Security Intelligence Review Committee

The CSIS Act established the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) as an independent body responsible for ensuring that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) uses its powers legally and appropriately. The committee has access to all documents under the control of CSIS, except Cabinet confidences.

SIRC can audit any CSIS activity, and investigates complaints from the public about any CSIS action. In addition, people denied a security clearance for federal employment, or denied federal contracts on security grounds, can complain to SIRC. SIRC can also investigate when a person seeking admission to Canada or applying for Canadian citizenship is affected by detrimental security findings. Additionally, SIRC periodically provides reports to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on matters of special importance that are distinct from, but related to, its normal audit or investigative functions.

The Committee is composed of three to five privy councillors appointed by Cabinet after consultations between the Prime Minister and the leaders of parties having at least 12 members in the House of Commons. It publishes its findings in an annual report to Parliament, which is tabled by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Click here to visit the Security Intelligence Review Committee official website.


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Ottawa chooses to ignore its own security watchdog
SIRC has told us that CSIS has committed such an infringement and both the government and CSIS have denied it. If nothing more happens, the public will simply have to do what it was not intended that it have to do: trust the government.
HTML | Published: 2008-07-10 | Added: 2008-07-12

Homegrown intelligence gap
It says much about the sorry state of Canada's security intelligence infrastructure and the sometimes incestuous relationship between that powerful and largely anonymous apparatus and some compliant members of the media.
HTML | Published: 2008-04-17 | Added: 2008-05-17

Group demands action on case rebuking CSIS
Since CSIS does not have the power of arrest, SIRC said the intelligence service "arbitrarily detained" Jabarah when he was brought to Toronto in 2002.
HTML | Published: 2008-04-03 | Added: 2008-04-07

They abuse, we use: Are we creating a market for torture?
"I find that CSIS is concerned with human rights, but nevertheless uses information obtained by torture," Ms. Landry concluded in the public version of her report.
HTML | Published: 2008-02-16 | Added: 2008-02-24

CSIS uses torture information: spy watchdog
An investigation by the watchdog over the Canadian Security Intelligence Service concludes the spy agency "uses information obtained by torture" - perhaps its bluntest assessment of CSIS's intelligence-gathering practices to date.
HTML | Published: 2008-02-12 | Added: 2008-02-23

Critics call for closer eye on CSIS following constitutional violations
Members of Parliament called for closer scrutiny of CSIS following revelations the spy agency violated the constitutional rights of a citizen. Opposition critics demanded fuller assurances from Public Safety Minister that CSIS would respect the  [...]
HTML | Published: 2007-10-31 | Added: 2007-11-03

SIRC releases 2006-2007 Annual Report
The Report summarizes - to the extent privacy and national security permit - nine reviews completed by SIRC in 2006-2007 as well as five decisions rendered in complaints cases.
HTML | Published: 2007-10-30 | Added: 2007-11-03

Spy agency accused of violating terrorist's rights
Canada's intelligence agency overstepped its mandate and violated the constitutional rights of a Canadian al Qaeda operative plotting to bomb U.S. and Israeli embassies in Asia, a federal watchdog said.
HTML | Published: 2007-10-31 | Added: 2007-11-03

Terror report blames CSIS
The Security Intelligence Review Committee says in a report to Parliament that CSIS went too far when it helped Mr. Jabarah surrender to FBI agents five years ago.
HTML | Published: 2007-10-29 | Added: 2007-11-03

CIA's revelations find echo north of the border
The outgoing SIRC chairperson offered this parting advice: "We're going to have to play in the big leagues. It won't always be nice, it won't always be easy, and it won't always be pretty, but that's the real world we live in."
HTML | Published: 2007-07-11 | Added: 2007-07-18

No-fly list comes into play
Anyone denied a boarding pass under the program will be able to apply to Transport Canada's Office of Reconsideration. Failing that, appeals can be made to SIRC, the RCMP Public Complaints Commission or the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
HTML | Published: 2007-06-18 | Added: 2007-06-18

Watchdog complains of secrecy
Plunkett also expresses concern to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day about CSIS's troubling information handling practices and the lack of adequate policy for the spy service's overseas operations.
HTML | Published: 2007-03-22 | Added: 2007-04-22

Spy agency watchdog says secrecy rules keep her in dark
The federal watchdog over Canada's spy agency warns that cabinet secrecy is hampering her ability to keep an eye on what CSIS is doing.
HTML | Published: 2007-03-21 | Added: 2007-03-27

Arar inquiry urges more scrutiny of Canada's intelligence activities
The Maher Arar inquiry has unfurled blueprints for a stronger, more co-ordinated family of watchdogs to keep an eye on the RCMP and other federal security organizations. Justice Dennis O'Connor suggests better scrutiny of the intelligence community.
HTML | Published: 2006-12-12 | Added: 2007-01-03

O'Connor recommends more oversight of RCMP, CSIS
The report stopped short of recommending a review super agency, as some experts expected, instead opting for a pair of bodies that will monitor the RCMP, CSIS and five other agencies involved with national security.
HTML | Published: 2006-12-13 | Added: 2007-01-03

Super-watchdog over Mounties could emerge from bungled Arar case
A super-watchdog to help keep tabs on the RCMP and other players in the intelligence world could emerge from the bungling that marked the Maher Arar affair.
HTML | Published: 2006-12-08 | Added: 2006-12-10

Mounties brace for bark from a new watchdog
Two months after his first report ripped the RCMP for putting an innocent Canadian in harm's way, O'Connor is adding finishing touches on recommendations to make the famous — sometimes infamous — force publicly accountable.
HTML | Published: 2006-11-09 | Added: 2006-11-12

Watchdog: RCMP failed to give CSIS key Arar info
It's obvious something went awry when the RCMP failed to share key information about the Maher Arar affair with the rest of the Canadian intelligence establishment, says the head of a federal watchdog group.
HTML | Published: 2006-11-01 | Added: 2006-11-05

CSIS kept tabs on 274 terror suspects last year
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service had 274 individual terrorist suspects in its sights last year, according to a new government report that identifies Islamic extremism as the biggest terrorist threat facing Canada.
HTML | Published: 2006-10-27 | Added: 2006-10-30

Intelligence watchdog raps CSIS over policy on human rights abuses
The watchdog over CSIS recommends the spy agency make it official policy to consider a country's human rights record and possible security abuses before handing over information.
HTML | Published: 2006-10-27 | Added: 2006-10-29

Reopen probe, Arar asks CSIS watchdog
Maher Arar wants CSIS's watchdog to reopen its investigation into the intelligence agency's failure to recognize that he was being tortured in Syria.
HTML | Published: 2006-10-11 | Added: 2006-10-13

CSIS to be investigated
The watchdog over CSIS has been asked to probe the prickly question of whether the spy agency relies on information extracted through torture.
HTML | Published: 2006-05-28 | Added: 2006-05-30

Security oversight too diffuse, SIRC chief says
Many complaints about the conduct of national security investigations cannot be fully and properly investigated because of divisions of authority even within the federal government, said Gary Filmon, chairman of the Security Intelligence Review  [...]
HTML | Published: 2005-11-18 | Added: 2005-11-22

Watching the watchers
CSIS is still a relatively young organization requiring serious oversight. Such oversight could be provided by the proposed nine-person national security committee but their involvement will have to be more comprehensive than a night or two at a  [...]
HTML | Published: 2005-11-07 | Added: 2005-11-08

CSIS promises on torture baseless, watchdog says
CSIS has been giving false assurances to the government that it can guarantee the intelligence it receives from foreign agencies is not obtained by torture, SIRC said in its report to Parliament.
HTML | Published: 2005-11-01 | Added: 2005-11-02

La politique canadienne de sécurité nationale, une conséquence de la transformation des institutions publiques de sécurité depuis la fin de la Guerre froide?
The Canadian Forces, Law Enforcement Agencies, Public Safety Ministries and Intelligence Services are some of the State institutions that should adjust to security and threat changes, in line with the newly proposed Canada's National Security  [...]
PDF | Published: 2004-10-30 | Added: 2005-11-01

Liddar probe is an example of how CSIS destroys lives
A former CSIS member says the spy agency's recent slipshod investigation of Bhupinder Liddar whom CSIS mistakenly declared a security threat is
HTML | Published: 2005-09-19 | Added: 2005-10-26

Report lashes Canadian spies' gross incompetence
Canada's spy service was guilty of gross incompetence in the case of a diplomat who was wrongly denied a security clearance, according to an official report. The 23-page document is a deep embarrassment for the Canadian Security Intelligence  [...]
HTML | Published: 2005-09-14 | Added: 2005-10-05

CSIS rapped over envoy fracas
Canada's spy agency received a rebuke yesterday from its civilian watchdog, which concluded that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was wrong to block a diplomatic appointment to India over national security concerns.
HTML | Published: 2005-08-04 | Added: 2005-08-10

