Mr. Speaker, today I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
I am definitely pleased to rise today and speak against the motion before us.
There is no question that our national security agencies operate in a dynamic, complex, and now global environment. The demands on them are great as they carry out their responsibilities to protect Canadian life and property from those who would seek to harm us.
Our government recognizes that robust mechanisms to review national security activities are critical in maintaining the trust of Canadians. I am pleased to say that robust review does exist in the current environment.
Since CSIS was created, review of its activities to ensure its compliance with the law has been at the very forefront of its entire operation. The Security Intelligence Review Committee was created at the same time as CSIS, not later, recognizing that it had that obligation. It has been reviewing CSIS activities since its inception.
Ensuring that CSIS remains accountable for its actions has always been a key consideration. The committee provides an external review mechanism that is at arm's length from any government, past, present, and future. That is important to note.
The committee plays an important role in ensuring independent review of CSIS activities by carrying out three key functions: first, by verifying that it is satisfied with the annual report prepared by the CSIS director; second, by conducting reviews of CSIS activities to ensure that it complies with legislation, policies, and ministerial directions; and, third, by investigating all complaints in regard to CSIS activities.
Make no mistake, this type of review is vital. It helps ensure that all Canadians know that CSIS conducts its activities legally and in conformity with the policies and directions received. Such review is essential. It is critical to assuring Canadians that the activities of an organization such as CSIS that must conduct its activities away from the public eye are, nonetheless, scrutinized to ensure their compliance with Canadian law and respect for our rights.
SIRC does open a window into these activities for us. Is it a wide open window? Of course not. Certain information and sensitivities are involved in protecting the nation, its annual reports, for instance. These reports provide Parliament and the Canadian public with a broad understanding of CSIS operations.
The most recent report tabled last fall spoke to CSIS' activities to address the increasingly complex dimensions of the national security issues it must face. The report details findings and recommendations, shedding light on CSIS' activities, both for members of the House and all Canadians.
Another point of note in the recent report is that CSIS continues to work collaboratively with SIRC and continuously strives to address the committee's findings and recommendations. They are not working in isolation; they are working in tandem and in co-operation.
Another issue addressed by SIRC that is of interest to concerned Canadians is how CSIS and the Communications Security Establishment Canada work together.