Evidence of meeting #64 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was csis.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

You were critical about the fact that there is 100% backing for the government institution, whereas for privates it is 90%, I think. Is that still the case? Has the government listened to some of those concerns?

7:30 p.m.

Prof. Jane Londerville

There's nothing in the bill that addresses that.

CMHC is 100% backed just because it's a crown corporation. I think somehow we need to get to a point where everybody has the same backing. It could be 50%. They could spin off the mortgage insurance business out of CMHC and have everybody have a 50% guarantee. I don't care what it is, as long as it's the same for everybody.

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

What percentage of the market is shared by the public sector?

7:30 p.m.

Prof. Jane Londerville

CMHC has about 70% of the mortgage insurance market.

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Is its percentage going down?

7:30 p.m.

Prof. Jane Londerville

No.

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

It's not.

Okay, good. Thank you.

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you, Mr. Van Kesteren.

Monsieur Mai, s'il vous plâit, pour cinq minutes.

May 29th, 2012 / 7:30 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Kennedy, I'm really curious because I think Ms. Glover mentioned that when the officials were here and we asked them questions—and I think Ms. Nash has said it—they were basically telling us there was duplication and they just wanted to make it easier and save a bit of money.

You wrote a piece on May 11. I would say it is quite alarming in the sense that you are saying we are cutting the eyes and ears of the minister.

Maybe that's why it has been put in this bill and that we at the finance committee are looking at it, so that we understand what's happening.

I know you've been there. You've worked for 20 years, if I'm not mistaken, in public security. Can you tell us, should we be worried that we're cutting the Inspector General's position and the role of the Inspector General?

7:30 p.m.

As an Individual

Paul Kennedy

What you should be concerned about is if your primary objective is to get rid of fat within the system to address the deficit problem and things like that, you look at fat, but you're stuck now with a policy issue that you're not equipped by your expertise, obviously, to look at. Your expertise is in finance, your expertise isn't over here. So you assume that yes, there's a million dollars, you save a million dollars, so we're ahead of the game.

What you're not being told is why those structures were put in place in the first place. You had about a two-year long royal commission of inquiry headed by a superior court judge where you had criminal charges laid against people. You had a unique combined House of Commons and Senate committee sitting to craft this piece of legislation. We're one of the first in the world to create legislation to set out a mandate for an intelligence service, so we were unique in that way. We addressed the problem. We said there was a problem and we were going to take care of it. And there were abuses.

So now you have a regime that you have no background on, no knowledge on. There's a series of calls by various commissions and even some oversight bodies to strengthen the regime. You do nothing to strengthen the regime, and yet here you are pulling away a piece without realizing what you're doing.

Now, it's eyes and ears, because as I said—and I'm not exaggerating—the minister is personally accountable for those intelligence officers. That was the way the model was, because the public can't be involved in it. So the public's assurances are that we have a responsible minister and he's on the hook for this, and he's informed and can do the job and deliver it for us.

With the RCMP, they're independent in terms of who they investigate and when. If they get in trouble, it's all in the public. It plays out in public. This is a covert intelligence agency, so these vehicles are put in there to allow the minister to control it so that he can give the public those assurances. One of the tools that's there is being removed.

You have to remember.... Fine, I've dealt with CSIS for a long time and I have many friends there and I admire them, but I'll say the same thing I said to my colleagues at the RCMP, which I dealt with for 36 years, who wanted to be involved in what oversight powers they had. I said the horse doesn't get to select the saddle. The Mounties don't decide who has oversight on them and to what extent. For anyone to sit here and possibly think that because CSIS doesn't like this, CSIS should be accommodated and it should be removed is sheer insanity. It really is. CSIS doesn't get to make that call.

Your job is to give the public the assurances and make sure the tools are there to give it. If you come up with a better model, fine, but do it in a comprehensive fashion. Don't do it as a money-saving effort, because CSIS wants it and it looks easy. That would be, with the greatest respect, the height of irresponsibility. It really would be.

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

You say here that the minister is responsible for a portfolio that employs some 40,000 individuals, of which CSIS is one portion. How can the minister possibly fulfill his responsibilities to the public and ensure that CSIS hasn't stepped over the line? You answer that the reality is he cannot.

7:35 p.m.

As an Individual

Paul Kennedy

He personally cannot. That's why he needs tools there. He needs someone whose job it is and who's accountable to the minister. As a minister, when I give a ministerial direction or I approve a policy, someone has to make sure those guys adhere to that, and if they don't, I want to know because my neck is on the line because I'm giving assurances to Parliament, I'm giving assurances to the public.

Parliament has no access to that information. Parliament has to take the assurance of the minister. If the minister is not in a position to give the assurances, Parliament is weakened. You can't do your job, and this is the same Parliament that had been asking for years to have a parliamentary committee to do oversight of CSIS, which would be very difficult to do because of its highly classified operational information.

So we have this interim step. That's why it's there.

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

You're over time.

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Very quickly, could you—

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Mr. Mai, actually, you're over time, but there may be time for another round, so we'll come back to you.

Ms. Glover, please.