Activities of the Commissioner's Office

Review Agencies Forum

The Review Agencies Forum comprises officials from my office, the Security and Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), the Office of the Inspector General of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Commission for Public Complaints Against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. The Forum contributes to the development of the review community through the exchange of expertise, research, developments in legislation and case law, and best practices relating to review. This year, a senior manager from the Security and Intelligence Secretariat of the Privy Council Office met with the Forum to discuss the government's national security priorities and developments as well as proposals to strengthen review agencies and address the findings of recent inquiries.

My office also delivered a second review workshop to provide formalized training to staff from Forum organizations that are relatively new to the function of review.

Code of Values, Ethics and Conduct

I approved a Code of Values, Ethics and Conduct that applies to all individuals employed by my office. The Code contains specific responsibilities and expected behaviours of employees relating to the conduct of their work and reviews of CSEC. This Code fulfills the requirement of section 5 of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. I am confident that commitment to these values and observance of the Code's behaviours will strengthen the ethical culture of the Commissioner's office and contribute to its integrity.

Other activities

In September, my office's Executive Director met with a Brazilian Federal Prosecutor who was a visiting academic at the Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies of Carleton University. This meeting informed the prosecutor's work on accountability and review mechanisms for Brazilian intelligence activities.

In October, my office's Executive Director, Director of Operations and legal counsel joined me at the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice's conference, Terrorism, Law and Democracy: 10 years after 9/11. Leading experts on national security law, privacy and related topics explored how changes to Canadian law to combat terrorism have affected fundamental rights and values of procedural justice in the last decade. Together with the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation in the United Kingdom and the former Chair of SIRC, I participated in a panel on procedure and accountability in anti-terrorism matters. We discussed the role and importance of independent review of security and intelligence agencies in the Canadian and international contexts.

Also in October, officials from my office participated in a conference on the integration of privacy rights into security technologies, Vers une intégration du droit à la vie privée et des technologies de sécurité. The conference was organized by the Centre de recherche en droit public of the University of Montréal. My Executive Director participated in a panel and provided his perspectives on distinctions between national security and public safety and the integration of technology and privacy protection in national security. This conference also afforded my employees an opportunity to meet with Canadian and international civil servants, academics and students interested in issues of privacy, national security and public safety.

In November, my employees and I attended the annual international conference of the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies (CASIS) in Ottawa. For the past 10 years, my office has supported CASIS conferences and seminars offered to members and students interested in broadening understanding of the issues affecting security and intelligence. Under this year's theme, New Frontiers in Security and Intelligence, the conference explored new developments in this field.

The activities of CSIS are subject to review by SIRC. Those of CSEC are subject to review by me. SIRC and my own office are two separate, distinct and autonomous entities. SIRC may not investigate CSEC activities. My office may not investigate CSIS activities. It follows that when CSEC is acting at the request of CSIS, my powers of review begin only at the moment the request is made and are confined to the activities of CSEC — from the time the request is made, to the delivery of any information to CSIS. This year, I initiated discussions with the Chair and members of SIRC, and my Executive Director forwarded to SIRC a discussion paper on proposals for varying levels of cooperation in the conduct of reviews of activities involving both CSEC and CSIS. As I noted in my introduction, there is opportunity, under existing authorities, for greater collaboration between SIRC and my office, to enhance the effectiveness of review, in the spirit of the recommendations of the commission of inquiry led by the Honourable Justice Dennis O'Connor. In the coming year, I will pursue discussion of proposals to enhance collaboration of reviews of joint CSEC-CSIS activities.

CSEC is a highly technical organization, and my office is expected to keep pace with the rapid technological changes affecting CSEC's activities. For this reason, CSEC includes my employees in CSEC training, including introductory courses CSEC provides to new employees and training for the use of specific systems and databases.

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