The Anti-Terrorism Act and Security Measures in Canada: Public Views, Impacts and Travel Experiences

5. Results

5. Results

5.1 Awareness and Concern

The first section of the survey focused on participants' awareness of government action in combating terrorism and their concern over terrorism in Canada. The data presented in this section can be found in Table 1 of Appendix B.

Overall, 58% of the respondents were concerned about the threat of terrorism in Canada. However, 63% felt that the threat of terrorism had been exaggerated and we should be careful not to overreact. Half (50%) of the participants felt that they were informed about what Canada was doing to combat terrorism with slightly more than half (58%) approving of the governments' performance with respect to this area. For those who approved, the main reasons provided were that the government was "doing a good job/what was needed" (27%) or that terrorism is a threat for which we have to be prepared (11%). About one-third (30%) of respondents indicated that they did not approve of Canada's performance mostly because they did not think enough was being done (23%) or they expressed concerns regarding the ease of crossing borders and lax immigration (19%).

Half (50%) of the respondents felt that the response of the Canadian government to combat terrorism was "about right" although, 36% felt the measures did not go far enough.

When asked about specific actions taken by the Canadian government over the last few years to combat terrorism, only 1% of respondents could identify the ATA or Bill C-36 by name. Slightly more than half (53%) of the respondents identified increased security measures at borders and/or airports as one of the actions taken by the government. The second most common action indicated by respondents was the increased screening of immigrants/refugees entering Canada (12%). Fewer visible minority respondents mentioned increased security at airports when compared to non-minority respondents (41% vs. 57%). Furthermore, a smaller proportion of visible minority respondents specified increased screening of immigrants/refugees as an action taken by the Canadian government when compared to non-minority respondents (9% vs. 13%).

Respondents who could not initially identify any specific actions taken by the government were asked generally if they were aware of any laws passed to deal with terrorism. More than two-thirds (65%) of respondents indicated they were unaware of any laws that had been passed.

The survey also asked those who had not mentioned the ATA/Bill C-36 if they had ever heard of the legislation. More than half (57%) of the participants indicated that they had not heard of the ATA/Bill C-36. Of those who had heard of the ATA/Bill C-36, when asked what it consisted of, almost three-quarters (70%) indicated that they did not know. When asked about how "tough" the ATA was, slightly more than half (54%) of the respondents felt that it was "tough" legislation.

All respondents were read a summary of the ATA, including its specific measures, and were subsequently asked a number of questions. Even after being provided with the summary, most respondents (82%) continued to maintain that they were unfamiliar with the Act. While familiarity between both groups was low, non-minority respondents were less familiar with the provisions than visible minority respondents (77% vs. 83%).

The majority (80%) of respondents perceived Canada's anti-terrorism laws as "less tough" when compared to American legislation while fewer (44%) indicated that they believed the laws in the United Kingdom were "less tough" than Canada's legislation. A greater proportion of non-minority respondents felt Canada's laws were "less tough" than the American laws when compared to the responses of visible minority participants (82% vs. 75%).

Participants were also asked if, under the ATA, federal and provincial governments were obligated to publish annual reports related to the use of preventative arrest and investigative hearings. Almost half (48%) reported that they were unaware of any reporting obligations pursuant to the ATA. Fifty-three percent of respondents indicated that they felt there were safeguards in the ATA to protect Canadians' rights and freedoms. Non-minority respondents were more likely to indicate there were safeguards compared to visible minority respondents (55% vs. 47%) (see Figure 1). While very few of the respondents were ware of the ATA, most respondents (73%) were aware that Parliament is required to review all aspects of the ATA but only 12% were aware that this review was currently underway.

Few participants (5%) were aware that, as part of the ATA review, the Department of Justice had established an Internet site for the general public. Further, few participants (8%) were aware of the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security. [5]

(Q.13b) Are There any safeguards in the Anti-Terrorism Act intended to protect Canadians' rights and Freedoms? - YES visible minority 47% and Non-minority 55%

(Q.13b) Are There any safeguards in the Anti-Terrorism Act intended to protect Canadians' rights and Freedoms? - YES visible minority 47% and Non-minority 55%

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When asked if the participants were interested in receiving more information on the ATA, two-thirds (66%) indicated interest. Significantly more visible minority respondents were interested in receiving information than non-minority respondents (72% vs. 64%). Those that were interested in receiving information on the ATA indicated that they would prefer to receive the information through pamphlets mailed to their household or via the Internet (53% and 36%, respectively).


[5] The Cross Cultural Round Table was established to engage Canada’s diverse communities and get their input on security matters.

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