National Security Transparency Commitment

Ensuring the security of Canada and Canadians is a fundamental obligation of Government. How the Government undertakes this obligation is equally important. The Government must ensure that Canadian values are reflected in what the Government does to protect Canada.

This commitment is about integrating Canada’s democratic values into national security activities. Canadians have a responsibility to hold Government to account for its decisions. This is essential to our democracy. To do so, citizens must know what the Government does to protect national security, how the Government does it, and why it’s important.

The field of national security presents a unique challenge to this imperative. There are adversaries who would use information about how the Government protects national security to harm us. Government must find a way to enable democratic accountability without providing information that could compromise Canada’s security.

This initiative outlines how the Government is fulfilling its commitment to transparency through action in three areas:

  • Information transparency, to show what departments and agencies are doing to protect national security.
  • Executive transparency, to explain the legal structure for protecting national security, and how choices are made within that structure
  • Policy transparency, to engage Canadians in a dialogue about the strategic issues impacting national security

Implementation of the Transparency Commitment will be informed by a Transparency Advisory Group, which will be formed in the near term.

This advisory group on national security transparency will include civil rights advocates, experts in security, intelligence and open government and will advise on implementation of the principles. Members will be selected with a view to ensuring that a large cross-section of interests are reflected in the composition of the advisory group.

Bill C-59: National Security Act, 2017
In 2016, the Government completed public consultations on a range of national security issues including accountability, information sharing, and a review of national security organizations. The results of the Government’s consultation demonstrated a demand from the public for more transparency on national security. The responses to these consultations led to the announcement of the National Security Transparency Commitment alongside a number of legislative proposals made within Bill C-59, which would strengthen security and protect rights.

In line with the Transparency Commitment, the Government is providing background information on Bill C-59:

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