section 70(1)

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

The governor in council has the power to make orders to prohibit unauthorized assemblies for military training or drills.

SECTION WORDING

70. (1) The Governor in Council may, by proclamation, make orders (a) to prohibit assemblies, without lawful authority, of persons for the purpose (i) of training or drilling themselves, (ii) of being trained or drilled to the use of arms, or (iii) of practising military exercises; or (b) to prohibit persons when assembled for any purpose from training or drilling themselves or from being trained or drilled.

EXPLANATION

Section 70(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada empowers the Governor in Council to make proclamations to prohibit certain types of assemblies or gatherings of persons. Such prohibitions are aimed at preventing assemblies without lawful authority for training or drilling purposes, including training or drilling in the use of arms or practising military exercises. The timing, location, and purpose of the gatherings are all pertinent factors to consider for the Governor in Council when issuing these proclamations. The purpose of this section is to prevent the rise of potentially dangerous groups that may threaten public safety or the sovereignty of the state. The section empowers the Governor in Council when there is a real and present danger of unrest, to order the prohibition of any assembly or meeting that could pose a threat to national security. Section 70(1)(a) of the Criminal Code empowers the Governor in Council to issue orders to prevent assemblies for the purposes of training, drilling, or practising military exercises, while section 70(1)(b) prohibits those in assembly or when assembled without lawful authority from training or drilling themselves or being trained or drilled. When an assembly is deemed a threat to public safety, the Governor in Council may issue a proclamation to prohibit such gatherings. Anyone who violates this prohibition may be charged and prosecuted under the Criminal Code. This section is an essential tool that helps law enforcement authorities maintain social order and prevent potentially harmful assemblies from posing a danger to public safety.

COMMENTARY

Section 70(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada is an important provision that gives the Governor in Council the power to issue proclamations to prohibit unlawful assemblies of people for training, drilling, or practising military exercises without lawful authority. The provision is designed to regulate activities that could potentially pose a threat to public safety, national security, and the rule of law. The Criminal Code makes it a crime to participate in an unauthorized military organization or training. Section 70(1) complements this by allowing the government to take preventive measures to stop such activities from happening in the first place. By issuing a proclamation, the Governor in Council can prohibit any assembly of people for the purposes of training, drilling themselves, or being trained or drilled to use arms or practice military exercise. The provision is not limited to cases where people are assembling with the intent to carry out unlawful activities. In fact, it applies even if the purpose of the assembly is entirely lawful. For instance, if a group of people decides to assemble to learn how to use firearms safely and responsibly, they could still be prohibited from doing so if they do not have lawful authority to engage in such activities. This could include licensing or permits from the relevant government agencies. Section 70(1)(b) allows the Governor in Council to prohibit people from training or drilling themselves or from being trained or drilled when assembled for any purpose. This provision is intended to prevent people from using any lawful assembly as a front for unlawful training or drilling. For instance, a peaceful protest against a government policy could be used by a group of people to camouflage their real intention of training and drilling themselves to engage in armed resistance against the government. Section 70(1) does not apply to situations where people assemble for lawful purposes, such as sports or cultural events, but the provision gives the government significant power to regulate assembly and association rights. The proclamation issued under this section can impose penalties on those who breach its provisions. The penalty for violating a prohibition order can be up to ten years imprisonment, which is a significant deterrent for even those who may have been considering engaging in unlawful activities. While the provision is an essential tool for maintaining public safety and national security, it also raises significant questions about the limits of the government's power to regulate assembly and association rights. Prohibiting people from engaging in lawful activities simply because they do not have lawful authority could be seen as an infringement of the freedom of association and the right to gather peacefully. It is, therefore, important for any proclamation issued under this section to be properly justified and strictly necessary. In conclusion, Section 70(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada is a provision that gives the government power to regulate assembly and training for potential military activities. While this power is necessary to maintain national security and public safety, it also raises significant questions about the balance between protecting these interests and protecting individual rights. Ultimately, any restrictions placed on assembly and association rights must be justified and proportionate.

STRATEGY

Section 70(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada gives the Governor in Council the power to make orders to prohibit assemblies of persons for the purpose of training or drilling themselves, being trained or drilled to the use of arms, or practicing military exercises. This section is an important tool for governments to maintain public safety and security, especially in times of emergency or national crisis. However, it also poses some strategic considerations when dealing with it. One of the strategic considerations is the potential for backlash from the public and civil rights groups. The prohibition of assemblies or gatherings can be seen as a violation of people's rights to free speech, assembly and association. Therefore, authorities must be careful in exercising their power under this section and ensure that it is done in a manner that is reasonable, proportional and consistent with the rule of law and human rights principles. Another strategic consideration is the effectiveness of this section in achieving its intended purpose. Prohibiting assemblies or gatherings may deter or prevent criminal and terrorist activities, but it may also drive them underground and make it more difficult for authorities to detect and prevent them. Therefore, it is important to balance the need for security with the need for freedom of expression and association, and to adopt a multifaceted approach that involves intelligence gathering, community engagement, and appropriate legal measures. Strategies that could be employed when dealing with this section include: 1. Risk assessment: Authorities should engage in a careful assessment of the risks and threats posed by the assemblies or gatherings in question, based on intelligence and other relevant information. This will help them determine whether a prohibition order is necessary and proportionate. 2. Dialogue and engagement: Authorities should engage in dialogue and consultation with the organizers and participants of the assemblies or gatherings, as well as with civil society groups and other stakeholders. This will help build trust, identify concerns, and find solutions that are acceptable to all parties. 3. Legal measures: Authorities should use legal measures, including sections 83.3 to 83.5 of the Criminal Code, to address specific criminal and terrorist activities that may be associated with the assemblies or gatherings, rather than relying solely on a blanket prohibition order. 4. Communication and transparency: Authorities should communicate openly and transparently about their decisions and actions, and provide clear information about the reasons for any prohibition order. This will help build public trust and confidence in the authorities. 5. Review and evaluation: Authorities should regularly review and evaluate the effectiveness of any prohibition order, and be willing to modify or revoke it if necessary. This will help ensure that the prohibition order is achieving its intended purpose without unduly infringing on human rights and freedoms. In conclusion, the strategic considerations when dealing with section 70(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada involve balancing the need for security with the protection of human rights and freedoms. Employing a multifaceted approach that involves risk assessment, dialogue and engagement, legal measures, communication and transparency, and review and evaluation will help authorities achieve this balance and maintain public safety and security in a manner that is consistent with the rule of law and human rights principles.

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