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Ottawa names members of new national security agency

Wednesday, July 24, 2019 @ 3:28 PM | By John Chunn

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on July 24 announced the members of the new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA).

According to the government’s press release, the NSIRA has the authority to review any activity carried out by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or the Communications Security Establishment, and any national security or intelligence-related activity carried out by federal departments and agencies. To fulfil its expanded mandate, the NSIRA will have full access to all information held by the government of Canada, including classified and sensitive information, with the sole exception of information that is subject to the confidence of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada.

Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The NSIRA will work to ensure that Canada’s national security agencies are complying with the law and that their actions are reasonable and necessary. It will have full and independent authority to determine what government activities to review, and be able to hear public complaints related to the activities of Canada’s security and intelligence agencies.

To promote transparency, the NSIRA will present annual reports to the prime minister on its activities, which will also be tabled in the House of Commons and the Senate.

“We have modernized our security and intelligence agencies to ensure we continue to keep our country and all Canadians safe and secure,” said Trudeau. “The members of the new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency will play an important role protecting Canadians and their rights and freedoms, while keeping our country’s national security and intelligence agencies accountable to the citizens they protect.”

Murray Rankin

Murray Rankin, former deputy chair of the Commons Justice Committee

The new members of the NSIRA, appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, are:

Former deputy chair of the Commons Justice Committee Murray Rankin, (Chair) and University of Ottawa law professor Craig Forcese.

The four remaining members are past members of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, who will continue to serve for the remainder of their original terms. These members are:

  • Former Federal Court of Appeal chief justice Pierre Blais
  • Quebec lawyer L. Yves Fortier
  • University of Calgary dean of law Ian Holloway
  • Former diplomat Marie-Lucie Morin.

The NSIRA assumes the review and complaints functions of the Security Intelligence Review Committee and the former Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner. The NSIRA will also hear certain complaints regarding the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Photo of Murray Rankin by Roy Grogan