House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was csis.


International Conference On PopulationRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

York West Ontario


Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Madam Speaker, I welcome this morning the opportunity to report to my federal colleagues of this House on the international conference on population and development held in Cairo earlier this month, at which I had the privilege of being the leader of the Canadian delegation.

As head of that delegation I would like to express the government's sincere thanks to the very able Canadian negotiators who piloted through the program of action on Canada's behalf, a group of dedicated public servants who served our country with distinction.

I should also mention the work done by a multiplicity of support staff that worked long and hard from morning to evening in those discussions. Many times we forget that those are the officials who worked for several years leading up to this conference and sometimes at the conference it is the heads of the states or the leaders of the delegations who get the limelight or the credit as well as the blame when perhaps things do not go per course. I think it is important for all of us to signal to them our appreciation for the kind of public service they have rendered on our behalf.

Canada not only played a useful role as one of the many countries assembled in Cairo, but I would suggest Canada played a tremendous facilitating role. Canada was very much a builder of bridges among different countries that perhaps had different views and yes, some very hard concerns about certain aspects of the draft action plan.

Canada did not try to seek the limelight and speak in the public arena every day but there was a lot of behind the scenes work in trying to foster those rapports, in trying to keep channels open and also being respectful of the different opinions, whether they be political, whether they be cultural or whether they be religious. In terms of the Holy See, I think Canada among the western countries had probably one of the better pipelines that remained open with the Holy See and others. That is the kind of internationalism that Canada has made a very proud tradition for herself.

It was a truly rewarding experience as a participant to see such a remarkable degree of consensus on sensitive and controversial issues that strike at the very heart of the human condition.

There were over 180 delegations from far and wide representing various political systems, cultures and religions. They agreed on a comprehensive program of action.

As an international blueprint for change the program of action represents a springboard for advancement on both population and development. It brings together the approaches of the past which focused on demographics and development. In the seventies in Bucharest the answer was development. It was seen as the panacea in terms of trying to deal with both population on the one hand and between the nations that do the consumption. Yet that did not work.

In the eighties the whole question was the demographics, somehow arbitrary numbers brought down from thin air and probably forced upon people and nations the globe over. That did not work either.

In the 1990s as a result of Cairo we have seen the convergence of both family planning and development, both for the individual as well as for that country. It think it is through the convergence of those two forces that hopefully we will be able to unlock a number of problematic doors that have faced the international community.

Cairo also recognized the vital role of women in achieving social and economic goals. We mentioned in our speech from the platform, as Mahatma Gandhi once said, when you educate a man you educate an individual; when you educate a woman you educate an entire community and family. I think there is something to that. Some people get worried when we say empowerment of women.

If we look at what that means the empowerment of women is also the empowerment of family. It is the woman in many families who is the centrepiece and the anchor. Therefore if we accentuate her role, her opportunities, her rights we clearly buoy up the entire family which many times she is responsible for.

Governments agreed not only to talk but to act, to take action on reducing mortality rates of mothers and infants, on ensuring equal education opportunities for girls, access to employment opportunities for women, and pay more attention to the reproductive health needs of adolescence and improving access and availability of basic health care.

At the end of the day when it came time to commit our fellow world citizens came to a degree of consensus which was unprecedented at similar population conferences in the past. I know that before going to Cairo there was controversy on various elements of the draft action plan. Yet that seemed to dominate the discussion, certainly the media attention and we forgot that as a complicated, complex diverse world this document enjoyed before the first gavel ever hit the desk 90 per cent agreement.

Why is 90 per cent agreement on a document such a bad thing? If I got 90 per cent at high school or university I would have been a rocket scientist. If one of our parties would have attained 90 per cent of the seats across the country we would have been superstars in terms of our political organization.

Why is it that when a diverse world comes together and agrees on 90 per cent of the document somehow it has to be seen as a negative or a failure because we have the last ten yards to go and those are the toughest?

There was more that united this world in its action plan than divided it. One of the most important things to come out of that conference was that delegates took a new approach to population issues. Instead of looking strictly at demographic targets, just the numbers, they widened their focus in an important way. They recognize that social and economic development is central to achieving a balance between the number of people on earth and their demands in terms of food, shelter and other basic necessities of life.

It was a real coming together of north and south, east and west, rich and poor. No one was dictating to anyone. Those days are clearly over. There was very much a question of consensus rather than suggesting by force or implications.

It was also heartening that the international migration issue was treated in a truly comprehensive and balanced way for the first time in a forum of this kind. Governments recognized not only the negatives in terms of the mass of humanity that is on the move, some 150 million people strong, but also the positive benefits of migration. We were also able to bring one of those positive messages.

Despite the challenges and difficulties that still confront us, we were also prepared to admit that the force of migration helped to build a country called Canada. That was something the international representatives, both NGOs and governments, had not heard enough of in terms of simply talking about the problems rather than also about the advantages.

Delegates also stressed the need for increased international co-operation to deal with the challenges that current migration trends present to all of us. We talked about prevention, protection and then integration of those migrants.

The Cairo program of action in international migration is the first to have been approved by this many nations.

It now provides a springboard for further progress on the international political level and on the daily operational level. Cairo has given Canada a relevant and practical tool for advancing its international migration agenda.

We need more bilaterals, more of a regime between and among countries if we are to deal competently with that movement of humanity. One country cannot do it alone. Canada should not be expected to do it alone. No country has the answers to that kind of dilemma.

If we put regimes together, if more countries keep their front doors open a little, it will make life not only easier and more bearable for those individuals seeking a home, it will also make life easier and more bearable for those countries that have done their share.

No one is responsible for the entire problem. Rather, we are each responsible for our share of that situation. We as members of the global community met in Cairo with a daunting task before us. There were many who predicted we would dissolve into disagreement, discord and disarray. We proved them wrong and we proved there is consensus and commitment in the world community to tackle global problems not only effectively but together.

The last message Canada brought on the closing days was that while the agreement provides us with that road map and that consensus, the agreement is only as good as its implementation. That too is a uniquely practical Canadian application of not simply being happy about an agreement but really rolling up our shirt sleeves making sure that individual member states follow up on the commitments we tied together in Cairo. Only then can we say that truly Cairo was a success. It clearly started as that and we in this country in co-operation with the United Nations will ensure that the individuals for whom this plan is intended will certainly see the fruits of our labour.

International Conference On PopulationRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Madam Speaker, the impressions we have brought back from the International Conference on Population in Cairo are too many to sum up in just a few minutes. But I would say that the two words that describe them the best are openness and progress.

I am glad that the minister shared with us this morning his thoughts about this international conference. It makes us realize the importance of such gatherings because when cultures and deep differences that shape nations come in contact, we can subscribe to the idea that discussion promotes openness, and openness promotes progress and the furtherance of ideas.

For us, Cairo was above all an occasion to voice major concerns that much not only be discussed in international fora but also in our target communities as well as in our parliamentary institutions.

I would like to emphasize an aspect of the conference that distressed me deeply as a parliamentarian and a woman, and that is the status of women. It remains a stumbling block, the central area in which progress needs to be made if our civilization is to embark upon the quest for the well-being of our people.

Suffering can affect both body and soul. Just think of the plight of millions of young women around the world who are subjected to what we call excision or infibulation.

In a world in which technology and science keep turning everything upside down on a daily basis in the way we live and think, two thirds of the 960 million illiterate persons on this planet are women.

Considering that life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 44 years for women and 40 for men, the tragic reality behind these figures shows strikingly the major imbalance between developing countries and industrialized countries. This geopolitical reality was palpable during discussions at the conference. The international community is faced with this implacable reality that concerns us all.

The attitude change in people world-wide on issues such as family planning, health and education, is a sign of modest progress in the status of women, although much remains to be done. I noticed how widespread were the concerns expressed by women about abortion legislation. I also noticed how government leaders can make overcautious statements on this issue, statements that do nothing to help women in their everyday lives. To avert a potential disaster for mankind, it is imperative that every woman in the world be given equal opportunity and the chance to achieve her potential. That is the message from Cairo, the message that must be sent out.

It must also be heard in this House. We must look at what has been accomplished in Canada in concrete term and how much progress remains to be done. I suggest to you that, while being ahead of many other countries on the issue of women status, Canada still has quite a long way to go.

Economic equality for women is still far from a sure thing. Women working for the federal government continue to be paid less than their male counterparts. Yet, we know that to further the cause of women and the state of the children requires that women and men be treated as equals.

