National security consultations must make good on Liberal promise to restore civil liberties, says rights group

Monday, September 12, 2016
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Toronto, ON (September 12, 2016) - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is encouraged by the long-awaited announcement by the Minister of Public Safety and Justice of a consultation on reforming Canada's national security framework.

“This consultation is an important first step in building a national security system that truly protects our rights and undoes the dangerous failures of previous legislation," says Tom Henheffer, CJFE’s Executive Director. “Our current framework undermines free expression rights, civil liberties and the rule of law. The government must listen to the voices of Canadians calling for a real, substantive change to our national security regime. We can and must do better."

The review process comes one year after the Liberal Party released its election platform that included a pledge to “repeal the problematic elements of Bill C-51, and introduce new legislation that better balances our collective security with our rights and freedoms."

Since the day the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 - or Bill C-51 - was announced, CJFE has worked to stop, and then overturn, this dangerous, reckless and ineffective legislation. In July 2015, CJFE and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) launched a Charter challenge on the grounds that five sections of Bill C-51 unjustifiably violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Bill C-51 allows for expanded preventative detention, provides for a new court process to secretly pre-authorize violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and removes existing privacy protections to facilitate unprecedented information sharing between government departments. It also introduces a vastly overbroad new Criminal Code offence of “promoting terrorism" that unduly limits freedom of expression and the ability to engage in proper democratic debate, and threatens to hamper legitimate political discourse and dissent.

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians spoke out to demand a real, open consultation to overturn Bill C-51 and reform our largely unaccountable national security system. Now that it is here, CJFE encourages every Canadian to make their voice heard in the consultation. No government will make the kind of substantial changes we're seeking and no intelligence agencies will submit to less power and greater oversight unless they are pressured by engaged citizens. This is your country, and your voice will be needed more than ever in the weeks and months to come.

CJFE is advocating on behalf of Canadians’ free expression rights through direct communication with the Canadian government, and looks forward to continuing this dialogue throughout the consultation process. Learn more about how CJFE has advocated, educated and litigated to repeal this unjust legislation at

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) monitors, defends and reports on free expression and access to information in Canada and abroad. We promote a free media as essential to a fair and open society. CJFE boldly champions the free expression rights of all people, and encourages and supports individuals and groups in the protection of their own and others' free expression rights.

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For more information, please contact:
Duncan Pike
CJFE Campaigns and Advocacy Coordinator
[email protected]
416-515-9622 ext. 262

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