On April 27, 2004, the government tabled in Parliament its first national security policy, entitled Securing an Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy. The policy addresses a range of national security issues and provides guidance in six strategic areas: intelligence, emergency planning and management, public health, transport security, border security, and international security. The policy also calls for the development of new structures and strategies that the government believes will enable it to anticipate and manage current and future threats to Canada's national security interests.
Among the changes in government structure announced on December 12, 2003, and confirmed in the national security policy announcement, was a proposal to establish a new committee of parliamentarians whose members would be sworn in as Privy Councillors so they could be briefed on national security issues.
These initiatives obviously have the potential to influence the activities of my office, but it is too early to say what the shape or extent of this influence might be. My staff and I will be following developments closely with a view to providing input where appropriate.
Two legislative proposals before Parliament at the end of this reporting year may have additional implications for my office:
- Passage of Bill C-7 (formerly Bill C-17), the Public Safety Act, 2002, would entail new responsibilities for the Commissioner. The bill amends the National Defence Act to confer significant new responsibilities on the Commissioner of CSE for reviewing the lawfulness of activities undertaken by the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces to maintain and protect their computer systems and networks and for dealing with complaints arising from such activities.6
- Bill C-14 (formerly Bill C-32) amends provisions of the Criminal Code and the Financial Administration Act, among other acts. It introduces new provisions, including a new authority to intercept private communications for the purpose of managing and protecting computer systems and networks. There is a question of how this bill will affect the provisions and passage of the proposed Public Safety Act, 2002, which has similar wording.7
My concerns are threefold:
- the fact that passage of both bills would establish different governing authorities dealing with essentially similar activities;
- the fact that passage of Bill C-7 would impose on the Department of National Defence a different accountability regime than would be imposed on other departments by passage of Bill C-14; and
- the difficulties I am likely to encounter in providing meaningful assurance of lawfulness and compliance with ministerial authority as envisaged in Bill C-7.
Developments in two other areas may also have implications for my office:
- Parliament's statutory review of the Anti-Terrorism Act three years after its initial passage into law is slated to begin by the end of 2004. I intend to provide my comments based on my observations to date.
- The government introduced Bill C-25, the so-called whistle-blower legislation, on March 22, 2004.8 Although CSE would be exempt from this legislation, it would have to establish a system to serve essentially the same purpose, raising questions about a possible role for the Commissioner.
We will be following these and other developments closely to determine their likely impact on this office, as well as where and how we can contribute our input most effectively.
The next International Intelligence Review Agencies Conference will be held in Washington, D.C., in October 2004. Representatives of review agencies from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries will meet to exchange views on issues of common interest. I look forward to receiving this year's agenda.
5 R.S.C. 1985, c. O-5.
6 Bill C-7, An Act to amend certain Acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety, 3rd Sess., 37th Parl., 2004; Bill C-17, An Act to amend certain Acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety, 2nd Sess., 37th Parl., 2002.
7 Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts, 3rd Sess., 37th Parl., 2004; Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts, 2nd Sess., 37th Parl., 2003.
8 An Act to establish a procedure for the disclosure of wrongdoings in the public sector, including the protection of persons who disclose the wrongdoings. Its short title would be the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, 3rd Sess., 37th Parl., 2004.
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