Along with several other liberal democracies, Canada is currently undergoing a second wave of changes to be implemented to its legal regime dealing with national security; the first wave of changes followed the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. Indeed, even before the attacks in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and in Ottawa, the federal capital, the Canadian Parliament was working during the fall of 2014 on the adoption of Bill C-44 in order to expand the powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Following the tragic events in Europe (including those at Charlie Hebdo in France), the federal authorities have introduced another round of measures even more threatening to Canadians’ civil liberties through Bill C-51, which will soon come into force. Despite a lack of strong opposition at Parliament, likely due to political considerations and an impending election, there is a clear consensus of opposition to these security measures in the public sphere, and not only in the legal community, but also from many public speakers and civil rights advocates, including former politicians. Thus, the alarm has rung: a secure and safe state should not come at the cost of our open society and, especially, by accepting undue limitations of rights and freedoms that Canadians cherish so deeply.


As part of the regional projects of the Canadian Section of the International Commission of Jurists, for the year 2015-2016, the Quebec chapter wishes to contribute to the work and discussion surrounding this issue: the principle of the rule of law, one of the important themes of our organization. It is in this perspective that the present site of the Observatory of national security measures was created in collaboration with the Centre for Research in Public Law and housed at the Université de Montréal. The Observatory is a dynamic electronic platform for identifying and following the resources and documentation on measures targeting national security in the country. Its mission, in addition to following national developments in this regard, will eventually include an international component. In addition to being a site for diffusing proposed legislative measures, government directives, and other official documents, the bilingual website of this monitoring group will be a sort of agora where different participants can share opinions and commentary, in the form of short papers, or less formally in a blog format.

This content has been updated on 30 June 2015 at 14 h 54 min.