Summary of the Special Meeting of the National Security Transparency Advisory Group (NS-TAG) – August 30, 2021
Held via Videoconference
- Bessma Momani
- Daniel Jean
- Dominic Rochon (co-chair)
- Harpreet Jhinjar
- Jillian Stirk
- Justin Mohammed
- Jeffrey Roy
- Khadija Cajee
- Mary Francoli
- Thomas Juneau (co-chair)
- Michèle Audette
Discussion with the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Invited Guest and Speaker:
- Brenda Lucki – Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
National Security Community Members Present (as observers):
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis of Canada (FINTRAC), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Public Safety Canada (PS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS).
- Opening of the Meeting and Roll Call
- Internal Governance
- Transparency Secretariat Update
- Forward Planning: Internal discussion on the schedule and meeting topics until February 2022
- Discussion Session with Guest Speaker
The virtual special meeting of the NS-TAG took place on August 30, 2021 and welcomed Brenda Lucki, Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The Transparency Secretariat and the NS-TAG welcomed two new members, Jillian Stirk and Daniel Jean. The Group also elected Thomas Juneau as the non-governmental co-chair for year three. The Transparency Secretariat briefly updated members on possible timing for the release of the Group's second report, the National Security Strategic Overview, the community stocktaking exercise, as well as changes in roles within the Secretariat. The NS-TAG discussed forward planning, including guests from civil society and heads of agencies they would like to hear from, and the themes and dates of upcoming meetings. The Group also suggested to start membership transition in spring 2022 as the terms of seven NS-TAG members end summer 2022.
Guest speaker Brenda Lucki, Commissioner of the RCMP, provided introductory remarks and responded to questions covering a number of topics including: transparency and accountability initiatives and milestones, community outreach and engagement, oversight and review agencies, and efforts to update national security training. She was accompanied by Nadine Huggins, the RCMP's Associate Chief Human Resources Officer.
Introductory Remarks by Guest Speaker, RCMP Commissioner Lucki:
- Transparency and accountability are principles that are fundamental to the RCMP's national security investigations. As a law enforcement organization, the RCMP conducts national security criminal investigations in a transparent and accountable manner by complying with Canadian law and meeting the norms and standards of Canadian courts.
- The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, the National Security and Review Agency, and the Privacy and Intelligence Commissioners play important roles in fostering a broader culture of transparency and accountability across the national security and intelligence (NS&I) community, including the RCMP.
- Several initiatives are currently underway within the RCMP to foster transparency and accountability, including: modernizing the RCMP's Access to Information and Privacy Framework, publishing organizational and national security-related information on the RCMP's website – including an environmental scan that identifies key trends in their operating environment – and the RCMP's Vision150 modernization agenda, which aims to make the RCMP a more trusted and inclusive organization. In its commitment to transparency, the RCMP is also proactively disclosing police information relating to police intervention options, diversity statistics within the organization, and RCMP calls for service. The RCMP is also introducing body-worn cameras across the country.
- The RCMP recently published their first report on Reconciliation with Indigenous communities titled Path of Reconciliation: Strengthening Trust in the RCMP. It looks at national and local actions that are being taken to foster reconciliation, including partnerships and engagement activities with Indigenous Canadians.
- Institutionalizing transparency in national security is important. There is a need for the RCMP and its NS&I partners to commit to upgrading policies, resources, and technology in a coordinated and comprehensive manner. As efforts in this space expand, it will be essential to ensure that requests from external review bodies and from the public via the access to information and privacy framework are met in a timely manner.
- Community outreach, engagement, and relationship-building efforts are largely localized efforts, driven by RCMP Divisions across Canada. Outreach and engagement activities happens with different communities and stakeholders for different reasons.
- Outreach can serve to advise and educate communities and stakeholders on potential national security threats and for crime prevention. It can be conducted to cultivate relations with, and build up trust from, stakeholders and communities impacted by certain national security threats. It can further support de-radicalization efforts.
