Changes needed to ensure CSIS lives up to its mandate: watchdog


A new surveillance report says Canada’s spy service has failed to make the crucial process of applying for court orders a specialized trade that requires training, experience and investment.

The National Intelligence and Security Review Agency report calls for fundamental changes in the relationship between the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and its legal adviser at the Department of Justice.

Reviewers heard repeated concerns from respondents that systemic problems – rooted in cultural and governance issues – risk creating an intelligence service unable to fulfill its mandate.

A federal judge called for the comprehensive review in 2020 after the CSIS ruling failed to disclose its reliance on information that was likely illegally collected in support of warrants to investigate extremism.

Federal Court Judge Patrick Gleeson found that the spy service violated its duty of sincerity to the court, part of a long-standing pattern.

The review agency describes an intelligence service and its lawyers struggling to find ways to fulfill their legal obligations, including in federal court.

“Addressing these challenges is in the urgent public interest,” the report says. “Although CSIS and Justice have made improvements, the difficulties are still evident.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 17, 2022.

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