Reviewing CSE's Activities: A Permanent Model
As I approach my third year as Commissioner I am frequently asked what will happen to my Office at the end of my mandate in June 1999. While this decision ultimately rests with the Government, I anticipate that a number of opinions will be voiced by a variety of interested parties, along with ideas on the best model for a permanent review mechanism.
Over the past two years, I have had many opportunities to reflect on this subject, and to consider a possible structure. As my starting point, I looked at my own Office and the attributes and requirements that I identified to discharge my current mandate. Among them are
- clearly defined mandate and reporting,
- knowledge and understanding of CSE's operational methods and activities,
- understanding of the laws of Canada and their application,
- effective means of assessing the lawfulness of CSE's activities,
- a professional relationship with CSE's officials,
- effective relationships with other interested parties in government, and
- adequate and appropriate resources.
I have also identified four elements that could have an impact on the model selected, even if they go beyond the immediate requirements and structure of a review mechanism.
While it is clear that enabling legislation is not required to establish a permanent review mechanism for cse, the review mechanism itself ought to be incorporated eventually in a constituent act. This raises a number of policy and related questions for the drafters of the legislation, as is evident from the array of options represented at the meeting in Australia.
Under the provisions of my Order in Council, I submit my reports to the Minister of National Defence. Based on my experience to date, I am of the opinion that this arrangement works well. However, I have also observed that some of my counterparts, both in Canada and abroad, report directly to Parliament. This alternative should also be examined for the permanent review mechanism.
My mandate is set out in the Order in Council, reproduced in an appendix to this report. It was evident from my discussions with colleagues that I have a very focused mandate. While I believe it is adequate under the present circumstances, consideration should be given to exploring alternatives for the mandate of a permanent review mechanism. It is important to ensure any permanent mechanism gives the Government, and the public, an appropriate degree of comfort with respect to CSE's activities.
I found great value in the exchange of ideas and experiences with my colleagues in other countries. A review of their legislation and further consultations might be of benefit. While I believe that this might reveal the need for a uniquely Canadian solution, there is often much to be learned from other countries, particularly the parliamentary models of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
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