Section 15: Questions

Statement of Test to be Met

APPLICABILITY: Applicability of paragraphs 15(1)(a) to (i) 
applicability of 15(1) in general terms and with respect to definitions in s. 15(2)

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Does the institution rely on a particular section in s. 15(1)?

Can the institution specify a particular paragraph of s. 15(1)(a) to (i) which describes the information?

  • If so, determine applicability of the section (see below).
  • If section applicable, go to injury test section.

If no, or if section inapplicable, what portion of s. 15(1) is the exemption based on.?

  • Conduct of international affairs.
  • Defence of Canada or any state allied or associated with Canada.
  • Note definition in s. 15(2).
  • Detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities.

Note definition in s. 15(2).

Has the institution specified to the requestor which portion of s. 15(1) is relied on?

What part of the s. 15(2) definitions applies to the information?

  • Assess applicability.
   

 

Statement of Test to be Met

INJURY

  • Assess whether injury could reasonably be expected from disclosure.
Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment
If 15(1) describes the information, then assess reasonableness of conclusion that disclosure is likely to be injurious.    

 

Statement of Test to be Met

DISCRETION

  • Assess whether discretion was properly exercised.
Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment
If conclusion that injury likely appears reasonable, assess whether the discretion of the head of the institution to refuse disclosure is properly exercised.    

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(a)

Military tactics, strategy.

Civilian work done by the military would not be included.

  • i.e., civilian search and rescues operations.
  • Response to civilian requests.
Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Does the information describe military tactics or strategy?

Were the tactics or strategy developed for military, as opposed to civilian purposes?

Do the tactics or strategy relate to activities or places that are military or civilian in nature?

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met

Military exercises or operations - need not be preparatory

  • In preparation for hostilities, or
  • In connection with detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities.
Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Are the exercises or operations described in the record undertaken or performed by the military?

  • If not, by whom?

Are the activities military in nature?

Do they have a military purpose?

  • Describe purpose.

Does the information describe military activities that are in preparation for hostilities?

  • With whom?
  • Do the hostilities involve Canada?
  • How?

Are the activities for peacekeeping purposes?

  • If so, are potential hostilities anticipated?

Are the hostilities domestic?

  • If so, with whom?
  • On what basis has the military become involved?
  • Describe the nature of the military's involvement.

Does the information relate to preparatory activities?

Have these activities been carried out?

If so, has information about the activities been made public or been reported on?

Are the activities at which the military exercises or operations are aimed described in the definition of 'subversive or hostile activities' in s. 15(2)?

If so, have the military exercises or operations been undertaken for the purpose of

  • Detecting these activities?
  • Preventing these activities?
  • Suppressing these activities?
  • Describe connection.
   

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(b)

Information must relate to:

  • Weapons or other defence equipment or
  • Potential weapons or other defence equipment
Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Does the information describe or relate to weapons or defence equipment?

  • Specify what kind of weapons or equipment.

What are the weapons or equipment used for?

Are the weapons or equipment used for a defence-related purpose?

  • If not, on what basis is the exemption in s. 15(1)(b) claimed?

Does the information relate to weapons or defence equipment being designed, developed or produced?

  • What state of development or production is it at?

Does the information relate to consideration of items/ materials for use as weapons or as defence equipment?

  • Describe potential use.
  • Is the use related to defence.
   

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(b)

Information must relate to:

  • Must describe quantity, characteristics, capability or deployment.
Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Does the information describe weapons or:

  • Describe the characteristics of weapons/equipment.
  • Describe capability of weapons/equipment (includes performance).
  • Describe quantities being produced or considered.
  • Assignment of weapons to military units.
  • Assign use of the weapons/equipment.
   

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(c)

EITHER:

  • Must relate to defence establishment, military force, unit or personnel.
  • Must have a role or purpose related to the defence of Canada or any state allied or associated with Canada.
Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Does the information concern a defence establishment?

  • Name establishment.

Does the information concern a military force, unit or personnel?

  • Specify which force, unit or personnel.

Does the establishment have a role relating to the defence of Canada?

  • To the defence of any state allied or associated with Canada (see below at s. 15(2)).
  • Specify role.

Is this role described in the record?

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met

OR must relate to any organization or person responsible for the detection, prevention, or suppression of subversive or hostile activities

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

What organization or person is the information concerned with?

Does this organization or person have responsibilities for the detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities (see below at s. 15(2))?

What are these responsibilities?

Are the responsibilities explained in the document?

Does the organization or person also have responsibilities or a role not related to subversive or hostile activities?

