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B’nai Brith Canada Representatives Testify on Terrorism Overhaul

B’nai Brith Canada’s Michael Mostyn and David Matas testifying at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security on Feb. 9, 2018.

Feb. 8, 2018

By Aidan Fishman
Interim National Director of the League for Human Rights
B’nai Brith Canada

OTTAWA B’nai Brith Canada representatives Michael Mostyn (Chief Executive Officer) and David Matas (Senior Legal Counsel) testified before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Thursday regarding Bill C-59, an act that would alter Canada’s approach to combating terrorism.

Mostyn and Matas expressed concern about the proposed removal of Section 83.221(1)  the Criminal Code, which currently prohibits advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences. Bill C-59, as it stands, would replace this with a narrower ban on “counseling” acts of terrorism.

“We accept that the right to freedom of expression is an important consideration,” Mostyn said. “But the right of potential victims to be free from terrorism and the threat of terrorism must be the greater priority.”

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, has noted that no prosecutions have been brought under Section 83.221(1) since its introduction in 2015. B’nai Brith shares this concern, but believes that the correct approach is to learn from Canada’s global anti-terrorism partners, and to give law enforcement the training and tools necessary to enforce this critical provision, rather than abolishing it.

“The Minister has identified a real problem – failure of prosecutions under the existing law despite the multiplicity of apparent violations… The prosecution of incitement to terrorism, within Crown investigation and prosecution offices, needs to be given a higher priority. There needs to be more resources, more expertise, and more training, Matas explained.

Full copies of B’nai Brith’s testimony before the Standing Committee can be made available upon request.