October 29, 2013
NDP wants parliamentary oversight of government’s intelligence and security activities
In the wake of disturbing revelations about the activities of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) – Canada’s equivalent to the United States’ NSA – NDP Defence critic Jack Harris (St. John’s-East) wants greater Parliamentary oversight of the agency.
“Recent events have raised concern about CSEC’s activities,” said Harris. “As the former head of CSEC has said, there must be more parliamentary oversight for this agency and clear answers for Canadians about its activities.”
Harris sought unanimous consent for a motion to create a parliamentary committee to determine the appropriate method of oversight for Canada’s security and intelligence community. His motion was ultimately defeated.
“It’s not just CSEC that’s at issue,” Harris noted. “New Democrats are proposing to improve transparency and strengthen parliamentary oversight of all the security and intelligence activities of government.”
After allegations of spying on Brazil came to light, Harris wrote to the Minister of National Defence to get clear answers on CSEC’s practices. These concerns have also been echoed by CSEC watchdog Robert Décary and Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart.
The NDP has long called for greater oversight of Canada’s intelligence community, as is in place for other countries.
“Motion M-461 seeks to develop the appropriate mechanism to ensure effective parliamentary oversight for Canada,” said Harris.
Harris sought unanimous consent for the following, Motion M-461: