Annex A: Excerpts from the National Defence Act and the Security of Information Act Related to the Commissioner's Mandate

National Defence Act – Part V.1

Appointment of Commissioner

273.63 (1)  The Governor in Council may appoint a supernumerary judge or a retired judge of a superior court as Commissioner of the Communications Security Establishment to hold office, during good behaviour, for a term of not more than five years.


(2)  The duties of the Commissioner are

(a) to review the activities of the Establishment to ensure that they are in compliance with the law;

(b) in response to a complaint, to undertake any investigation that the Commissioner considers necessary; and

(c) to inform the Minister and the Attorney General of Canada of any activity of the Establishment that the Commissioner believes may not be in compliance with the law.

Annual report

(3)  The Commissioner shall, within 90 days after the end of each fiscal year, submit an annual report to the Minister on the Commissioner's activities and findings, and the Minister shall cause a copy of the report to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first 15 days on which that House is sitting after the Minister receives the report.

Powers of investigation

(4) In carrying out his or her duties, the Commissioner has all the powers of a commissioner under Part II of the Inquiries Act.

Employment of legal counsel, advisers, etc.

(5) The Commissioner may engage the services of such legal counsel, technical advisers and assistants as the Commissioner considers necessary for the proper performance of his or her duties and, with the approval of the Treasury Board, may fix and pay their remuneration and expenses.


(6) The Commissioner shall carry out such duties and functions as are assigned to the Commissioner by this Part or any other Act of Parliament, and may carry out or engage in such other related assignments or activities as may be authorized by the Governor in Council.


Review of authorizations

273.65 (8) The Commissioner of the Communications Security Establishment shall review activities carried out under an authorization issued under this section to ensure that they are authorized and report annually to the Minister on the review.

Security of Information Act

Public interest defence

15. (1) No person is guilty of an offence under section 13 or 14 if the person establishes that he or she acted in the public interest.


Prior disclosure to authorities necessary

(5) A judge or court may decide whether the public interest in the disclosure outweighs the public interest in non-disclosure only if the person has complied with the following: [...]

(b) the person has, if he or she has not received a response from the deputy head or the Deputy Attorney General of Canada, as the case may be, within a reasonable time, brought his or her concern to, and provided all relevant information in the person's possession to, [...]

(ii) the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner, if the person's concern relates to an alleged offence that has been, is being or is about to be committed by a member of the Communications Security Establishment, in the purported performance of that person's duties and functions of service for, or on behalf of, the Communications Security Establishment, and he or she has not received a response from the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner within a reasonable time.

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