Accountability and Review

CSIS is one of the most open and accountable security organizations in the world. This is achieved through a system of control and review mechanisms and processes, prescribed by the CSIS Act, that include the following:

  • Minister of Public Safety Canada: The Minister is responsible to Parliament for CSIS as a whole and for its general direction. The Minister issues policy guidelines concerning operational procedures, is informed of security operations and problems and approves cooperative agreements and relationships with foreign agencies.
  • Deputy Minister of Public Safety Canada: The Deputy Minister provides advice to the Minister on general direction to CSIS, and monitors how CSIS implements this direction. 
  • Director of CSIS: The Director of CSIS is accountable to the Minister for the management and control of CSIS. The Director submits periodic reports on CSIS activities to the Minister, and chairs internal committees that are aimed at enhancing the organization's management and accountability. Two of these committees are directly responsible for, and have authority over, CSIS' use of investigative techniques.
  • Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC): SIRC is responsible for reviewing how CSIS performs its functions, and investigates complaints against CSIS. The Committee also investigates complaints filed by individuals who were denied security clearances, and reviews reports concerning immigration applications and citizenship applications that were rejected based on security or criminal grounds. To enable it to fulfill its responsibilities, the Committee has access to all information under CSIS' control (except Cabinet confidences). SIRC informs the Minister of Public Safety of its investigation findings on an ongoing basis, and produces an annual report that is tabled by the Minister in Parliament.
  • Federal Court: The power to authorize intrusive investigation techniques rests solely with the Federal Court of Canada. Before such an authorization can be made, CSIS must provide solid justification for the proposed use of these techniques in an affidavit, which is reviewed by a senior CSIS committee chaired by the Director and comprised of representatives from the Department of Justice, and Public Safety Canada. If the committee endorses the intrusive technique, the affidavit is submitted to the Minister of Public Safety Canada for approval. If the Minister gives approval, the affidavit is then submitted to the Federal Court, which must issue a warrant before CSIS can proceed with the intrusive investigative technique.
  • Public Reporting: CSIS provides information to Parliament and the public through the Minister's Annual Statement on National Security and the CSIS Public Report. These documents provide Canadians with an assessment of the current security intelligence environment and detail the government's efforts to ensure national security. More specifically, the CSIS Public Report is aimed at increasing awareness of CSIS' functions and the processes it employs, and dispelling some of the myths surrounding security intelligence work.
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