The watchdog responsible for monitoring the activities of Canada's spy agency and reporting findings to the minister in charge will be eliminated as part of the federal government's budget.
The budget implementation bill introduced Thursday includes a plan to scrap the office of the inspector general of CSIS. The office has been in place since CSIS was created in 1984.
Eva Plunkett has been in the inspector general role since 2003, having been renewed in 2010.
The government says eliminating the watchdog will save almost $1 million a year, and that the role of inspector general will now be performed by the arms-length Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC).
An opposition politician, however, says the federal government is abdicating its role in overseeing Canada's spy service.
NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison said the cancellation of the office is just more evidence that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews isn't doing his job.
"What we've got here is another example of the minister not taking seriously his oversight responsibilities with CSIS," Garrison said. "So not only is he cutting out the inspector general, he hasn't filled the chair's position on the Security Intelligence Review Committee, so there's two examples here of not taking those responsibilities seriously."
Intelligence expert Wesley Wark, a professor at the University of Toronto, is skeptical about SIRC taking on oversight of CSIS, also noting that SIRC has been without a chair for months. He has doubts whether SIRC could produce the detailed annual reports provided by the inspector general — reports that have criticized CSIS for an increasing number of errors in recent years.
"If it makes mistakes, that can potentially impact on the civil liberties of Canadians who may find themselves subject, and perhaps wrongly, to CSIS investigations," Wark said.
He added that the dissolution of the office doesn't bode well for ministerial accountability over the spy agency, which he argues has been eroded by other recent changes.
Here are some facts you may not have known about NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. (CP)
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair was Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks</a> in Jean Charest's Liberal government in Quebec. He served in the role from 2003-2006. (CP)
Mulcair married Catherine Pinhas in 1976. She was born in France to a Turkish family of Sephardic Jewish descent. <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1158289--thomas-mulcair-s-wife-catherine-a-psychologist-and-political-confidante?bn=1" target="_hplink">Mulcair has French citizenship through his marriage</a>, as do the couple's two sons. (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair left Charest's Liberal government in Quebec </a>after he was offered the position of Minister of Government Services in 2006, an apparent demotion from Minister of the Environment. Mulcair has said his ouster was related to his opposition to a government plan to transfer land in the Mont Orford provincial park to condo developers. (CP)
Mulcair's great-great-grandfather on his mother's side was <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor%C3%A9_Mercier" target="_hplink">Honoré Mercier, the ninth premier of Quebec</a>. (Public Domain/Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec)
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair was the first New Democrat to win a riding in Quebec during a federal election</a>. He held the riding of Outremont during the 2008 election after first winning the seat in a 2007 by-election. Phil Edmonston was the first New Democrat to win a seat in Quebec, but his win came in a 1990 by-election. Robert Toupin was the very first to bring a Quebec seat to the NDP, but he did it in 1986 by crossing the floor. (Alamy)
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair's father Harry Donnelly Mulcair was Irish-Canadian</a> and his mother Jeanne French-Canadian. His father spoke to him in English and his mother in French -- explaining his fluency in both official languages. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Muclair has voted in past French elections, but says that now that he is leader of the Official Opposition <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1157191" target="_hplink">he will not take part in the upcoming French presidential vote</a>. (Thinkstock)
<a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1158289--thomas-mulcair-s-wife-catherine-a-psychologist-and-political-confidante?bn=1" target="_hplink">Mulcair met his future wife at a wedding when they were both teenagers</a>. Catherine was visiting from France. They married two years later when they were both 21. (CP)
<a href="http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/03/16/thomas-mulcair-is-mr-angry/" target="_hplink">Mulcair was given the moniker in a Maclean's headline</a>, but the new leader of the NDP has long been known for his short fuse. In 2005, he was fined $95,000 for defamatory comments he made about former PQ minister Yves Duhaime on TV. The comments included French vulgarity and an accusation that alleged influence peddling would land Duhaime in prison.