New security bill aimed at combating 'lone wolf' attacks coming this week

The government will introduce new legislation aimed at giving more powers to Canada's police and security agencies in the wake of two domestic attacks, Stephen Harper said on Sunday.

Legislation will expand powers of domestic security agencies in wake of last year's attacks

Harper said the new legislation will "contain a range of measures to ensure that our police and security agencies have the tools" necessary to combat domestic threats. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

The government will introduce new legislation aimed at giving more powers to Canada's police and security agencies in the wake of two attacks by converts to Islam last year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Sunday.

Harper said the new laws will be put before Parliament next Friday.

Security officials have been on alert since the October attack on Parliament that left 24-year-old Cpl. Nathan Cirillo dead and sent shock waves across the country. The so-called "lone wolf" attack came just two days after Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, was killed in a targeted hit-and-run in Quebec. 

"These measures are designed to help authorities stop planned attacks, get threats off our streets, criminalize the promotion of terrorism, and prevent terrorists from travelling and recruiting others," Harper said in the prepared text of a speech in Ottawa.

"It will contain a range of measures to ensure that our police and security agencies have the tools they need to meet evolving threats, and keep Canadians safe."

Harper revealed the bill would be put before Parliament this week during a speech at an Ottawa-area high school on Sunday. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)
Harper said the new legislation, which he did not describe in detail, would not infringe on constitutionally protected rights to free speech, association and religion.

"But neither will we under-react, because the big picture, my friends, is very worrisome," he said. "Jihadi terrorists are destabilizing large parts of the globe."

Anti-terror measure already in place

After the shooting in Ottawa, the Conservatives introduced a bill to enhance CSIS, Canada's spy agency. It said at the time it would also present other legislation designed to allow police to preempt threats and crack down on hate speech.

Experts, including constitutional lawyers, have noted that law enforcement agencies already have wide-ranging powers at their disposal and could use rarely tapped provisions in Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act.

The 2013 Combating Terrorism Act introduced new powers and penalties aimed at least in part at preventing such attacks. It also allows for preventative detention and interrogating suspects before any charges are laid in certain circumstances.

Lawyers have said the fact that these options have been rarely tapped by authorities is a sign that more regular techniques and procedures are sufficient for now.

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