Liberals set to table bill to remodel national security measures

Oceane Deschanel
Junho 21, 2017

The agency would review "every other department and agency of the government of Canada that has a security or intelligence function", Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters.

Many people expressed concern that those new measures could violate Canada's rights charter.

The legislation would create a National Security and Intelligence Review Agency responsible for oversight of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), cyber-spy agency the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and other departments including the Canadian Border Services Agency.

The proposed agency would group together several bodies that now review the activities of Canada's spy agencies and the national security activity of the RCMP.

The government has already proposed a committee of members of Parliament in Bill C-22 to scrutinize security and intelligence activities, which brings it in line with a number of other Western countries that have similar political oversight bodies.

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- Empower the new watchdog to ensure more than a dozen federal security organizations are complying with the law. The NSIRA would be fully independent of government and show the intelligence agencies are accountable to Parliament.

Goodale said he expects various parts of the bill to be assigned to different parliamentary committees so a "broad cross-section" of legislators will will get a chance to look it over.

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But Birmingham has assured federal school funding would increase by almost $19 billion over ten years under the government's plan. It indicates Catholic schools would lose as much as $705 million over the next four years if the changes are approved.

In addition, the new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency would have a role in reviewing the spy service's threat reduction measures.

"This is not constant oversight", he said on Parliament Hill.

To enhance oversight the government is proposing creation of an Intelligence Commissioner, who would oversee the authorization of certain activities of the CSIS and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and would be fully independent of government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had promised in his successful 2015 election campaign to modify a law passed by the former Conservative government that gave increased powers to police and intelligence agencies.

The Trudeau government has committed to ensuring all CSIS warrants respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to preserving legitimate protest and advocacy, and to defining terrorist propaganda more clearly.

Over 60 Canadian families say their children's names have been wrongly matched to the list, which means the families are often held up at airports for security reviews.

"Canadians unequivocally want accountability, transparency and effectiveness from their security and intelligence agencies", Goodale said.

In the House of Commons, Goodale came under fire from both sides: the Conservatives accused the Liberals of making things harder for security forces, while the NDP complained they'd not done enough to erase the Harper measures.

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