Special Report on the National Security and Intelligence Activities of Global Affairs Canada: Table of Contents
Submitted to the Prime Minister on June 27, 2022 pursuant to subsection 21(1) of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
(Revised version pursuant to subsection 21(5) of the NSICOP Act)
© His Majesty the King in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of the Secretariat of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (2022)
National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians
Special Report on the National Security and Intelligence Activities of Global Affairs Canada (Revised version pursuant to subsection 21 (5) of the NSICOP Act)
The Honourable David McGuinty, P.C., M.P.
Submitted to the Prime Minister on June 27, 2020
Revised version tabled in Parliament in November 2021
Consistent with subsection 21(2) of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act (NSICOP Act), the Committee may submit a special report to the Prime Minister and the ministers concerned on any matter related to its mandate. Consistent with subsection 21(5) of the NSICOP Act, the Prime Minister may, after consulting the Chair of the Committee, direct the Committee to submit to him or her a revised version of the report that does not contain information the Prime Minister believes the disclosure of which would be injurious to national security, national defence or international relations or is information that is protected by solicitor-client privilege.
This document is a revised version of the Special Report provided to the Prime Minister on 27 June 2022. At the time, the document was classifed as 'Top Secret / Special Intelligence / Canadian Eyes Only / codeword.' Revisions were made to remove information the disclosure of which the Prime Minister believes would be injurious to national security, national defence or international relations or which constitutes solicitor-client privilege. Where information could simply be removed without affecting the readability of the document, the Committee noted the removal with three asterisks (***) in the text of this document. Where information could not simply be removed without affecting the readability of the document, the Committee revised the document to summarize the information that was removed. Those sections are marked with three asterisks at the beginning and the end of the summary, and the summary is enclosed by square brackets (see example below).
Example: [*** Revised sections are marked with three asterisks at the beginning and the end of the sentence, and the summary is enclosed by square brackets. ***]
The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians
- The Hon. David McGuinty, P.C., M.P. (Chair)
- Ms. Leona Alleslev, M.P.
- Mr. Stephane Bergeron, M.P.
- Mr. Don Davies, M.P.
- The Hon. Dennis Dawson, P.C., Senator
- Mr. Ted Falk, M.P. (resigned June 15, 2021)
- Mr. Peter Fragiskatos, M.P.
- Ms. lqra Khalid, M.P.
- The Hon. Frances Lankin, P.C., C.M., Senator
- Mr. Rob Morrison, M.P.
- Mr. Glen Motz, M.O.M., M.P. (resigned June 15, 2021)
- Ms. Jennifer O'Connell, M.P. (resigned March 19, 2021)
- Ms. Brenda Shanahan, M.P.
- The Hon. Vernon White, P.C., Senator
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council
Dear Prime Minister:
On behalf of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, it is my privilege to provide you with our Special Report on the National Security and Intelligence Activities of Global Affairs Canada for tabling in Parliament.
The Report includes five findings and four recommendations. The Committee's recommendations seek to:
- strengthen the accountability of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for her department's security and intelligence activities and those that it supports at partner organizations;
- ensure Canada's defence policies and military operations are aligned with its foreign policy objectives; and
- establish a clear government framework to better respond to terrorist hostage takings abroad.
On behalf of the Committee, I would like to reiterate a growing risk to the Committee's ability to fulfill its mandate: the government's broad claims of Cabinet confidence on documents or information. The Committee recognizes that it is not entitled to Cabinet confidences under its statute, although there is no prohibition on their provision. It also recognizes the importance of Cabinet confidence in maintaining Canada's tradition of Westminster government.
However, the Committee is concerned that the breadth of the definition of Cabinet confidence reflected in its statute and found in the Canada Evidence Act, together with the lack of a requirement for departments to inform the Committee of how many and which relevant documents are being withheld and on what basis, may hamper its ability to properly fulfil its mandate. By way of example, during the process to identify information that would be injurious in the context of the current report, departments identified four further instances of previously provided information from the Report, which they asserted were Cabinet confidences and should be removed. In some cases, this information was already released by the government as a public facing policy. In other cases, it was a simple statement that deputy ministers intended to brief their Ministers. In each case, the Committee argued that the claim was inappropriate and the Privy Council Office agreed to remove it.
The Committee's concern is that, in the future, the definition will be applied to its full breadth and the Committee members, who take an oath and are bound by statute to not disclose any information that they obtained in the course of their work, will neither receive relevant information, nor be aware of its existence. The Committee will have no ability to challenge these claims. This stands in stark contrast to the Committee's right to see the most classified information, notwithstanding how injurious it may be, and its practice of participating in the process through which injurious information is identified, challenged and removed from the public version of its reports as appropriate.
At the core of the Committee's mandate is to improve Government accountability for national security and intelligence. If departments continue to apply the definition of Cabinet confidence to its full breadth, exercise their discretion to withhold information thus identified and do not inform the Committee of what relevant information has been withheld, the Committee's ability to transparently and comprehensively review the governance frameworks which support Ministerial accountability risks being compromised.
The Committee asks that these issues be addressed to ensure that it can continue to fulfill its important mandate. While a legislative change to the definition of Cabinet confidence is desirable, in the near term, solutions may include proactive disclosure of relevant documents that are withheld and on what basis, and a clear statement of policy that NSICOP should be barred from receiving only core Cabinet secrets.
The Committee notes that it intends to raise this issue in the context of the five-year review of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act.
The Honourable David McGuinty, P.C., M.P.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Legal Framework
Chapter 2: Foreign Policy Coherence
- Formal engagement with security and intelligence partners
- Community-wide committees
- Heads of mission
- Hostile activity by state actors
Chapter 3: Global Affairs Canada's Facilitation Role
- The collection of foreign intelligence within Canada
- Active cyber operations
- Logistical support ***
Chapter 4: National Security and Intelligence Activities
- Global Affairs Canada's Intelligence Activities
- International security programming
- Responding to international critical incidents
- Chapter 5: The Committee's Assessment
- Appendix A: List of Witnesses
- Appendix B: Abbreviations