Politics

National security committee to probe Border Services activities

Parliament's top-secret national security committee is launching a review into the actions of the Canada Border Services Agency, which comes amid a growing body of stories pointing to flaws within the agency.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians launches four reviews

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says it "will examine the national security and intelligence activities of the CBSA." (CBC)

Parliament's national security committee is launching a review into the actions of the Canada Border Services Agency following multiple reports of flaws within the agency.

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians didn't offer much explanation for the review, stating in a press release that its members "will examine the national security and intelligence activities of the CBSA."

But the announcement comes on the heels of a recent wave of stories detailing questionable steps taken by the CBSA.

Last month, the federal government was forced to answer questions about how a person described as a "national security concern" was granted permanent residency "due to a series of failures" by the CBSA and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in late 2017.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called the incident a "completely unacceptable" mistake.

Just a few weeks earlier, a CBC investigation revealed that a Somali gang member with an extensive criminal record was twice released in Canada.

The CBSA has also been plagued by harassment allegations.

In the past, Goodale has said the lack of CBSA oversight is "a gap that definitely needs to be addressed." As recently as today, he's said that he is still committed to drafting oversight legislation.

"The CBSA conducts national security and intelligence activities to support the enforcement and administration of Canada's immigration and customs legislation and exchanges intelligence with government departments, foreign partner states and stakeholders," says the National Security and Intelligence Committee's press release.

NSICOP looking at foreign interference

The CBSA probe is just one of four reviews the committee is launching this year.

It also will look at the national security implications of foreign interference in Canada's "political and economic processes," and the military's collection, retention and dissemination of intelligence on Canadians, according to the press release.

The MPs and senators on the committee are also looking at the state of diversity in Canada's intelligence community and plan to track its progress over the next three years.

The security committee, created in 2017 to provide oversight of Canada's spy agencies, released its first report in December on the national security fallout from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's trip to India. Most of the classified information was stripped from the public version of the report.

Unlike other parliamentary committees, the NSICOP meets in secret and reports directly to the prime minister on national security matters. Its members hold top secret security clearances and are bound to secrecy.

The committee submits reports, including an annual review, to the prime minister. Redacted versions of those findings are then tabled in Parliament.

With files from the Canadian Press

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