Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and the head of Canada’s signals intelligence agency are heading to committee tomorrow as members launch their examination of the government’s hallmark national security bill.
C-59 seeks to overhaul the foundations of the Canadian national security landscape and last week, Goodale moved a motion to make the bill the first of the government’s legislation so far to head to committee before receiving second reading in the House of Commons.
Once a bill receives second reading, members cannot make or study changes that would alter the principle of the bill.
By sending the bill to committee before second reading, the government opens it up to a much broader scope of debate and amendment than might have been possible once the House of Commons agreed to it in principle.
At 130 pages, the bill is huge both in terms of physical size and the scope of its proposed changes to how national security actors operate in Canada.
Introduced in June, it includes sections that will do everything from authorizing the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) to launch offensive cyberattacks against hostile actors to undoing several controversial elements of the former Conservative government’s national security bill, C-51.
The bill also creates a new expert review body that will review national security activities carried out by government agencies and departments and tasks a new Intelligence Commissioner with authorizing the warrants granted to the CSE and CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
Several of those elements, such as the proposal to weaponize the CSE and the proposed changes to C-51, have drawn a considerable amount of criticism from both the NDP and the Conservatives, and will likely be among the issues that will dominate committee review of the legislation.
Goodale will appear at 8:45 a.m. and stay for one hour and will be joined by Greta Bossenmaier, chief of the CSE.
Goodale will leave at 9:45 a.m. but Bossenmaier will remain until 10:45 a.m. and will be joined by Vincent Rigby, the associate deputy minister of the Department of Public Safety as well as David Vigneault, the director of CSIS.
Senior officials from the RCMP and Department of Justice will also appear.