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17.07.2019 19:37
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Office of the Intelligence Commissioner: Canada's new oversight body for intelligence activities

OTTAWA, July 17, 2019 /CNW/ - On July 12, the Honourable Jean-Pierre Plouffe begins his new role as Canada's first-ever Intelligence Commissioner. The Intelligence Commissioner is responsible for performing an independent quasi-judicial review of the conclusions reached by Ministers in issuing certain ministerial authorizations and determinations for both the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), concerning intelligence activities before they can be carried out.

It is an honour and a privilege to be appointed as Canada's Intelligence Commissioner. This is a new role in Canadian law, and an important one to Canada's national security framework, that aims to provide greater transparency, better accountability and, ultimately, bolstering public confidence.

The Honourable Jean-Pierre Plouffe, cd
Intelligence Commissioner

The Intelligence Commissioner is supported by the Office of the Intelligence Commissioner.

https://www.canada.ca/en/intelligence-commissioner.html

BACKGROUNDER

The Honourable Jean-Pierre Plouffe was appointed as Intelligence Commissioner following the coming into force of the Intelligence Commissioner Act on July 12, 2019. The Office of the Intelligence Commissioner was also created.

Under the Intelligence Commissioner Act, the Commissioner is responsible for performing quasi-judicial review of the conclusions on the basis of which certain authorizations are issued or amended, and certain determinations are made, under the Communications Security Establishment Act and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act. If the Commissioner is satisfied that the conclusions underpinning the decisions are reasonable, he will approve the decisions.

The Commissioner reviews and may approve, or not, the following:

  • the conclusions?on the basis of which the Minister of National Defence issued or amended a Foreign Intelligence Authorization or a Cybersecurity Authorization for CSE;
  • the conclusions?on the basis of which the Minister of Public Safety determined classes of Canadian datasets or categories of acts and omissions, or authorized the retention of foreign datasets; and
  • the conclusions?on the basis of which the Director of CSIS authorized the querying of a dataset in exigent circumstances for CSIS.

In order for an authorization or determination to be legally valid, it must be approved by the Commissioner following his quasi-judicial review. Unless approved by the Commissioner, the activities described in the decisions may not be carried out. The Commissioner is entitled to receive all information that was before the decision-maker.

These decisions must be rendered no later than 30 days after the Commissioner has received notice that one has been issued, or as soon as feasible in relation to authorizations rendered in exigent circumstances.

Written decisions

Further to his quasi-judicial review, whether the Commissioner is satisfied that the conclusions underpinning a decision are reasonable or not, he must set out his reasons for doing so in writing.

In addition, the Commissioner provides a copy of all his decisions to:

  • the minister, the senior official, or the person whose conclusions are being reviewed; and
  • the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency.

Reporting to the Canadian public

Every year, the Commissioner presents an annual report to the Prime Minister who must, in turn, table it in Parliament. This report contains statistics on the Commissioner's activities in the preceding year related to authorizations, determinations and amendments. The Commissioner consults with the Chief of CSE and the Director of CSIS to ensure no classified or protected information is included in the report.

Canada's changing national security framework

When the Intelligence Commissioner Act came into force, the former Office of the CSE Commissioner was dissolved. The staff members of the Office of the CSE Commissioner were transferred to the Office of the Intelligence Commissioner.

The review functions of the Office of the CSE Commissioner were transferred to the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, with the coming into force of the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency Act.

 

SOURCE Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner

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