Justice Douglas Rutherford of Ontario Superior Court ruled that a section of the Anti-terrorism Act that defines "terrorism" violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Last week, a section of the Security of Information Act was thrown out, and now a highly questionable piece of the anti-terrorism law has been struck down. Canada continues to move in the right direction.
The ruling does not mean that Mohammed Momin Khawaja, the first person charged under the act, will be freed.
Khawaja has been in custody since he was arrested by police on March 29, 2004 in connection with seven criminal charges related to allegations he took part in and helped an extremist organization in Britain.
Khawaja, 27, a software developer who was living in the Ottawa area, was expected to face a trial in January.
Rutherford decided to sever a section in the law that defines ideological, religious or political motivations for criminal acts. The rest of the law remains in place.
"Motive, used as an essential element for a crime, is foreign to criminal law, humanitarian law, and the law regarding crimes against humanity," Rutherford said in his judgment.
"While the hate motive may be an aggravating factor at sentencing, in the traditional criminal law, motive — the reasons 'why' someone commits a criminal act — neither establishes nor excuses a crime."
In a more important, and more sensible ruling, an Ontario judge has struck down part of the Anti-terrorism Act.