Canada must take action to prevent its citizens from travelling abroad for terrorist purposes, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said after a CBC News investigation revealed a 23-year-old woman travelled to Syria after being radicalized.
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"Clearly, Canada cannot become an exporter of terrorism. This is not the Canadian way of living," Blaney said Wednesday.
The woman, whom CBC News is calling Aisha to protect her identity, made the journey to Syria to join up with ISIS last summer, after taking an online course to study the Qur’an taught by a woman based in Edmonton, according to her older sister Rabia (whose name has also been changed).
Blaney said the Conservative-backed Bill C-51 — which would bolster CSIS’s powers, allowing the security agency to disrupt the travel plans or financial transactions of Canadians the agency believes have been radicalized — is aimed at preventing stories just like Aisha’s.
"In Bill C-51, there are provisions that enable our intelligence officers to interact with the families and the communities, not only to engage in a discussion but to reduce the threat and prevent individuals from travelling," he said.
'There is not a thing that in Mr. Harper's bill, C-51, on dealing with radicalization.' - NDP Leader Tom Mulcair
"Currently, we are not able to prevent a high-risk traveller from boarding an airplane. With the bill, we will be able to prevent those individuals from getting on board.… So that's the threat diminishment measure that is in the bill, that clearly would have helped to avoid that kind of situation."
Blaney said the bill — which has prompted vocal opposition from civil libertarians and privacy advocates — would also criminalize the promotion of terrorism.
'A message of Canada pulling together'
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said his party supports the strengthening of the no-fly list as part of the bill — one of the reasons the party is backing Bill C-51.
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"[We] continue working with communities here in Canada, whether it be mosques and other places that continue to promote ideology that is countering [ISIS’s] ideology of hatred and division," he said.
"At the centre of any visit to any religious community or community group is a message of Canada pulling together, of Canadians being the one place … that is strong not in spite of our differences, but because of those differences … We're putting out a message of inclusion, of people's rights as Canadians and people's responsibilities as Canadians."
The bill, however, faces opposition from the NDP and critics who argue it's too broad and doesn't offer sufficient oversight.
"There is not a thing that in Mr. Harper's bill, C-51, on dealing with radicalization," NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said Wednesday.
"So, an approach that has us dealing with religious leaders, that has us dealing with community leaders, working on the upstream causes of this radicalization — that is something that should have been in the bill and that the NDP will be proposing as it goes through committee."
Bill C-51 recently passed second reading in the House of Commons and is now headed to committee.