Review of CSIS Threat Reduction Activities

Backgrounder

On February 15, 2021, the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) presented the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness with a classified report on its review of CSIS threat reduction activities. This was NSIRA’s first review of CSIS’s threat reduction mandate. The report contains a detailed compliance review of a sample of TRMs from 2019.

NSIRA’s review found that all of the measures reviewed met the obligations under Ministerial Direction. For the most part, the measures taken by CSIS also satisfied the requirements of the CSIS Act. NSIRA also noted, however, that in a limited number of cases, CSIS selected individuals for inclusion in the TRM without a rational link between the selection of the individual and the threat. As a result, these measures were not “reasonable and proportional” as required under the CSIS Act.

For one type of TRM reviewed, NSIRA is of the view that more consideration needs to be given to the way in which CSIS engages third parties. This would require CSIS to consider fully the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) implications of its measures, and could require CSIS to obtain warrants before taking certain measures.

As 2020 marked five years since CSIS obtained threat reductions powers as part of the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, NSIRA conducted high-level analysis of all TRM activities over the past five years to identify trends and to inform NSIRA’s choice of future review topics. Overall, NSIRA noted that while CSIS’s use of TRM powers has not been extensive, CSIS has been applying TRM powers to the full spectrum of national security threats mandated under the CSIS Act.

Publishing this summary aligns with NSIRA’s efforts at increasing transparency and being more accessible to Canadians through its work. Going forward, NSIRA will continue to examine CSIS’s threat reduction activities annually as required by section 8(2) of the NSIRA Act.

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