It is also imperative that our government provide protection to women from foreign cultures by making illegal practices that adversely affect their basic rights. In fact, I would suggest that the government support the bill on the mutilation of feminine genitalia that I will be introducing today in this House, the purpose of which is precisely to protect a fair number of our Canadian women.

I would also ask the government to take all necessary steps to fight child poverty and to take action immediately.

International Conference On PopulationRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Madam Speaker, I also want to commend the public servants who worked on this program. I know a number of people in foreign affairs put in a lot of time on this.

Without really reviewing the conference and what happened, I would like to highlight a few facts where I think there would be agreement among all of us. Certainly over population is a threat and the world's sustainability is certainly dependent on us bringing this problem under control.

However, demographers and researchers have done an awful lot of work on this. It is a topic for study in universities. I am not sure that a conference of this magnitude would be necessary to discuss the fact that there is a problem.

Second, the empowerment of women, giving them greater control over their lives through increased access to education, health care, and increasing their economic contribution in developing countries should be strongly supported and would have our utmost support.

Uncontrolled migration is another major problem. We have seen what has happened in Rwanda and it is something that we must deal with. Making things better at home is one way to help uncontrolled migration.

It is rather a motherhood issue to say we would support the essentials of life, such as water, food and shelter. Certainly the preservation of basic human needs is vital and we are all concerned about that.

The spread of disease is another major issue that we must look at when we talk about populations. We have seen the spread of AIDS, how it started in Africa and what has happened since. We now have the plague in India and we see how quickly it has become a global problem.

We would like to emphasize the importance of the NGOs. They are on the spot, and in many cases understand the issues much better than governments do. Therefore, the promotion of the NGO community, helping with their funding as opposed to government to government grants is certainly commendable.

If we agree on all of these things then what do we find is the problem with the Cairo conference? What kinds of questions do we have to ask? Most obviously Canadians want to know if this was the best way to achieve the goals desirable in this world. One has to wonder just how much further we have come as a result of this conference and what will come out of it. What new and innovative matters were learned at this conference that we did not know before? Was a timetable established? Will that timetable be kept? Will there be action instead of just words?

Reference was made to the fact that a large part of the conference was the discussion of abortion. Both sides struggled to try to gain control of the conference. From a Reform Party standpoint we believe that abortion is up to the individual and not up to international bureaucrats.

Everyone agrees that increased wealth in countries leads to smaller families. Talks aimed at promoting open markets and economic diversification were really not discussed at this conference. While certain aspects of the economy were mentioned that did not seem to be leading to any concrete action.

We have to ask, was this a good expenditure of our funds? Canada sent a huge 28 person delegation to Cairo, including nine MPs. I was in Cairo last June. The tourism was great but we have to ask, did those 28 people have to go and what did they accomplish?

The estimated cost that we could find at this point was approximately $235,000 paid for by foreign affairs. In addition in preparatory arrangements about $2 million was spent on this conference. Canadians are asking questions about the cost. Why did we send that many people? Could this money have been spent more wisely in other ways? Was this conference simply a recipe for big government? The suggestion that more agencies should tell people what to do is the traditional western approach to global problems.

The Government of Canada should not be exporting politically correct agendas. The best way to help developing countries would be to promote open markets, economic diversification and development, and even more important, help improve educational opportunities for everyone around the world.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-277, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (circumcision of female persons).

Madam Speaker, this morning I am tabling my bill on the circumcision of female persons.

It is very important that the government give its support to this bill. We are all well aware that there is a movement in the world concerned with the issue of genital mutilation of females. That is why I encourage the government to support my bill.

We are well aware that this practice is carried on in Canada by immigrants to this country. The Cairo conference raised this important problem, one that is recognized by Egypt's population minister, who would like to see such a bill studied in the people's assembly of Egypt. I therefore hope that here in Canada, where we pride ourselves on our progressive stance in the area of legislation, we will move ahead, and that my bill will be debated and passed in this House.

(The motions are deemed adopted, the bill is read the first time and ordered to be printed.)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.


Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I would like to present some petitions this morning on behalf of several people who live in and around the Edmonton area.

The petitioners state that a majority of Canadians believe that the privileges which society accords to heterosexual couples should not be extended to same sex relationships.

They pray and request that Parliament not amend the human rights code, the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in any way which would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships and also not include the term, which is as yet undefined, sexual orientation in the human rights code.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.


Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Madam Speaker, I am presenting two more petitions today bringing the total to six petitions that I have presented this week on the subject of gun control.

An increasing number of Canadians are concerned the government has not recognized that we have a crime problem in this country and not a gun problem.

The petitions are coming into my office on a daily basis and the petitioners ask for strict enforcement of existing statutes governing the use of firearms in the commission of an offence, with particular emphasis on the rigorous use of section 85 of the Criminal Code.

The petitioners oppose further legislation on firearms acquisition and possession, and I agree with my petitioners.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.


André Caron Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I am tabling a petition containing the signatures of 1,500 Quebecers opposed to the closing of the VIA rail line between Montreal and Jonquière.

The petitioners are asking Parliament for a one-year moratorium on the anticipated reductions in service. They are also asking the Canadian government to hold public hearings so that those affected by losses of service can make known their disagreement with this decision.

As a representatvie of a remote area in Quebec experiencing serious economic problems, I support the action undertaken by the coalition to save the Montreal-Jonquière passenger train. I am opposed to the systematic dismantling of our rail infrastructures under the pretext that rail travel is an outmoded, antiquated form of transportation too expensive to maintain.

Without the railway, Quebec is deprived of an infrastructure that could be important to its economic development in the years to come.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.


Dale Johnston Reform Wetaskiwin, AB

Madam Speaker, under Standing Order 36 I am pleased to present a petition from Canadian citizens, most of whom are from my constituency.

These petitioners pray and request that Parliament not amend the human rights code, the human rights act or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in any way which would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships or homosexuality, including amendment to the human rights code to include prohibited grounds of discrimination.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.


Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, I have six petitions to present this morning, two of which are petitions where the petitioners pray and request that Parliament not amend the human rights code, the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in any way that would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships or of homosexuality, including amending the human rights code to include in the prohibited grounds of discrimination the undefined phrase of sexual orientation.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.


Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, in two petitions the petitioners are praying that Parliament act immediately to extend protection to the unborn child by amending the Criminal Code to extend the same protection enjoyed by born human beings to unborn human beings.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.


Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Finally, Madam Speaker, I have two petitions in which the petitioners do not want Parliament to rescind an act of Parliament or the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada on the right to die, on euthanasia.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.


Cliff Breitkreuz Reform Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I am pleased to rise to present seven petitions on behalf of my constituents from Yellowhead. Three of these petitions come from the communities of Neerlandia and Barrhead, two from the town of Hinton and one petition each from Onoway and Drayton Valley.

These petitioners ask that Parliament do the following: that Parliament not indicate societal approval of same sex relationships; that Parliament amend the Criminal Code to extend protection to unborn human beings; and that Parliament not sanction the aiding or abetting of suicide or active or passive euthanasia.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

Shall all questions be allowed to stand?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Some hon. members


Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

I wish to inform the House that pursuant to Standing Order 33(2)(b), because of the ministerial statement Government Orders will be extended by 20 minutes.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC


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.

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.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

Does the hon. member have the consent of the House to amend his motion?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Some hon. members


SupplyGovernment Orders

September 29th, 1994 / 10:30 a.m.


François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

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.

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 composition of the SIRC 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, could 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 than putting this function under the exclusive jurisdiction of elected officials? Our American neighbours 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 co-operation 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.

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 in investigation. The minister should definitely review what happened at that meeting. He would see that clearly the Sub-Committee on National Security will not obtain from the members of SIRC the full and entire co-operation which it is entitled to expect.

He should 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 leveled against CSIS. Let us see what these charges are. First, CSIS is accused of having used people like a certain 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 circle of the Reform Party leader.

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.

It is 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'être 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 stole the list of Parti Quebecois members, burned barns and also stole dynamite.

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 explanations, 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 targetted 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 apparently 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 for 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 Québec 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 that 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.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

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 made 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, 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 the 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 high technology areas like aerospace, nuclear, biochemical and telecommunications".

Here is an example of where the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was being more open than its 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.

The Solicitor General has assured the House that it is his 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?

If the SIRC report that the Solicitor General releases to the public is not complete then the credibility of CSIS, of SIRC, of the minister and of the government will all suffer. Yes, CSIS needs a certain amount of secrecy to operate efficiently, but it cannot operate without the confidence of the Canadian people.

