Annual Report 2022
The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians
Annual Report 2022 (Revised version pursuant to subsection 21(5) of the NSICOP Act)
ISSN 2562-5101 (Print)
ISSN 2562-511X (Online)
Cette publication est également disponible en français :
Rapport annuel 2022 (Version révisée selon le paragraphe 21(5) de la Loi sur le CPSNR)
P.O. Box 8015, Station T, Ottawa ON K1G 5A6
© His Majesty the King in Right of Canada, 2023. All rights reserved
Consistent with subsection 21(1) of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act (NSICOP Act), the Committee must submit an annual report to the Prime Minister. Consistent with subsection 21(5) of the NSICOP Act, the Prime Minister may, after consulting the Chair of the Committee, direct the Committee to submit to him or her a revised version of the annual report that does not contain information the Prime Minister believes the disclosure of which would be injurious to national security, national defence or international relations or is information that is protected by solicitor-client privilege.
This report was provided to the Prime Minister on May 12, 2023. No revisions were made to remove information the disclosure of which the Prime Minister believes would be injurious to national defence, national security or international relations, or which constitutes solicitor-client privilege.
However, the report’s annexes of the Committee’s previous recommendations and the government’s responses do contain revisions that were included in previous reports. Each of these are marked with three asterixis (***). There are no changes to these revisions.
I am pleased to submit the Committee’s fifth annual report to the Prime Minister. In 2022, the Committee finished its review of the national security and intelligence activities of Global Affairs Canada, continued its review of the Federal Policing mandate of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and met with international partners, among other work.
As 2022 marked the fifth anniversary of the creation of the Committee and as Parliament is required to conduct a review of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) Act in 2023, this Annual Report begins with a retrospective on the Committee’s work since 2017, discusses the key challenges it is facing today, and highlights themes for possible reform of the Act.
Consistent with the NSICOP Act, this report also provides a summary of the Committee’s special report concerning Global Affairs Canada and fulfills other statutory reporting obligations.
Canadians expect their security agencies to be held accountable for their actions. This is why the government established the Committee.
Marking five years of the Committee
I am privileged to mark the five-year anniversary of the Committee, which began its work in December 2017. Canadians expect their national security and intelligence agencies to counter threats and keep us safe while respecting the law, and the rights and freedoms of all Canadians. We also expect them to be held accountable for their actions. This is why the government established the Committee. The Committee is Canada’s first review body consisting entirely of parliamentarians, and the first review body that can review national security and intelligence activities across the government.
The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act came into force on October 6, 2017. The Committee was announced by the Prime Minister on November 6, 2017, held its first meeting in December 2017, and began site visits with agencies of the security and intelligence community in January 2018. Since then, there have been two elections, three iterations of the Committee (and three different meeting and office locations), and 27 new and continuing members.
In its first five years, the Committee completed nine reviews, and is currently working on three others. The Committee’s reviews strengthened the security and intelligence community’s policies and operations, as well as overall accountability. The reviews also shone a light on the important work of the community, and on the challenges the community faces in an uncertain world.
Opportunities and challenges
With all this in mind, our 2022 Annual Report begins by taking stock of the past five years and briefly surveys several issues and challenges. Two bear mentioning here.
First, the Committee believes that the government’s decision to formally respond to the Committee’s recommendations is essential to strengthening the policies, operations and accountability of the security and intelligence community. The government responded to the Committee’s recommendations for the first time in 2021, and it did so again in response to the Committee’s special report on the national security and intelligence activities of Global Affairs Canada, which was tabled in Parliament in November 2022. In our last annual report, we indicated that we would be seeking status updates from the government on all of the Committee’s previous recommendations, in order to understand the impact of those recommendations and their implementation. However, as of December 31, 2022, the government has not responded to that request relating to the 22 recommendations made in the Committee’s previous seven reviews. We continue to expect that such a response will be forthcoming.
Second, the Committee faces three challenges with obtaining the information it is entitled to by law and that it requires to fulfil its mandate. First, some departments have cited reasons outside the statutory exceptions found in the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act for not providing information that the Committee requested in past reviews. Second, some departments selectively refused to provide relevant information, such as a departmental study, despite the Committee’s right of access under its enabling legislation. Third, the Committee is concerned that an overbroad legal definition of what constitutes a Cabinet confidence has had an impact on the Committee’s reviews. If departments were required to inform the Committee of how many and which relevant documents are being withheld and on what basis, then it would help resolve these challenges.
Over the past five years, the Committee has established a constructive relationship with the security and intelligence community that has strengthened its ability to conduct reviews while not impeding its independence. The Committee is encouraged by the progress made by departments in response to previous challenges, and believes that the present challenges can be resolved.
It is an honour to be the inaugural Chair of a committee that has done much to strengthen government accountability. I wish to thank my colleagues on the Committee, past and present, for their active participation and many insights. The work we do supports the effectiveness and accountability of the Canadian security and intelligence community. I also wish to thank the government officials and academics who appeared before the Committee to share their knowledge and wisdom, and my colleagues in other review bodies, in particular in the United Kingdom, for their advice over the years. Finally, on behalf of my colleagues, I would like to extend my gratitude to the Committee’s Secretariat, which has supported the Committee’s work with its professionalism and expertise.
The Honourable David McGuinty, P.C., M.P.
National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians
The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians
(Membership from the 44th Parliament)
- The Hon. David McGuinty, P.C., M.P. (Chair)
- Mr. Stéphane Bergeron, M.P.
- Mr. Don Davies, M.P.
- The Hon. Dennis Dawson, Senator (resigned September 9, 2022)
- Ms. Iqra Khalid, M.P.
- The Hon. Frances Lankin, P.C., C.M., Senator
- Ms. Patricia Lattanzio, M.P.
- Mr. James Maloney, M.P.
- Mr. Rob Morrison, M.P.
- Mr. Alex Ruff, M.S.C., C.D., M.P.
- The Hon. Vernon White, Senator (resigned October 2, 2022)
Table of Contents
- The Committee’s first five years, 2017 to 2022
- The Committee’s work in 2022
- Annex A: GAC Review findings and recommendations
- Annex B: Recommendations of Prior Reviews
- Annex C: Abbreviations