The Upcoming Year

The coming year promises to be eventful.

In May 2012, Canada hosts the 8th International Intelligence Review Agencies Conference in Ottawa. This is the second time that Canada is hosting this biennial conference, created in 1997. This year, it will bring together representatives of review bodies from 10 countries.

This Conference constitutes a unique opportunity for all of us to each share our experiences with the others and to gain from drawing comparisons. When it comes to review, there is no standard structure. Some countries stress the role of Parliamentarians, others that of independent review bodies headed by appointed officials. Canada will use this opportunity to report on changes since we last hosted the Conference in 1999. This retrospective over the past thirteen years should give us the necessary perspective to better assess today's reality and better predict tomorrow's.

This opportunity for perspective comes at the right time. The studies undertaken in Canada in recent years, particularly in the wake of the recommendations of Commissioners O'Connor, Iacobucci and Major on the possible reorganization of the intelligence and security review community, should bear fruit before long. Will some organizations be shut down? — or merged? — or a new one created? — or a super-organization set up? Will there be a role for Parliamentarians and, if so, what kind? These are all questions that will give rise to a promising debate to which I look forward to contributing.

I must raise once again the matter of clarifying certain provisions of the National Defence Act, something my predecessors and I have proposed repeatedly. I concede that this is a matter of opportunity and political context. But I confess to being deeply disappointed at the time that has passed without addressing the ambiguities in the Act which, to my mind, should raise no controversy.

Finally, the title I have been given, Commissioner of the Communications Security Establishment, gives the impression that I am part of CSEC, whereas, on the contrary and for the reasons that led to my position being created in the first place, I am entirely independent. I have asked that this unfortunate designation be corrected.

Date modified: