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Minutes of Proceedings of the Sub-Committee of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs

TUESDAY, JUNE 7, 1994

(1)

{Text}

The Sub-Committee of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs on National Security met at 5:05 p.m. this day, in Room 308, West Block, the Clerk presiding, for the purpose of organization.

Members of the Sub-Committee present: Michel Bellehumeur, Shaughnessy Cohen, Patrick Gagnon, Derek Lee and Val Meredith.

In attendance: From the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament: Philip Rosen, Senior Analyst.

The Sub-Committee commenced consideration of its Order of Reference dated Thursday, June 2, 1994, being read as follows:

Ordered:- That pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)(a) and (b) a Sub-Committee on National Security, composed of 6 Members, 4 Members of the Liberal Party, 1 Member from the Bloc Quebecois, 1 Member from the Reform Party, be established with all the powers of the Committee except the power to report to the House; and pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) the mandate of the said Sub-Committee shall be to review and consider the budgets and the propriety and efficacy of the functions performed and the powers exercised by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the RCMP Criminal Intelligence Directorate and their relationships with all agencies with which they have a memorandum of understanding or other working arrangements; the Annual Report to Parliament of the Security Intelligence Review Committee; all Special Reports made by SIRC under section 54 of the CSIS Act, the operations of SIRC on behalf of Parliament; the Annual Statement on National Security made by the Solicitor General; the Annual Public Report made by the Director of CSIS.

On motion of Shaughnessy Cohen, it was agreed. - That Derek Lee be elected Chair of the Sub-Committee.

Derek Lee took the Chair.

On motion of Patrick Gagnon, it was agreed. - That Shaughnessy Cohen be elected Vice-Chair of the Sub-Committee.

It was agreed. - That the Sub-Committee print the number of copies of its Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence as established by the Board of Internal Economy.

On motion of Val Meredith, it was agreed. - That the Chair be authorized to hold meetings in order to receive and authorize the printing of evidence when a quorum is not present, provided that one Member from the Government and one from the Opposition be present.

On motion of Shaughnessy Cohen, it was agreed. - That the Sub-Committee retain the services of one or more research officers from the Library of Parliament, as needed, to assist the Sub-Committee in its work, at the discretion of the Chair.

On motion of Shaughnessy Cohen, it was agreed. - That the Clerk of the Sub-Committee be authorized to distribute, in their original language, the documents received from the public and that the Clerk of the Sub-Committee ensure that such documents are translated and the translation distributed as promptly as possible.

On motion of Shaughnessy Cohen, it was agreed. - That, at the discretion of the Chair, reasonable travelling expenses, as per the regulations established by the Board of Internal Economy, be paid to witnesses invited to appear before the Committee, and that for such payment of expenses a limit of two (2) representatives per organization be established.

It was agreed. - That the Sub-Committee will meet next week, in camera for a briefing session by the Senior Analyst.

At 5:20 o'clock p.m., the Sub-Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.

TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 1994

(2)

Sub-Committee of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs on National Security met in camera at 12:35 o'clock p.m., this day, in Room 371, West Block, the Chair, Derek Lee, presiding.

Members of the Sub-Committee present: Michel Bellehumeur, Shaughnessy Cohen, Derek Lee, Val Meredith and Tom Wappel.

In attendance: From the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament: Philip Rosen, Senior Analyst.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)(a) and (b) and the Order of Reference of June 2, 1994 of the Standing Committee to the Sub-Committee, the Sub-Committee resumed its business. (See minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, dated Tuesday, June 7, 1994, Issue No. 1).

Philip Rosen briefed the Sub-Committee.

The Sub-Committee proceeded to the consideration of its future business.

At 2:00 o'clock p.m., the Sub-Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 1994

(3)

Sub-Committee of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs on National Security met in camera at 3:30 o'clock p.m. this day, in Room 307, West Block, the Chair, Derek Lee, presiding.

Members of the Sub-Committee present: Shaughnessy Cohen, Patrick Gagnon, Derek Lee, Val Meredith and Tom Wappel.

