SIRC Statement on Bill C-44
November 13, 2014 – The new proposed legislation currently before Parliament, Bill C-44, Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act, introduces amendments to the CSIS Act and to the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act. The Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), as the independent review body for CSIS, has an important role to play in the debates and discussions on this proposed legislation.
Bill C-44 proposes, among other amendments, to make explicit that Section 12 and Section 15 investigations can be done within or outside Canada. CSIS’s role and activities abroad have been expanding for many years, as has SIRC’s coverage of those activities. SIRC has consistently identified and reported on challenges to CSIS’s overseas activity such as:
- managing the competing demands that CSIS faces in relation to not only day-to-day administrative duties, but key liaison functions and complex operational activities;
- the changing dynamic of how CSIS deals with foreign intelligence agencies;
- the requirement to work with a small number of potentially problematic foreign partners in certain areas of the world;
- increased and more lethal potential operational risks; and
- the importance of effective interdepartmental communication, especially between CSIS and DFATD, which is responsible for managing Canada’s international relations.
SIRC has and will continue to examine carefully these issues and activities. The Committee’s absolute authority to examine all information in CSIS’s holdings, no matter how classified that information may be, with the exception of Cabinet Confidences, is not affected by the proposed amendments to the CSIS Act.
SIRC continues to provide Parliament with independent and expert analysis, and to ensure that CSIS investigates and reports on threats to national security in a manner that respects the rule of law and the rights of Canadians. SIRC must have the ability to keep pace with CSIS’s operational realities in order to provide effective review.
SIRC looks forward to sharing insight into the Committee’s work and participating in discussions around potential changes to CSIS’s legislation to further the discussion on the accountability of Canada’s security intelligence activities.
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