OCSEC History

The Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner (OCSEC) was created on June 19, 1996, with the appointment of the first Commissioner, the Honourable Claude Bisson, O.C. Mr. Bisson served as Commissioner until June 2003.

For the first six years of his tenure (June 1996 to December 2001), the Commissioner carried out his responsibilities under the authority of several orders in council, issued under Part II of the Inquiries Act.

During this period, the Commissioner's role was twofold: to review the activities of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) to determine whether they conformed with the law, and to receive complaints about the lawfulness of CSE activities.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Parliament adopted Bill C-36, the Anti-terrorism Act, which came into force on December 24, 2001. Two features of this omnibus legislation had a direct bearing on the functions of OCSEC:

Under this new legislative mandate — which entrenched in law the mandate the Commissioner had been fulfilling since 1996, as well as adding new responsibilities—the Commissioner retains the powers of a commissioner under the Inquiries Act.

On April 1, 2008, the Commissioner's office was granted its own appropriation. While the Commissioner continues to provide the Minister of National Defence with his reports, the Commissioner's office is separate from, and not part of, the Department of National Defence.

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