Bill C-51, Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015: Submissions to Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security

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The Law Society of British Columbia (the Law Society) is an independent organization whose origins date back to 1869. Its membership comprises all lawyers who have been called to the Bar in British Columbia who remain in good standing pursuant to the Legal Profession Act S.B.C. 1998 c.9 and the Law Society Rules. It is governed by the Benchers, being 25 lawyers who have been elected by the membership, together with up to six persons who are not members of the Law Society appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of British Columbia, as well as the Attorney General of British Columbia. Pursuant to s. 3 of the Legal Profession Act, the Law Society’s object and duty is “to uphold and protect the public interest in the administration of justice by” (inter alia) “preserving and protecting the rights and freedoms of all persons.” The Law Society supports measures to protect and preserve public safety, and recognizes the exceptional challenges that government is now faced with today from the threats of terrorism worldwide. Canada has an enviable position in the world as a tolerant and just country that promotes personal rights and freedoms and that encourages diversity. Ensuring that there is a robust protection of public safety is both consistent with Canadian values and, in turn, further protects the society in which those values are practised. There is always a delicate balance to be struck, however, in the promotion of public safety and the protection of rights and freedoms, and the Law Society recognizes that the balance is not always an easy one to strike. The Law Society 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. We are aware that many commentators have reached similar conclusions, and we know this Committee is actively considering those submissions. We will therefore focus on what we consider to be the most constitutionally troublesome provisions of Bill C-51, which are found in amendments to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act.

This content has been updated on 15 June 2015 at 7 h 56 min.