Tag Archives: Ralph Goodale

CSIS repeatedly obtained confidential taxpayer data without warrants, watchdog says - CBC News 20160128

CSIS repeatedly obtained confidential taxpayer data without warrants, watchdog says - CBC News 20160128

Review agency finds case wasn't isolated incident of obtaining information improperly from CRA.

Media placeholder
Goodale: government undertaking complete review of security intelligence framework.

Canada's spy agency CSIS improperly obtained taxpayer information from the Canada Revenue Agency without a warrant. And it happened more than once.

That's according to the annual report of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), the independent office that oversees the activities of CSIS.

The report, tabled Thursday morning in the House of Commons, outlines how, during an application for a warrant from the federal court, a judge raised questions about a regional CSIS intelligence officer's access to confidential taxpayer information.

In August 2014, Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Michel Coulombe asked SIRC to investigate, after determining that the officer accessed the information improperly. Coulombe asked SIRC to figure out what happened and make recommendations about how to stop employees from doing it again.

According to SIRC, its examination found "that this was not an isolated incident of a single intelligence officer obtaining information improperly from CRA. In fact, SIRC found there were multiple instances of a particular CSIS office obtaining information from CRA absent a warrant."

SIRC also determined that the overall management of the first incident was inadequate, because CSIS operated, "under the assumption that this was an isolated event until SIRC apprised them of its findings."

"Most of the information remained within the database until brought to SIRC."

As well, SIRC learned that CSIS told the federal Court and the minister of public safety that all of the taxpayer information obtained without a warrant had been deleted from its operational database.

That was not the case.

"In fact, most of the information remained within the database until brought to CSIS's attention by SIRC," the report states.

Substandard practices

The oversight body has told CSIS to address its "substandard" managerial and communication practices in the specific regional CSIS office, admit its error to the federal court and public safety minister, and disclose what happened to the privacy commissioner.

A report by the office that oversees CSIS has found that officers within the spy agency on "multiple" occasions improperly accessed confidential taxpayer information from Canada Revenue Agency.

While it couldn't come up with specific suggestions on how to prevent this from happening again — other than more training — SIRC suggests the spy agency conduct an internal review of the flow of information from CRA every five years.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale released a statement Thursday in response to the tabling of the SIRC report.

"We believe more can be done to strengthen scrutiny, and the government is currently developing legislation that will strengthen our system of accountability for national security."

For its part, CSIS said it will toughen up its compliance-reporting regime and that in "the interest of full transparency," it will tell the court and minister exactly what happened.

As for informing the privacy commissioner, the report states that CSIS has already done so.

Canada's electronic spy agency stops sharing some metadata with partners - CBC News 20160128

Canada's electronic spy agency stops sharing some metadata with partners - CBC News 20160128

Commissioner says certain information wasn't being properly protected in Canada before sharing took place.

Media placeholder
Goodale: government undertaking complete review of security intelligence framework.

The Communications Security Establishment, Canada's electronic spy agency, has stopped sharing certain metadata with international partners after discovering it had not been sufficiently protecting that information before passing it on.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the sharing won't resume until he is satisfied that the proper protections are in place. Metadata is information that describes other data, such as an email address or telephone number, but not the content of a given email or recording of a phone call.

The issue is disclosed in the annual report of CSE commissioner Jean Pierre Plouffe, which was tabled in the House of Commons Thursday morning.

"While I was conducting this current comprehensive review, CSE discovered on its own that certain metadata was not being minimized properly," Plouffe explained in the report.

"Minimization is the process by which Canadian identity information contained in metadata is rendered unidentifiable prior to being shared …."

Question Period 20160125
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan answers a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

"The fact that CSE did not properly minimize Canadian identity information contained in certain metadata prior to being shared was contrary to the ministerial directive, and to CSE's operational policy."

Canada's Five Eyes partners, with which data is sometimes shared, are the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The report also noted that "the metadata ministerial directive lacks clarity regarding the sharing of certain types of metadata with Five Eyes partners, as well as other aspects of CSE's metadata activities."

Plouffe goes on to say that the ministerial directive is unclear about key aspects of how CSE collects,uses and discloses metadata, and does not provide clear guidance for how CSE's metadata activities are undertaken, recommending the agency ask for a new directive to provide better guidance.

In a statement, Sajjan says the "metadata in question … did not contain names or enough information on its own to identify individuals" and that "taken together with CSE's suite of privacy protection measures, the privacy impact was low."

He added: "I am reassured that the commissioner's findings confirm the metadata errors that CSE identified were unintentional, and am satisfied with CSE's proactive measures, including suspending the sharing of this information with its partners and informing the Minister of Defence."

Sajjan said CSE won't resume sharing this information with Canada's partners until he is fully satisfied the effective systems and measures are in place."