- The Commissioner concluded her introductory remarks by speaking to the broadening and evolving national security threat landscape, which will have significant impacts on the RCMP. She reiterated that the RCMP is committed to ensuring that transparency and public outreach and engagement are taken into consideration while designing solutions to these issues and keeping Canada and Canadians safe.
Key Takeaways of the Question and Answer Session with Commissioner Lucki:
- The Commissioner outlined work currently underway to enhance the public's trust in law enforcement, including: updating de-escalation training, developing national and divisional reconciliation strategies, designing and providing mandatory cultural humility training across the RCMP, and developing and providing leadership training. She also spoke to anti-racism training that is being developed with the help of advisory groups and Black, Indigenous and People of Color community members.
- While speaking on RCMP modernization efforts relating to organizational culture, the Commissioner also highlighted the following:
- efforts to upgrade recruitment and hiring practices to screen recruits for bias and discriminatory behavior;
- the official June 30, 2021 launch of the Independent Centre for Harassment Resolution; and,
- ongoing efforts to formalize cooperation protocols with police oversight bodies to ensure that serious incidents (including death, assault, injury or serious misconduct) involving on-and off-duty police officers are referred to independent agencies for rigorous and objective investigations.
- The Commissioner spoke to efforts underway to strengthen outreach and engagement efforts with racialized and marginalized communities, including efforts to strengthen and develop metrics on the effectiveness of these outreach and engagement efforts. She also spoke to the importance of, and ongoing work to encourage, community-based leadership within community policing efforts. The RCMP is looking at their policing model to make sure that they are community driven and community focused so that the RCMP is not telling people how to police their communities.
- Partnerships, education and awareness are key to improving trust. The RCMP has established a new management advisory board which has, as a key task, to increase Canadians' trust. It is a challenge to develop metrics to measure success on improving public trust. One tool that the RCMP uses is an annual survey on the public's views on the organization.
- The RCMP is establishing an Office for RCMP-Indigenous, Co-Development, Collaboration and Accountability (RICCA), which will be led by an Indigenous person. While community and stakeholder consultations will inform the mandate of this Office, provisionally its goal will be to provide a culturally sensitive setting where employees can seek support and where solutions to issues related to policing in Indigenous communities are addressed using a collaborative approach. The RCMP is also working in partnership with Indigenous women's groups to address gender-based violence.
- While discussing the potential uses of Artificial Intelligence to conduct criminal investigations and manage oversight compliance, the Commissioner spoke of the need to work with the Privacy and Intelligence Commissioners and ensure that the public's privacy rights are respected. She then discussed other efforts to manage review and oversight compliance, including setting up a senior level committee to ensure coordinated compliance. The Commissioner also spoke to the RCMP's plans to work with consultant companies to bolster outreach and engagement efforts.
- When asked about how the public can file complaints, the Commissioner clarified that there are two methods available. For public complaints on non-national security matters, contact the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. For public complaints on national security-related matters, contact the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency.
- When asked about street checks, the Commissioner explained that they can help to gather information and solve crime. The Commissioner also spoke to a Review conducted by the CRCC and how the RCMP responded to their recommendations and is currently updating the RCMP's policies and procedures regarding street checks, including ensuring that information collected is retained in accordance with the Privacy Act.
- When asked about lags in responding to CRCC reports, the Commissioner spoke to the drafting of a Memorandum of Understanding on acceptable service standards and recent concerted efforts to eliminate the backlog of outstanding response requests.
- The concluding question in the Q&A asked about how the First Responder Terrorism Awareness Program (FR-TAP) and Counter Terrorism Information Officer course are evaluated for program effectiveness and potential biases. The Commissioner highlighted that the deployment of metrics to gauge program effectiveness is a significant gap in the Federal Policing program and that efforts will be focused to develop these sorts of measurements. She also spoke to current and ongoing efforts to update and revitalize FR-TAP training materials by applying a more rigorous GBA+ lens to identify and mitigate potential biases evident in the program material.
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