The release of the report is all about confidence. If it is thorough and completely public, confidence in CSIS will be there even if CSIS is guilty of some minor indiscretions. However, if the report is heavily censored in the interest of national security there will be little public confidence even if CSIS is vindicated. Any evidence of any significant censoring of SIRC's report will automatically be viewed as a cover-up. If this is the case, not only will the Reform Party be joining the Bloc in a call for a royal commission; we will be leading the demand.

The accusations that have been made are extremely serious, striking at the very heart of the democratic process. To us in Reform the most important question that must be answered is: Did the previous government use CSIS for partisan political purposes? At the very least we have a Conservative Solicitor General who was aware of the efforts of the Heritage Front to infiltrate the Reform Party and he chose not to advise the Reform Party of such.

Some may ask if he should have. I asked somebody who should know. I asked Jean-Jacques Blais, a former Liberal Solicitor General and one of the first members of SIRC. Mr. Blais replied that if he had the information when he was Solicitor General he would have notified someone in the Reform Party. When asked why Mr. Lewis did not, Mr. Blais said he could not answer for the previous government.

It will be interesting when the former Solicitor General appears before the subcommittee on national security in October to answer this question himself. However there are questions that CSIS must answer itself.

Who made the final decision permitting Bristow to attend the Reform Party meetings? I cannot imagine the source handler himself making this type of decision. Just the mere fact that Bristow, publicly known to be a member of a white supremacist neo-Nazi organization, showed up at a Reform Party rally had a detrimental effect on the party. CSIS officials must have known that his mere presence could have a negative effect on the party.

Since he would not have been sent there without high level approval, we need to know who approved his attendance and why. We need to know why Grant Bristow urged Heritage Front members to take out Reform Party memberships. We need to know why Grant Bristow even paid the $10 membership fee for some of these Heritage Front members. We need to know why Grant Bristow was so intent on getting Heritage Front members into the Reform Party when he refused to take out a membership himself.

We also need to know if any of this had to do with Bristow's allegiance to the Progressive Conservative Party as indicated by his work on the Hon. Otto Jelinek's 1988 campaign.

These are the types of answers that we are expecting in the SIRC report and we will not be satisfied unless these questions are definitively answered. We will also want the answers to some questions like why did Wolfgang Droege frequently show up at Reform Party meetings after he had been expelled from the party? Why did he just come and sit at these meetings without trying to say anything, without trying to distribute any of his literature and without trying to make any contacts with people in the crowd? Why did he usually have a local Toronto television crew there to film him sitting in the audience at these Reform Party meetings? Most important, why did Wolfgang Droege appear to have some money on him when he was attending all of these meetings?

Let us not stop with Bristow or Droege. Less than two weeks ago another Heritage Front member, Max French, announced that he was running for mayor of Scarborough. At his press conference he proudly announced he was a member of both the Heritage Front and the Reform Party; a proud member of the Heritage Front, yes, but he certainly was not a proud member of the Reform Party.

After the expulsion of other Heritage Front members from the Reform Party, Max French stated that Reformers were race traitors and would be lined up against the wall with the rest of them when the revolution came. He does not sound like an enthusiastic member of any party when those kinds of statements are made. Why did he keep his Reform membership?

It is answers to these questions that SIRC must provide. The Solicitor General must release these answers if it is to maintain any credibility.

I mentioned earlier that what is at stake here is the entire democratic system. Let me explain to the House why I say that. I have talked to a number of Reform candidates from southern Ontario. They advised that they had great difficulty overcoming the smear campaign that Reformers were racist. This campaign was led by the Conservative Party. In four ridings, none of which had a sitting Liberal MP, the Reform Party finished second by less than 5,000 votes. If just 10 voters per poll in those ridings had voted Reform instead of Liberal but did not because they were worried about the racist smears we would be sitting in a very different House today.

The consequences of the racist smear campaign on Reformers are enormous and questions must be answered. With regard to the investigation into CSIS, we are prepared to wait for SIRC to complete its investigations and to make its report. We are prepared to wait for this report to be filed with the minister. We are also prepared to wait until the minister makes his report public. However, what we are not prepared to do is to wait for a cover-up.

If the SIRC report that is made public does not answer our questions we will then be more than happy to join with the member from Bellechasse in calling for a royal commission.

