Since the September 11 attacks, Canadian security has been a top priority for the Canadian government. After 2001, the government realized that Canadian security agencies were largely uncoordinated bodies that often communicated through third-parties instead of directly to each other. This fact was actually exemplified decades earlier in 1985 after the Air India Flight 182 bombing that killed over 300 people. In 2010, a report released by Justice John Major recorded security mishaps by CSIS, the RCMP, and other security agencies before and after the atrocity.
In response to these events, the government created Public Safety Canada in 2003, which is the single federal entity in charge of coordinating “across all federal departments and agencies responsible for national security and the safety of Canadians.” Under their mandate rests the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
Former high-ranking officials in the security realm, such as Luc Portelance and Ray Boisvert, stated in a joint letter earlier this year that although the government is working to “modernize the accountability regime” within these security agencies, it must also “consider a thorough assessment of our national security structure” because the threats to Canada are increasing while the capabilities of these agencies are either stagnant, or decreasing. It’s not only important that all citizens understand who their security agencies are, and what they’re in charge of, but also the threats facing Canada. Debates regarding these agencies, and relevant legislation such as C-51, should be robust and involve all citizens.
At a time when these agencies are in flux, all Canadians should be informed.
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