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Statement from NSIRA on its Review of the GOC’s Production and Dissemination of Intelligence on Foreign Interference in the 43rd and 44th Canadian Federal Elections

Ongoing Reviews

Statement from NSIRA on its Review of the GOC’s Production and Dissemination of Intelligence on Foreign Interference in the 43rd and 44th Canadian Federal Elections


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NSIRA considers transparency and independence to be fundamental values at the core of its mandate.  While safeguarding information that could compromise national security, NSIRA is committed to transparency and promoting democratic accountability in every possible way through its work. Through its reviews, NSIRA acts as proxy for the public and serves to enhance the trust in Canada’s oversight and review mechanisms. NSIRA has designed, scoped, and begun its review on foreign interference in the 43rd and 44th Canadian federal elections exercising this independence. In the spirit of transparency and clarity, NSIRA underscores that while the subject matter of NSIRA’s review overlaps with matters contained in NSICOP’s ongoing review and the Independent Special Rapporteur’s (ISR) report of 23 May 2023, NSIRA’s review has a different scope and follows NSIRA’s own methodology as demonstrated by its published Terms of Reference . While there may be an opportunity in NSIRA’s final report to note any observations or findings related to the ISR’s work, the purpose of NSIRA’s report is to present findings and recommendations from NSIRA’s review.

NSIRA notes that the ISR suggested that “all the documents that were provided to (him) should be provided to NSICOP and NSIRA for them to review comprehensively and identify any different conclusions than (his).” Subsequently, the government provided NSIRA with a limited number of documents originally withheld for Cabinet Confidence. In all its reviews, NSIRA requires reviewees to adhere to the NSIRA Expectations for Responsiveness in Reviews. This expectation goes to NSIRA’s independence and to the integrity of its reviews. If NSIRA is to review Cabinet confidences, it must be able to review all Cabinet confidences relevant to its review. The NSIRA Chair has sent a letter to the Prime Minister requesting that all Cabinet confidence documents related to NSIRA’s review be released to the Review Agency, and that all documents provided during the course of the review be without redaction for Cabinet confidence. A copy of that letter is published on NSIRA’s website, available online here.

Contact

For more information, please contact:

Media Relations
NSIRA
media-medias@nsira-ossnr.gc.ca

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Access to Cabinet Confidences for Foreign Interference Review

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Dear Prime Minister,

The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) has initiated a review of the production and dissemination of intelligence on foreign interference in the 43rd and 44th Canadian federal elections, including how intelligence was communicated across agencies, departments and other groups in the Government of Canada.

The Right Honourable David Johnston, in his capacity as the Independent Special Rapporteur on Foreign Interference (ISR), noted in his May 23, 2023 report that he was “given access to any Cabinet documents relevant to the foreign interference issues” in the scope of his review.  He further recommended that the government disclose to NSIRA those Cabinet confidences provided to him for his review. The government has accepted this recommendation.

The scope of NSIRA’s review is distinct from the scope of the ISR’s review. In order to ensure the integrity of our review and not limit or influence our evidence base, NSIRA must have access to all documents contained in any class of documents provided, rather than a subset of these documents.

Therefore, NSIRA respectfully requests that all Cabinet confidence documents related to our review be released to us, and that all documents provided during the course of this review be without redaction for Cabinet confidence.

NSIRA recognizes the exceptional nature of this request and appreciates the significance of disclosing the requested documents. We look forward to your assistance in enabling NSIRA to access all requested documents, and to fulfilling the objectives of our independent review.

Yours sincerely,

The Honourable Marie Deschamps, C.C.
Chair, National Security and Intelligence Review Agency

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NSIRA Review of the Government of Canada’s production and dissemination of intelligence on foreign interference in the 43rd and 44th Canadian federal elections

Ongoing Reviews

NSIRA Review of the Government of Canada’s production and dissemination of intelligence on foreign interference in the 43rd and 44th Canadian federal elections


Context

Terms of Reference, May 23, 2023

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Introduction

The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) has initiated a review of the production and dissemination of intelligence on foreign interference in the 43rd and 44th Canadian federal elections, including how intelligence was communicated across agencies, departments and other groups in the Government of Canada.

The review will include the agencies and departments responsible for the production and dissemination of intelligence about foreign interference in Canada; these organizations inform government decision-makers regarding foreign interference threats to Canadian democratic institutions and processes.

Legislative Authorities

This review is being conducted pursuant to section 8(1)(a) and 8(1)(b) of the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency Act.

Background

Beginning in the fall of 2022, a series of reporting by the Globe and Mail and Global News cited classified Canadian Security Intelligence Service documents on People’s Republic of China (PRC) foreign interference into Canadian democratic institutions and processes, including the 43rd and 44th federal elections. This reporting raised concerns regarding the government’s response to the threat of foreign interference and, consequently, the integrity of Canada’s democratic institutions and processes.

