Representing the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), Chief Paul Martin and Vancouver Police Department Deputy Chief Constable Laurence Rankin testified as witnesses on Bill C-59, an Act respecting national security matters to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security on February 1.
As members of the CACP Counter Terrorism and National Security Committee, Deputy Chief Cst. Rankin explained they have a mandate to harmonize the work of Canadian police agencies throughout the country in identifying, preventing, deterring and responding to criminal activities related to terrorism and national security threats.
Addressing the Standing Committee, Chief Martin focused on the top three concerns of many leaders in the policing community for consideration regarding anti-terrorism legislation.
First, terrorism peace bonds do manage some of the threat posed to Canadian citizens, but not all, Chief Martin stated. An example of this is an individual subject to the peace bond is not permitted to use computers or not allowed to access the internet for a number of different reasons. However, there is no mechanism in place right now for police to go in and ensure the person is complying with the conditions.
Second, with respect to the "intelligence-to-evidence conundrum," Chief Martin acknowledged that intelligence and enforcement are separate entities, however, it's critical to quickly share relevant information among services.
"This discussion has been ongoing for more than 15 years as far as how do we improve the speed, flow and direction of this information so that we can share it in a quicker fashion," Chief Martin said.
The third key point Chief Martin brought to the table is encryption, adding it's important to focus on the principles rather than the technology. Where an individual or group would be using any form of communication to support terrorism or other designated criminal activity, this may be intercepted by specified authorities with the proper and appropriate judicial authority.
"Encryption, whether it be in the hardware itself or with the use of applications that are encrypted end to end, this poses a very difficult issue for policing," he stated. "How to monitor people that would carry on criminal activity, whether it's for terrorism or for organized crime. We've seen a number of examples throughout our jurisdiction, throughout Ontario and certainly across this country."
The police officials testified for approximately one hour as committee members addressed their concerns related to the proposed changes to the Bill and how it could affect the future of policing while ensuring the safety of all Canadian citizens.
To view the full meeting, please click here.
Chief Martin in House of Commons (JPG file, 273.2K bytes)