  • i.e., RCMP policing.
  • CSIS - security clearances in some cases.
  • intelligence gathering activities for other purposes these responsibilities described in the record?

If so, is the information solely concerned with the role/responsibilities in relation to subversive or hostile activities?

Does the information concern the other responsibilities?

  • If so, exemption inapplicable.
   

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(c)

Must relate to:

  • characteristics, capabilities, performance, potential, deployment, functions or role of these bodies
Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Show how the information relates to factors.

With respect to functions or role, does the information describe a specific function or role relating to the defence of Canada or the detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities.

If it does not describe a specific role relating to those functions, does it describe a role or function in general terms only?

(See grid below re: s. 15 injury test and discretion.)

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(d)

Must be obtained or prepared for the purpose of intelligence.

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment
Who prepared the record?
  • Canadian military?
  • Other government or organization?
  • If so, is this other government or organization in a state allied or associated with Canada?
  • If not, was the information prepared in a country or by a person who provided the information to the government of Canada?

Was the information provided by an intelligence-gathering organization in another country?

How did the institution obtain the information?

  • agreement/arrangement with other bodies
  • which bodies?
  • what is the purpose of the agreement/arrangement?

For what purpose did the institution obtain or prepare the record?

Was the information obtained as a result of an intelligence-gathering operation?

  • Describe.
  • Against a state allied or associated with Canada?

    Does the intelligence relate to the capability or plans of a foreign state to attack Canada or engage other acts of aggression?

    • If not, on what basis is the exemption claimed?

    Does the intelligence assess the capability of states allied or associated with Canada to defend Canada or themselves against attack or other acts of aggression?

    Does the intelligence relate to the assessment by other countries of Canada's position on matters relating to its defence?

    • Which matters?

    Does the information relate to a specific defence matter?

    Is the information general in nature?

    • If so, how does it add to the government's intelligence about the defence of Canada, i.e., how does it qualify as intelligence?
   

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(d)(i)

Intelligence must relate to defence of Canada or any state allied or associated with Canada.

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Show how the document provides intelligence relating to the defence of Canada or any state allied or associated with Canada.

Does the intelligence concern the defence of Canada or another state?

Is the state allied or associated with Canada?

  • Under what auspices?
  • Through the United Nations?
  • Is peacekeeping by Canadians involved?
  • What is the purpose of the peacekeeping mission?

Does the information relate intelligence about a foreign state not allied or associated with Canada

  • Which state?

Is this state engaged in or potentially engaged in an attack or other aggression against Canada

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(d)(ii)

Intelligence must relate to the detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities.

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Show how the intelligence relates to the detection, prevention of suppression of subversive or hostile activities.

Does the intelligence relate to an activity or potential for an activity set out in the definition of 'subversive or hostile activities' in s. 15(2)(a) to (f)?

  • See grid below for s. 15(2)(a) to (f).

Does the intelligence assist in the detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities?

  • How?

Does the intelligence relate to a specific activity or threat?

  • To a specific detection, prevention or suppression plan or operation?

Is the information general in nature?

  • If so, how does it add to the information about the activity or operation the government already has, i.e., how can it be regarded as 'intelligence'?

Refer also to s. 15 Injury and Discretion grids below.

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(d)(ii)

Intelligence must relate to the detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities.

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Show how the intelligence relates to the detection, prevention of suppression of subversive or hostile activities.

Does the intelligence relate to an activity or potential for an activity set out in the definition of 'subversive or hostile activities' in s. 15(2)(a) to (f)?

  • See grid below for s. 15(2)(a) to (f).

Does the intelligence assist in the detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities?

  • How?

Does the intelligence relate to a specific activity or threat?

  • To a specific detection, prevention or suppression plan or operation?

Is the information general in nature?

  • If so, how does it add to the information about the activity or operation the government already has, i.e., how can it be regarded as 'intelligence'?

Refer also to s. 15 Injury and Discretion grids below.

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met Paragraph 15(1)(e)

Must be obtained or prepared for the purpose of intelligence.

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Who prepared the record?

  • Canadian government?
  • Canadian government institution?
  • Foreign state?
  • International organization of states?
  • Citizen of a foreign state?
  • Other body:?
    • Who?
    • Relationship to Canadian government.

How did the government institution obtain the document?

  • From public sources (publications, speeches, newspapers - see below)?
  • By agreement or arrangement with other state or body?
    • Which bodies?
    • What is the purpose of the agreement or arrangement?

For what purpose did the government institution obtain or prepare the document?

Why did the party who provided the information provide it to the government institution?

Is the information specific in nature?

What did it add to the government's information or knowledge about the subject area?

If it is general only, what is the basis for the claim that it is 'intelligence'?

If the information was obtained from public sources, what is the basis for the claim that it is intelligence?

  • Obscure public sources?
  • Compilation?
  • Specialized?

 

 

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(e)

Intelligence must concern foreign states, international organizations of states or citizens of foreign states.

Must be used by the Government of Canada in the process of deliberation and consultation or conduct of international affairs.

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

What is the information about?

Is it about a foreign state?

  • International organization of states?
  • Citizens of foreign states?
  • Specify.

How did the government apply or use the information?

  • To deliberate on international affairs?
  • To develop Canadian position on international affairs?
  • To consult on international affairs?
    • With whom?

Specify how the intelligence was used in the conduct of international affairs.

Specify the subject matter of any deliberations or consultations.

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met

EITHER:

  • Methods and scientific or technical equipment used for collecting, assessing or handling intelligence.
Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Does the information describe how intelligence is gathered?

Are these methods specialized in nature?

If the source of the intelligence is public, is the method for collecting it specialized or in need of confidentiality?

  • Why?

If the information describes equipment, is the equipment scientific or technical?

Does the equipment have a specialized use for intelligence gathering purposes?

If the equipment has general use, what is the basis for the claim under s. 15(1)(f)?

What activity is the method or equipment used for?

Is the collection, assessment or handling of the information done covertly or by use of generally available or public facilities?

If generally available or public facilities, what is the basis of the claim under s. 15(1)(f)?

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(f)

Sources of intelligence.

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Does the information reveal intelligence sources?

  • How?

Does it identify human sources?

  • By name?
  • By location?
  • By code?

Are the human sources identifiable?

Could the existence of sources (without identification) be generally assumed?

Is the existence of sources generally known?

Why must the existence of sources (without identifying them) be kept confidential?

  • Particularly with respect to s. 15(1)(f).
   

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(g)

Information must reveal a position adopted or to be adopted position must be adopted for the purpose of international negotiations.

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Does the information reveal a position of the Canadian government, foreign government or international organizations on an issue?

  • What issue?

Does the record contain background or descriptions of issues?

Is there any claim to exempt these portions of the record?

  • On what basis?

Is the issue on which a position is revealed a specific issue?

Is the issue the subject of international negotiations?

  • Who is party to the negotiations?
  • What is the purpose of the negotiations?
   

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(g)

Negotiations must be present or future - not past negotiations. 
Special attention should be paid to the injury and discretion test where this exemption is claimed.

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Have the negotiations begun?

Are they finished?

Has the issue described in the record been dealt with in the negotiations?

If yes, is final resolution of this issue dependent on the outcome of other issues?

Have these other issues been negotiated?

If the issue is not dependent on unresolved issues and has been resolved, what is the basis for the claim under s. 15(1)(g)?

See Injury Test and Discretion portion of grids below.

If negotiations have not begun, when are they scheduled to begin?

Has there been an agreement to negotiate?

  • Is this agreement or schedule recorded?
  • Ask to see or ask for an outline.

If negotiations were begun in the past, are they ongoing?

Were the negotiations stopped at any point?

Have they resumed?

If not, are they scheduled to resume?

If not scheduled to resume, what is the basis for the claim under s. 15(1)(g)?

Is it publicly known that the negotiations are taking place?

Has the government enunciated or revealed its objectives with respect to the negotiations?

Have other governments, international organizations revealed their objectives?

Has the government / organization made its position public?

  • Speeches?
  • Before Parliamentary Committee?
  • House of Commons?
  • News releases?
  • Publications?
  • Advice to domestic stakeholders, affected groups from the government?
   

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(h)

Diplomatic correspondence OR
Official correspondence with Canadian diplomatic missions or consular posts.

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Is the record diplomatic correspondence?

Does the correspondence concern international affairs?

What is the subject matter of the correspondence?

Is the recipient a foreign state or international organization of states?

Is the subject matter of the correspondence confidential - why?

Does the correspondence concern a position of the Government of Canada or other matter that is publicly known?

Is the correspondence directed to a Canadian mission or consular post?

Is it official in nature?

Does it deal with specific issues relating to the conduct of international affairs?

Is it administrative in nature?

  • If so, what is the basis for the claim under s. 15(1)(h)?
   

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)(h)

Special attention should be paid to the injury and discretion tests where this exemption is contained.

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Does the correspondence concern a position of the Government of Canada that is publicly known?

Is the content of the correspondence sensitive in nature?