Security review committee clears diplomatic nominee, lawyer says
Bhupinder Liddar's lawyer Janice Payne said SIRC veteran Paule Gauthier was categorical in her findings that there was no basis for the conclusion drawn by CSIS that Liddar was a security risk.
HTML | Published: 2005-08-03 | Added: 2005-08-04

Ex-Manitoba premier named to security committee
Prime Minister Paul Martin has named former Manitoba premier Gary Filmon head of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, a watchdog panel for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
HTML | Published: 2005-06-24 | Added: 2005-06-27

Overarching intelligence committee urged in report
The federal government should establish a permanent, U.S.-style investigative committee to oversee all Canadian intelligence gathering, and that of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in particular, a soon-to-be-released parliamentary report  [...]
HTML | Published: 2005-01-13 | Added: 2005-01-19

Watchdog wants transcripts of refugee interviews
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service should make transcripts of the interviews it conducts with refugee claimants to prevent future conflicts, says SIRC, the watchdog over the spy agency.
HTML | Published: 2004-10-21 | Added: 2004-10-24

Report clears CSIS in Arar deportation
But in a heavily censored report, the watchdog also criticizes CSIS for not being careful enough about how it passes intelligence on to the Mounties, especially ones chatting with U.S. law-enforcement agencies.
HTML | Published: 2004-09-14 | Added: 2004-09-17

The Arar Commission releases a new version of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) report on the Arar case
At the public hearing held in Ottawa on June 23, 2004, Lead Commission Counsel Paul Cavalluzzo showed the report which had all 89 pages blacked-out. The version released today is still 70% redacted.
HTML | Published: 2004-09-13 | Added: 2004-09-17

CSIS mole defends work with white supremacists
Mr. Bristow's comments mark the first time he has publicly discussed his controversial role as an undercover operative for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service since being exposed in the press 10 years ago.
HTML | Published: 2004-08-11 | Added: 2004-08-16

CSIS mole breaks silence
Grant Bristow, who infiltrated the white supremacist movement as a paid informant for Canada's spy service, has broken his long silence, saying he took on the unsavoury task because it was
HTML | Published: 2004-08-11 | Added: 2004-08-13

Syria rejects request to assist Arar inquiry
McIsaac admitted yesterday the government had made a mistake in blacking out every page of a Security Intelligence Review Committee report on the actions of CSIS officials in the Arar case. A new public report is being prepared.
TEXT | Published: 2004-07-06 | Added: 2004-07-22

Canada's role in Arar's ordeal
As Ward Elcock, who recently completed 10 years at the helm of CSIS, the civilian spy agency, explained, he was obliged to check out any tips about threats to Canada, whether received directly from countries that use torture or from intermediaries.
HTML | Published: 2004-06-26 | Added: 2004-06-27

Security watchdog censors Arar report
A report with all 89 pages blacked out is what the federal government has released to the public concerning the involvement of Canadian intelligence officials in the deportation and detention of a Canadian citizen.
HTML | Published: 2004-06-24 | Added: 2004-06-25

Preference will be given to candidates with experience working with a quasi-judicial tribunal and with experience with the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act.
TEXT | Published: 2004-04-06 | Added: 2004-04-27

Blais won't rule out spying on Canadians
Canada's spy agency has no immediate plans to re-establish the counter-subversive branch it used to spy on thousands of innocent Canadians, Solicitor-General Pierre Blais says. But he refused to say if the federal government would accept a  [...]
JPG | Published: 1989-09-30 | Added: 2004-02-21

Canada needs to send spies abroad to guarantee sovereignty, CSIS says
[the title should read SIRC and not CSIS] Canada can't be fully sovereign without the ability to send spies abroad, the watchdog panel that oversees the Canadian Security Intelligence Service suggested.
JPG | Published: 1989-11-24 | Added: 2004-02-21

Don't spy abroad, ex-Mountie says
The federal government would be creating "a monster" if it accepts a recommendation to allow Canadian spies to operate abroad, the former head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police security service says.
JPG | Published: 1989-09-30 | Added: 2004-02-21

Limited overseas use of CSIS agents urged
Canada does not need its own "offensive" spy agency operating abroad, but it could use an occasional Canadian Security Intelligence Service agent overseas, the committee that monitors the CSIS said.
JPG | Published: 1989-09-28 | Added: 2004-02-21

Spy watchdog launches probe of aborted China operation
The watchdog over Canada's espionage agency has launched a formal review of its handling of the highly sensitive and controversial probe - code-named Sidewinder - into the links between Chinese intelligence and criminal gangs in Canada.
JPG | Published: 2002-11-12 | Added: 2004-02-21