In attendance: From the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament: Philip Rosen, Senior Analyst.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)(a) and (b) and the Order of Reference of June 2, 1994 of the Standing Committee to the Sub-Committee, the Sub-Committee began consideration of certain questions and issues raised in relation to disclosure on certain operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). (See Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, dated Tuesday, June 7, 1994, Issue #1).

The Sub-Committee proceeded to the consideration of its future business.

At 4:30 o'clock p.m., the Sub-Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.

Supply GOVERNMENT ORDERS

{Translation}

SUPPLY
ALLOTTED DAY - CANADIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE ACTIVITIES

Mr. Francois Langlois (Bellechassee) moved:

That this House denounces the government for its refusal to set up a Royal Commission of inquiry on the illegal activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

He said: Madam Speaker, one word was omitted from the text of the motion. I would ask for my colleagues' consent for this word to be deemed included in the motion. The word "alleged" should appear before "illegal activities" so that the motion would read as follows:

That this House denounces the government for its refusal to set up a Royal Commission of inquiry on the alleged illegal activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Does the hon. member have the consent of the House to amend his motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mr. Langlois: Madam Speaker, today the Official Opposition moves the following motion:

That this House denounces the government for its refusal to set up a Royal Commission of inquiry on the alleged illegal activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

* (1035)

This motion has become necessary following the allegations made about the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in recent months and the events revealed and corroborated during the same period.

In addition, the many obstacles encountered by the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on National Security chaired by the hon. member for Scarborough - Rouge River make it even more imperative to set up a royal commission of inquiry responsible for investigating the alleged actions of CSIS.

CSIS has become a state within a state as it is answerable only to the Security Intelligence Review Committee, commonly known as SIRC, which reports to the Solicitor General himself who, in turn, discloses to the House only some of the few elements he deems relevant.

Although the enabling legal provisions give SIRC very wide powers of investigation, the fact remains that it controls only the elements voluntarily submitted by CSIS.

The very membership of the Review Committee greatly undermines our trust in this institution. In fact, of its five members, three were appointed on the recommendation of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and one on the recommendation of the New Democratic Party of Canada. These two parties no longer enjoy official status in the current Parliament.

Without enforcement legislation, a simple sense of ethics would dictate that the people appointed on the recommendation of political parties no longer recognized in this House should resign so that the Review Committee can reflect the current membership of this House as elected by the people last October 25.

The Official Opposition, the Bloc Quebecois, and the second opposition party, the Reform Party, should then be represented on the Review Committee. However, this would only be a provisional measure until the act is amended to abolish the Review Committee and restrict to parliamentarians the power to control and monitor CSIS.

What could be more normal and healthy in a democracy that this function falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of elected officials? Our American neighbors have shown us the way by demonstrating for many decades that such a system of parliamentary control is the only one acceptable in a free and democratic society.

The royal commission whose creation we are calling for today is in no way intended to compete with the Sub-Committee on National Security. All the Official Opposition is asking for is to obtain the most results in the least amount of time.

We fully recognize the legitimacy and authority of the Sub-Committee on National Security and we also acknowledge that Parliament never abdicated its powers to CSIS or its Review Committee. Nevertheless, given the present situation and the composition of the Review Committee, we must expect parliamentary guerrilla war with the members of SIRC instead of full and total cooperation from them.

Creating a royal commission would keep members of the Review Committee from using delaying tactics to avoid being accountable.

Last week, the Solicitor General, in answer to a question from the Official Opposition, refused to set up a royal commission on the pretext that SIRC's internal verification was sufficient.

* {1040}

You need only see how the meeting of the Sub-Committee on National Security went on September 13 to realize that SIRC members are past masters in the art of subterfuge, rather than an investigation. The minister should definitely review what happened at that meeting. He would see that clearly the Sub-Committee on National Security would not obtain from the members of SIRC the full and entire co-operation which it is entitled to.

