SIRC Releases 2013-14 Annual Report: “Lifting the Shroud of Secrecy: Thirty Years of Security Intelligence Accountability.”

October 24, 2014 – The annual report of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) for the 2013-2014 fiscal year was tabled today in Parliament. This report provides an annual assessment of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS) performance through SIRC’s three key activities—certification, reviews and complaints investigations.

In most of its reviews, SIRC was satisfied with the manner in which CSIS carried out its mandate to investigate threats to the security of Canada. In others, however, the Committee raised concerns and highlighted several areas for improvement. In two reviews, SIRC felt that the significance of the issues it found warranted sending the reports directly to the Minister of Public Safety as special reports under section 54 of the CSIS Act. The first report, which examined CSIS’s security screening activities, identified a concern that changes CSIS has undertaken with respect to the internal use of information collected for security screening purposes could be in contravention of the Privacy Act. The second report, which examined CSIS’s operational support capabilities overseas, raised a number of issues with respect to the management and accountability of CSIS’s firearms program.

SIRC also noted concerns with respect to information provision and disclosure in both its review and complaints functions. Finally, SIRC came across a few issues within the scope of its reviews that, it felt, warranted focussed future examination. A number of these issues touched on CSIS’s activities abroad, which SIRC has committed to examining closely on a yearly basis.

“Our Annual Report provides important insight into the nature and breadth of Canada’s security intelligence activities, both at home and abroad” said the Honourable Deborah Grey, Interim Chair of SIRC. “We hope that SIRC’s findings and recommendations will help to stimulate discussion in order to improve how security intelligence is carried out in Canada.”

SIRC’s annual reports present declassified summaries of the Committee’s analyses, findings and recommendations stemming from its examination of the activities of CSIS. In addition to the two special reports, this year’s report includes, among others, reviews of CSIS’s surveillance capabilities and functions, a counter-intelligence investigation, and a review of a CSIS foreign station.

SIRC was established thirty years ago by the same statute that created CSIS. SIRC’s mandate is to provide assurance to Parliament, and by extension to all Canadians, that security intelligence activities in Canada are conducted lawfully, appropriately and effectively. Please direct all media inquiries to Lindsay Jackson, SIRC Assistant Director of Research, at 613-990-4448.

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