Does the other country make this kind of information public?

Did the originator and recipient transmit the correspondence for diplomatic purposes or with respect to international relations?

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met Subparagraph 15(1)(i)

Communications or cryptographic systems of Canada or foreign state.

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Does the information describe communications systems of Canada?

Are these general public facilities?

Do they rely on publicly used telecommunications facilities?

Are the communications systems dedicated to the uses in 15(1) or are they used for other purposes as well?

Who has access to or who can use the systems?

  • Restricted use?
  • General staff use?

Does the information reveal cryptographic systems?

  • Is the system currently used?
  • Is the existence of the cryptographic system known?

How are the communications or cryptographic systems used?

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met Subparagraph 15(1)(i)

  • Must be used for the conduct of international affairs.
  • For the defence of Canada or any state allied with Canada.
  • In relation to the detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities.

 

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

See definition of subversive or hostile activities in s. 15(2).

Is the purpose defence-related or civilian?

Is the system used to communicate with other countries?

  • With international organizations?
  • With Canadian missions or consular posts?

Does it carry subject matter related to international matters?

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met Subparagraph 15(1)

General applicability

Information relating to :

(1)The conduct of international affairs.

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

If a particular paragraph in 15(1)(a) to (i) does not apply:

Is the information similar in nature to that described in paragraphs 15(1)(a) - (i)?

  • how?

If not similar to 15(1)(a) to (i):

How does the information relate to the conduct of international affairs?

Does it describe or analyze Canada's role internationally?

  • in what respect?

Does it assess Canada's performance in international matters?

Does it describe the role of other countries in international affairs?

Does it assess their domestic or foreign policies?

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met Subsection 15(1)

(2) the defence of Canada or any state allied or associated with Canada

Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

If the information is not similar to a paragraph in 1. 15(1)(a) to (i), how does it relate to the defence of Canada or any state allied or associated with Canada?

  • Specify.

Does the information describe government action or policy affecting military positions or activities?

  • Of Canada?
  • Of any state allied or associated with Canada?
  • Name country
  • Of other countries?

If other countries, does the information concern actual or potential attack or other aggression against Canada or an allied/associated state?

What does the aggression consist of?

Is it military in nature?

Does it involve an incursion on Canadian sovereignty?

Does it involve a show of force or violence?

Does the information relate to the detection of such attacks or aggression?

  • To attempted detection?

Does it relate to the suppression of such attacks or suppression?

  • To plans for suppression?

Does it relate to prevention of such attacks or aggression?

  • Plans for prevention?

Have the plans been carried out?

  • Was this done covertly?

If the plans were carried out in a visible way, were they reported on or described by the military involved?

Are they generally known by the public?

If the information is simply descriptive of attacks or other acts of aggression by foreign countries, what is the basis for the claim under ss 15(1) and 15(2)?

See injury and discretion tests.

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met Subsection 15(1)

OR:

(3) Subversive or hostile activities:

  • Must be described by s. 15(2) definition.
  • Must be information relating to the detection, prevention or suppression of these activities.
Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Is the information described in the subsection 15(2) definition, paragraphs (a)to (f)

  • Which section?

Does the information relate to the detection of such activities?

  • to attempted detection?
  • to plans for detection?

Does it relate to prevention of these activities?

  • to a plan for prevention?

Does it relate to suppression of these activities?

  • to plans for suppression?

Have the plans been carried out?

  • was this a covert operation?

Did prevention or suppression involve arrests of individuals, court or other public proceedings?

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met Subsection 15(1) Subsection 15(1)

(3) Subversive or hostile activities:

  • Activities described in paragraph 15(2)(a) to (f) should have subversive or hostile purpose.
Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Did the activities described in paragraphs 15(2)(a) to (f) have a subversive or hostile purpose directed at the government or citizens of Canada

  • i.e., was sabotage directed at a private commercial enterprise or at the government or public
  • i.e., were intelligence gathering activities directed at Canada/allied states for a subversive or hostile purpose against the government or public of Canada/allied state

Examples of information falling within s. 15(2):

  • The names or identities of human sources utilized by the RCMP and CSIS as well as any information from which the identity of human sources could be derived.
  • Technical sources used by the Security Service.
  • Identification of both groups and individuals who were investigated by the Security Service and, in some cases, who continue to be investigated by CSIS.
  • Information which would clearly reveal the extent to which the Security Service was aware of the activities of targets and the scope of its interest in them.
  • The depth, development and sophistication of the resources employed, as well as the degree of expertise of the Security Service.
  • The effectiveness of Security Service investigation.
  • Internal procedures used by the Security Service to maintain, correlate and transmit information such as, file numbers and categories; cross-referencing methods; extracting methods; methods of constructing reports' process of assessing raw information; and cryptographic systems used for communication.
   

