(Ottawa – May 2nd, 2023)

NCCM welcomes the tabling of legislation that attempts to hold our national security establishment accountable. Bill C-411, “An Act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act (duty of candour),” takes steps to help ensure that security officials do not lie in order to operate above the law.  

We thank MP Salma Zahid of Scarborough for tabling Bill C-411, which would help restore faith among many Canadians in their national security institutions, including CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, and the RCMP. CSIS agents and other national security officials are not above the law. Yet we have seen security agents and officials being willing to lie in court, amongst other things, to get warrants and obtain narrow operational gains.

This has long created a mistrust and strain between Canada’s security establishment and the public. The duty of candour has been breached more than once by our security agencies in the name of counterterrorism. Such breaches amount to utter disrespect for their duty towards integrity and the rights of Canadians.

“Security agencies are supposed to protect Canadians,” said NCCM CEO Stephen Brown, “but marginalized communities have often been disproportionately targeted by these agencies, whose officials often lie to get their way, then ignore the consequences. This cannot continue and Ms. Zahid’s bill goes a long way toward correcting such a troubling pattern.” 

“We know that, for instance, CSIS has withheld information from judges to get warrants,” he added. “We also know that they have collected data via illegal means and have been called out for it. Words are not enough. That’s why we working with MP Zahid on legislation like Bill C-411 to implement concrete change.” 

This is an urgent issue. Canadians’ security and civil rights are being affected and there is no time to lose. That’s why we hope other MPs from across party lines will work with MP Zahid to push this item up the parliamentary calendar for debate. This is not something that should languish for years without being addressed. It is a bill that deserves immediate attention.  

We do not need more cases like Maher Arar and others who have suffered deeply due to bad information provided by Canadian authorities and other officials. Things need to change. It is time for justice, accountability, and action.