OTTAWA — A House of Commons committee has recommended making it a crime to "glorify" terrorism, a proposal critics fear would erode freedom of speech and alienate Muslims.
The committee of public safety and national security recommends that Canada follow suit. Specifically, it suggests amending the Criminal Code to make it an offence to "glorify terrorist activity for the purpose of emulation."
Conservative and Liberal members of the committee supported the report, but New Democrat MP Joe Comartin and Bloc Québécois MP Serge Menard tabled a dissenting opinion that takes issue with many of the recommendations, including the proposal for anti-glorification measures.
"I'm quite worried, just from a civil-libertarian standpoint, about the restriction it puts on freedom of speech," Comartin said Tuesday.
In recommending the anti-glorification provision, the subcommittee compares the incitement of terrorist activity to the distribution of hate propaganda by
Neo-Nazis during the '60s.
But Forcese questioned whether such a provision is necessary, given the existence of hate-crime laws and the fact that instructing someone to carry out a terrorist act is already illegal under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
He said the British anti-glorification provision appeared to be aimed at curbing "radical preaching in mosques" in the wake of the July 7, 2005, terrorist attacks on the public-transit system in London.
Meanwhile, some Muslim groups are worried that anti-glorification measures could unfairly target their community.
"If an imam or any other religious figure glorified the Sept. 11 attacks, we have to speak out against that. The question is what is the definition of terrorism?" said Sameer Zuberi, a spokesman for the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"If it's a vague and wishy-washy definition, that would be quite problematic."
Indeed, the definition of "terrorist activity" under the act has been in limbo since an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled last fall that defining terrorism based on religious, political or ideological motives violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
But the use of terrorism is a tool used by some people to press political and ideological agendas and sometimes these same people use a religion to justify it.
Since the Canadian Legal definition of terrorism is in limbo, can anyone out there come up with a definition of terrorism that will not violate Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms and therefore will NOT be struck down by some judge.
In order to help you in your definition I am citing the pertinent paragraph of the CCRF
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
a) freedom of conscience and religion;
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d) freedom of association.
Keep this in mind with the rights in Paragraph seven
7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
9. Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.
10. Everyone has the right on arrest or detention
a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;
b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and
c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful
Nowhere in the charter does it give any one the right to commit mass murder and strike fear and terror in the heart of other people in order to "express" an opinion.
One could argue that glorifying terrorism is the same as inciting a riot. If in Canada it is illegal for a person or persons to inflame the emotions of a group and incite a riot, should it not also be illegal to incite people to commit horrible acts of mass murder, strike fear and terror in others by glorifying and approving such acts. Deny THEM the option of hiding behind their religion or politics or ideologies as justification for their encouragement and approval of terrorist acts. In short, if the legal definition of terrorism must not include religion, political or ideological motives, then deny accused terrorists to use them as a defence.
But then I am not lawyer, so what do I know. St. Thomas More pray for Canada's Legal system.