Goodale floats mandatory counselling for those under anti-terrorism peace bonds
OTTAWA -- The Liberal government is looking at making counter-radicalization counselling mandatory for people under anti-terrorism peace bonds, the public safety minister says.
Ralph Goodale floated the idea one week after jihadi sympathizer Aaron Driver was killed by police in Strathroy, Ont.
Driver, 24, was under a court-ordered peace bond intended to limit his activities but he was able to obtain explosives, plan an apparent attack and film a martyrdom video.
Police got wind of his plans through a tip from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and intercepted him as he was leaving his southwestern Ontario home in a taxi.
Driver's death has prompted questions about the effectiveness of peace bonds and whether more could have been done to steer him onto a better path.
There were some ad hoc interventions aimed at helping deradicalize Driver but nothing deliberate and well-organized, Goodale said Wednesday after a speech to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
The government is looking for ways to make peace bonds more effective -- perhaps involving community outreach organizations -- or to find alternatives to the judicial tool, which is not a panacea, he said.
"It's not a perfect solution to every situation."
Goodale declined to discuss Driver's actions, saying the details are still under police investigation. Nor would he comment on whether surveillance had been stepped up on the dozen or so people currently under anti-terrorism peace bonds.
The RCMP has acknowledged that Driver was not under constant surveillance.
"That is obviously a lesson that one needs to look at very carefully, as a result of the incident in Strathroy," Goodale said. "And we are examining very carefully what we need to do to make our police and security activity more effective."
Goodale said the government would move as rapidly as possible, but he stressed that good laws are not developed "in a panic."
A federal consultation on national security, to conclude by the end of the year, must happen first, he said.
"We want do this right. Some of the problem with our laws in the past is they've been developed in a haphazard manner and have not had the intense scrutiny and consideration that they need in order to get it right," Goodale said.
"I've obviously got to do this in a coherent and sensible way, not scribbled down on the back of an envelope."
As a first step, the Liberals plan to open a federal office of counter-radicalization to serve as a national focal point for research, counselling and intervention services.
"We are in the process of recruiting the person that will lead the effort. And we are determined to get this office up and running toward the end of the summer, the beginning of the fall," Goodale said.
"The incident is Strathroy demonstrates how very important this priority is."
In his address to the chiefs, Goodale said one of government's biggest security concerns are the "lone wolves" who are drawn into perverse and extreme ideologies that promote death and destruction.
"We need to understand what positive messages can counteract the insidious poison that draws people in, especially young people."