Summary Report of the Meeting of the National Security Transparency Advisory Group (NS-TAG) July 22, 2020
Held via Videoconference
- Khadija Cajee
- Harpreet Jhinjar
- Thomas Juneau (co-chair)
- Myles Kirvan
- Justin Mohammed
- Bessma Momani
- Jeffrey Roy
- Lesley Soper (acting co-chair)
- William Baker
- Mary Francoli
"The Role of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in National Security and Intelligence" and the "Role of the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) in National Security Oversight and Review and the Municipal Level."
Invited Guests and Speakers:
- Lynn Lawless – A/Executive Director, External Review Division, CBSA
- Sean McGillis – Executive Director, Federal Policing Resource Management, RCMP
- David Janzen – Director, Federal Policing, National Security and Protective Policing, RCMP
- Ryan Teschner – Executive Director & Chief of Staff, TPSB
National Security Community Members Present (as observers):
CBSA, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Department of National Defence (DND), Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), Privy Council Office (PCO), Public Safety (PS), RCMP, Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS), Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC).
- Opening of the Meeting and Roll Call
- Discussion Session with the CBSA and the RCMP on their role in national security and intelligence
- Discussion Session with the TPSB on National Security Oversight and Review and the Municipal Level
- Date of the Next Meeting and Closing of the Meeting
The third virtual NS-TAG meeting took place on July 22, 2020. During the first session, NS-TAG members and guest speakers from the CBSA and the RCMP discussed: 1) the role, mandate and operational environment of their respective departments; 2) how they fit into the broader national security and intelligence community; and, 3) how both organizations engage and communicate with Canadians. The guest speakers also discussed transparency and accountability initiatives. Other topics of discussion included the RCMP's federal and provincial policing role, diversity and inclusion, and the implications of a rapidly evolving digital world on CBSA and RCMP activities. The impact, on oversight mechanisms, of Bill C-3, a new piece of legislation that will amend both the RCMP Act and the CBSA Act, was also discussed. (Note: At the time of publishing this meeting summary, information on Bill C-3 is available online.)
During the second session, the Executive Director of the TPSB explained the organization's role and responsibilities and discussed examples of intergovernmental cooperation between different levels of government. He also shared some good practices and successes in engaging with citizens, notably with respect to making relevant data available to the public.
Key Takeaways of the Discussion with Guests:
- The national security implications of the CBSA's work largely stem from their mandate to manage Canada's border – for example, the agency is involved in issues regarding returning Canadian Extremist Travelers.
- The RCMP noted that adapting the organizational culture is necessary to enhance transparency and address issues of diversity and inclusion. They are working on a modernization strategy (Vision 150), which includes looking at hiring practices, applying Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+), and removing biases in training.
- The RCMP is exploring ways to further develop their community outreach strategies. Examples include enhancing dialogue with communities on how arrests are carried out, and proactively leveraging communications and public relations units in national security related criminal investigations.
- At both the CBSA and the RCMP, there is a need to keep pace with the quickly-evolving technological landscape and find ways to better manage and use data, in part through a more modern and agile human resources model (ex: hiring librarians and data scientists to support investigations). The TPSB also indicated that data collection and analysis poses an additional information management challenge.
- The RCMP and the CBSA discussed the importance of following up on public complaints, noting the importance of complaints processes leading to action and concrete results.
- The RCMP discussed some training programs and workshops with the members, including the Counter Terrorism Information Officer (CTIO) workshop, First Responder Terrorism Awareness Program (FR-TAP) and opportunities to update and enhance their content and delivery.
- The TPSB mentioned the importance of engaging government experts in discussion on national security, transparency and accountability, as well as engaging in public discussions. When discussing transparency, it is important to remember that this applies to transparency between levels of government and at an inter-agency level, not just between the government and the public.
- The TPSB identified engaging with communities as a key to success. The Board has held a series of virtual town halls on transparency, accountability and budgeting in the past that have been well-received by the public and generated useful feedback.
- The TPSB noted that public participation in the policy development process is crucial. Obtaining public buy-in before a policy is presented to the board greatly enhances the legitimacy of the policy. They also stressed the importance for the public to see the data and the analysis for themselves.
- The TPSB highlighted the value of social media, and are actively working to enhance their social media presence. As a good practice in communications, they noted the importance of continuing to engage with the public after sharing a message to foster two-way communication.
- Grassroots engagement is crucial. The TPSB noted particular success in staffing advisory panels with a mix of policing professionals and civil society actors to exchange information and generate solid policy outcomes.
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