Facing a February 23 deadline set by the Supreme Court of Canada, the House of Commons passed a new law on February 4 authorizing security certificates for non-citizens deemed to be a potential danger to the country. The Court unanimously struck down the old one as a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it failed to provide a fair avenue of defense for those charged.
The new law, which is expected to get Senate passage and royal assent in short order, provides for a security-cleared lawyer, acting for the defense but keeping some information from the defense, to have access to secret information on the basis of which the certificate is issued. Many lawyers believe that this law is also vulnerable to constitutional challenge. Among other things, it does not give the special lawyer access to all the secret information.
The socialist New Democratic Party and the separatist Parti Qébécois voted against the law, but it passed overwhelmingly with Conservative and Liberal support, though the Liberals expressed concern about some features of the law.
Currently, there are five Muslim men, one of whom is still in a penitentiary, and a Sri Lankan Tamil, under the certificates, while the others are out under strict bail conditions. All are resisting deportation for fear of harm should they return to their home countries.