2022 Director's Mandate Letter
Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service
CSIS National Headquarters
1948 Ogilvie Road
Ottawa ON K1J 9N4
Dear Director Vigneault:
It is with pleasure that I write to you in my capacity as Minister of Public Safety. In this letter, I will share some details about the mandate given to me by the Prime Minister and the many elements that involve the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), as well as my expectations for CSIS.
I want to begin by applauding the great work of CSIS employees, in particular in the face of the pandemic. Since assuming my responsibilities, I’m proud of how the Service has provided critical and timely intelligence. You have also taken important steps to improve and modernize operations, which have ensured that CSIS can respond to threats to Canada while safeguarding our rights and freedoms. As these threats grow and evolve in the years to come, the work of CSIS will be ever more important.
It is essential that CSIS maintain the confidence of Canadians, which includes operating within the law and respecting the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. CSIS must also work to eliminate any systemic racism or unconscious bias in its operations, and apply a GBA+ lens to its work and policies. Internally, this means ensuring a healthy and inclusive workplace for all employees. Externally, it includes addressing instances where racialized Canadians & newcomers have faced additional barriers, and ensuring that minority communities are not subject to unfair scrutiny in the name of national security.
In recent years, CSIS has made great strides towards being more transparent with Canadians. These range from outreach with civil society to the CSIS annual public report to engagement with the National Security Transparency Advisory Group. These efforts are vital to maintaining the trust of the public, and other institutions such as the Federal Court. While transparency in national security can be challenging, I expect CSIS to continue supporting democratic accountability by providing Canadians with as much information as possible.
As you know, the Prime Minister has given me a mandate to act in several important areas, and many of these touch upon the work of CSIS. To realize these objectives, he has asked that I deliver on the following specific commitments that involve CSIS:
Contribute to broader efforts to promote economic security and combat foreign interference by:
- Introducing legislation to safeguard Canada’s critical infrastructure, including our 5G networks to preserve the integrity and security of our telecommunications systems;
- Expanding collaboration and information and intelligence sharing with Canadian partners and all orders of government to address security risks in foreign research and investment partnerships;
- Increasing resources available to the RCMP and national security agencies for this purpose;
- Working with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and in close collaboration with Canadian industry and post-secondary institutions, to support innovation ecosystems across the country to support job creation, technology adoption and scale-up. This includes safeguarding Canada’s world-leading research ecosystem, as well as our intellectual property (IP) intensive businesses;
- Continuing to support the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities to support an integrated government response to protect Canada’s democratic institutions, including the federal electoral process, against foreign interference and disinformation, including cyber threats, and support the Minister of National Defence to ensure that Canada is in a position to respond to rapidly evolving risks and threats in cyberspace; and
- Working with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to bring forward measures to counter the rise of ideologically-inspired violent extremism and strengthen the capacity of Canadian police and prosecutors to bring to justice cybercriminals and terror suspects to the fullest extent of the law;
In order to realize these objectives, I expect CSIS to:
- Support broader efforts to safeguard economic security, including research and intellectual property. In particular, CSIS should improve risk assessment and mitigation programs, including national security reviews under the Investment Canada Act;
- Work with the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, and in close collaboration with Canadian industry and post-secondary institutions, to ensure individuals and organizations working in sensitive domains are aware of current and emerging economic security threats;
- Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as other departments and agencies, to ensure that Canada’s export control regime remains effective in an era where hostile actors are aggressively seeking to acquire sensitive Canadian goods and technologies;
- Assist with the development of the National Cyber Security Action Plan;
- Provide advice and intelligence to Public Safety and other departments and agencies on the threats Canada faces regarding economic security and foreign interference;
- Work with Public Safety, other departments and the research community in providing advice and intelligence to protect our world-leading research ecosystem, including through the Safeguarding Science initiative;
- Continue working with Public Safety and other departments and agencies to address threats to our democratic institutions. This includes investigating all forms of ideologically-motivated violent extremism (IMVE), including those driven by anti-authority, xenophobic, gender-driven, and other worldviews, and providing analysis on how the IMVE threat as a whole is evolving. In addition, work with Public Safety on a whole-of-government approach to address IMVE; and
- Work with Public Safety, portfolio partners and the Department of Justice on proposed operational and legislative improvements to ensure sensitive information can be protected when used by law enforcement and the Government in court proceedings or administrative decision-making, while respecting Canadians’ rights and freedoms.
In addition to assisting in realizing these objectives, I expect CSIS to:
- Ensure that review bodies have complete and timely access to information, while making ongoing efforts to keep them apprised of notable and relevant CSIS activities;
- Respond to review body recommendations, while ensuring their prompt and thorough implementation as appropriate and as quickly as possible;
- Advise me, in consultation with Public Safety, of any deficiencies in the CSIS Act that require modernization in order to meet our security and intelligence needs;
- Use an intersectional lens to assess how your policies and practices may affect historically marginalized groups, including, but not limited to, women, Black, Indigenous and Racialized Canadians, LGBTQ2S+, and Canadians with disabilities; and
- Ensure the intelligence and evidence used when making determinations are free of bias, prejudice and up to date.
I look forward to a productive and collaborative relationship as we work together to protect Canadians from the wide range of threats that we face.
The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P.
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