11-member panel will scrutinize activities of CSIS, RCMP and other agencies
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named an 11-member panel of parliamentarians to oversee the secretive activities of Canada's national security and intelligence agencies.
Ontario Liberal MP David McGuinty will chair the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, which includes senators and Liberal, Conservative and NDP MPs.
"The creation of a strong, accountable and multi-party committee of dedicated parliamentarians will help us ensure that our national security agencies continue to keep Canadians safe in a way that also safeguards our values, rights, and freedoms," Trudeau said in a statement released Monday.
"This independent group will help strengthen the accountability of our national security and intelligence work. In our system of responsible government, there is no substitute for scrutiny by parliamentarians."
The creation of an all-party committee to "monitor and oversee the operations of every government department and agency with national security responsibilities" was promised in the Liberals' 2015 election platform.
Other members of the oversight committee are:
- Conservative MP Gordon Brown
- Conservative MP Tony Clement
- Sen. Percy E. Downe
- Liberal MP Emmanuel Dubourg
- Liberal MP Hedy Fry
- Liberal MP Gudie Hutchings
- Sen. Frances Lankin
- NDP MP Murray Rankin
- Liberal MP Brenda Shanahan
- Sen. Vernon White
The committee will have authority to review activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Communications Security Establishment, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Canada Border Services Agency, with a mandate that allows "unprecedented level of review and promotes government-wide accountability," according to the release from the Prime Minister's Office.
It will present annual reports, including any findings and recommendations, that will be tabled in the House of Commons and Senate.
Members will have security clearances and are bound by an oath of secrecy. They will also have access to highly classified material, but their oversight work can be halted for a number of reasons, including if a minister finds the review of an operation would harm national security.
The bill passed third and final reading in the House of Commons April 5 by a vote of 166-128 and subsequently cleared the Senate.