Making a Complaint

If you wish to make a complaint about any activity of the Service, Section 41 of the CSIS Act will apply.

If you wish to make a complaint concerning the denial or revocation of a security clearance necessary to obtain or keep federal government employment or contracts, Section 42 of the CSIS Act applies.

Section 41 Complaints

Your first step should be to gather as much documentation and other information as possible about the circumstances of your complaint.

If you are complaining about CSIS Activities under Section 41 of the CSIS Act, you must first file a complaint by writing to the Director of the Service at the following address:

Canadian Security Intelligence Service
P. O. Box 9732
Postal Station “T
Ottawa, Ontario
K1G 4G4

If you are not satisfied with the Director's response, or if you do not receive a response within a reasonable time (usually 30 days), you may then submit your complaint to SIRC, including the response, if any, received from the Director of CSIS. You may contact SIRC as follows:

Security Intelligence Review Committee
P.O. Box 2430,
Station “D
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 5W5

Telephone: (613) 990-8441
Fax: (613) 990-5230

Once your complaint is received, SIRC will contact you to follow up on the information you provide.

Section 42 Complaints

If your security clearance was denied or revoked, the CSIS Act provides that the Deputy Head of the federal department or agency where you were employed or were seeking employment must advise you in writing within 10 days of making that decisionFootnote 1.

Once you receive this notice, you have 30 days to file a complaint with SIRC. If your complaint is submitted outside of this time frame, you must provide SIRC with an explanation as to why you did not comply with the 30-day deadline.

Once your complaint is received, SIRC will contact you to follow up on the information you provide.

Steps in the Complaints Process

Complaints must be made in writing. It is helpful to the Committee if you give as much detail as possible surrounding the complaint, including dates, places and the names of any persons involved.

SIRC will acknowledge receipt of your complaint, notify you of any other steps you should take and contact you for follow-up.

If, at this point, your concerns are still not satisfied, SIRC will write to CSIS to obtain and review further information relevant to your complaint. Following this review, SIRC may provide you with a report.

If your complaint is not resolved after this consultation process with CSIS, it may be necessary to proceed to a hearing presided over by one or more Committee members. A complainant has the right to be represented by counsel and to make representations at the hearing. If necessary, SIRC may hold a pre-hearing meeting to discuss administrative matters such as the number of witnesses to be called and the hearing time required.

The hearing itself may occur in stages. The hearing will take place in private and, while you have the right to make submissions to the Committee, you may not be able to be present when other witnesses give evidence in order to protect information, the disclosure of which could harm national security. This is known as an ex parte hearing.

In the case of an ex parte hearing, SIRC's Senior Counsel will cross-examine witnesses on your behalf and may provide you with a summary of the information presented in your absence.

Following a hearing, the Committee will set out its findings and any recommendations in a report. The report is submitted to the Minister, the Director of CSIS and the Deputy Head of the department or agency concerned (under Section 42 complaints).

The Committee will also provide you with its findings, taking into consideration the obligation to protect sensitive information.

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