Canada’s security agencies will be able to keep up with the new tasks that come with additional oversight, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is promising.
Goodale was responding to comments made by a former CSIS director Ward Elcock last week. Elcock said he fears that rather than tracking down threats, agencies will spend too much time liaising with a proposed expert body (the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency) and reporting to a parliamentary oversight committee.
The new structure is part of a series of sweeping changes to existing national security legislation unveiled by Goodale on June 20.
WATCH: Federal government introducing changes to Canada’s security laws
“We have to make sure that CSIS and the other agencies have the resources necessary to do all of the jobs that are being asked of them, including the very important job of accountability and transparency,” Goodale told The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos this weekend.
“In this day and age, I don’t think it will do for agencies to say ‘don’t trouble us with these questions.’ … The legislation itself was crafted with good advice from the Communications Security Establishment and from CSIS to make sure that it was practical and administratively possible.”
Asked if he would consider rolling back or reassessing the plan if top-ranking security officials complain it won’t work, Goodale said it “will get thorough consideration through the parliamentary process this fall. So everyone will be able to examine the details and the minutia of how it works.”
One thing that wasn’t obvious in the package of legislation was the creation of a new system to handle Canada’s no-fly list. Young children have been among those caught up in the current system, which flags them as unable to board an airplane because they happen to share a name with someone who represents a security concern.
“The first stages of the redress system are in the legislation,” Goodale said of the so-called no-fly kids, explaining that the government will now have the powers it needs to build a new list “from the ground up.”
“We need to develop regulations and we need to get the budget and we need to develop the computer system,” he added.
“I want to get this done as fast as possible. I understand the angst among the families.”
Finally, Goodale was asked about the recent stabbing of a police officer in Flint, Michigan. A Canadian national identified as Amor Ftouhi was arrested in the attack. The incident is being treated as an act of terrorism.
Ftouhi was not known to Canadian security officials, Goodale confirmed, nor was he on the Americans’ radar.
“This appears to be some kind of inspired lone wolf attack. Obviously the investigation is still very fresh and we will be co-operating with the American authorities in every way possible to get to the bottom of what happened.”
So far, he added, there is “no indication” Ftouhi was part of a larger terror cell or network in Canada.
Watch the full interview with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale above.
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