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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

It needs to be done

Liberal plan for new national security watchdog gets thumbs up from experts, despite ‘inevitable flaws’

OTTAWA — Leading security and intelligence experts generally applaud the novel Liberal legislation to stand up a committee of parliamentarians to examine and publicly report on the efficacy and legality of Canada’s surging national security activities.

“Overall, (it’s) a very good bill, promising the creation of parliamentary capacity that is long overdue,” says Wesley Wark, a University of Ottawa professor specializing in intelligence, national security and terrorism issues.

Craig Forcese, associate professor of law at the same school and a foremost expert on national security law, calls it, “a good bill, although with inevitable flaws likely reflecting compromises designed to reconcile elements within the government.”

Unveiled last week, Bill C-22 proposes the creation of a “national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians,” with a mandate to review the operations of at least 17 government departments and agencies with security and intelligence functions.

The move honours a Liberal election promise to boost scrutiny of national security operations to offset the increased counterterrorism powers granted to security services and police under the Anti-terrorism Act of 2015, formerly Bill C-51.

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