territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence and Constitution of Ukraine.

    “The people of Ukraine are showing tremendous resilience and courage in the face of aggression. Canada will continue to support the Ukrainian people’s fight for freedom and democracy for as long as it takes.”

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    Government of Canada closing gaps in New Veterans Charter
    Mar 19, 2015 at 04:17 PM

    Improvements target seriously injured Veterans, reservists and families

    March 19, 2015 – Winnipeg – Veterans Affairs Canada

    The Honourable Erin O’Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, was joined by Canadian Veterans and their families today as he reaffirmed the Government of Canada’s commitment to improving the benefits and services it provides those injured in the service of Canada. As evidence of that commitment, Minister O’Toole pointed to recent announcements focused on addressing gaps in the New Veterans Charter by enhancing or expanding support for seriously disabled Veterans, reservists and their families.

    The following are among the new and enhanced services and benefits proposed in recent weeks:

    • The new Retirement Income Security Benefit, which would provide moderately to severely disabled Veterans—those who need it most—with continued assistance in the form of a monthly income support payment beginning at age 65.
    • The new Family Caregiver Relief Benefit, which would provide eligible Veterans with a tax-free, annual grant of more than $7,000 so that their informal caregivers—who are often their spouse or other devoted family members—will have flexibility or relief when they need it while also ensuring that the Veterans’ care needs are met.
    • Broadened eligibility criteria for the Permanent Impairment Allowance (PIA) which, together with the PIA Supplement, provides approximately $600 to $2,800 a month in life-long monthly financial support to Veterans whose employment potential and career advancement opportunities have been limited by a permanent service-related injury or illness.
    • Enhanced benefits for injured part-time Reserve Force Veterans, who will now be assured the same minimum income support payment through the Earnings Loss Program as full-time Reserve Force and Regular Force Veterans.

    These initiatives are bolstered by significant investments in new and expanded mental health initiatives, including a Veteran-specific Mental Health First Aid training program, a four-year pilot project to expand access to military family resource services, a new research project aimed at families of Veterans with operational stress injuries, and development of a mental health action plan. In January, a permanent operational stress injury satellite clinic was announced for Hamilton and a major new OSI clinic will also be established in Halifax.

    In an effort to reduce red tape and make services and supports easier for Veterans and their families to understand and access, Minister O’Toole has also directed Veterans Affairs Canada to:

    • assemble a “Veteran-centric Communications Task Force” to improve how Veterans Affairs Canada communicates with Veterans;
    • examine ways to combine new and existing supports into a single monthly payment for severely injured Veterans; and
    • work with the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman to clarify how the Permanent Impairment Allowance is administered and to make it more predictable and easier to understand.

    Quick Facts

    • Proposed new services and expanded eligibility for existing programs are expected to benefit thousands of Veterans and their families today and in the future.
    • Many of the measures introduced respond directly to the recommendations of Veterans advocates, including the Veterans Ombudsman and the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs (ACVA). 

    “We are taking action on the issues that are most important to Veterans and their families. I believe the Government of Canada has taken major strides in addressing the areas of greatest concern, but we will never stop trying to find ways to improve the lives of those who have given so much on our behalf. Our work is not done.”
    The Honourable Erin O’Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs

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