Speaking to reporters on Parliament Hill, Sajjan did not specify what sort of metadata had been shared and said officials could not review the data to determine how many people might have been impacted without violating privacy laws.

Appearing alongside Sajjan, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale noted that the federal government is in the process of reviewing its security intelligence operations and is committed to introducing new parliamentary oversight of intelligence agencies.

MP McGuinty to chair parliamentary committee to monitor spying, security - Ottawa Citizen 20160108

MP McGuinty to chair parliamentary committee to monitor spying, security - Ottawa Citizen 20160108

The Liberals are planning to table legislation by June creating the first all-party committee of parliamentarians to monitor the top-secret operations of Canada’s expanding national security establishment.

Veteran Ottawa Liberal MP David McGuinty will chair the committee, the Prime Minister’s Office announced Friday.

The news comes as Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, responsible for Canada’s spy agencies and national security policing, is heading to London Monday to learn about the workings of Britain’s long-standing intelligence and security committee of Parliament and its enviable track record of never leaking classified information. McGuinty will accompany the minister.

Goodale will travel to Paris Wednesday to discuss counter-terrorism and counter-radicalization issues with French officials.

Scott Bardsley, Goodale’s spokesman, said Friday it is Goodale’s hope to “introduce (the) legislation in the first half the year,” and before the House recesses for the summer on June 23.

In opposition, the Liberals called for increased oversight of Canada’s national security apparatus after the former Conservative government unveiled its sweeping Bill C-51 national security legislation. The Grits supported the controversial bill, but promised to reform some of its more contentious provisions if elected.

A review committee of parliamentarians to monitor the effectiveness and lawfulness of Canada’s intelligence operations was a key element of that pledge. Canadian parliamentarians currently have no access to confidential and high-level information about national security institutions and policies — unlike politicians in the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and some other NATO nations.

As well, public opinion polling shows many Canadians want a tighter watch over spy agencies and other federal intelligence gatherers, commensurate with their extended powers under C-51.

Currently, only the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the electronic spy agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), are reviewed by government-appointed watchdog agencies.

There is no independent oversight or review of the Canada Border Services Agency, which has a dual intelligence and law-enforcement role. Nor is there dedicated, independent monitoring of the intelligence arms of the RCMP, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Privy Council Office, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.

A crucial concern over the establishment of a parliamentary committee of rival politicians has always been ensuring air-tight secrecy of the highly-classified operational security intelligence of Canadian and foreign allied agencies before the committee.

“The United Kingdom committee is regarded as one of the best,” said Bardsley. “In particular, it has never leaked. As we go about setting up our committee of parliamentarians, we want to make sure we do everything we can to put the right structure in place from the get-go. So, the U.K. committee, in particular, is a very important role model.”

Previous Liberal private members’ bills calling for such a committee suggested the panel be composed of three members of the Senate and six members of the House, all sworn to secrecy for life. No more than four members could be from the same political party.

It would have access to any information under federal control that relates to the performance of its duties and functions, including compelling federal employees to divulge information, reports and explanations it deemed necessary to do its job.

The proposals called for the committee to report annually to the prime minister, who would table a copy, likely redacted, in Parliament.

In announcing the appointment, a statement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “McGuinty brings a wealth of national and global experience to this position.”

Since 2004, the lawyer by profession has won five consecutive elections as the member of Parliament for Ottawa South.

Libs seek advice abroad on C-51 overhaul - Toronto Sun 20160108

Libs seek advice abroad on C-51 overhaul - Toronto Sun 20160108

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale responds during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale will head to the U.K. and France this weekend for advice on how to transform Canada's security oversight from an arms-length model to one overseen by politicians.

Goodale's meetings will focus on "countering terrorism, radicalization and cyber-security," spokesperson Scott Bardsley told the Sun.

The fact-finding mission is part of the Liberal election platform pledge to "establish an all-party national security oversight committee." That was part of the proposed reforms to Bill C-51, the former government's anti-terrorism act.

Britain's intelligence and security committee oversees a number of agencies and consists of parliamentarians. This is in contrast to Canada's Security Intelligence Review Committee - that oversees CSIS - which is composed of appointees and operates at arms-length from Parliament.

This likely means SIRC's duties would be rolled into the parliamentary committee. This would bring CSIS oversight more into the open, but it could also make it more partisan.

"It's good to have that distance between them and partisan politicians," former SIRC member Deborah Grey said, responding to the news.

It's unclear if the government plans to include the less partisan Senate in the committee. But Sen. Daniel Lang, chair of the Senate committee on national security and defence, said "any oversight committee must include members from both houses of Parliament in order to ensure total parliamentary oversight."

"One important part to note about that committee (in the UK) is it hasn't leaked," Bardsley says of concerns that a committee of politicians would be less secure.

