Saturday, February 26, 2011

Legislative priority watch

The 2009-2010 annual report of the CSE Commissioner offered some hope that the never-ending dispute between the government and the commissioner over the legality of CSE's ministerial authorizations would finally be resolved.

According to the report, "[former] Commissioner Gonthier was informed by the Minister of National Defence that clarification of ambiguities and other amendments to the [National Defence Act] are a legislative priority."

The commissioner's report was released just over six months ago. In September, when I last wrote about this issue, I noted that "'legislative priority' though the issue may be, none of the 46 bills introduced by the government so far in this session addresses the Commissioners' concerns."

Make that 60 bills and counting.

The office of CSE Commissioner was created to provide a means of assuring Canadians that CSE's potentially highly intrusive powers are under effective legal constraints. This dispute, which cuts to the core of that mandate, has now remained unresolved for at least six years (and possibly as much as nine years).

That is 40% (or more) of the entire existence of the office of CSE Commissioner.

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