Six months after my appointment, as I write this first public annual report – the 18th report by a Commissioner – I am continuing to learn about and to question the activities of CSEC. I appreciate the support and professionalism of my office team.
I have read and heard questions raised about the independence of the Commissioner. There is no question that the scope of the powers that I have is sufficient to fully investigate CSEC. Also, the size of my budget and office are sufficient to conduct an adequate amount of meaningful review. As I continue to learn, however, I will also continue to assess whether I have adequate resources.
Alongside fulfilling my mandate, transparency will remain a priority focus for the coming year. While my mandate is to review CSEC activities to determine compliance with law – that is, making sure CSEC is doing things right – I am prepared to contribute to any public policy debate before Parliament as to whether CSEC is doing the right things, particularly relating to the protection of the privacy of Canadians. I am also following with interest the ongoing civil claim in the Supreme Court of British Columbia about whether CSEC activities infringe individuals' Charter rights.
Like my predecessors, I remain confident that Chief Forster and CSEC take very seriously their responsibilities to comply with the law and protect the privacy of Canadians. It is my job to investigate and verify that CSEC continues to do so and I take my job equally seriously. I encourage the strengthening of a culture of compliance within CSEC, which is the best assurance for employees doing the right thing and against breaches of privacy.
One last issue gives me cause for concern because of the time that has elapsed from when it was first identified. Since the enactment of Part V.1 of the National Defence Act in December 2001, all CSE Commissioners have voiced concerns that certain fundamental provisions in the legislation lack clarity. In 2007, the government committed to amending the legislation to clarify these ambiguities. It is hoped that this can be resolved in the near future.
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