Canada must become a "world leader" in stamping out radicalization, because our open, tolerant society is at stake, says Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
In a wide-ranging interview with CBC News Network's Power & Politics, Goodale said Canada must become the "best in the world" at community outreach, engagement and counter-radicalization to avert a fundamental threat to Canadian values.
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"We're an open society, we're one of the most plural societies in the world; the most inclusive, the most tolerant. In order to preserve that nature of our country, we need to be among the best in the world at identifying radicalization and the techniques for countering radicalization and working with all other Canadians to make sure that's effective," he told host Rosemary Barton.
Goodale could not provide the current number of individuals considered home-grown militants or "foreign fighters."
But he said the government will make a "vigorous" effort to stamp out radicalization. The minister's mandate letter includes an order to create an Office of the Community Outreach and Counter-radicalization Co-ordinator.
More money for the RCMP
Goodale also promised the Mounties would have the necessary resources to keep up the fight. Last year, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said he was forced to divert 600 officers from white-collar crime and fraud files to focus on national security investigations.
"We cannot have a situation where your national police force has got to rob Peter to pay Paul," he said. "When we call upon them to perform serious functions in the name of national security, crime prevention, law enforcement and all the other important things that they do, they need to have the physical resources, including budget, to do that well."
Goodale is travelling to London next week for meetings on counter-terrorism, violent extremism and cybersecurity. He will also be gathering information about United Kingdom's Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament as he prepares to adopt a similar model for Canadian parliamentarians.
Parliamentary oversight for security agencies
Goodale did not provide a time frame of when a committee will be struck, but told Power & Politics that an all-party committee will be sworn to secrecy to monitor activities of Canada's security agencies to ensure they are effective and respecting fundamental rights.
Right now, he said, Canada is an "anomaly" in that it does not have a parliamentary oversight body like those in the U.K., U.S., Australia and New Zealand.
"We'll be following their examples to make sure Canada has this kind of review mechanism in place to ensure we're being effective in keeping Canadians safe, and at the same time protecting rights and values," he said.
The Security Intelligence Review Committee, a civilian oversight body, will remain with an enhanced mandate.
Goodale said the government is committed to repealing key elements of the anti-terrorism legislation known as Bill C-51, including protecting civil protests and better defining "propaganda" and the expanded no-fly list.
No-fly list flaws
Responding to questions about recent media reports about children and others erroneously tagged on the no-fly list and flagged as national security risks, Goodale said existing regulations do not require secondary screening for children under 18 years of age. Airlines may be "going beyond what they are required to do," he said.
"They may have been misinformed or confused about the application of the rules."
Goodale also provided more details on ways the government could strengthen the no-fly list to ensure children aren't erroneously barred from flights or subject to secondary screening.
"It may be the date of birth is the right technique. It may be the SIN [social insurance number], it could be a unique PIN identifier," he said. "But we do need to have other means than the name alone, which can result in great inadvertent confusion."
And on the legalization of marijuana, Goodale said the government will ensure it takes a methodical approach that keeps public safety in mind, including the risks with impaired driving.
MADD Canada is warning that police officers must be equipped with new technology, training and tools to keep pot-impaired drivers off the roads.
"Before any discussion begins about legalizing marijuana, the federal government needs to give police enforcement officers the ability to do saliva testing at roadside to detect drug impaired drivers, similar to the testing for alcohol," CEO Andrew Murie told CBC News. "Without this measure, legalization of marijuana will lead to more impaired driving crashes, deaths and injuries. "