New anti-terror laws introduced Tuesday include a beefed-up security force that would be able to launch cyber attacks against terrorist groups and other governments
The federal Liberal government is creating a new “super” civilian watchdog to review security and intelligence agencies across government and extending new powers to Canada’s electronic spy agency.
The proposed changes were unveiled yesterday as part of a massive legislative overhaul of Canada’s anti-terrorism regime.
After tabling the 139-page bill in the House of Commons, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said it aims to strike a better balance between strengthening security in a fast-changing threat environment, and safeguarding the charter and privacy rights of Canadians.
“Governments have no greater responsibilities than keeping their citizens safe and safeguarding their rights and freedoms,” he said. “These are the fundamental obligations that underpin the new national security legislation.”
Goodale said the new expert review body, called the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, is a “major innovation in our security architecture.”
The watchdog agency, which will have a chair and between three and six members, will oversee the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and security functions of the RCMP. It will also have jurisdiction over every government department and agency that has a security or intelligence role, including the Canada Border Services Agency.
Under new legislation, CSE, the electronic spy agency, will have new powers to work with the Canadian Armed Forces and to carry out offensive operations against foreign actors, to shut down potential cyberattacks in order to protect Canadian assets and critical infrastructure.
The current mandate only allows the agency to defend, block or shield from such attacks.