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Private bill would increase oversight of Canada's electronic spy service

A private member’s bill sponsored by the Liberal defence critic would bolster oversight of Canada’s electronic eavesdropping agency by transferring some ministerial powers to the courts.

Joyce Murray’s bill also proposes requiring Communications Security Establishment Canada, known as CSEC, to issue an annual public report.

In addition, the legislation would create a security-cleared committee of parliamentarians to keep an eye on intelligence activities.

Ottawa-based CSEC monitors foreign communications of intelligence interest to Canada, and exchanges information with similar agencies in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Leaks from a former employee of CSEC’s American counterpart have raised questions about operations of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence network.

Murray says her bill would restore public trust in an agency she considers vital to protecting the security of Canadians.