The Office of the Inspector General of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was established through legislation in 1984, in the same Act that created CSIS. The model was the U.S. practice of Inspector Generals, with a review and compliance function. In the Canadian case, the CSIS Inspector General (IG) was meant to serve as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Minister to allow for sufficient Ministerial accountability over a secret and sensitive arm of government operations
The CSIS IG had a small expert staff (of 8). It produced an annual classified certificate for the Minister (now the Minister of Public Safety) which commented on CSIS compliance with the law, with Ministerial directives, and with regard to overall CSIS performance.
In early 2012, the federal government announced its intention to abolish the Office of the Inspector General of CSIS and to have the Security Intelligence Review Committee, an external review body, take over its reporting functions.
If and when the Budget Implementation Act (Bill C-38) passes into law, the IG’s office will likely be shut down, along with its website. The website contains easily accessible, redacted copies of all the Inspector General annual reports dating back to the year 2000 – a valuable set of documents on one of Canada’s key security agencies.
CIPS is preserving an archive of the Inspector General’s annual certificate reports to serve as a research and teaching tool.
See also Craig Forcese’s commentary on the closing of the CSIS Inspector General’s office, “Fewer Eyes on the Spies: Going Backwards on Accountability“