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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 166943 Find in a Library
Title: Noble Lie Revisited: Parliament's Five-Year Review of the CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Services) Act: Instrument of Change or Weak Link in the Chain of Accountability (From Accountability for Criminal Justice: Selected Essays, P 185-212, 1995, Philip C Stenning, ed. -- See NCJ 166936)
Author(s): S Farson
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 28
Sponsoring Agency: University of Toronto Press
Buffalo, NY 14203
Sale Source: University of Toronto Press
33 East Tupper Street
Buffalo, NY 14203
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Language: English
Country: Canada
Annotation: This paper examines the findings of the Canadian Parliament's Five-Year Review of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act (CSIS).
Abstract: When the CSIS Act and the Security Offences Act were enacted in 1984, the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) was required to report only to the solicitor general of Canada, and through that office to Parliament. The new legislation contained seldom-used provisions that obliged Parliament to review the law governing security intelligence practices and the enforcement of security offenses after the law had been in force for 5 years. This essay focuses on those quasi-sunset provisions, with a view toward evaluating their capacity to analyze the policies and practices of the executive. In so doing, it does not consider all the dimensions of the 5-year review process. Rather, it focuses on whether the mechanisms provide Parliament with an enhanced level of sovereignty and allow it to obtain better information than through the convention of ministerial responsibility. In this regard, it examines the new administrative model of accountability that was introduced through the auspices of SIRC and evaluates whether it provides the necessary flow of information to Parliament. The author concludes that although Parliament has sufficient statutory power to devise strategies for gaining access to information held by security agencies, Parliament is still a weak link in the accountability chain. It never managed to see any of the mechanisms prescribed in the CSIS Act for rendering accounts in their uncensored form, which it perceived to be essential to the review. Thus, Parliament does have sufficient statutory tools to hold intelligence and security agencies accountable, if it will use all of the mechanisms possible under the act, such as the director's annual reports, the inspector general's certificates and other reports, and SIRC's reports. 12 notes
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Accountability; Foreign laws; Intelligence acquisition; National security
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