'Patrice Vincent must not have died in vain,' sister tells Bill C-51 hearing
The sister of a Canadian soldier killed by a man with jihadist sympathies spoke out in favour of the Conservative government’s controversial anti-terror legislation, saying Bill C-51 is needed to prevent future attacks in the country.
Louise Vincent’s brother, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, was fatally struck with a car last year in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.
She told a public safety and national security committee Monday that her brother’s death had an impact that went beyond her family or the province of Quebec.
“It touched the whole of Canada,” she said after showing the committee a sampling of letters and cards her family received after Vincent’s death.
“It touched the world.”
“So this, C-51, is important,” she said, before adding in French: “Patrice Vincent must not have died in vain.”
Vincent, 53, was killed by Martin Couture-Rouleau, who had been on the RCMP’s radar and had been stopped from travelling to Turkey. However, police didn’t have enough evidence to arrest Couture-Rouleau before he carried out the Oct. 20, 2014 attack on Vincent and another soldier.
Louise Vincent said government agencies must stop working in silos and share information, which would be made easier by the provisions in Bill C-51. She told the committee that she sees many “positives” in the bill and is not worried that it would infringe on Canadians’ rights.
But numerous critics have slammed the proposed legislation, saying it gives Canada’s spy agency and police too much power. Many have also said that the bill would infringe on Canadians’ civil liberties and privacy.
Steve Anderson of Openmedia.ca told the public safety committee Monday that his digital-rights group has collected more than 100,000 signatures against Bill C-51.
“The more Canadians know about C-51, the less they like it,” Anderson said, calling the legislation a “blatant disrespect for our right to privacy.”
He told CTV’s Power Play earlier Monday that the bill is “dangerous” because it would turn Canadian Security Intelligence Service into “a secret police force, essentially, with little to no oversight.”
Sukanya Pillay of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association also testified before the committee, asking why the proposed legislation is necessary when Canadian law already has “robust” tools to help combat terrorism.
But Salim Mansur, a Western University professor who specializes in Islamism and international relations, told the committee Monday that terrorism threats are “real, not hypothetical,” which have only multiplied in recent years.
Garth Davies, a Simon Fraser University professor and researcher who has been studying terrorism for 20 years, echoed Mansur and said that Bill C-51 is necessary.
The anti-terror legislation would give CSIS the ability to actively disrupt terror plots, expand no-fly list powers and allow police to have greater control in limiting the movement of a suspect. It would also allow for increased intelligence-sharing between law-enforcement authorities. The Conservative government says those are all necessary tools in the fight against terror.
Earlier Monday, a topless woman was expelled from the House of Commons after exposing her breasts and shouting in the public gallery. The group FEMEN Quebec claimed responsibility, saying the disruption was a form of protest against Bill C-51.
With a report from The Canadian Press