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How Canada compares to ‘Five Eyes’ members in intelligence oversight

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at a news conference in Richmond Hill, Ontario, January 30, 2015.

Mark Blinch/The Globe and Mail

Canada is the only member of the "Five Eyes" intelligence-sharing alliance that does not have legislative oversight of its security agencies. Here is how the other countries call on legislators to hold their spies to account:

United Kingdom

The nine members of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament – drawn from the House of Commons and the House of Lords – have access to highly classified information in their work. They offer oversight of the government's operational and intelligence activities, producing one annual report but also special reports into terrorist attacks or controversies involving spy agencies.

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United States

The U.S. President keeps Congress "fully and currently informed" on the country's intelligence activities, through the senior leadership of the 22-member House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the 15-member Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The Senate committee showcased its reach and impact with its report into CIA torture practices in December, 2014.

Australia

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is composed of 11 MPs and senators, who can review the budgets and expenditures of the country's six intelligence agencies, and carry out specific reviews as determined by the government or Parliament.

It is currently reviewing legislation dealing with retention of data by telecommunications firms.

New Zealand

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The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament is made up of the Prime Minister, as well as two government and two opposition MPs. The committee looks into the policies and expenditures of the country's two main intelligence agencies, analyzes legislation dealing with intelligence issues and can look into specific matters at the Prime Minister's request.

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