SIRC Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Ottawa, March 30, 2005 – The Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) has released a new publication entitled “Reflections” to mark twenty years of independent, external review of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

Canada was one of the first democracies in the world to establish a legal framework for both its civilian security service and the review bodies which monitor it. Canada’s review mechanisms differ from many other western democracies, which range from executive and legislative bodies, to independent, free-standing bodies like SIRC.

The story of SIRC is an important chapter in the evolution of security intelligence in Canada. “Reflections” recounts watershed events in that history, including the McDonald Commission, the passage of the CSIS Act, and key reviews and complaint cases which SIRC has undertaken over the past two decades. It also provides detailed information on the inner workings of the Committee, to help raise public awareness about SIRC’s role and responsibilities.

Reflections” is one of two projects marking SIRC’s 20th anniversary. It is also co-sponsoring a major, international Symposium on Intelligence Review and Oversight, with the Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies (CCISS) of Carleton University. This two-day event will be held in Ottawa on May 18-19, 2005 at Library and Archives Canada. Information on the Symposium’s program is available on the CCISS website.

SIRC was established in 1984 to provide assurance to Parliament that CSIS is complying with the law in the performance of its duties and functions. In doing so, SIRC safeguards fundamental rights and freedoms. SIRC is the only independent, external review body with the legal mandate and expertise to review CSIS activities, so it is a cornerstone for ensuring the accountability of one of the Government’s most powerful institutions.

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For further information about SIRC, please contact:

Suzanne Beaubien
Research Manager
(613) 990-8445
or consult http://www.sirc-csars.gc.ca