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Intrusive methods are sometimes required to fulfil the mandate of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). As such, ensuring that there is an effective system to provide direction, management and accountability is of primary importance. The system that was laid down in the CSIS Act is composed of a series of interlocking parts resulting in CSIS being one of the most open and accountable security intelligence organizations in the world.
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (PSEP) is responsible to Parliament for CSIS as a whole and for its general direction. The Minister also issues policy guidelines concerning basic operational procedures and is informed of security operations and problems, should they arise, by the Deputy Minister, the Director of CSIS, and the Inspector General.
The Deputy Minister has a statutory duty to consult on general operational policies and to provide advice to the Minister on the need for general direction to CSIS, as well as how the Service implements this direction. Through involvement in the warrant application process, the Deputy Minister is kept aware in advance of related operational activities.
The Director of CSIS is responsible to the Minister for the control and management of the Service. The Director must consult with the Deputy Minister on the operational policy of CSIS, on applications for warrants, and on any other matter for which the Minister indicates such consultation is needed. The Director also submits periodic reports on CSIS activities to the Minister. Finally, the Director chairs a number of internal committees which further enhance the management and accountability of CSIS. Two of these committees have direct responsibility for, and authority over, the Service's use of investigative techniques.
The Inspector General, created by Parliament in the CSIS Act, reports through the Deputy Minister to the Minister. The Inspector General is responsible for monitoring the Service's compliance with its operational policies, reviewing the operational activities of CSIS and submitting a certificate setting out the degree of satisfaction with the Director's annual operational report. The certificate and the report are forwarded by the Minister to the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC). At the request of the Minister or SIRC, the Inspector General may conduct research and enquiries.
The Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) is an independent review agency which guards against any infringement upon human rights and freedoms by CSIS. SIRC was created by Parliament in the CSIS Act.
SIRC is composed of between three and five Privy Councillors who are not members of the House of Commons or the Senate. SIRC members are appointed by the Governor in Council. Prior to making these appointments, the Prime Minister consults the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of any party that has at least 12 members in the House of Commons.
The Committee's responsibilities are extensive. First, SIRC reviews the Service's performance of duties and functions, especially with reference to the Director's reports to the Minister, the Inspector General's certificates, and the directions of the Minister to the Director.
Second, SIRC investigates the complaint of any person with respect to any act performed by the Service. The Committee also investigates complaints from those individuals denied security clearances in the cases of public service employment, or in the supply of goods or services to the Government of Canada. In addition, SIRC receives reports concerning immigration applications and may receive reports concerning citizenship applications which have been rejected on security or criminal grounds.
Commensurate with these responsibilities, SIRC has been granted special powers. The Committee has access to all information under the Service's control, with the exception of Cabinet confidences, as does the Inspector General. SIRC has the authority to direct the Inspector General to examine specific activities. It may also conduct such investigations utilizing its own staff.
The analyses by SIRC of the Service's performance are provided to the Minister on an ongoing basis. In addition, the Committee is required to produce an annual report which is presented to the Minister for tabling in Parliament.
Prior to the formation of CSIS, the use of intrusive investigative techniques was authorized by the then Solicitor General. Today, only the Federal Court of Canada can authorize such a warrant. The warrant itself is the end product of a long and intensive decision-making process. The warrant's affidavit, which establishes the justification for an intrusive investigative technique, must first be reviewed by CSIS managers, and subsequently by a senior committee within the Service chaired by the Director. This committee includes representatives from the Department of Justice and PSEP. If the decision is to proceed with the warrant application, the affidavit is then submitted to the Minister of PSEP, who must approve it personally. Only after receiving the Minister's approval is the affidavit submitted to a judge of the Federal Court for a decision.
A Special Committee on the Review of the CSIS Act and the Security Offences Act was established by an order of the House of Commons dated June 27, 1989. This order, based on the stated requirement in section 56 of the CSIS Act, required the Committee to undertake a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of both the CSIS Act and the Security Offences Act and to report its findings to the House of Commons. These findings are the subject of a report entitled In Flux But Not In Crisis.
The five-year review committee was later reconstituted as the Sub-Committee on National Security of the Standing Committee on Justice and the Solicitor General. Its work plan has included reviewing the functions of CSIS. In addition, the Committee has considered reports made by SIRC, the annual statement of the Minister with respect to National Security, and the Public Report from the Director of CSIS.
In 1991, the Government of Canada responded to the Five-Year Parliamentary Review Committee's report on the CSIS Act and the Security Offences Act with On Course. In On Course, the Government of Canada made a commitment to provide Parliament with more information on the national security system. This stems from the recognition that effective legislative control over CSIS must be accompanied by increased public knowledge about its role. The Minister of PSEP and CSIS meet this commitment by providing Parliament and the public with the Minister's Annual Statement on National Security and the CSIS Public Report and Program Outlook.
The Minister is responsible for three main elements of the national security system. These elements are security intelligence; security enforcement; and protective security. The Minister's Annual Statement on National Security is an overview of these three elements. Taken together, the Statement and the CSIS Public Report are intended to provide Canadians with an assessment of the current security intelligence environment and the government's efforts to ensure national security
The CSIS Public Report discusses Canada's security environment and CSIS' national security role. The purpose of the Report is to increase public knowledge about CSIS' mandate and improve understanding of how the national security of Canada is safeguarded by the Service, with due respect for individual rights and freedoms. The report also addresses many of the popular myths surrounding security intelligence work.