There are a number of other issues that do not fall under SIRC's responsibilities. There are a number of other issues in this controversy that have to be brought to light. Those issues are the handling of documents by ministers' aides within the former Solicitor General's office, an antiquated Official Secrets Act and the way it is enforced. The way that government information is classified leaves a lot of room for discussion.

These issues can and will be examined by the subcommittee on national security. While we have similar concerns as the Bloc about the political make-up of SIRC, the make-up of the subcommittee does reflect the current Parliament. It is the subcommittee on national security that should first deal with these issues of classifying information, of handling high security documents and of reviewing the Official Secrets Act.

If the subcommittee cannot resolve these issues in this House then another royal commission into Canada's security intelligence service would be warranted.

First this House must make every effort to get to the bottom of this to avert the additional cost to the Canadian taxpayers of a royal commission. We have the vehicles in place. We have CSIS doing an internal investigation. We have SIRC doing a watchdog report and we have the national security subcommittee to investigate it.

What we do need is to have the will to be fully accountable to the Canadian people, for only in being fully accountable will we maintain the support and the confidence of the Canadian people in the job that we are trying to do.

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11:05 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario


Herb Gray LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Madam Speaker, there are problems, to say the least, with the Bloc's motion.

One of these problems has been identified by the Bloc itself when the proposer of the motion conceded there was the unfortunate absence in it of a key word, allegation. The motion originally spoke about illegal activities of CSIS as if it had been proven that such activities had in fact occurred.

As I have said in this House and outside the House the many allegations made recently about CSIS activities are so far just that, allegations. By the way, it is important to stress that these allegations relate to a period well before this government took office and before I assumed the responsibilities of Solicitor General.

To conclude that CSIS acted illegally requires analysis and conclusions based on solid evidence, that is based on definite facts, related to the legal framework created by this Parliament for the operations of CSIS and other relevant laws as well.

That is why I believe that Canadians should await the conclusion of the work, the investigation of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, into what I repeat are so far only allegations.

The requirement for the creation of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, SIRC, when Parliament passed the legislation creating the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in 1984 was designed to provide Parliament, Canadians generally and the Solicitor General with an independent review of CSIS activities.

This body has over the years provided important insight and analysis for ministers, Parliament and the public regarding the operations of CSIS and has made recommendations to ensure that CSIS continues to operate as Parliament intended when it adopted the CSIS act.

A reading of successive SIRC reports over the years, and I am talking about reports available to the public, shows that the SIRC as a permanent body at arm's length both from CSIS and the government has found areas for improvement since CSIS was created over 10 years ago. It has also found reason to confirm the value of the work of CSIS in the interests of all Canadians.

The point is that the SIRC was created exactly for the task that the Official Opposition in its motion says we need a royal commission to perform.

The SIRC exists to provide the review of all CSIS duties and functions. More specifically, under section 54 of the act the SIRC can investigate any matter that relates to the performance by CSIS of its duties and functions, and then provide the Solicitor General with a special report of this investigation.

A review of any such matter and the production of a special report is precisely what the SIRC has undertaken to do in response to the recent allegations. It has also stated that it intends to have a report as soon as possible. It has said that it intends to have a report available, in other words in the coming month of October.

SIRC has built up a body of expertise and experience that I think will prove extremely valuable to this present investigation.

The Official Opposition in its motion calls for the creation of a royal commission. What is a royal commission? It is an individual or a group of individuals independent of government, appointed by order in council, that is by the cabinet, with wide powers to look into a matter or matters of public concern.

The Security Intelligence Review Committee is a body of individuals appointed by order in council, by the cabinet, under the CSIS legislation to look into and report on an important matter or matters involving the activities of CSIS.

Like an ordinary royal commission it is independent of government. It is independent and at arm's length from CSIS and the minister. It has wide powers to carry out its mandate. That is why I say that in my view it is in effect like a permanent royal commission with the mandate of keeping under review the activities of CSIS and carrying out special inquiries into these activities, either of its own accord or at the request of the minister.

We have in effect already in place what the Bloc is calling for in its motion. The spokesperson for the Reform Party made the important point that since CSIS is already carrying out this work, there is no need for the creation of another body that, looking at what the history of royal commissions indicates, would involve considerable additional expense for the taxpayer.

Parliament created SIRC precisely to ensure that so-called wrongdoings such as the ones which are being raised in this House today undergo objective investigation.

