How and why Bill S-215 was passed:
With Bill 215 Canada is an example to the world as the first
country to explicitly include “Suicide Bombing” in our criminal
law to help prosecute the organizers, teachers and sponsors!
When suicide bombing became the major weapon of terrorists, and a term in common parlance, Canadians Against Suicide Bombing (CANASB) helped ask Parliament to pass Bill S-215 to explicitly define “suicide bombing” as an act of terrorism in the Canadian Criminal Code. It was passed unanimously by Parliament in December 2010 and was proclaimed to come into effect on November 30, 2011.
CANASB was established in 2004 as a federal not-for-profit Corporation, with officers and directors involved in inter-faith activities, public service and academic affairs, when no country had explicitly criminalized suicide bombing. Moreover many world leaders had never condemned suicide bombing and several said it was an acceptable means for a particular cause. CANASB, however, believe that no matter the rights or wrongs of any conflict, suicide bombing against civilians can never be justified.
CANASB then helped generate Bill S-215 when former Prime Minister and Justice Minister Kim Campbell, as Secretary General of the Club de Madrid, advised us:
“It is this whole process that has to be denied legitimacy by holding all the participants culpable in law and opinion…We need to create a seamless web of legal liability around terrorist acts. What is perhaps not clearly established and could be done by your campaign is to extend EXPLICIT legal liability for terrorism committed by suicide bombers to ALL who have played a role in encouraging, assisting or rewarding the act”.
We, therefore, decided to ask Parliament to cover suicide bombing explicitly to ensure that anyone who organizes teaches or sponsors suicide bombing is criminally liable in Canada. A private member’s Bill to achieve this objective was sponsored by Senator Jerry Grafstein who worked relentlessly to explain the need for the legislation. When he retired in January 2010 Senator Linda Frum in the Senate, and MP Kelly Block in the House of Commons, carried on with the Bill.
The Bill and CANASB received support from around the the world which included Iraqi web sites in Muslim design. Our www.canasb.ca
web site has information about our activities and also shows the countries beginning in Sri Lanka in the 1980’s, suffering from suicide bombing.
CANASB received encouragement from several members of the Conservative Cabinet and senior members of the Liberal Party. Contacts in the NDP and the Bloc Québécois aided in explaining our objective.
Distinguished Canadian criminal lawyers told the Senate Parliamentary Committee that explicitly covering suicide bombing is of symbolic and practical benefit and can help prosecute and punish the organizers, teachers and sponsors.
After several Parliamentary delays the Bill, with the support of Prime Minister Harper and the government, passed unanimously in the House and Senate and Canada became an example to the world with this Made-in-Canada Initiative.
The Honourable Jerry Grafstein has published a book, "Suicide Bombing: Parliament Speaks" with a complete history of all the Bills, Parliament and Senate debates, hearings, final passage and proclamation, which he dedicated to CANASB. He was a principal in the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in the Europe Parliamentary Assembly, the largest parliamentary association in the world, and is asking his connections internationally and in the US to consider similar legislation.