NSICOP report highlights accountability gaps at GAC

Parliament’s top-secret National Security Committee says Global Affairs Canada (GAC) lacks consistent internal governance, particularly around intelligence, leading to “significant gaps in ministerial responsibilities” .

Ratings include Latest Annual Report by the National Security Intelligence Parliamentary Committee (NSICOP)states that it has “identified significant weaknesses in[the GAC’s]internal governance in its role in maintaining foreign policy coherence.”

The 34-page report released Wednesday was redacted, but the full text was delivered to the prime minister.

The report found, among other findings related to the GAC, that the department has adequate consultation arrangements with the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency and the Communications Security Agency, but not with the Department of Defense or the Canadian Armed Forces. Says.

In the latter case, the report said consultations were “mostly informal and ad hoc” and that “both agencies were slow to respond to ministerial directives”.

“With respect to international security programs, the department has strong governance structures, including detailed policies, procedures and oversight board structures,” the report said. “For the most sensitive intelligence activities, the opposite is true. , procedures, or instructional documents are missing.”

The report also says the lack of a clear and coherent governance structure has led to “significant gaps in ministerial accountability” in relation to “classified intelligence activities.”

“The ministry is not obligated to regularly report to the foreign minister on the full range of national security and intelligence activities,” the report said. “This gap raises concerns about the minister’s perception of the risks associated with the ministry’s continued most sensitive activities and undermines the minister’s accountability for these activities.”

The lack of communication and information sharing reflects the criticism the federal government faced this spring when it became clear that critical information about foreign interference and public security files was not reaching the ministers in charge.

NSCOP made some recommendations to the GAC as part of its report, including:

  • “The Minister of Foreign Affairs will work with the Minister of Defense to put in place a proactive, regular and comprehensive consultation mechanism to ensure that Canada’s defense policy and military operations are aligned with foreign policy objectives.
  • The Minister of Foreign Affairs gives written instructions to the Ministry on national security and intelligence activities.
  • The Minister of Foreign Affairs introduced a comprehensive governance mechanism for the Ministry’s security and intelligence activities, as well as activities that support or contribute to partner organizations. ”

The report said the government and the GAC “agree” with the commission’s recommendations, and the ministry’s response to each, including outlining existing reporting requirements and how the various bodies will work together. is also included.

The report also reiterates and provides an update on previous recommendations regarding how the federal government can deal with foreign interference in Canada.

NSCOP has investigated the situation of foreign interference in Canada since the commission was first established more than five years ago. As allegations of foreign interference have mounted in recent months, the federal government has continued to insist the group is in the best position to study the issue.

The report also highlights the challenges faced in obtaining information from various government departments (some cases were later revealed in media reports) and the Commission’s recommendations in previous reports. Many say they have not yet been adopted by the government.

With files from Rachel Aiello, Senior Digital Congress Reporter at CTVNews.ca

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