Credits: File photo
OTTAWA - The government will support a private member's bill that would make it a crime to wear a mask or disguise during a riot, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Sunday.
The Concealment of Identity Act would create two Criminal Code offences with maximum penalties of five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.
"Destructive and reckless behavior damages communities and should not be tolerated," Nicholson said.
Wild Rose Tory MP Blake Richards introduced Bill C-309 in the Commons in April. Debate began last week. Government support usually means the bill will pass.
Richards says there is a lawful excuse provision in the bill that would allow people for religious reasons to cover their faces and those with medical conditions to wear bandages or devices that could obscure their faces.
"This bill will hopefully prevent peaceful gatherings from becoming unlawful assemblies or riots," he said. "I think this will create a preventative effect and deter these kinds of situations from developing in the first place."
Richards said the intent of the bill is to go after those who are hiding their faces to incite trouble.