Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak on this subject.
I am aware that my colleague is going to prepare an amendment to the motion, which I am very pleased to see. Without actually mentioning the amendment I believe he will pose it by a point of order perhaps after I finish speaking.
I want to make three definitions. I will be using them quite frequently. CSE is the Communications Security Establishment. CSIS is the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. SIRC is the Security and Intelligence Review Committee.
I am very pleased about the amended wording. It puts the intent of what the hon. member wants to do in better perspective. It is important at this stage because it is really essential to the understanding of why the amendment to the motion was put forward.
I want to define foreign intelligence. Foreign intelligence refers to information or activities concerning the capabilities, intentions or activities of foreign states, corporations or persons in relation to the defence of Canada or the conduct of international affairs of Canada.
It may include information of a political, economic, military, security or scientific nature. Canada, unlike most of our allies, does not have an offensive foreign intelligence service.
However, like most countries Canada has established modest means to collect and analyze foreign intelligence. Since World War II the main departments of the Government of Canada that have been major actors in the foreign intelligence sectors have
been the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Department of National Defence.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service was established in 1984 under the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act. It has a specific mandate as our domestic intelligence agency. It is charged with protecting Canada's security and is to provide security intelligence respecting potential or actual threats to Canada or to Canadian citizens.
There are two principle threats to national security that CSIS was established to investigate under the authority of the CSIS act. These threats are espionage directed against Canada by foreign states and seriously politically motivated violence that can take the form of terrorism.
The CSIS act establishes a strict regime for CSIS investigations to ensure that the rights and freedoms of Canadians are preserved while protecting Canadians from these threats to their safety and security. It is evident there will be problems with the Security Intelligence Review Committee's looking at the Communications Security Establishment.
The Security Intelligence Review Committee was established specifically to review the Canadian Security Intelligence Service which, unlike the CSE, does not have a direct role in the foreign intelligence sector.
The CSIS act spells out exactly what SIRC is meant to do. The CSE mandate under its SIGINT program is the collection, analysis and reporting of foreign intelligence in the context of the government's foreign intelligence policy.
Therefore it would not be appropriate at this time to amend the CSIS act which falls under the responsibility of the Solicitor General to incorporate within SIRC's mandate an institution like CSE which after all falls under the responsibility of the Minister of National Defence, whose accountability is established through other means.
Moreover, SIRC already has a variety of investigative duties. It deals with complaints and acts as an appeal board with respect to security assessments and security influenced decisions under the Citizenship and Immigration Act.
The sensitive intelligence responsibility of both organizations needs separate and distinct oversight mechanisms. CSIS therefore is Canada's domestic intelligence agency, with SIRC which has a mandate and the expertise to oversee such activities.
CSE is a foreign intelligence organization and the skills and knowledge base required to review foreign intelligence activity is totally different.
CSE has two programs. First, it provides technical advice, guidance and service on the means of federal government telecommunications security, including aspects of electronic data processing. The elements of this program are referred to in the business as INFOSEC, information security.
The other aspect is signal intelligence, SIGINT as it is known in the business. There has been concern raised in some quarters that CSE operates without adequate accountability. It may be useful to outline in more detail what I understand to be the accountability stature of CSE in place right now.
The Minister of National Defence is accountable to Parliament for CSE. The minister approves CSE's capital expenditure, its annual multiyear operational program and, with appropriate deputy minister level consultations, approves major CSE initiatives with significant policy or legal implications.
The chief of CSE is responsible to the deputy minister of national defence for financial and administrative arrangements and to the deputy clerk, security and intelligence and counsel in the Privy Council Office for policy and operational matters. Both of these deputy ministers report directly to the Minister of National Defence for these CSE matters.
In addition, arrangements have been put in place that CSE responds to the government's foreign intelligence requirements in a manner that is lawful, effective and sensitive to changes in international relations. That is very important and it includes the following provisions.
It has an in house legal counsel from the Department of Justice and consults with senior justice officials on legal issues. It submits strategic plans and all new policy proposals for review by the interdepartmental committee on security and intelligence. It is subject to Department of National Defence administrative review mechanisms.
CSE operates within all Canadian laws, including the Criminal Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act. Furthermore, it is fully subject to review by the offices of the Privacy Commissioner, the Official Languages Commissioner, the Auditor General and the Canadian Human Rights Commission. A broad accountability system for CSE is thus in place.
The special committee on the CSIS act, while recommending that SIRC oversee CSE, also stated it had found no evidence of abuses by CSE. Obviously the government would consider appropriate means to strengthen oversight for the CSE if a clear need were demonstrated.
CSE is an integral part of the foreign intelligence sector I have described and plays a crucial role in that sector. What it does not do, as the Minister of National Defence and the Prime Minister have already assured the House, is target Canadians. We must take care that whatever course of action we decide does not
weaken CSE's ability to support our national interest. That is the decision which faces us now.
We want to create an efficient, economical and appropriate form of oversight for this agency, one that enhances current accountability mechanisms without impeding the intended and mandated function of CSE or SIRC.
The proposed amendment by my colleague will lead us in the right direction. I look forward to the support of my colleagues in the House which I hope and believe is forthcoming.