Activities of the Commissioner's Office

In last year's annual report, in an attempt to clarify misconceptions and to better inform the public about CSEC's and my mandates and activities, I provided more detail than ever before on CSEC's activities, what Commissioners review, how reviews are carried out, and the impact of reviews. Work is ongoing to improve the website, which contains detailed information on the activities of the Commissioner's office. Of course, The Commissioner provides the Minister of National Defence with additional classified information — which cannot be disclosed in this public report or on the website — so that the Minister can be fully aware of the Commissioner's review of CSEC activities. Last year, employees of my office and I also met with a number of academics and other professionals interested in review of security and intelligence agencies to talk about my role and work and their views on effective review. In addition, my office made presentations to five cohorts of new CSEC employees attending CSEC's foundational learning course, which is a requirement for every new employee. These presentations provide an introduction to what it is I and my office do, how we go about our work, and how it may affect them as CSEC employees. 

During the past year, CSEC provided a number of detailed briefings to employees of my office as part of the conduct of reviews. CSEC also provided an overview briefing on recent and important operational, policy and organizational changes and issues. I attended an interactive presentation that demonstrated CSEC's foreign signals intelligence capabilities and response to an incident. The event was very effective in demonstrating how the many different parts of CSEC, many personnel and many different government departments and agencies cooperate, in response to a top Government of Canada priority. I was struck by the knowledge and professionalism of CSEC employees and their evident dedication to their respective responsibilities. In addition, my employees attended CSEC training on foreign signals intelligence activities and on communications security.

Following a conference on security and privacy at the Université de Montréal in October 2011, my office's Executive Director wrote a chapter in a book, Circulation internationale de l'information et sécurité, published in late 2012. The chapter was based on his participation in one of the conference panels, describing distinctions between national security and public safety, the role and impact of review, and the integration of technology and privacy protection in national security.

At the beginning of March, the Executive Director delivered a luncheon address at the 15th annual conference organized by the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary, with the theme Global Security: Past, Present and Future. His address dealt with the role of intelligence review, focussing on four questions: why is review important; how effective can it be and what makes for effective review; what is the view of the intelligence agencies themselves concerning review; and what of the future and some challenges.

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