The dangers of creating a foreign spy agency
It is misleading nonsense to suggest Canada should have a foreign spy service. I am certain it is specious to argue that just because all the other Group of Seven countries have espionage agencies, as does Australia, that we should have one, too.
JPG | Published: 1995-09-18 | Added: 2004-02-21

Le service canadien du renseignement en difficulté
Le SCRS ne parviendrait pas à faire les vérifications qui s'imposent quant aux nouveaux arrivants au pays. Selon CSARS, ce Service a du mal à rencontrer les exigences des contrôles de sécurité imposés depuis les attentats du 11 septembre.
HTML | Published: 2001-10-26 | Added: 2004-02-11

List of SIRC Reviews
List of reviews undertaken by the Security Intelligence Review Committee.
LINK | Published: 1901-01-01 | Added: 2004-02-09

SIRC Annual Reports
Annual reports of the Security Intelligence Review Committee.
LINK | Published: 1901-01-01 | Added: 2004-02-09

RCMP still playing I spy
New powers vested in the RCMP, as well as the renewed emphasis on information-gathering by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and other government spy agencies, doesn't affect just villains. Anyone can get caught in the net.
HTML | Published: 2004-02-07 | Added: 2004-02-07

Directory of the Security Intelligence Review Committee
Government electronic directory of the staff at the Security Intelligence Review Committee.
LINK | Published: 2001-01-01 | Added: 2004-02-06

I want to be able to clear my name
Maher Arar is now focused on the public inquiry that Justice Dennis O'Connor will conduct into his deportation and detention. "I think we should be consulted on the terms of reference," he said, sitting in the living room in his apartment in Ottawa.
HTML | Published: 2004-02-01 | Added: 2004-02-02

Arar inquiry possible, Martin suggests
Prime Minister Paul Martin opened the door on Thursday to a public inquiry in to the Maher Arar affair even as the government denied a U.S. media report that Canadian intelligence sanctioned Arar's deportation to Syria.
HTML | Published: 2004-01-23 | Added: 2004-01-24

CSIS watchdog to probe Arar case
The Security Intelligence Review Committee on Monday announced an investigation of CSIS's involvement in the Maher Arar case.
HTML | Published: 2003-12-22 | Added: 2003-12-24

SIRC to examine CSIS's role in Arar case
SIRC today announced that it is conducting an in-depth review into the case of Maher Arar. Its report, to be prepared pursuant to Section 54 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, will investigate all aspects of CSIS's involvement in this  [...]
LINK | Published: 2003-12-22 | Added: 2003-12-24

Watchdog to probe CSIS role in Arar case
An independent committee will investigate all aspects of how the Canadian Security Intelligence Service handled the case of Maher Arar.
HTML | Published: 2003-12-23 | Added: 2003-12-24

Passport office takes blame in Ressam case
A government review of the Ahmed Ressam investigation has concluded that weaknesses at the Passport Office allowed the Algerian terrorist to go undetected in Canada as he plotted a major bombing attack.
HTML | Published: 2003-12-04 | Added: 2003-12-04

Le SCRS n'aurait joué aucun rôle dans l'affaire Arar
L'organisme responsable de la surveillance des activités du Service canadien de renseignement de sécurité (SCRS) affirme avoir obtenu l'assurance que l'agence n'avait pas été impliquée dans la détention de Maher Arar par les autorités américaines et  [...]
HTML | Published: 2003-11-23 | Added: 2003-11-24

CSIS had no role in Arar's detention, says spy watchdog
The watchdog that oversees the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has received personal assurances from the head of the spy agency that it had no role in the detention of Maher Arar by U.S. authorities or his deportation to Syria.
HTML | Published: 2003-11-23 | Added: 2003-11-23

Security Intelligence Review Committee
Official site of the Security Intelligence Review Committee.
LINK | Published: 1901-01-01 | Added: 2003-09-09

Security Intelligence Review Committee
Information on the Security Intelligence Review Committee by the Federation of American Scientists Intelligence Resource Program.
LINK | Published: 1997-12-23 | Added: 2003-09-09

The Canadian Intelligence Community: Control and Accountability
Audit undertaken to provide an overview of Canada's intelligence community and of the role of foreign and security intelligence in government; and to determine, and inform Parliament about, the nature, extent and functioning of the control and  [...]
LINK | Published: 1996-11-01 | Added: 2002-04-29