Canadian Anti-Terrorism Act

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Anti-terrorism Act
An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
Citation Anti-terrorism Act
Enacted by Parliament of Canada
Date assented to December 18, 2001

The Canadian Anti-terrorism Act (French: Loi antiterroriste) was passed by the government of Jean Chretien in response to the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. It received Royal Assent on December 18, 2001, as Bill C-36. The "omnibus" bill extended the powers of government and institutions within the Canadian security establishment to respond to the threat of terrorism.

The expanded powers were highly controversial due to widely perceived incompatibility with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,[1] in particular for the Act's provisions allowing for 'secret' trials, preemptive detention and expansive security and surveillance powers.[2]

Civic opposition[edit]

The bill's passage has been compared to the government's activation of the War Measures Act in accordance to terrorist activity by the FLQ.[citation needed]

It was opposed by Parliamentarians Marjory LeBreton and Andrew Telegdi, and criminal defense lawyer David Paciocco, amongst others.[3] Ziyad Mia, of the Toronto Muslim Lawyers Association, "questioned whether the definition of terrorist activity would apply to a group that resisted, by acts of violence, the regimes of Saddam Hussein or Robert Mugabe," and pointed out that it criminalized the French Resistance and Nelson Mandela.[4]


In January 2010, Zakaria Amara, from Mississauga, a suspect in the 2006 Toronto terrorism case, was sentenced to imprisonment for life. This sentence was the stiffest given so far under the Anti-terrorism Act. Saad Gaya from Oakville, a fellow suspect in the same case, was sentenced to 12 years in prison.[5]

Bill S-7, the Combating Terrorism Act, 2012[edit]

Some of the bill's provisions were set to expire on March 1, 2007. The Harper government urged that these be renewed, while all three opposition parties were opposed. Specifically, the provisions had to do with preventative arrest and investigative hearings. On February 28, 2007, the House of Commons voted 159-124 against renewing the provisions, which later led to their expiry, as originally planned in the sunset clause.[citation needed]

In 2012 the Harper government introduced in Senate Bill S-7, the Combating Terrorism Act 2013, which was to renew the expired provisions for a new 5-year term, and introduced new crimes for leaving Canada to join or train with a terror group.[6] The bill also increased the maximum prison sentences for some offences related to harbouring suspected terrorists. On April 19, just after the Boston Marathon bombing, the government rearranged the Parliamentary agenda to fast track Bill S-7 to a vote on April 22 or 23, 2013.[7] The bill received royal assent on April 25, 2013.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See e.g. Colleen Bell, "Subject to Exception: Security Certificates, National Security and Canada's Role in the 'War on Terror'" 21(1) Canadian Journal of Law and Society 63-83 at 73; Sherene Razack, Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims from Western Law and Politics (Toronto, Buffalo, & London: University of Toronto Press, 2008) at 161; and Kent Roach, "Defining Terrorism: The Need for a Restrained Definition" in The Human Rights of Anti-Terrorism, Nicole LaViolette & Craig Forcese, eds. (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2008) 97-127 at 97-98 and 127.
  2. ^ "411 error" Archived 2009-10-08 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "So-called anti-terrorism act" Archived 2007-07-28 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Diab, Robert. "Guantanamo North", 2008
  5. ^ "Life term for terror ringleader - Man planned to detonate three bombs at 9 a.m., when Toronto's downtown core would be bustling", 19 Jan 2010
  6. ^ "Controversial anti-terror bill passes, allowing preventative arrests, secret hearings", 25 Apr 2013
  7. ^ "Harper government to fast track anti-terrorism bill", 19 Apr 2013
  8. ^ "Combating Terrorism Act, S.C. 2013, c. 9"

External links[edit]