Public Views on the Anti-Terrorism Act
(formerly Bill C-36)



In the fall of 2001, the Canadian Parliament passed new anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-36. This Bill has taken steps to combat terrorism and terrorist activities at home and abroad through tough new anti-terrorism measures. The new package of legislation: creates measures to deter, disable, identify, prosecute, convict and punish terrorist groups; provides new investigative tools to law enforcement and national security agencies; and ensures that Canadian values of respect and fairness are preserved and the root causes of hatred are addressed through stronger laws against hate crimes and propaganda. The package also includes rigorous safeguards to ensure that the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians are respected.

Bill C-36 is not just a reaction to events, but also to the United Nations Resolution (U.N.-S.C.R. 1373) that required all countries to implement anti-terrorism measures.


Any act -- committed or threatened -- in or outside Canada that falls within Canada's Criminal Code, AND all terrorist activities defined by the United Nations' Conventions that Canada has signed.

  • Includes the act itself, commission of, conspiracy, counselling, threatening…
  • Lawful protest activities are specifically excluded.

IN ADDITION, 3 other criteria have to be met

  1. The activity has to be motivated in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause.
  2. The activity has to be intended to:
    • intimidate the public or a segment of the public (in or outside Canada)

    • compel a government, a person, or an organization to do or not to do something (in or outside Canada).
  3. The intended goal of the activity is:
    • harm through violence or death, endangering someone's life or seriously risking the health or safety of people

    • to interfere with or seriously disrupt an essential service, facility or system, public or private, other than as a result of work stoppage, protest, advocacy, or dissent.


The Solicitor General of Canada, based on sources of information, recommends to the Federal Cabinet that a group be designated and listed as a terrorist group when:

  1. the group is acting on behalf of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist organization
  2. when there are reasonable grounds to believe the group or person has carried out, tried to carry out, participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity.

This list is public and shared internationally - with governments of other countries.

The listed group or person has the ability to appeal the listing.

It is the Federal Cabinet that decides to make the designation.


  • It is an offence to hold or provide a property or raise funds knowing that it will be used in whole or in part to carry out or help terrorist activities or a terrorist group (listed or not listed).
  • There is a reporting obligation for anyone who knows about any property, which is owned, controlled by or on behalf of a terrorist group.
  • Any property owned or controlled by or on behalf of a terrorist group may be frozen. Procedures for seizing, restraining and forfeiting the property are very similar to the previous Criminal Code.
  • Any property could be forfeited if it is
    • Used in whole or in part to carry out or help terrorist activities or by or for the benefit of a terrorist group
    • Owned, controlled by or on behalf of a terrorist group.
  • If someone or a group doesn't know they are involved in financing a terrorist activity, they can appeal and show that the offence was done without knowing.
  • Financing offences have a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.


Investigative powers

  1. Any terrorist offence can be wire-tapped
    • Consent from a judge is required but
    • it is not necessary to demonstrate that no other methods would work
    • the person being wire-tapped doesn't have to be notified for up to 1 year and you can wiretap for up to 1 year (instead of 90 days for other criminal offences).
  2. Only after following a strict process that brings an individual to court, can they be questioned if it is believed that they have information about
    • a terrorist offence

    • someone suspected of committing or planning to commit a terrorist offence
  3. Information doesn't have to be used only to build evidence, but can be used to prevent a terrorist act. For example
    • it doesn't have to be about a terrorist activity, but about an offence that has been or will be committed.
    • The person questioned doesn't have to be the accused. People can be brought in as witnesses who can provide information.
    • It is an offence to refuse to give information
    • Although not a terrorist offence.

Preventive powers

  1. People can be ordered to stay within a certain area or location, and need to be accessible at all times. This is more formally known as a recognizance with conditions and is not unlike a peace bond, which emphasizes, "keeping the peace."
    • When there are reasonable grounds to fear that a person is going to commit or will commit a terrorist offence (e.g. could be related to financing or hiding someone).
      • Police get a peace bond from a judge and conditions can be imposed. If conditions are broken, the person can be arrested.
  2. Preventive arrest when there are reasonable grounds to believe that
    • a terrorist act will be committed or is about to be committed.

    • the arrest of a person (not necessarily the person who is going to commit the act), is necessary to prevent a terrorist act from being carried out.
    • Police get a warrant and the person is arrested.
      • If police believe it is urgent, the person can be arrested without a warrant.
        • In such a case, the person has to be brought before a judge within 24 hours.
        • This procedure is a technique to get the individual before a court for a ruling on whether to impose a peace bond.
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