OTTAWA — An outgoing New Democrat MP will chair Canada’s new national-security review agency, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday.
Murray Rankin has been the member of Parliament for Victoria since 2012 and until recently was the NDP justice critic, but isn’t seeking re-election this fall.
Trudeau named Rankin and University of Ottawa law professor Craig Forcese to the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, whose job is to examine any security or intelligence activities of the federal government to make sure they’re legal, reasonable and necessary.
“The members of the new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency will play an important role protecting Canadians and their rights and freedoms, while keeping our country’s national security and intelligence agencies accountable to the citizens they protect,” Trudeau said in a statement.
Watch: More scrutiny of defence intelligence operations needed, security committee says
The new agency is taking over from the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which had a narrower focus. That committee’s four members are staying on in the new group.
The review agency will look at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Communications Security Establishment, plus some of the work of the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Department of National Defence and other government bodies if they do intelligence or security.
Legislation passed just before Parliament broke for the summer revised the oversight system for Canada’s national-security agencies. Previously, multiple review bodies and complaints commissions couldn’t readily share information or even work together, which was a problem because files with any complexity often involved more than one security agency.
Before politics, Rankin was a lawyer and law professor at the University of Victoria. He has served on the national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians, which gives MPs and senators access to classified information so they can monitor security agencies' activities.
Forcese is a specialist in national-security and international law who has worked in Canada and the United States. He is a frequent media commentator and parliamentary witness, and has co-hosted a popular podcast on national-security issues.