Amendments to the CSIS Act - Threat Reduction Measures

Backgrounder

Today’s threats to the national security of Canada are fast, complex and dynamic, and threat actors are highly connected and mobile. There is a unique role for CSIS to play in reducing threats, which offers the Government of Canada another important tool to respond to threat activity.

Currently, where there is reasonable grounds to believe that a particular activity constitutes a threat to the security of Canada or Canadians, CSIS is authorized (within or outside Canada) to take measures to reduce the threat.

Threats to the security of Canada are defined in the CSIS Act, and include espionage, sabotage, foreign influenced activities, terrorism and domestic subversion (activities against the constitutionally established system of government in Canada).

The objective of these legislative amendments is to more clearly define the current threat reduction mandate by clarifying what type of measures can be authorized by judicial warrants, ensuring compliance with the Charter.

The proposed amendments would:

  • Ensure Charter compliance by including new safeguards, accountability measures and requirements that enhance transparency.
  • Establish a list of distinct measures that can be authorized under warrant to address threats in the current environment.
  • Require CSIS to seek a warrant for any threat reduction measure that would “limit” a right or freedom protected by the Charter and clarify that a warrant can only be issued if a judge is satisfied the measure complies with the Charter.

Additional safeguards, oversight and reporting requirements will also be introduced to ensure robust accountability measures are in place. Notably, new prohibitions are being added to explicitly state that certain measures can never be undertaken, and enhancements have been made to bolster the role of the proposed National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) in reviewing CSIS’ threat reduction measures.


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