Intelligence reform needed to rebuild confidence, Muslim group tells MPs

By Jim Bronskill
Canadian Press | December 12, 2017

OTTAWA — Reform of national security agencies — not just more oversight and review — is needed to rebuild confidence and trust, a national Muslim group says.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims told MPs studying the Liberal government’s wide-ranging national security bill Tuesday that new watchdog powers won’t fix the “culture of impunity” and systemic ills within Canadian security agencies.

The council’s executive director, Ihsaan Gardee, said the bill strengthens the security establishment, even as the available evidence suggests disarray — bias and top-down bullying — within the institutions that carry out intelligence-gathering and enforcement.

“Oversight of those agencies is not sufficient,” Gardee said during a meeting of the House of Commons public safety committee. “Real reform is necessary.”

Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus, the party’s public safety critic, challenged Gardee to provide some specific examples of the lack of confidence.

Gardee pointed to high-profile cases of Canadian Arabs, including Maher Arar, being subjected to abuse abroad, with the actions of Canadian agencies being partly to blame.

. . .

Faisal Bhabha, legal adviser for National Council of Canadian Muslims, said the no-fly list should be scrapped.

“No amount of tinkering can solve the underlying problem, which is that the no-fly list is one of the most damaging instruments of racial and religious profiling currently in place in this country,” he testified.

“It was an interesting experiment but its time has come to an end.”

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