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Sit Down!!! Part Two

(Addendum to Part One)

THE CANADIAN ISLAMIC CONGRESS
MEDIA COMMUNIQUE

Nov. 8, 2006

ISLAMIC CONGRESS WELCOMES JUSTICE RUTHERFORD’S RULING ON ANTI-TERRORISM LAW —
FOCUS ON CRIME, NOT MOTIVE, WILL PROTECT CANADIANS’ RIGHTS TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, IDEOLOGY AND BELIEF, SAYS CIC

Following an extensive study by its legal experts the Canadian Islamic Congress has welcomed a ruling of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice striking down part of the definition of Terrorism under Canada’s Anti- Terrorism laws. In his ruling, Mr. Justice Rutherford found that part of the definition, which required proof of political, religious, or ideological motive for conviction of a terrorism-related offence, was an unjustifiable infringement of constitutional rights.


Prior to the ruling, the definition of terrorist activity contained three elements. The act had to:

(1) be motivated by religious, ideological, or political motives;
(2) aimed at intimidating the population or a group within the population; and
(3) cause death or destruction.

Citing prominent legal scholars such as Professors James Stribopoulos, Kent Roach, and Oren Gross, Justice Rutherford found that the inclusion of political, religious, or ideological motive(s) as an essential element of the offence would focus and encourage the attention of law enforcement on the political, religious, and ideological beliefs and expression of individuals and groups.

Inclusion of these motives would also cause suspicion and anger to be directed towards all persons having any connection with the religious or political grouping of those accused of terrorist activity. Due to these factors, Justice Rutherford correctly found that there would be a particularly adverse effect on such groups as Canadian Muslims.

The learned judge cited the writings of Professors Kent Roach, Maureen Webb and Irwin Cotler in noting that motive, as an essential element of an offence, is a foreign concept to criminal law; that is, a particular motive or lack of it would not excuse the crime in question.

Citing terrorist incidents such as the Air India and Oklahoma City bombings, Justice Rutherford observed that the particular motivations of the perpetrators did not make the acts any more or less terrorizing, or intimidating for the victims. Therefore, there was no compelling benefit or justification for the inclusion of political, religious, or ideological motives that would justify the resulting and the chilling impact on freedom of religion, association, and expression. The judge concluded by severing or removing the motive requirement as an essential element of terrorism related offences.

According to the CIC the removal of motive from the anti-terrorism laws will assist in addressing the widespread stereotyping, discrimination and profiling of Canadian Muslims, the overwhelming majority of whom are peaceful and caring citizens. The Court’s ruling, combined with the findings of the Arar inquiry, indicates that ordinary Canadian citizens can take comfort in the fact that the Canadian judicial system can be relied upon to protect their basic rights and freedoms in a post 9/11 environment. Further, the removal of the motive requirement will also focus the attention of law enforcement and prosecution on what is really important — acts that aim to intimidate the population and are designed to cause death, destruction, and intimidation.

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Filed under: Current Affairs, Riposte

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