SIRC Releases 2005–06 Annual Report

October 26, 2006 – The Annual Report of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) was tabled in Parliament today by the Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety. The Report summarizes – to the extent privacy and national security permit – seven reviews completed by SIRC in 2005–06, as well as four decisions rendered in complaint cases.

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 safeguards Canadians' fundamental rights and freedoms. SIRC is the only independent, external body with the legal mandate and expertise to review CSIS activities, so it is a cornerstone for ensuring the accountability of one of the Government's most powerful organizations.

The Chair of SIRC, the Honourable Gary Filmon, said “SIRC has made every effort to ensure CSIS is held accountable for its actions and choices.” He cautioned Canadians “not to assume that the demands of public safety and our democratic values are in an irreconcilable conflict with each other. A society that bends the rules confirms the worst prejudices and suspicions of its enemies, while individual rights are meaningless without real and lasting human security.

The seven reviews summarized in the Annual Report cover a range of CSIS activities. Among the more noteworthy was an examination of CSIS's relationships with agencies in four countries suspected of human rights violations, plus SIRC's first review of the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre. SIRC also examined CSIS's electronic-surveillance and information-gathering techniques, to gain a better understanding of how rapidly evolving technologies are being used by CSIS and exploited by terrorists and foreign intelligence agencies. SIRC made 14 recommendations as a result of these reviews, designed to improve the Service's current policies and procedures.

SIRC is also responsible for investigating complaints against CSIS. In 2005–06, SIRC dealt with 63 complaints, which marked a significant increase over previous years. Not all complaints resulted in an investigation, however, because some were redirected to another government institution, deemed to be outside SIRC's jurisdiction or were withdrawn by the complainant. SIRC issued four written reports, one of them concerning the denial of a security clearance to Mr. Bhupinder Liddar, for whom SIRC found in favour. A total of 19 recommendations were forwarded to CSIS stemming from these complaints investigations.

Other key accomplishments included the introduction of innovative procedures designed to modernize the complaints function, including pre-hearing conferences to resolve preliminary procedural matters and the adoption of the principle of continuing disclosure, so that new documents can be introduced at any time before a decision is rendered. SIRC also posted an Arabic translation of “How To Make A Complaint” on its website, in an effort to be more inclusive. Finally, during the past year, SIRC's Chair appeared at a public hearing of the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials In Relation to Maher Arar, to discuss options for an arm's-length review mechanism for the RCMP's national security activities. SIRC staff held similar wide-ranging discussions on the same subject with their Commission counterparts.

By examining past CSIS operations and investigating complaints, SIRC makes findings and recommendations designed to improve the Service's performance. To the best of its ability and respecting legal constraints, every review undertaken and every complaint acted upon, is reflected in SIRC's Annual Report to Parliament.

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  1. Summary of Reviews, 2005-06
  2. SIRC's Role and Responsibilities

For more information about SIRC, please contact:
Suzanne Beaubien
Senior Researcher
or consult

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