Bill C-51 played a role in thwarting ISIS attack

ISIS terrorist Aaron Driver couldn’t have been any clearer. In a homemade video, released by the RCMP, Driver didn’t mince words about his intentions or his hatred for Canada.

“I give my pledge of allegiance to (ISIS leader) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who’s called for jihad in the lands of crusaders, and I respond to this call,” said a masked Driver.

ISIS has long had its eye set on Canada. It has, for years, urged its jihadists to launch attacks against Canada and to kill Canadians. Aaron Driver listened.

His jihadist video was discovered by authorities in the U.S. before they passed it on to their Canadian counterparts on the same day Driver was killed. But his own parole terms restricted him from using a smart phone, the internet or social media.

So how did Driver upload and share his video?

During a press conference on Thursday, RCMP deputy commissioner Mike Cabana noted that Driver had “constant contact” with other ISIS terrorists abroad. Cabana said Driver was in “significant communication” with several “well-known, prominent members of ISIS.”

He was only a “lone wolf” terrorist insofar as he was alone at the time of his confrontation with police.

The reason Driver was placed under a peace bond – meaning he had restrictions on his civil liberties without being convicted of terrorism – is because of his communication with an ISIS jihadist in Texas. The Texas terrorist sent Driver a text message before killing two people i then name of jihad.

Driver may have been a depressed and deranged man, but he was also part of a network of radical Islamists. And the authorities were absolutely correct in issuing a peace bond to restrict Driver’s abilities to carry out an attack.

The problem, however, is that the legal tools at our disposal are often limited. The peace bond alone did not stop Driver from building homemade bombs, pushing out his martyrdom video and planning his attack – one that the RCMP say was “imminent.”

What likely did help authorities find and stop Aaron Driver from committing an atrocity on Canadian soil was Bill C-51 – Stephen Harper’s controversial anti-terrorism bill. Specifically, the surveillance and information-sharing provisions seem to have enabled various Canadian agencies to work together to swiftly identify and locate Driver in the small community of Strathroy, Ontario.

RCMP commissioner Mike Cabana noted, “how quickly this was all established is actually a testament to the level of collaboration that exists between law enforcement agencies and security agencies.”

“Without that level of collaboration, the outcome would have been quite different.”

The anti-terrorism bill that Justin Trudeau campaigned against in the last election is at least partially responsible for thwarting this attack. Luckily for Canadians, Trudeau hasn’t gotten around to making the amendments he campaigned for, and hopefully he will think twice about gutting the bill.

Bill C-51, and other laws that enhance our security, are frequently maligned by leftist politicians and activists.

Despite the rhetoric, Bill C-51 never threatened to turn Canada into a police state. The law simply gives our law enforcement officials the modern tools needed to tackle this new war.

And while our rights and freedoms should never be needlessly sacrificed, freedom means nothing if we are not safe.

Aaron Driver and his jihadist friends have been clear about their desire to wage a war against the West. We should be clear in giving our Canadian officials the tools they need to fight back.

This column appeared in the Sun papers on August 13, 2016