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Canada Set to Boost Spy Agency Powers Against Terror Threats

  • Reuters

FILE - Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) director Michel Coulombe (L) waits to testify before the Commons public safety and national security committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Oct. 8, 2014.

FILE - Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) director Michel Coulombe (L) waits to testify before the Commons public safety and national security committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Oct. 8, 2014.

The Canadian government intends to boost the powers of its spy agency, CSIS, to investigate terrorist threats outside the country and to protect spy informants, Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney said on Thursday.

"The events in recent months in Iraq and Syria have shown us that we cannot become complacent in the face of terrorism," Blaney told a news conference after informing his provincial counterparts of his legislative plans.

"Now more than ever, a motivated individual or a group of extremists with access to technology can do significant harm to Canada from thousands of miles away," he said.

The government was particularly committed to addressing the threat of homegrown residents who become radicalized, and what he called the growing problem of extremist travelers.

The legislation will allow CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, to track and investigate potential terrorists when they travel abroad and ultimately lead to their prosecution, according to Blaney.

He said that as of early 2014, the government was aware of 130 individuals with Canadian connections abroad who were suspected of terrorism-related activities. He has said 80 had returned home and police were investigating them.

The new bill also would ensure CSIS can protect the identity of its sources, he said.

A statement from the minister did not elaborate on the powers sought.

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