On 9 March 2023, NSIRA announced that it would initiate a review of the production and dissemination of intelligence on foreign interference with respect to the 43rd and 44th federal elections. NSIRA’s expertise and mandate will allow it to examine the flow of crucial information in the relevant period within and across all implicated agencies, departments, and government bodies. This flow – the process by which the security and intelligence community produced, disseminated, and communicated intelligence – is fundamental to the broader conversation regarding foreign interference into Canadian democratic processes and institutions over the last five years. NSIRA’s ability to review the entire security and intelligence community, and to access highly sensitive information held by each department and agency, render the present review imperative.

Scope

The timeframe of the review will be September 2018 to March 2023. The review includes the following departments and agencies:

• Canadian Security Intelligence Service
• Communications Security Establishment
• Royal Canadian Mounted Police
• Global Affairs Canada
• Public Safety Canada
• Privy Council Office

The scope will include intelligence on foreign interference in federal democratic institutions and processes produced and disseminated during the review period.

If deemed necessary, NSIRA may request and review information outside of the parameters identified above.

Objective

The objective of the review is to:

• Document and evaluate the production and dissemination of intelligence on foreign interference, including the communication of intelligence within and across agencies and departments in the Government of Canada.

Methodology and Information Requirements

Various methods will be used to gather and analyze the information required to meet the objective identified for this review. These may include, but need not be limited to, requests for documentation, oral briefings and/or interviews, site visits, access to relevant databases and information repositories, and requests for written responses to questions and/or clarifications.

NSIRA has published its Expectations for Responsiveness in Reviews on its website, which includes expectations regarding access to information. A verification exercise will be conducted for NSIRA to be able to test the completeness or accuracy of the information reviewed. The outcome of the verification exercise will inform a ‘Responsiveness Statement’ that will be attached to the report upon the review’s completion.

NSIRA will disseminate a completed review report to all implicated departments and agencies, and publish a redacted version on its website.

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Notification of NSIRA’s Review of CRA’s Review and Analysis Division (RAD)

Context

March 08, 2023

Bob Hamilton
Commissioner of Revenue and Chief Executive Officer
Canada Revenue Agency

Subject: Notification of NSIRA’s Review of CRA’s Review and Analysis Division (RAD)

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Dear Mr. Hamilton,

I am writing on behalf of the Members of the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) to inform you that NSIRA is commencing a review of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Review and Analysis Division (RAD).

The review focuses on the RAD program’s national security activities and decision-making relating to registered Canadian charities, to assess their reasonableness, necessity, and compliance with the law.

This review is conducted pursuant to paragraph 8(1)(b) of the NSIRA Act. The NSIRA Act grants NSIRA full and timely access to all information held by reviewed departments and agencies, including classified and sensitive information, with the exception of cabinet confidences.

Please identify any specific contacts you deem relevant for the topic(s) being addressed by this review. NSIRA will be in contact with your officials with requests for preliminary briefings and documents to gain an introductory overview of CRA and RAD’s activities. Depending on the scope of the review, to be determined at a later time, NSIRA will also contact any other implicated departments or agencies to inform them of this review.

In the interim, if there are any questions or comments, I would be pleased to discuss them at your convenience.

I thank you in advance for your cooperation and support to the independent review process, which is key to the transparency and accountability we provide to Canadians on behalf of the Government of Canada.

Sincerely,
John Davies
Executive Director, NSIRA

P.O Box / C.P. 2430, Station / Succursale “D”
Ottawa, Canada K1P 5W5

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Update on NSIRA’s Review of the Communications Security Establishment’s Internal Security Program (Safeguarding)

Ongoing Reviews

Update on NSIRA’s Review of the Communications Security Establishment’s Internal Security Program (Safeguarding)


Backgrounder

NSIRA’s Review of CSE’s Internal Security Program commenced in March, 2021. Today, it is releasing publicly a copy of the Terms of Reference for the Review, as well as a communiqué to be issued internally at CSE on behalf of NSIRA. Although the focus of this review is on the entirety of CSE’s internal security program, a significant element will consist of the first-ever evaluation of the use of the Polygraph in the security screening process at CSE. Given the nature and degree of personal information collected by CSE from prospective applicants as well as current employees and contractors as part of the security screening process, NSIRA recognizes that individuals involved may have concerns about the potential impact this review may have on their privacy. NSIRA is releasing these documents publicly to address these concerns and dispel any myths about the purpose, scope and methodology of this review, as well as to describe some of the measures NSIRA is taking to respect the privacy of individuals.

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