SIRC Releases 2007-2008 Annual Report

January 27, 2009 – The Annual Report of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) was tabled in Parliament today by the Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety. The Report summarizes – to the extent privacy and national security permit – eight reviews completed by SIRC in 2007-2008, as well as six decisions rendered in complaints cases.

Established in 1984, SIRC's role is to reassure Parliament and Canadians that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) performs its duties and functions appropriately, effectively and in accordance with the law. SIRC is the only independent, external body with the statutory mandate and expertise to review CSIS's activities, thereby contributing to the accountability of one of the Government's most powerful organizations.

The Chair of SIRC, the Honourable Gary Filmon, noted that, in recent years, amidst significant changes in the security intelligence landscape, SIRC's accountability function has taken on increasing importance. “In response to the increasingly diffuse and complex threat environment, CSIS has introduced significant adjustments to its intelligence collection methods and priorities,” he noted. “SIRC has worked diligently to understand and evaluate these transformations,” he added, “while providing assurances to Canadians that CSIS continues to investigate new and evolving threats to national security in a manner that respects Canada's core democratic values.

The eight reviews summarized in the Annual Report cover a range of CSIS activities. These include an examination of CSIS's support for Canadian operations abroad, as well as SIRC's review of CSIS's human source operations outside Canada. SIRC also examined CSIS's Intelligence Assessments Branch to enhance the Committee's understanding of the scope and effectiveness of this important aspect of the Service's work.

SIRC is also responsible for investigating complaints against CSIS. In 2007-2008, SIRC dealt with 52 complaints. Not all complaints resulted in an investigation: some were either redirected to another government institution, deemed to be outside SIRC's jurisdiction or withdrawn by the complainant. SIRC issued six written reports during the past year.

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

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SIRC’s Role and Responsibilities

For more information about SIRC, please contact:

Susan Pollak
Executive Director

or consult

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