SIRC Releases Public Report On CSIS Activities

October 28, 2003 – The Annual Report of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) was tabled in Parliament today by the Honourable Wayne Easter, Solicitor General of Canada. The Report provides a public summary of SIRC's activities for the period 2002-2003.

SIRC was established in 1984 to provide assurance to Parliament that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) is complying with the law in the performance of its duties and functions. In doing so, SIRC ensures that CSIS does not undermine Canadians' fundamental rights and freedoms. The Report, entitled An Operational Review of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, contains summaries of in-depth reviews undertaken by SIRC, as well as inquiries into complaints. SIRC is the only independent, external body with the legal mandate and expertise to review CSIS activities and therefore plays a vital function in ensuring the democratic accountability of one of the Government's most powerful organizations.

The Chair of SIRC, the Honourable Paule Gauthier, said that “Parliament and the people of Canada must have confidence that the Service is acting within the law. Our role is to show that knowledgeable individuals, independent from CSIS and from government but familiar with the security intelligence environment, will render an honest and fair-minded assessment based on the facts.

In 2002-2003, SIRC conducted five in-depth reviews into CSIS activities, three of which dealt with terrorism or politically motivated violence (see attachment 1). Two of these reviews – concerning the Ahmed Ressam matter and CSIS's investigation into Sunni Islamic extremism in two regions – complete public undertakings made by SIRC in its last annual report. The review of CSIS's investigation of certain domestic threats reflects SIRC's special interest in any CSIS operation that has the potential to impact upon lawful advocacy, protest and dissent. SIRC also examined several CSIS arrangements with foreign intelligence services, and CSIS's role in collecting foreign intelligence in Canada.

During the same period, SIRC dealt with 65 complaints about CSIS. A total of 48 were closed of which five resulted in reported decisions. It should be noted that not all complaints result in a formal hearing or written decision. In some cases, the complaint was determined not to be within SIRC's jurisdiction, others were redirected to another organization, addressed by administrative action or the complainant decided to withdraw his/her complaint. The summaries of the five complaints which resulted in written decisions are included in the Report.

In preparing its Report, SIRC is constantly challenged to provide enough information to support its findings, while still protecting classified information and the privacy of individuals. Nevertheless, to the best of SIRC's ability, and within these legal constraints, every study conducted, every query pursued and every complaint acted upon is reflected in the pages of SIRC's Report.


  1. Summary of Reviews
  2. SIRC's Role and Responsibilities

For further information, please contact:

Suzanne Beaubien
Research Manager
(613) 990-8445
or consult

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