Public Views on the Anti-Terrorism Act (formerly Bill C-36)

2.0 INTRODUCTION


2. INTRODUCTION

This report presents input from all 22 focus groups in the second study, together with any differences in opinion among participants across the various demographic classifications (i.e. age, gender, or location). These differences are highlighted where relevant.

As was done in the first phase of the research, the language and terminology used by respondents is included wherever possible throughout the report. Double quotation marks have been used to highlight this language. Verbatim citations are also included (in italics and introduced by arrows) to illustrate key points made by focus group participants during the discussions.

While the results have not been broken down and analyzed separately by location, specific examples have been drawn from particular locations and groups throughout the report.

The report begins with an executive summary, which briefly outlines the background and purpose of the study and the methodology used, along with the key findings of the research. It then presents a more detailed picture of the background and methodology before delving more deeply into the findings, including highlighting participant awareness of, and reaction to, the provisions of the Anti-terrorism Act. The report ends with some concluding comments.

2.1 BACKGROUND, PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES

Background

In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and in response to the increasing global threat of terrorism, the Government of Canada sought to strengthen its approach to combating terrorism and ensuring public security. Canada's Anti-terrorism Act received Royal Assent in December 2001.

A Parliamentary review of the anti-terrorism legislation as a whole is mandated to take place within three years of the Act receiving Royal Assent. This study is part of the on-going efforts undertaken by the Research and Statistics Division of the Department of Justice Canada to help inform that Parliamentary review.

There was a perception surrounding the enactment of the legislation, as was expressed in the media, that certain minority groups might be unfairly targeted as a result of the provisions contained in the Anti-terrorism Act. Therefore, in March 2003, the Research and Statistics Division sought to obtain the views of minority groups on the different provisions of the Act. The firm Créatec + was contracted to organize focus group discussions with members of minority groups across the country and to report on the results. A total of 16 focus group sessions were conducted in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver with participants from approximately 60 ethno-cultural minority backgrounds. Créatec + reported on the results in Minority Views on the Canadian Anti-terrorism Act (Formerly Bill C-36): A Qualitative Study.[1]

In preparation for the mandated Parliamentary review of the Act, the Department of Justice Canada was also interested in undertaking in 2004 qualitative research on public views on the Act. Therefore, the Research and Statistics Division undertook a second study with this purpose in mind.

Purpose

The second focus group study builds on the qualitative study carried out in the first phase of the research which involved examining the views of visible minority groups in Canada. The purpose of this second study was to obtain the views and examine the attitudes of the larger spectrum of the Canadian population with regard to the legislation, its specific provisions, and its potential impact on their personal and community lives.

Although both focus group studies form part of the research undertaken on the Anti-terrorism Act, the results of the two studies are not directly compared in this report.

Research Objectives

While the main purpose of this study was to obtain the views of the Canadian public on the Act and some of its key components, it also sought to gain insight as to why such viewpoints were held. More specifically, the following four issues were to be explored:

  1. awareness of Canadian anti-terrorism legislation and Government of Canada actions since 9/11;
  2. awareness of, and attitudes towards, the Act in general, and some particular provisions;
  3. perceived impact of the Act on people's personal lives; and
  4. interest in further information about the Act in general and about certain aspects.

[1] Les études de marché Créatec +, Minority Views on the Canadian Anti-terrorism Act (Formerly Bill C-36): A Qualitative Study, Ottawa: Research and Statistics Division, Department of Justice Canada, 2003.

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