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The Anti-terrorism Act
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The Anti-terrorism Act

Parliamentary Review of the Anti-terrorism Act  

The Anti-terrorism Act (ATA) is one of several pieces of legislation that form the Government of Canada's overall anti-terrorism strategy. It takes aim at terrorists and terrorist groups and helps the Government of Canada meet the extraordinary challenges presented by terrorism. The legislation protects the safety, security and fundamental rights of Canadians. 

Section 145 of the ATA required a committee or committees of Parliament to conduct a "comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of the Act", within three years from the date that the Act received Royal Assent (December 18, 2001). A motion of the House of Commons on December 9, 2004, authorized the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to review the ATA. Its Subcommittee on Public Safety and National Security began its review in February 2005. The Senate adopted a similar motion on December 13, 2004, establishing a Special Committee to undertake a separate review.

The House of Commons Subcommittee on Public Safety and National Security and the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act conducted hearings during the 38th Parliament.  Transcripts of these hearings can be accessed on the Parliament of Canada website:

The dissolution of the 38th Parliament on November 30, 2005, ended the work of the Parliamentary review committees. The 39th Parliament saw one committee resumed, and a new committee established,  to continue the review of the ATA. Transcripts of these hearings can be accessed on the Parliament of Canada website:

On October 23, 2006, the House of Commons Subcommittee on the Review of the Anti-terrorism Act (“House Subcommittee”) released its Review of the Anti-terrorism Act Investigative Hearings and Recognizance with Conditions Program: Interim Report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

The final report of the House Subcommittee – Rights, Limits, Security:  A Comprehensive Review of the Anti-terrorism Act And Related Issues – was released on March 27, 2007. The Government filed its response to the Subcommittee’s recommendations, Government Response to the Seventh Report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security on July 18, 2007.

On February 22, 2007, the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act released its main report (Third Report) entitled Fundamental Justice in Extraordinary Times On March 28, 2007, the Special Senate Committee issued a supplementary report (Fourth Report). The supplementary report notably commented on the Supreme Court of Canada’s Charkaoui decision and the immigration security certificate process.On October 22, 2007, Bill C-3, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Certificate and Special Advocate) and to Make a Consequential Amendment to Another Act , was introduced in the House of Commons.  The Bill amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to provide a new procedure relating to immigration security certificates and, in particular, to provide for the appointment of a special advocate to represent the interests of a person named in a security certificate.  The Bill was introduced after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in February 2007 that IRPA’s procedure for judicial approval of security certificates infringed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and was therefore of no force or effect.  The Court suspended its declaration for one year to provide time for Parliament to amend the procedure.  The Bill received Royal Assent on February 14, 2008, and was proclaimed into force on February 22, 2008. On October 23, 2007 the Government introduced in the Senate Bill S-3.

Bill S-3 proposes amendments to the Criminal Code that would reinstate anti-terrorism provisions that expired under a sunset clause in March 2007. The proposed provisions are substantially similar to the original provisions, which came into force with the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2001. Bill S-3 proposes:

  • provisions to bring individuals who may have information about a terrorism offence before a judge for an investigative hearing,
  • and provisions dealing with recognizance with conditions, including preventive arrest to avert a potential terrorist attack.  

The Bill also:

  • contains a 5-year sunset clause;
  • requires that the Attorney General and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to report annually on their opinion together with reasons as to whether these provisions should be maintained;
  • incorporates other technical amendments.

Bill S-3 was passed by the Senate. It was in the House of Commons at Second Reading when the House of Commons recessed on June 20, 2008. The House of Commons is adjourned until September 15, 2008 .


Updated to June 20, 2008.