 

Statement of Test to be Met Subsection 15(1)

INJURY

  • Disclosure could reasonably be expected to be injurious.
  • Must be specific harm.
Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Is the information current?

How old is the information?

If not current, does it have any relevance to the present conduct of international affairs, defence of Canada or detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities?

  • Describe how.

What is the harm that could arise from disclosure?

Is the harm specific in nature?

Does the harm relate to a specific conflict?

  • Military activity?
  • Relations with a specific country or international organization?
  • Counter-subversive/terrorist activity?
  • Covert action?
  • Diplomatic undertaking/effort?
  • Other example?

How will disclosure be injurious to these events, activities or undertakings?

   

 

Statement of Test to be Met 15(1)

INJURY:

  • Harm must be caused by disclosure not by a prior event or by prior publicity.
Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Does the information concern positions or activities made public?

  • By the government?
  • In the press?
  • By other countries?

If so, what additional injury is anticipated from disclosure?

Does the information describe subject matter generally known by the public in Canada or in other countries?

What injury or additional injury arises because of disclosure?

Has similar information been disclosed in the past?

Was there injury as a result of such disclosure?

  • How much?
  • Describe the injury?

Look at questions for paragraphs 15(1)(a) to (i) dealing with public nature of military, diplomatic, international activities.

Stale negotiations or positions?

In relation to paragraphs 15(1)(a) and (c)

  • Has the operation or exercise concluded?
  • How long ago did it take place?
  • Has the information reporting on the operation/exercises been made public or reported?
  • If the information relates to past operations, how does disclosure prejudice current or future exercises/operations or the defence of Canada?

In relation to paragraphs 15(1)(b), (c)

  • Is weapon or unit developed, in use?
  • If procured from outside the government, assess the degree of publicly available information.
  • If information is publicly available, how would disclosure prejudice deployment or use of the weapon.
  • Assess degree to which unit's role and activities is known.

In relation to paragraphs 15(1)(d), (e)

  • How old is the information?
  • If information is over twenty years old, (i.e. the limit used in section 16), how would disclosure prejudice the gathering of intelligence for the purposes set out in (d) and (e)?
  • Does the information in the records consist of publicly available information - why would injury arise from its disclosure?
  • Is the subject matter still an intelligence target?
  • If not, how would disclosure prejudice ongoing intelligence gathering.

In relation to paragraph 15(1)(h)

  • Is the content of the correspondence sensitive?

    Describe why.

  • Has the other country indicated the information is confidential or that they would not consent to disclosure?
  • Was an undertaking of confidentiality given?
  • How would relations with other countries be prejudiced by disclosure?

In relation to paragraphs 15(1)(f), (i)

  • Is the equipment, system currently in use?
  • How long has it not been in use?
  • If it is not in use, what prejudice to the use of current equipment, codes, systems, would disclosure create?

In relation to paragraph 15(1)(g)

Paragraph (g) only applies to present negotiations

  • Have the negotiations on this item concluded?
  • Has the government made its position in the negotiations public or circulated it to affected stakeholders?
  • If so, what harm arises from disclosure to others?
  • Would disclosure have a chilling effect on the negotiations - how?
  • Are the negotiations premised on confidentiality - why?
   

 

Statement of Test to be Met Subsection 15(1)

DISCRETION: Section 15 is a discretionary exemption. 

The government institution is required to: 

  1. Consider disclosing the record notwithstanding it is described by s. 15. 
  2. To consider disclosure in light of :
  • The kind of injury identified in the text of the section.
  • The intent of the section.
  • The intent of the Act.
Relevant Questions Departmental Response Assessment

Has the [head of the] government institution considered disclosing the record?

  • Why was it decided not to disclose?
  • This assessment must go beyond concluding that the information is described in section 15.

Relevant factors could include:

  1. Whether there has been disclosure in the past.
  2. Whether disclosure could have the effect of stabilizing situations, reassuring the public.
  3. Whether disclosure would have a chilling effect in the supply of similar information to the government from other governments, or international organizations.
  4. The degree of injury arising from disclosure.
  5. Whether there are special circumstances giving rise to the request that merit disclosure.
  6. Disclosure as a means of enhancing public awareness of issues related to international affairs, defence, detection, prevention, detection of subversive or hostile activities.

See also grid on Discretionary Exemptions.

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