NSICOP report expected before year end

KEN POLE  –  Dec 1, 2018

Growing cybersecurity threats are expected to be a prime focus of the impending first annual report by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.

NSICOP Chairman David McGuinty confirms in his latest “householder” for his Ottawa constituents that the report and recommendations will be submitted to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “by the end of this year” and that a declassified version will be tabled in Parliament.

The committee of nine MPs (two from the Senate and seven from the House of Commons with the governing party limited to four members) has been conducting the first independent external review of the intelligence activities of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.

The review has been assessing the structure and scope of defence Intelligence activities, the legal authorities under which they are conducted, and the internal oversight and governance mechanisms.

On a more fundamental level, it also has been examining how the government establishes its national security priorities.

“Intelligence activities are critical for the effectiveness of government activities and therefore have the potential to affect the rights and privacy of Canadians,” McGuinty says. “NSICOP’s review . . . will help ensure that our . . . agencies continue to keep Canadians safe in a way that also safeguards our values, rights and freedoms.”

The NSICOP is mandated to review “any operation, which includes ongoing operations” but ministers have the authority to stop a review of national security is threatened. Committee members, bound by the Security of Information Act, cannot claim parliamentary immunity if they disclose classified information.

UPDATE (20 Dec 2018) Rennie Marcoux Executive Director of the NSICOP, wrote to FrontLine: I can confirm that we plan on delivering it to the PM before the end of this year.  The Prime Minister must then review the report to determine whether there is any information, the disclosure of which would be injurious to national security, national defence, international relations, or which includes solicitor-client information. A declassified version of that report must be tabled in Parliament within 30 sitting days."

UPDATE (9 Apr 2019) The NSICP annual report, which had been delivered to the PM in December 2018, has now been released to the public. It covers topics of intelligence priorities, defence intelligence activities, legal authorities, plus oversight and accountability. Numerous federal departments and agencies were involved: CBSA; CSIS; CSE; Justice; DND and the Canadian Armed Forces; FINTRAC; GAC; IRCC; Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre; PCO; Public Safety; RCMP; and Transport Canada.


– Ken Pole is a contributing editor for FrontLine