Statement from the Minister of Public Safety on the Tabling of the Annual SIRC Report


OTTAWA, October 5, 2017 – Today, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, made the following statement on the 2016-17 Annual Report of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC):

“The SIRC Annual Report is a crucial document for ensuring transparency and accountability.

In this year’s report, the committee presented its findings from 12 reviews of various dimensions of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) activities and found that, overall, CSIS carried out its mandate effectively and that its activities respect the law and the rights of Canadians. CSIS has accepted the vast majority of SIRC’s recommendations.

Canadians rightly expect to hold our security and intelligence agencies to account like never before, and the government is taking steps to significantly expand independent scrutiny of their activities.

Firstly, we introduced the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act to enhance the democratic accountability of Canada’s security and intelligence community. The Committee will have broad access to classified information to scrutinize national security institutions and operations.  The Act received Royal Assent in June 2017, and work to put the Committee, and its Secretariat, into place is underway.

The Government is proposing additional, unprecedented enhancements to Canada’s national security accountability framework through the National Security Act, 2017 (Bill C-59). In particular, this Bill proposes to establish a new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency‎ which would create a comprehensive review body to provide independent scrutiny of all national security and intelligence activities across the entire Government of Canada.  In its report, SIRC points out the benefits of this proposed legislative change, as it would eliminate the current limitations and silos in Canada’s accountability structure.

Bill C-59 introduces a further element of pro-active oversight for both CSIS and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) through the work of a new Intelligence Commissioner. It also clarifies and specifies certain agency powers and authorities to be consistent with modern realities, as suggested by previous SIRC reports, judgments of the courts and commissions of inquiries.

These measures represent historic changes that will provide Canadians with the accountability they rightly expect. Critically, they will ensure that our security and intelligence agencies continue to be effective in keeping Canadians safe while doing so in a way that respects the law and Canadians’ rights and freedoms.”

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For questions about the SIRC report, please contact CSIS Media Relations: 613-231-0100.

Scott Bardsley
Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Media Relations
Public Safety Canada

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