Terrorism victims could sue under bill
The Conservative government said Wednesday it will reintroduce legislation to allow victims of terrorism and their families to sue those who perpetrate or abet attacks.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said the bill would also amend the State Immunity Act to deprive countries that facilitate terrorism of their legal exemption from lawsuits.
The bill would allow legal action against anyone who committed a terrorist act dating back to 1985 — the year of the Air India bombing, in which 280 Canadians died. It would also permit lawsuits against any person, group or country that supported the attack's perpetrators provided they were included on the federal government's list of terrorist entities.
A plaintiff would have to prove a connection between their claim and Canada.
"Perpetrators and supporters of terrorism must be held accountable for their actions," Toews said in a statement.
The Tories introduced a similar bill last June, but it died when Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament in December.
At the time, a litigation expert said the bill was futile because terrorist groups' main aim is to kill, and they won't be deterred by the threat of a civil lawsuit five to 10 years down the road — nor will they be around to pay up if a court finds against them.
As for suing countries, Toronto lawyer James Morton said it makes more sense because they have assets, but collecting on a judgment awarded through Canadian courts would be tricky if not impossible.