Oct 13, 2020
By Jeremy Logan
Canadian Security Intelligence Service employees see the spadework needed to obtain a judicial warrant as “a necessary evil” that detracts from more valuable activities, says an independent review that calls for a cultural shift inside the spy agency.
The review, obtained by The Canadian Press, found that ineffective training, excessive secrecy and a generally poor understanding of responsibilities contributed to CSIS failing to meet its obligation of full and frank disclosure to the Federal Court when seeking investigative warrants.
The problems have prompted judges to criticize CSIS for falling short of its “duty of candour” to the court, including a recent case in which the spy agency neglected to disclose its reliance on information that was likely collected illegally in support of warrants to probe extremism.
In September 2019, CSIS director David Vigneault asked Morris Rosenberg, a former federal deputy minister of justice, to conduct an independent review with the aim of addressing the ongoing difficulties.
Rosenberg, who had access to CSIS documentation and employees, examined spy service policies, procedures and operational files, as well as Federal Court transcripts relating to warrant applications.
He also consulted Justice Department lawyers, including those assigned to CSIS, and officials from the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, a spy agency watchdog.