Liberals open to broad security revamp, Goodale says - CTV News 20160109

Liberals open to broad security revamp, Goodale says - CTV News 20160109

Public Safety Minister Ralph GoodalePublic Safety Minister Ralph Goodale responds during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

OTTAWA -- The Liberal government is open to an expansive revamp of national security legislation, not just a handful of promised changes to the controversial bill known as C-51, says Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

The government will give Canadians a chance to have their say before deciding what changes to make, Goodale said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"If the consultation leads to a broader set of action items, obviously we would be guided by what that consultation tells us," Goodale said.

"The subject matter is large, it's complex, the solutions aren't particularly easy to achieve. But our whole point in having consultations is to listen to what we hear. And if the messages indicate that something more needs to be done, obviously we would try to pursue that."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked Goodale to work with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to repeal the "problematic elements" of Bill C-51 and introduce new legislation that strengthens accountability with respect to national security while better balancing collective security with rights and freedoms.

The government has pledged to ensure all Canadian Security Intelligence Service warrants respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That would roll back new provisions allowing CSIS to disrupt terror plots through tactics that breach the charter as long as a judge approves.

It has also committed to creating a special committee of parliamentarians to keep an eye on national security operations.

Organizations including Amnesty International Canada and the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group have urged the Liberals to go further by implementing neglected 2006 recommendations on comprehensive security review from the inquiry into the overseas torture of Maher Arar.

Others have called for a fundamental rethinking of the tools needed to counter jihadi-inspired extremism as well as stronger measures to protect privacy.

Goodale says the Conservative government failed to consult the public properly when it ushered in C-51 after attacks that killed Canadian soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and Ottawa just days apart in October 2014.

"I think there was a moment there when collaboration of a rare and extraordinary kind was possible. The government chose to go a different way," Goodale said.

"They chose to proceed unilaterally without that kind of consultation or engagement. And the end result produced a flawed piece of legislation in C-51."

The government hasn't yet decided whether to have a standing committee of Parliament carry out the review or to create a special committee to do the job, he said. The Liberals may also engage in public consultations through "tools and techniques that take us beyond the parliamentary precinct."

"The point here is that we genuinely want to hear from Canadians," he said.

"They didn't have the opportunity before, we want to give them the opportunity now, to make sure that in the resetting of the national security framework, we get it right."

Liberals to model new national security committee after leak-free U.K. version: Ralph Goodale - National Post 20160108

Liberals to model new national security committee after leak-free U.K. version: Ralph Goodale - National Post 20160108

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale: “There needs to be adequate review and scrutiny … to make sure that (federal agencies with intelligence powers) are conducting themselves in a way that’s consistent with Canadian values.”

OTTAWA — The Liberal government plans to model its national security committee of parliamentarians after the one in Britain because it has successfully kept secret information under wraps over the years, says Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

It is very important that sensitive intelligence secrets be kept in the strictest confidence, Goodale said Friday in an interview with The Canadian Press.

He will be in the United Kingdom next week to learn more about its parliamentary intelligence and security committee, which oversees Britain’s spy agencies as well as the broader intelligence functions of the government.

Goodale said he is particularly interested to know how its members maintain the self-discipline to avoid spilling secrets. “One obvious merit of the U.K. system is that it has not leaked.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that veteran MP David McGuinty, a lawyer and former mediator, would take a leadership role in Canada’s proposed committee, with details to emerge in coming months.

Goodale said he is working with House leader Dominic LeBlanc to introduce legislation before the Commons rises for summer to create the committee of security-cleared parliamentarians. He envisions the body keeping an eye on a range of federal agencies with intelligence powers, not just the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and other key organizations.

“This will be a whole-of-government approach,” the minister said.

“Wherever those extraordinary authorities are vested, there needs to be adequate review and scrutiny to make sure they’re being effective, and also to make sure that they’re conducting themselves in a way that’s consistent with Canadian values.”

Critics have long pointed out that some federal agencies with intelligence powers, such as the Canada Border Services Agency, have no dedicated watchdog. In addition, the few watchdogs that do exist cannot easily share information to get to the bottom of a complaint or problem that involves several security services.

The previous Conservative government resisted calls for a full-fledged parliamentary security committee, suggesting arm’s-length review agencies — not partisan politicians — should oversee spy services. Still, Britain and Canada’s other chief allies, including the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, have embraced the concept.

“Canada is the odd man out for not having this kind of review mechanism,” Goodale said.

He has already spoken to officials in New Zealand about their approach, and expects to consult the Americans in the weeks ahead.

“We want to go to school on this and make sure that we get it right. This is not a committee just for the sake of having a committee, this is in order to provide a very vital function in the whole national-security apparatus of Canada,” Goodale said.

“Why the previous government did not pick it up and run with it is a bit mystifying. Because I think they could have enhanced their own credibility and avoided a lot of doubt and suspicion on the part of Canadians if they had embraced this concept, rather than pooh-poohing it.”

The Canadian Press, with files from Ottawa Citizen