Summary of the Meeting of the National Security Transparency Advisory Group (NS-TAG) – August 31, 2022
Held via Videoconference
- Dominic Rochon
- Jillian Stirk
- Daniel Jean
- Amira Elghawaby
- Chantal Bernier
- John Ariyo
- Lorelei Williams
- Mary Francoli
- Rizwan Mohammad
- Jeffrey Roy
- Stéphane Leman-Langlois
National Security Community Members Present (as observers):
Canada Border Security Agency (CBSA), Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), Public Safety Canada (PS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
- Opening of the meeting and roll call
- Introductions of new and returning NS-TAG members
- Update by working group members on stock-taking exercise
- October in-person meeting – forward planning
- Closing remarks
The twenty-first virtual NS-TAG meeting took place on August 31, 2022. The objective of the meeting was to introduce new and returning NS-TAG members to one another and to the National Security Transparency Commitment (NSTC) working group. Representatives from different NS organizations provided progress updates on their implementation of the NSTC, as well as the 2021 stock-taking exercise.
Key Takeaways of the Discussion Session:
- The PS Transparency Secretariat provided an overview of the work that the NS-TAG has conducted over the last three years, including their report topics and key guest speakers with whom they met. The Secretariat also discussed the May 2022 internal NS-TAG meeting with the Deputy Minister of PS and thanked returning and alumni members for sharing their comments and thoughts.
- The Secretariat has conducted two stocktaking exercises since the start of the NSTC Working Group. The aim of the most recent stocktaking exercise was to assess the national security community's progress in implementing the Transparency Commitment.
- PS has made significant strides in the pursuit of enhanced transparency. Examples include: launching the NS-TAG as well as the NSTC working group; participating in various initiatives to promote national security transparency, including the Open Government Partnership Global Summit in 2019; conducting university tours to engage university students; commissioning public opinion research in 2021 to explore the public's opinions and attitudes on national security transparency; and, collaborating closely with the Bias Sensitivity, Diversity and Identity in National Security team to enter into public dialogues on the differential impacts of national security activities on marginalized communities across Canada.
- CSIS highlighted that their approach to transparency is heavily centered on engagement with Canadians. In 2019, CSIS launched the Academic Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement Program to engage with Canadian communities and to repair the trust gap.
- CSIS noted that following the COVID-19 pandemic, their program temporarily shifted gears and focused on sensitizing academics and researchers to emerging threats to the health and academic sectors.
- Acknowledging that marginalized communities can be the most vulnerable to foreign interference, CSIS stated that it has released guidance documents to aid communities in spotting, and defending against, potential threats. These documents were translated into multiple languages. Additionally, CSIS published documentation on the rise of white supremacy to inform the public about how CSIS approaches and handles these threats.
- CSE stated that their outreach to different communities is rooted in cyber security workshops, schools and academic speaking engagement sessions. In 2022, CSE published its Framework for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Further, their annual departmental report has recently incorporated their commitment to transparency into the accountability section. They are also presently drafting their own transparency framework that is set to provide guiding principles, objectives, expectations and roles and responsibilities.
- The CRA emphasized the importance of digital enhancement by expressing their commitment to actively updating public web content to better inform the public about CRA's activities. They also stated that they would continue collaborating with other NS organizations to better understand threats to national security and the measures that must be taken to address them.
- IRCC noted that they now allow individuals who have previously submitted an application to track it and see what type of information is collected. Additionally, IRCC discussed how they now make proactive publications and manuals that detail inadmissibility, detention and refusal of national security cases, as well as other information related to the citizenship program on their website.
- NS-TAG members expressed the importance of recognizing mistakes of the past, and that reparations must be made in order to successfully re-establish trust between national security agencies and Canadian communities.
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