Winnipeg Town Hall National Security Framework - December 6, 2016

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

This town hall public consultation took place on December 6th, 2016 from 18:00 – 20:00 at the South Holiday Inn Hotel in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The meeting was hosted by Sean Casey, Parliamentary Secretary, to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and Member of Parliament for Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The session was moderated by Mary Pat MacKinnon from Hill and Knowlton Strategies.

The session began with opening remarks from Parliamentary Secretary Sean Casey who expressed the government’s desire to hear Canadians’ priorities with respect to reshaping Canada’s national security framework. He provided a brief overview of the 10 commitments made by the Liberals during the election with regards to national security and communicated the two main objectives of the consultation: to ensure that Canada’s national security framework will be effective in keeping Canadians safe; while safeguarding their rights and freedoms.

To help frame the discussion, Mary Pat MacKinnon then reiterated the three over-arching questions presented in the background documentation: 

  1. Accountability: What steps should the Government take to strengthen the accountability of Canada's national security institutions?
  2. Preventing Radicalization to Violence: Are there particular prevention efforts that the Government should pursue?
  3. Protecting Security and Rights: How to best achieve the dual objective of keeping Canadians safe and safeguarding rights and freedoms?

The two key topics emerging from the discussion on the three themes were: the need for and value of community-based initiatives for preventing radicalization; and implementing the right checks and balances to ensure accountability.

Preventing radicalization: A perspective shared was that the source of racialization could stem from unintended marginalization of vulnerable populations; due to factors such as language barriers, and being unfamiliar with Canadian culture and norms.  Suggestions revolved around improving on-going community-based support services, and public education campaigns. 

Strengthening accountability: Implementing the right checks and balances, including proper authorization, processes and guidelines would deter opportunities for abuse and strengthen accountability. A mixed-party oversight body was also favoured over one solely represented by parliamentarians, i.e., a mix of experts and elected officials.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Parliamentary Secretary Sean Casey noted that this is the first time in Canadian history that Canadians have been invited to help shape the national security framework and that the Government of Canada is determined to safeguard both national security and the rights and freedoms of Canadians.

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