Presentation to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security

Ottawa - 2016-11-15

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Opening Remarks by Mr. Ian McPhail, Q.C.

Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the Committee, for inviting me here today.  As Chairperson of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, I welcome the opportunity to share my views on the proposed legislation and the role of expert review bodies. 

As you know, in 2014, amendments to the RCMP Act resulted in the creation of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. At that time, the Commission's mandate was expanded beyond public complaints to include systemic reviews of RCMP activities to ensure they are carried out in accordance with legislation, regulations, ministerial direction or any policy, procedure or guideline. 

The Commission now has the ability to review any RCMP activity, without having a complaint from the public or linking it to member conduct.

We are currently undertaking two such systemic reviews: one into workplace harassment, at the request of the Minister of Public Safety, and the other, which I initiated, into the RCMP's implementation of the relevant recommendations contained in the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar.

The RCMP's national security activities came under intense scrutiny during the O'Connor Commission of Inquiry.  As such, I felt it was important to undertake an independent review of the RCMP's implementation of Justice O'Connor's recommendations.

As a key component of Canada's security and intelligence framework, enhancing the accountability and transparency of the RCMP's national security activities is the ultimate goal of the CRCC review.

The Commission's review is examining six key areas, based on the relevant recommendations of Justice O'Connor, namely:

  • Centralization and Coordination of RCMP national security activities;
  • The RCMP's use of border lookouts;
  • The role of the RCMP when Canadians are detained abroad;
  • RCMP information-sharing with foreign entities;
  • RCMP domestic information-sharing; and
  • Training of RCMP members in national security operations.

The review is ongoing at this time and it requires the examination of sensitive and classified information.  Given that some experts and observers have previously raised concerns regarding whether the Commission would get access to privileged information, it is important to note that we have reviewed classified material made available by the RCMP.

Upon completion of the investigation, a report will be provided to the Minister of Public Safety and the Commissioner of the RCMP.  A version of the report will also be made public.

This ongoing investigation highlights the key role of the CRCC in reviewing RCMP national security activities. I believe that the expert review provided by the CRCC and its counterparts, including SIRC and the Office of the CSE Commissioner, will be complementary to the work of a Committee of Parliamentarians.  

This Bill highlights the critical role of parliamentarians in the national security accountability framework, while acknowledging the contribution of expert review bodies. In that regard, I look forward to a collaborative working relationship with the Committee.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts.

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