OTTAWA—The sister of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent says the Conservatives’ controversial new terrorism law may have prevented her brother’s death.
Appearing before the Commons’ committee studying Bill C-51 Monday night, Louise Vincent said that the legislation may have prevented Martin Couture-Rouleau from murdering her brother in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
“If C-51 had have been in place on the 19th of October, Martin Couture-Rouleau’s relatives would have warned the RCMP and they would have had more information,” Vincent said.
“Because of the lower evidence threshold (in C-51) . . . most probably Martin Couture-Rouleau would have been in prison, and my brother would not have been killed.”
Conservative MPs have repeatedly invoked last October’s attacks in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and the shooting on Parliament Hill as justification for the proposed expanded spy powers, although MPs have been hard-pressed to say specifically how C-51 would have prevented those attacks.
The bill gives the Canadian Security Intelligence Service the ability to “disrupt” threats to national security, including, but not limited to, terrorist threats. Perceived threats to Canada’s economic stability, critical infrastructure or diplomatic relations would also be fair game for spies.
Couture-Rouleau, allegedly after been refused a passport to travel abroad, ran down Vincent with his car on Oct. 19. Police admit Couture-Rouleau was on their radar before the attack, but they had insufficient grounds to detain him.
Serious concerns about C-51 have been raised by opposition parties, witnesses before the committee, and organizations such as the Canadian Bar Association. Chief among the criticisms have been a lack of civilian oversight of Canada’s spies, as well as the possibility of intelligence agencies targeting civil society.
Speaking before the committee, former Progressive Conservative Sen. Hugh Segal reiterated his call for greater oversight. Segal, now the master of Massey College, also warned against giving CSIS the ability to violate Canada’s Charter rights.
“Attempts to keep Canadians safe, the number one job of any government, should not include provisions that make us resemble what we are struggling to defeat,” Segal told the committee.
The committee will continue to study the bill this week, before moving to an in-depth technical reading with proposed amendments later this month. It’s not clear what, if any, amendments the majority Conservatives will consider.
Sister of slain soldier delivers emotional appeal for C-51 | Toronto Star