We would find grounds for reviewing his position and establishing a royal commission of inquiry without delay. We cannot remain in the dark where SIRC is keeping us, when serious charges have been levelled against CSIS. Let us see what these charges are. First CSIS is accused of having used (unreadable) Grant Bristow to set up or infiltrate the Heritage Front, a Canadian neo-Nazi organization based in Toronto which advocates white supremacy. The purpose of this organization is directly contrary to the values of Quebec and Canada, as proclaimed many times in our most important laws.

Grant Bristow reportedly continued his work or was recycled as a bodyguard of the leader of the Reform Party of Canada in the last election campaign. This Reform "volunteer" was allegedly well paid by CSIS for doing this infiltration work. We are entitled to know whether the Reform Party of Canada, which has no other ambition than to take power through the normal democratic channels, was infiltrated on CSIS's orders or with its knowledge or if some ill-intentioned individual, following written or verbal instructions, or with CSIS's guilty silence, penetrated the inner circles of the Reform Party.

Was the Reform Party of Canada at any time considered a threat to Canada by CSIS or by the Conservative government? We have eloquent proof in this House that the Reform Party was a real threat to the Progressive Conservative Party, but surely not to Canadian democratic institutions.

Is it possible that CSIS, either at the request of the Conservative government or on its own initiative decided to infiltrate the Reform Party, knowing that it was acting with complete impunity, since its review committee was controlled by a majority of people appointed by the Conservatives who, by virtue of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, were directly accountable to the Solicitor General of that same Conservative government.

If the Reform Party of Canada was indeed infiltrated and considered, at one time or another, to be a threat to Canada, what was the attitude of these people towards other opposition parties, including the Bloc Quebecois, whose ultimate political raison d'etre is to help Quebec become a sovereign state?

We want to know how CSIS was able to resist the temptation of finding out a little more about the Quebec sovereignist Movement. Let us not forget that, in the seventies, the RCMP (unreadable) the list of Parti Quebecois members, burned barns and also (unreadable) dynamite.

* (# unreadable)

Is it possible that CSIS may have decided to pursue similar activities? A royal commission of inquiry would, in all likelihood, provide the answer.

The Official Opposition is not the only one requesting that all the facts be known. The chairman of the Sub-Committee on National Security, the hon. member for Scarborough - Rouge River, also asked for some explanation, as reported by the media on September 13.

Another allegation was made against CSIS. Indeed, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation may have come under surveillance by CSIS after reporting that it was conducting an investigation into possible links between Heritage Front and some Canadian peacekeepers in Somalia. Given the behaviour of some soldiers in Somalia, the existence of such links is plausible.

Are Grant Bristow and other agents part of a plot by CSIS to spy on the CBC?

Another allegation made is to the effect that CSIS, Grant Bristow or other individuals who may or may not be related to the neo-nazi group Heritage Front have targeted the Canadian Jewish Congress, by leaking information on Canadian Jewish organizations to violent American racists, by promoting the use of violence by members of Heritage Front and by organizing a campaign to harass anti-racist leaders by telephone.

According to another allegation made, CSIS would have followed every step of French secret service agents interested in the Quebec sovereignist movement. Consequently, even if CSIS did not directly investigate Quebec sovereignist forces, which have been called "the enemy within", in this House by the member of Beaver River, it may have indirectly obtained privileged information through its contacts with the French foreign security services, the DGSE.

According to a Canadian Press dispatch published in Le Journal de Quebec on Friday, September 9, 1994, CSIS is said to have infiltrated the Canadian Union of Postal Workers during a labour conflict to provide useful information to Canada Post management. The same newspaper also reported that other documents confirmed the existence of a link between CSIS and some foreign secret service organizations, including Mossad in Israel and the secret services in Italy and Jamaica.

Finally, some light should be shed regarding claims made by Brian McInnis, an advisor to former Solicitor General Doug Lewis, who admitted violating the law by giving a confidential note to the Toronto Star. Mr. McInnis added that CSIS also violated the law by infiltrating the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, because the network was inquiring into possible links between the racist organization Heritage Front and Canadian peacekeepers in Somalia. Following these allegations, the RCMP arrested Mr. McInnis and thoroughly searched his home.

