Canada’s new Anti-Terrorism Act failed its first judicial test today when an Ontario judge declared unconstitutional a key part of the definition of what constitutes a terrorist act.
Ontario Superior Court Judge Douglas Rutherford ruled today that the reference to terrorist motivations, which outlaws certain acts committed “for political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause,” is a clear violation of Charter freedoms of conscience and religion, and freedom of thought, opinion and expression.
It’s a hate-crime statute, basically. New York has one too, which the Minutemen are trying to get the Manhattan D.A. to use against the fascists at Columbia who jumped Marvin Stewart. They make sense in societies where a minority group is subjected to such pervasive persecution that it’s worth impinging on freedom of thought to deter further persecutorial acts by criminalizing prejudice against them. I don’t think any American minority is so imperiled at this point in our history that they’re needed, except possibly women vis-a-vis domestic abuse. The question is, are Americans or Canadians as a whole so at risk from Islamist terrorism that it’s worth making religious motivation an element of the statute? Probably.
Will that do anything to deter terrorists? Probably not. Which is why this way is still the best way to deal with jihadis.