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Canada adopts sweeping homeland security law

The Canadian government has passed extensive legislation to prevent terrorist attacks and increase public safety. The Public Safety Act amends 11 separate legislative provisions across the energy, health care, banking, transportation, and defence communities.

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• Data sharing and aviation security: air carriers must provide information on passengers to Transport Canada and law enforcement upon request. Government entities that receive such information must destroy it within seven days, unless law enforcement "reasonably" requires it for an extended period of time.

• Terrorist financing: the Canadian government has delegated additional authority to financial regulators to obtain and share information on whether financial institutions are complying with terrorist financing legislation. The Public Safety Act specifically allows Canada's financial regulators to retrieve information from government databases related to national security in order to uncover money-laundering activities. The law also delegates authority to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada (FINTRAC) to negotiate with US financial institution supervisors and regulators regarding terrorist financing activities.

• Energy infrastructure: the Public Safety Act grants the National Energy Board, Canada's federal energy regulator, expanded power to regulate the security of installations. These include both natural gas and electric power lines. In addition, the law permits authorities to waive regulatory requirements for constructing new power facilities where there are critical shortages due to terrorist activity.

• National security and defence: the Public Safety Act also modernises procedures for involving military personnel in emergencies. Specifically, "emergency" is now defined to include armed conflict short of formally declared war. A number of powers to use military force in events such as terrorist attacks are tied to the existence of an emergency.

Source: Zeichner Risk Assessment Newsletter. To subscribe to this weekly newsletter, click here.

Date: 18th May 2004 •Region: N.America •Type: Article •Topic: Terrorism
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