Canada seeks to boost transparency with new security review agency

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 20, 2017 3:02 PM

By Leah Schnurr

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's government on Tuesday introduced legislation to create an oversight panel for the actions of its security and intelligence agencies that it said would increase transparency and better protect Canadians' privacy.

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.

Trudeau sought to make good on that promise in the legislation, which would create a National Security and Intelligence Review Agency responsible for oversight of security and intelligence agencies, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), cyber-spy agency the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and the Canadian Border Services Agency.

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.

It would work alongside a separate oversight committee of members of parliament that has been proposed in another bill under review by parliament, Goodale said.

The agency will be led by a committee of up to seven members appointed by the Prime Minister.

The bill is expected to be passed into law because the Liberals have a majority in Parliament, though it is unlikely to be debated until fall at the earliest.

The legislation would also create an independent intelligence commissioner that would oversee the authorization of certain types of intelligence gathering and cyber operations.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr in Toronto; Editing by Jim Finkle and James Dalgleish)