Secret Supreme Court hearing focuses on security certificate

6 October 2013Politics

John Chipman, writing for CBC News:

Security certificates are a little-used mechanism under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, in which CSIS collects intelligence about a foreigner living in Canada who the agency alleges is a threat to national security. They cannot be used on Canadian citizens.

The intelligence is passed along to the ministers of immigration and public safety, who can then co-sign a security certificate ordering the suspect’s deportation.


“Security certificates operate on the basis of intelligence as opposed to evidence. It’s a different evidentiary standard. The government would have to prove wrongdoing beyond a reasonable doubt,” says Larsen, noting that intelligence has a much lower legal threshold than evidence.


The legality of security certificates has been argued in the courts for years. The Supreme Court ruled they were unconstitutional six years ago, but the government reworked the system, introducing “special advocates” to act on an individual’s behalf.

Special advocates are security-cleared lawyers who have access to CSIS intelligence implicating the suspect, but are not allowed to share it with anyone, including the suspect.

Prior to reading this article I had no idea what a security certificate was. I’m surprised that they exist, especially since they’ve been deemed unconstitutional. Sounds like Canada’s version of the Patriot Act.