SIRC releases 2010-2011 Annual Report

Checks and Balances: Viewing Security Intelligence Through the Lens of Accountability

October 26, 2011 – The Annual Report of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) was tabled in Parliament today by the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety. The report presents SIRC’s key findings and recommendations from its reviews and complaints investigations of the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Established in 1984, SIRC is an independent, arms’-length agency whose role is to reassure Parliament and Canadians that CSIS investigates and reports on threats to national security effectively, and in a manner that respects the rule of law and the rights of Canadians.

With the release of this year’s report, we hope to advance the goal we set out last year – to generate public discussion on the future role and challenges of security intelligence, as well as the review function in support of that role” noted the Chair of SIRC, the Honourable Dr. Arthur T. Porter. “As part of our contribution to that dialogue,” stated Dr. Porter, “our annual report demonstrates to all Canadians that in today’s heightened threat environment, it’s important that Canada’s security intelligence service has the authority and capacity to investigate new threats.” “Equally important”, he added, “those activities need to be carried out within a framework that provides proper accountability to Canadians.

This year, SIRC carried out “baseline” reviews on new areas of inquiry, including CSIS’s use of the internet, and its interactions with the private sector. SIRC also continues to pay close attention to CSIS’s expanding foreign investigative activities. Of particular note, SIRC examined CSIS’s role in interviewing  Afghan detainees, and made findings concerning how CSIS should handle information originating from agencies that may engage in human rights abuses – an issue that has animated previous SIRC reviews. This review was prepared pursuant to section 54 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Act, which allows SIRC to provide the Minister with a special report pertaining to CSIS’s performance on any matter it deems appropriate.

Amidst the shifting sands of public opinion and the rapid pace of international events and change,” concluded Dr. Porter, “SIRC’s role and composition takes on special importance. As Members of this Committee, we bring diverse expertise to our work, having served in a variety of public sector fields. Canadians expect our work to transcend events and politics, and we will remain vigilant to ensure that collective security does not come at the expense of individual rights and freedoms.

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For further information, please contact SIRC at: (613) 991-9111

SIRC’s annual report is available on the Committee’s website at

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