Commissioner Plouffe's letter to the Honourable Daryl Kramp

March 6, 2015

The Honourable Daryl Kramp
Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security

Dear Mr. Kramp:

I am writing with respect to Bill C-51, Part 1, Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, which allows the sharing of information among Government of Canada institutions for national security purposes. Following my reading of the Bill, I question why the existing security and intelligence review bodies are not included in this proposed legislation.

My office is responsible for reviewing the activities of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE).  The legislation that authorizes my activity is different from the legislation that authorizes the two other review bodies, the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), responsible for reviewing the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) for the RCMP.  CSE, CSIS and the RCMP are also subject to different legislation but are authorized by their respective laws to co-operate, and share information.  However, there is no equivalent explicit authority for my office to co-operate and share with SIRC and the CRCC. 

As I stated in my public annual report, tabled in Parliament last August, and as my predecessor also stated, there is a limited amount of co-operation that can occur among the review bodies within existing legislative mandates. However, an explicit authority to co-operate and share information would strengthen review capacity and effectiveness. This authority becomes that much more important in the evolving context of ever greater co-operation between the intelligence and security agencies.  

Sharing of information among the existing review bodies would allow one to alert another as to what information was being shared, to follow the trail of that information and to ensure that the sharing of information complied with the law and that the privacy of Canadians was protected.

On a separate but nonetheless related issue, permit me to make an additional point. 

I regret that an opportunity has not been seized to introduce amendments to the National Defence Act to eliminate ambiguities that were long ago identified by my predecessors. Eliminating these ambiguities seeks to clarify key terms in CSE's legislated authority and resolve legal interpretation issues.  


Jean-Pierre Plouffe

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