SIRC Releases 2012-2013 Annual Report: “Bridging the Gap: Recalibrating the Machinery of Security Intelligence and Intelligence Review”

October 31, 2013 – The annual report of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) for the 2012-2013 fiscal year was tabled today in Parliament. SIRC’s report found that, upon conclusion of its reviews and complaints investigations, overall, the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and its investigations on threats to Canada’s national security respected the rule of law. The report also contained SIRC’s first certificate to the Minister of Public Safety on the CSIS director’s annual report to the Minister. In its certificate, SIRC concluded that the activities described in the report complied with legislation and ministerial directives, were consistent with CSIS’s mandated duties, and constituted a reasonable and necessary use of its powers.

“Overall, we are satisfied with CSIS’s performance of its mandated duties and functions,” said the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Chair of SIRC. “However, we identified some areas of concern and have made recommendations to address those issues, most notably on information-sharing.”

While SIRC’s overall assessment was that CSIS operated within its mandate, it did identify some deficiencies on a number of timely and topical issues. In one review, SIRC found that a significant risk of closer collaboration between CSIS and the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) was the potential erosion of control by CSIS over information it provides to CSEC and, by extension, the Five Eyes community. SIRC arrived at a similar conclusion following a review of a new warrant power granted to CSIS. SIRC recommended an extended regime of caveats and assurances to govern the use of information shared by CSIS – directly or indirectly – with “Five Eyes” intelligence partners.

SIRC’s annual reports present declassified summaries of the Committee’s analyses, findings and recommendations stemming from its examination of the activities of CSIS. This year’s report includes, among others, reviews of CSIS’s evolving operational activities abroad, its investigations of escalating espionage activities, and its role in the matter of Abousfian Abdelrazik.

SIRC was established in 1984 by the same statute that created CSISSIRC’s mandate is to provide assurance to Parliament, and by extension to all Canadians, that security intelligence in Canada is conducted lawfully, appropriately and effectively. The findings and recommendations contained in its reports are aimed at ensuring that CSIS’s policies, practices and approaches best meet these goals.

Please direct all media inquiries to Lindsay Jackson, SIRC Assistant Director of Research, at 613-990-4448.

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