Advisory Council on National Security
Terms of Reference

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On April 27, 2004, the federal government issued Canada's first comprehensive statement of National Security Policy. Securing an Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy provides an overall framework for national security that identifies gaps, provides an action plan for addressing them, and calls for a more coordinated and integrated security system.

The policy is a long-term strategic framework focused on three core national security interests:

  • protecting Canada and Canadians at home and abroad;
  • Canada is not a base for threats to our allies; and,
  • contributing to international security.

The National Security Policy sets out measures to be implemented in six key areas - intelligence, emergency planning and management, public health emergencies, transportation security, border security, and international security.

A key element of the policy is the establishment of an advisory council on national security, which will give the Government the benefit of advice of security experts external to government in evaluating and improving our system.


To provide confidential expert advice to the Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Security, Public Health and Emergencies on:

  1. issues related to national security; and 
  2. strategies, mechanisms and activities required to develop, implement, evaluate and improve a fully integrated security system. 


The Advisory Council on National Security (hereinafter “Council”) will provide advice to the Government through the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister. The National Security Advisor will report regularly on the work of the Council to the Cabinet Committee on Security, Public Health and Emergencies and to the Prime Minister.

It is anticipated that Ministers and senior Government officials will attend meetings of the Council as appropriate.

As an advisory body, the Council has no decision-making authority nor will it be responsible for the implementation of its advice.

The Council will meet at least twice a year and no more than four times a year at the discretion of the Chair and the Government.

The Security and Intelligence Secretariat of the Privy Council Office will provide administrative and technical support to the Council.


Appointments and Structure

The Government will select up to 15 individuals to serve as members of the Council. Members will serve in their individual capacities and not as representatives of specific entities or interest groups. Members may not send substitutes to meetings.

The membership of the Council should reflect a diversity of individuals, expertise and experience and include demonstrated expertise relevant to national security issues among the following areas: intelligence, law and policy, human rights and civil liberties, emergency planning and management, public health emergencies, public safety, transportation security, border security and international security.

From among Council members, the Government will appoint a Chair. The Chair will work with the Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Security and Intelligence, to set agendas and plan the work of the Council.

Terms of Appointment 

Members will be appointed for terms of up to two years and may be re-appointed. Re-appointments will be scheduled to ensure continuity as well as systematic rotation of membership. After one year, and thereafter at the discretion of the Government, the terms of reference and membership of the Council will be reviewed and adjusted to respond to changing needs.

Conduct and Conflict of Interest 

Those interested in serving on the Council will be subject to a pre-appointment background security check, and if required, may have to undergo a security clearance process.  

All members are expected to protect and maintain as confidential any information divulged during the work of the Council. Members must not discuss this information with persons not directly involved with the Council, or divulge information obtained from the work of the Council, including presentations made to it, until such time as this information has been officially released for public distribution. Documents must be securely stored at all times, and any confidential information provided must be returned or securely destroyed.

These provisions apply both during and after an individual's appointment as a Council member.

Before appointment, all potential members will be required to disclose any circumstances that may place, or be seen to place the member in a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest. It is the member's responsibility to disclose when their personal situation changes, or where the matters before the Council may affect the conflict of interest situation of a member.

Council members, who are also a member of, or affiliated with an organization in receipt of government funding, would find themselves in a conflict of interest situation if they were to influence the Council in a way that could benefit that organization.


Members will serve on a voluntary basis but will be reimbursed for travel and accommodation costs related to their participation at meetings of the Council in accordance with Treasury Board Guidelines.