Special Report to Parliament - page 8

Challenges in the
Intelligence Context
While secrecy may be an inherent aspect of
many intelligence activities, so is
accountability. Reporting, review and
appropriate legal controls lead to accountability
on the part of decision-makers and institutions.
National security claims do not reduce
accountability obligations and security bodies
must account to Canadians for what they do
with personal information.
review mechanisms ensure this accountability
of security agencies, safeguard public trust and
verify demonstrable respect for individual
As the former CSE Commissioner, the
Honourable Robert Décary noted in his last
annual report for 2012-2013, “much remains to
be done, but I believe that the ice has been
broken and that the security and intelligence
agencies understand they can speak more
openly about their work without betraying state
Deibert, Ronald, “Bounding Cyber Power: Escalation
and Restraint in Global Cyberspace” CIGI Internet
Governance papers (October 2013) – URL:
p. 15;
also Deibert, Ronald,
Black Code: Inside the Battle for
(2013), pp. 8-11, 31-43.
Standing Senate Committee on National Security and
Defence, “Lack of Oversight,” from
Canadian Security
Guide Book
(December 2004) – URL:
secrets or compromising national security. The
greater the transparency, the less sceptical and
cynical the public will be.” Transparency is key
to accountability.
That said, in many instances the personal
details on employees, paid informants, targets
and persons of interest must remain protected.
There are reasonable limits to complete and
proactive disclosure of all government
operations, particularly those engaged in a
security and intelligence function. Sources and
techniques should not be divulged if they are to
remain effective and reliable. Highly-sensitive
operational exchanges with other governments
and partners must be undertaken with some
measure of confidence and cannot be
elaborately described. However, it is important
to note that provisions to safeguard information
in these cases are already provided for in
existing law: the
Canadian Security Intelligence
Service Act
Security of Information Act
Canada Evidence Act
Privacy Act
to Information Act
Security bodies themselves would benefit from
greater public discourse, where they must be
able to engage in an intelligent discussion on
the primary issues of privacy, at a minimum.
Intelligence organizations have traditionally
eschewed public debate about their roles in
democratic societies. Their appearances in
open proceedings of the legislature have been
relatively few. Canada is by no means unique;
this culture of secrecy has held fast for almost
sixty years among all our allies. However,
both CSEC and OCSEC have recently added
new information to their websites to address
issues of public concern, current media
Cohen, Stanley.
Privacy, Crime and Terror: Legal
Rights and Security in a Time of Peril
(Lexis Nexis,
2005), pp. 289 – 314.
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