The RCMP and CSIS need to work together and NSIRA needs to supervise them

On Friday, April 27th, 2018 in Committees, Parliament

Elizabeth May

Thank you, Chair.

I propose, and the clerk can check if I’ve got this right, to deal with

[Français]

Parti vert, les amendements 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 22 et 25. Je pense que ce sont tous les amendements dans ce cadre.

[English]

These amendments all speak to the same point, and I think those are all the ones that remain extant after the slaughter of Mr. Dubé’s amendments. Sorry. It’s a ritualized slaughter. We appreciate the effort.

I think those are the ones I could speak to all at once, and with the chair’s permission speak to the fundamental point these amendments are trying to achieve. I hope because of the unusual nature of this process before second reading that some of my words might reach ministers’ offices as well, that members of the committee might consider whether it isn’t wise to actually have a fundamental rethink at the structure of our security intelligence legislation.

This is an important moment as we all know. This is the most fundamental review we have had in years. It’s really good legislation insofar as it sets up the National Security Intelligence and Review Agency. Having NSIRA is a big change, but in my view, Mr. chair, it doesn’t take away from the fundamental mistake that was made in Bill C-51.

Forgive me having been through the hearings at Bill C-51, there were witnesses this committee didn’t hear about the risks of having CSIS have kinetic powers at all. That’s what I want to speak to. I will be brief.

This legislation reduces the wrongs that could be done by CSIS agents having these new powers to disrupt plots, but it doesn’t deal with something quite fundamental that we grappled with in committee at Bill C-51 certainly raised by witnesses and experts like Craig Forcese, like John Major, former Supreme Court Justice, and in the Senate actually one of the most important witnesses on Bill C-51 was heard on the Senate side. His name’s Joe Fogarty. He was the U.K. security liaison with Canada. He was an M5 agent from the U.K. What he pointed to was the big risk of the RCMP and CSIS not talking to each other, and when you then give CSIS powers to actually disrupt plots, you have an accident waiting to happen basically.

In his evidence, he referred the committee only to those things that are publicly known, but he assured the committee that from his work as a U.K. security liaison in the Five Eye system with Canada that there were more examples of which he could not speak. He directed us to the 2009 case of R vs. Ahmad where on the evidence CSIS discovered the location of a suspected terrorist training camp within Canada and decided not to tell the RCMP.

There’s another example, which was in The Canadian Press to which Joe Fogarty also referred. The case of Jeffrey Delisle. We all know of the navy officer who sold secrets. Apparently CSIS knew of the spying operations of Deslisle for a very long time and decided not to tell the RCMP. Deslisle was arrested when the RCMP was tipped off by the FBI.

There’s a fundamental problem here at what John Major at the time referred to in this committee and its predecessor in the 41st Parliament. It’s human nature not to want to share information so what have we done now? I think we’ve compounded the problem because CSIS now has the powers to take action itself, but we haven’t dealt with the fundamentals that it still may not want to tell the RCMP.

The situation is much improved because NSIRA can supervise what’s going on. If it sees a problem, it can maybe intervene. But there still has never been a public policy rationale put forward by anyone ever for why CSIS needs the power to disrupt plots. CSIS was created, as Mr. Dubé referred to moments ago, in order to create a security and intelligence gathering to give that information to the RCMP. That’s the purpose. It was to separate out so you wouldn’t have the RCMP burning down barns and so on.

I don’t see to this day why we want to have CSIS agents have the capacity to disrupt plots within Canada.

The RCMP and CSIS need to work together and NSIRA needs to supervise them. All of my amendments go to the place of taking out of our legislation the right of CSIS agents to have kinetic powers. Again, Bill C-59improves on Bill C-51in important ways, reducing and better balancing what CSIS agents are likely to do. I know we don’t have anyone here in our witnesses roster from the RCMP but the RCMP job of disrupting plots itself will be complicated by the fact that CSIS doesn’t share information with the RCMP. That’s a pattern. That’s our history. Things are improved in terms of what CSIS agents can do. Thanks to the Liberal amendment 16, we won’t be worrying about torture but there’s still no public policy rationale for CSIS agents having these new powers to take kinetic action to disrupt plots.

I’m raising a different issue. The issue of are we undermining our own security intelligence operations by having different intelligence agencies tripping over each other, not talking to each other when they’re taking active steps to disrupt a plot. I’d rather have CSIS continue to do what it’s always done since its creation, collect the information and, which is what they haven’t always done, give it to the RCMP in a timely manner so the RCMP can go out and arrest the Jeffrey ??? of this world, not wait for them to be tipped off by the FBI or trip over CSIS agents who are trying to do the same thing.

Thank you.

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