The Commissioner's Office
Since 1996, when the position was first created, the mandate of the communications security establishment commissioner — and hence the staff and other resources required to carry out that mandate — have undergone considerable evolution. between june 1996 and december 2001, the commissioner's role was twofold: to review cse's activities to determine whether they conformed with the law, and to receive complaints about the lawfulness of cse activities.
As discussed at length in previous annual reports and alluded to earlier in this report, two features of the Anti-Terrorism Act of December 2001 had a direct bearing on the Commissioner's functions: the review of CSE activities conducted under ministerial authorization and the Commissioner's duties under the Security of Information Act.
To fulfil these new responsibilities, my office was allocated additional resources to carry out review activities. A bigger workload and more staff have affected the way we organize and manage our work. For example, our internal policies and procedures for managing the office have been enhanced to reflect the maturation of the organization and the increase in staff during the fiscal year.
We have also paid attention to our work methods. Tools such as a standardized methodology, scope statements, and guidelines structure our reviews of CSE's activities in such a way that all reviewers are working to the same standards of rigour and thoroughness. With the addition of more staff involved in these endeavours, my office has embarked on an initiative to record and document these processes wherever possible.
With a new Commissioner and the evolution of the Commissioner's mandate over the past three years, it was time to look at how my office relates to the broader context in which it operates — in particular the federal government community and the security and intelligence community in Canada and internationally. A communications plan, developed this year with input from key players in Canadian intelligence, will help guide my office through the rapidly evolving intelligence and policy worlds.
For example, one objective of the plan is to communicate more regularly and systematically with interested groups and individuals — including the Canadian intelligence community, organizations that deal with intelligence issues, and academics specializing in the intelligence field — about the nature of my mandate, my approach to the job, and the activities of my office. This type of interaction could lead, for instance, to productive partnerships with academic specialists in areas of mutual interest and concern. In addition, conveying accurate, timely information about the office will help avoid misunderstandings or speculation about who we are and what we do.
Among the first steps in implementing the plan were my meetings with the current and former Ministers of National Defence, the chair and members of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, and the National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister, mentioned earlier.
In addition, my staff met with academics specialized in security and intelligence matters and participated in meetings of the Canadian Association of Security and Intelligence Studies. My staff also took steps toward greater participation in the public service community — notably through meetings with other small agencies, particularly those whose mandates include reviews and complaints.
With regard to the broader security and intelligence community, my office received visiting parliamentarians from Sweden and the United Kingdom — both countries with similar concerns but different review models from Canada's. In the past the office would not have had sufficient staff resources to undertake this range of activities, but the hiring of a director of review and government liaison and a director of review and military liaison will permit continued involvement in these communities in the future.
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