As you can see, some serious accusations have been made and too many questions remain unanswered. Even though the Sub-Committee on national security will look into this issue, the Official Opposition remains convinced that only a royal commission of inquiry with a very wide mandate can inform Quebecers and Canadians on CSIS activities.

* (1050)

{English}

Mrs. Val Meredith (Surrey - White Rock - South Langley): Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this issue. I am a bit surprised by the fascination of members of the Bloc with this case. They appear to be very disappointed that they were not the organization or the political party with which CSIS was involved. It seems to be a clear case of CSIS envy.

The attitude of the Bloc must be questioned. The original motion shows an inclination to condemn the government for the refusal to initiate a royal commission on the illegal activities of · (1050)

{English}

Mrs. Val Meredith (Surrey - White Rock - South Langley): Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this issue. I am a bit surprised by the fascination of members of the Bloc with this case. They appear to be very disappointed that they were not the organization or the political party with which CSIS was involved. It seems to be a clear case of CSIS envy.

The attitude of the Bloc must be questioned. The original motion shows an inclination to condemn the government for the refusal to initiate a royal commission on the illegal activities of CSIS rather than the allegation. I think the Bloc gets ahead of itself in this particular matter.

I have often listened to the Bloc accuse the Reform Party of using wild west justice and of being awfully tough on crime, but at least we believe people are innocent until they are proven guilty. The Bloc seems already to be assuming the guilt of CSIS before in fact it has been proven as such.

There are a number of allegations out there and I have more than a few of them myself, but I am not aware at this time of any evidence that CSIS was involved in illegal activities.

There is a significant amount of evidence, however, that someone was involved in wrongdoing. But was it CSIS that was responsible for this wrongdoing, or was it Grant Bristow who was responsible, or was it the previous government?

How can the Bloc accuse CSIS of committing illegal activities when the investigations are presently being conducted? I am not the biggest fan of the Security Intelligence Review Committee and that is quite obvious. I am prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt until the report is tabled.

SIRC is actively investigating the role of CSIS in this issue. I know because I sat in on a SIRC interview. I know it is looking into it. I know it has spoken to a number of officials within the Reform Party. I know it has spoken to a number of people who have pertinent information about this case.

There is no reason to doubt the efficiency of the SIRC investigation. However, once the investigation is over we will get the report. At that time the pressure will be on committee members as to whether or not their report is accurate and whether their report is enough. Their integrity will be at stake at that time.

If there is evidence of wrongdoing by the previous government, will the Conservative members of SIRC enthusiastically pursue this information in their report? As the saying goes, only time will tell. I am encourage(d), however, that SIRC members have said they want the report to be as public as possible.

I am still concerned about what definition SIRC uses for national security and the reasons for national security. I will explain why I am concerned. On May 10, SIRC appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs. When discussing the role of CSIS in technology transfer, it mentioned it was limited to eight key sectors. When asked to identify those eight key sectors, the response was: "We are not at liberty to identify those eight key sectors."

Exactly one week earlier then director of CSIS , Mr. Ray Protti, had appeared before the same justice committee. He too chose to talk about technology transfer. He stated that the investigation was" "in those in those high technology areas like (unreadable) space, nuclear, biochemical and telecommunications."

Here is an example of where the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was being more open than the review body. This certainly does not bode well for a truly open and public report. However we must give SIRC the opportunity to come up with the report. Its report will then go to the Solicitor General who I understand will determine what will be released.

* (1055)

The Solicitor General has assured the House that it is its objective: "to make as much as possible the report public." He went on to state that he would seek legal advice to help him make up his mind on how much he could make public.

I would like to give him a little advice now. Everything should be released except the information about CSIS sources other than Grant Bristow. There is no reason why the entire issue cannot be discussed openly.

While no one has ever accused members of the Heritage Front of being Rhodes Scholars, it is safe to assume even they have figured out that CSIS was investigating them. Likewise I think it is a safe bet to assume they now think Grant Bristow was a source. There really is nothing left to hid. Why would we even try?

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