Ontario PCs will table bill to strip returning extremist fighters of license, benefits
Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government will table a bill next week that strips returning terrorists of their driver’s licenses and benefits, Premier Doug Ford and MP Dave Smith confirmed on Twitter
“If you leave Canada to go fight for ISIS, you should not be welcomed back with open arms. Since Justin Trudeau doesn’t seem to take this seriously, MPP @DaveSmithPtbo is taking action to send a message that there are consequences for leaving Ontario to commit indefensible crimes,” Ford tweeted Friday night.
If you leave Canada to go fight for ISIS, you should not be welcomed back with open arms. Since Justin Trudeau doesn’t seem to take this seriously, MPP @DaveSmithPtbo is taking action to send a message that there are consequences for leaving Ontario to commit indefensible crimes. https://t.co/83zaya5PcD
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) October 20, 2018
The tweet included a link to a Toronto Sun story outlining the details of a bill called the Terrorist Activities Sanctions Act, which the Sun states will strip returning ISIS fighters of Ontario drivers licences, hunting and fishing licences, access to OHIP, grants and post-secondary education loans, disability income, housing support, rent-geared-to-income under the Housing Services Act, and WSIB coverage.
Peterborough-Kawartha MP Dave Smith, who is reportedly sponsoring the bill, also tweeted out the Sun’s story late Friday night, confirming that he will be tabling the bill.
“I gave you my word that I would look after the best interests of the people of Ontario. I will table this bill next week,” he said.
— Dave Smith (@DaveSmithPtbo) October 20, 2018
The comments seem to follow an exchange in the House of Common’s Question Period earlier this week where Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer questioned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about whether he’d “invited” a British national suspected of engaging in terrorist activities to Canada.
“This government proactively reached out to try to bring this individual, who has fought with a terrorist organization, back to Canada. They took it upon themselves to reach out to bring this individual to Canada, why?” Scheer demanded on Tuesday.
WATCH: Scheer demands explanation from Liberals for ‘proactively reaching out’ to Jihadi Jack
Trudeau responded to Scheer’s questions broadly, stating that his government takes “with the utmost seriousness, the threats posed by travelling extremists.”
The individual referenced by Scheer is Jack Letts, a Muslim convert, who traveled to Syria in 2014. The British press eventually nicknamed him “Jihadi Jack.” Letts is a U.K. citizen, but obtained a Canadian citizenship through his father.
WATCH: Parents of ‘Jihadi Jack’ appeal to Canada for help
Hundreds of ISIS foreign fighters, as well as their wives and children, have been captured by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. Letts is one of several Canadians being held by Kurdish authorities, though he and his parents have denied his involvement in any extremist activity.
The U.K. has made it clear they will not assist him in any way, and because of his Canadian citizenship, Ottawa has stepped in to help, though they’ve made it clear there’s little they can do.
A transcript between Letts and Global Affairs Canada released to Global News shows that officials have reached out to Letts and some of the other detainees.
Global News has reached out to the Premier and to MP Dave Smith for more details about the bill.
In the wake of Ford’s statements, former CSIS analyst Phil Gurski posted his thoughts on the bill, primarily criticizing Ford for infringing on a crime he states should be “prosecuted at the federal level.”
“Look, I am just as enraged about Canadians who fought for IS as the next citizen and I think that they should face charges upon their return – if they return, which I am also against for reasons I have spelled out on many occasions. However, who does Doug Ford think he is to say that he can do what he says he can?” he wrote.