Statement by the Honourable David McGuinty, Chair of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians on the recent decision of the Federal Court
July 17, 2020
Ottawa, July 17, 2020 — The Federal Court released a decision on CSIS warrant application proceedings and recommended that an independent review be conducted into a number of systemic issues. In response, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada have referred the matter to the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA). The Ministers requested that NSIRA regularly report on its progress to the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP). The Chair of NSICOP, the Hon. David McGuinty, issued the following statement:
“The Committee has taken note of the very troubling issues raised in the decision by the Federal Court. The Committee agrees that NSIRA, as the successor to the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), with its broad mandate and authorities is well-positioned to examine these important matters”. Mr. McGuinty added that “our Committee looks forward to hearing from NSIRA with respect to the terms of reference of its review, and regularly thereafter as its work progresses”.
Mr. McGuinty has assured Mr. Murray Rankin, Chair of NSIRA, of the full cooperation of NSICOP. The Committee will be particularly interested in any findings and conclusions with respect to the provision of legal advice on national security and intelligence issues by the Department of Justice. In 2019, NSICOP examined a similar issue in its Special Report on the Collection, Use, Retention and Dissemination of Information on Canadians in the context of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces Defence Intelligence Activities. Pursuant to that review, the Committee referred the matter to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, as required under s. 31(1) of the NSICOP Act. The Special Report was tabled in Parliament on March 12, 2020.
NSICOP was established under the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act on June 22, 2017. The Committee serves as an independent, high-level review body of Canada’s national security and intelligence organizations. It may review:
- the legislative, regulatory, policy, administrative and financial framework for national security and intelligence;
- any activity carried out by a department that relates to national security or intelligence, unless the activity is an ongoing operation and the appropriate Minister determines that the review would be injurious to national security; and,
- any matter relating to national security or intelligence that a minister of the Crown refers to the Committee.
The NSICOP and the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) must take all reasonable steps to cooperate with each other to avoid any unnecessary duplication of work in the fulfillment of their respective mandates. The two review bodies may also share information with each other, in conformity with their respective right of access to information.
NSICOP members hold the highest level of security clearance, are bound by the Security of Information Act and meet in private.
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National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians