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Senate committee closes terror ‘loophole’

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The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is applauding the decision by the standing Senate committee on national security and defence to amend Bill C-59 to close the so-called terror incitement loophole.

The bill, “an act respecting national security matters,” proposes a wide array of changes to Canada’s national security policies, including changing the criminal offence of “advocacy and promotion” of terrorism, to “counselling terrorism.”

It passed third reading in the House of Commons last June.

In testimony to the Senate committee last month, CIJA did not oppose the new language, but urged parliamentarians to amend wording that suggested the law only applies to someone who counsels another individual to engage in terrorism.

CIJA argued that this left a significant loophole in the bill that could be exploited in court by an extremist, such as an ISIS supporter or a white supremacist, who calls on a general audience, such as at a public gathering or on social media, rather than a specific individual, to conduct a terrorist attack.

“We applaud senators for uniting across party lines to pass this common sense amendment, which closes the terror incitement loophole,” said CIJA’s CEO, Shimon Koffler Fogel. “While the Jewish community is disproportionately targeted by terrorists, all Canadians are safer when police have the tools they need to counter those who incite terrorism – be they violent Islamist extremists, white supremacists or those motivated by other toxic ideologies.”

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CIJA had earlier launched a campaign called Close the Terror Incitement Loophole, to ensure that police have the powers they need to stop those inciting terrorism.

CIJA said it will urge the government to endorse the amendment when Bill C-59 returns to the House of Commons for approval.

“The bill has not yet been passed into law, but we have overcome a big hurdle,” Fogel stated.

In his testimony to the Senate committee last month, Steven Slimovitch, national legal counsel for B’nai Brith Canada, discussed the need to address how municipal hate crime units could “more diligently pursue instances of hate crimes or hate speech, to ensure charges are laid where appropriate.”

Slimovitch said police do not seem to be reporting hate crimes to provincial attorneys general, “a shortcoming that needs to be rectified.”