Section 1: A year in review 2006–07

D. SIRC complaint decisions 2006–07

The following are summaries of the five reports issued by SIRC during the period under review, in response to complaints filed.

Alleged discrimination in an immigration process - Report 2006–01

SIRC reported a decision concerning a complaint that was referred to SIRC by the Canadian Human Rights Commission under Section 45 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). The complainant in the case alleged discrimination in contravention of the CHRA after being denied a “security clearance”.Footnote 8 Since this security assessment was required for the complainant's immigration process, the allegation was that the complainant was prevented from becoming a Canadian citizen because of the denial of the clearance.

The complaint specifically alleged: a delay by CSIS in processing the complainant's security assessment which formed the basis of the advice to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration provided under Section 14 of the CSIS Act; accusations made against the complainant by CSIS during an interview with the complainant; and poor treatment by the Service during an administered polygraph examination.

SIRC concluded there was no evidence to support the allegations concerning the Service's delay in processing the security assessment, or in the manner in which the citizenship interview and polygraph examination were conducted. SIRC found that the Service did not proceed with its investigation with intent to treat the complainant adversely because of his national or ethnic origin. Rather the Service investigated security concerns associated with the complainant's application for Canadian citizenship.

Recommendation

  • SIRC recommended that the Canadian Human Rights Commission not investigate this complaint.

Alleged actions by CSIS during a citizenship interview - Report 2006–02

SIRC reported a decision concerning a complaint pursuant to Section 41 of the CSIS Act dealing with the alleged actions of CSIS during a citizenship interview.

SIRC found that CSIS failed to provide the complainant with proper notice before it conducted the citizenship interview. SIRC found that although CSIS's report to Citizenship and Immigration Canada contained some errors, the report adequately reflected the content of the complainant's citizenship interview.

Recommendation

  • SIRC recommended that CSIS implement a procedure to verify that individuals about to be interviewed by CSIS for citizenship or immigration interviews be given adequate written notice by Citizenship and Immigration Canada that CSIS intends to interview them.Footnote 9

Revocation of a security clearance - Report 2006–03

SIRC reported a decision on a complaint pursuant to Section 42 of the CSIS Act, concerning the revocation of a security clearance of a CSIS employee, which ultimately led to the employee's dismissal.

The complainant held a Top Secret security clearance. According to the Government Security Policy, a Top Secret security clearance may not be granted where there are reasonable grounds to doubt the applicant's loyalty to Canada or reliability as it relates to loyalty.

SIRC concluded there were reasonable grounds to believe the complainant:

  • May have knowingly associated with individuals considered to be a security threat;
  • Failed to report to CSIS self-admitted suspicions about those individuals' activities; and
  • May have disclosed classified information, which was a breach of security.

SIRC concluded the Director had reasonable grounds to revoke the complainant's security clearance.

Recommendations

SIRC recommended that CSIS:

  • Create and implement a policy requiring that its employees be informed of their right to legal representation and be given an opportunity to consult with a legal representative before and while an interview is conducted for the purposes of either a breach of security or a breach of conduct investigation;
  • Create a roster of lawyers from the private sector who have a Top Secret clearance whom CSIS employees may retain;
  • Create and implement a policy by which its investigators must declare a conflict of interest when an individual seeks their opinion about the retention of legal counsel;
  • Create and implement a policy requiring that its employees input relevant information in a timely manner;
  • Amend its policy dealing with the destruction of investigative materials— including audio cassettes and notes—concerning a breach of security investigation or a disciplinary investigation;
  • Remind its employees that SIRC has the statutory right to access all information under the control of CSIS—except for matters of Cabinet confidence—including audio cassettes, handwritten notes and email messages, and that care should be taken to not destroy information that could have an impact on SIRC's ability to exercise its right to access such information; and
  • Place greater emphasis on employees' obligations with respect to the protection of classified information in its orientation course and other security briefings.

Alleged false statements - Report 2006–04

SIRC reported a decision on a complaint made pursuant to Section 41 of the CSIS Act by Human Concern International (HCI), alleging that the Service made a false statement to the Federal Court of Canada, via the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. It was further alleged that a document filed by both Ministers was based on CSIS information that the Service knew—or ought to have known—would impugn the character, reputation and standing of the complainant. Furthermore, HCI maintained that not being party to the court proceedings meant there was no formal opportunity to challenge a statement by the Service that was later published in two Canadian newspapers.

Upon receipt of this complaint, SIRC encouraged the two parties to seek an alternative resolution of this dispute. When these discussions failed, SIRC undertook its own investigation. It found that the Service had made an unsubstantiated allegation about the complainant in its advice to the Ministers of Public Safety and Citizenship and Immigration which was in turn presented to the Federal Court. As well, SIRC found that CSIS knew that reliance would be placed on its advice by both the Ministers of Public Safety and Citizenship and Immigration, as well as the Federal Court. For this reason, and since HCI was not given an opportunity to respond to the impugned statement, CSIS should have taken care to avoid making an unsubstantiated statement which could lead to injury or loss of support and funding.

Recommendations

SIRC recommended that:

  • CSIS formally retract this particular statement and that it do so by informing the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Minister of Public Safety, the Federal Court of Canada and the publishers of two newspapers; and
  • CSIS apologize to HCI for having made an unsubstantiated statement.

Alleged delay in processing a citizenship application - Report 2006–05

SIRC reported on another complaint made pursuant to Section 41 of the CSIS Act, which alleged that CSIS deliberately and improperly caused a delay in the processing of the complainant's citizenship application. The complainant, a permanent resident of Canada, applied for Canadian citizenship and was the subject of a security screening interview conducted by the Service, as requested by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).Footnote 10

In this case, CSIS explained to SIRC that the investigator's delay in filing the report of the interview with the complainant had occurred partly due to workload issues in the aftermath of 9/11.

SIRC's authority under Section 41 of the CSIS Act does not extend to investigating CIC. Therefore, it was unable to determine CIC's role in any delay in the processing of the complainant's citizenship application. Regarding the Service's role, SIRC found that the Service:

  • delayed in scheduling the interview between the complainant and the screening investigator;
  • delayed in completing and filing the interview report; and
  • contributed to additional delays by recommending that CIC consult with another federal agency.

SIRC determined, however, that these delays—although regrettable—were unforeseeable and found the complainant's allegations were unsupported.

Footnotes

Footnote 8

The original complaint used the term “security clearance.” It should be noted that CSIS provides security assessments which form the basis of a clearance issued by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. CSIS itself does not issue clearances in these cases. For more information on the security screening process, see Section 2 of this Annual Report.

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Footnote 9

SIRC has since been informed by CSIS that CIC is now notifying immigration interviewees about whether or not their interview will be conducted by the Service.

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Footnote 10

Section 14 of the CSIS Act allows the Service to advise any Minister of the Crown on matters relating to the security of Canada, or provide any Minister of the Crown with information relating to security matters or criminal activities.

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