Moreover, SIRC was given important statutory powers to carry out its mandate. SIRC is authorized to obtain from CSIS all necessary information to fulfil its responsibilities, including documents, reports and explanations. Obviously, SIRC has the abilities and the powers required to investigate the allegations being made.

The Official Opposition was unable to prove that we should set up another review agency to do exactly what SIRC is authorized and able to do.

As I have said, it is my intention, my objective, to make as much of the CSIS report into the recent allegations as public as possible, subject of course to the requirements of any relevant legislation. In fact if the legislation permits me to do so I certainly would like to make the entire report public. Mind you the spokesperson for the Official Opposition herself has pointed out there may be some justifiable reasons for some of a report of this nature not to be made public and her views should be taken into account.

I believe the SIRC investigation and the preparation of its report should continue. While it should take the time it needs to do the job properly, as I have said SIRC has already indicated it wants to complete that work as soon as possible. It expects to have a report available in October.

I should also mention that the CSIS act provides for an Inspector General to report to the minister about CSIS. The Inspector General has been quoted publicly as saying that he himself is undertaking reviews with regard to policies and procedures governing the use of human sources by CSIS and the handling of CSIS documents. These reports will be another valuable source of information and analysis for me to use as a basis for seeing if action should be taken with regard to what has been alleged over the past weeks and months.

I want to stress as I have done before that I will not hesitate to have corrective action taken where such action is in fact necessary on the basis of real proof that there are definite problems to be corrected with regard to the work of CSIS. However, I do not think it is fair or reasonable to make judgments in advance, as the Bloc has done in its motion, as to the value or the quality of the work of SIRC in this matter before that work is even completed.

To conclude, I submit that what the Bloc's motion calls for is not in fact necessary since Parliament in passing the law creating a framework for the operation of CSIS created an oversight mechanism for it. This involved the creation of SIRC, which I have said I look on as being very much like a permanent royal commission with a specific mandate for the ongoing review of the work of CSIS.

I believe we should allow this body to complete its work on the recent allegations. Then we should make use of the report which as I have said I intend to make public as much as is possible in the light of the requirements of the relevant legislation. Then decisions can be made on what action may be necessary to take in the light of definite proof, if there is any, with respect to problems regarding the work of CSIS.

However I submit that at this time the motion presented by the Bloc calls for action that is not necessary. It duplicates the work of a body created by Parliament which is like a royal commission. We should allow SIRC to complete its work so that its report can be completed and we can have access to it and take any action necessitated by that report.

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11:15 a.m.


Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, I was pleased to hear the hon. Solicitor General acknowledge that he will take into consideration my comments about how much of the report should be made public. I hope he notes that the only exclusions I made were the names of additional sources other than Grant Bristow. I feel all else should be made public.

My concern is that some of the legislation he may be looking at to see how much flexibility he has is outdated. I would like some assurance from the hon. minister that he will use some flexibility in the interpretation of these outdated pieces of legislation so that he is not restricted and bound by classifications of material that do not apply in this case.

I would like some assurance from the hon. minister that he will be open minded in the interpretation of this legislation to allow a more open process.

While I have the opportunity I would also like to ask for the minister's assurance that he will support the efforts of the subcommittee on national security to further investigate this issue beyond that which SIRC can do. I hope the minister will give full co-operation to and persuade government members of this House to support the subcommittee in its efforts to get to the bottom of this.

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11:20 a.m.


Herb Gray Liberal Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's comments. I want to make clear that the legal advice I will seek cannot be limited to those comments, no matter how useful or well-intended.

The hon. member says that certain legislation is outdated. I suppose she is talking about the Official Secrets Act. That may be the case but since that legislation is passed by Parliament I cannot ignore it, whatever my personal views about the relevance of the legislation today.

That is why I have to seek appropriate legal advice from law officers of the crown with respect to how far I can go in releasing the SIRC report and with respect to responding to any relevant legislation. I want to be very open minded and forthcoming, but as I said I am not in a position to ignore the relevant laws on this matter as adopted by Parliament.

Certainly the work of the subcommittee can be very useful. I cannot say what the committee should be doing but perhaps at some point it may want to carry out a review of the relevance of the current provisions of the Official Secrets Act.

However, all of us in this House are still bound by the relevant legislation on this matter which has been passed by this House and Parliament as a whole. All of us have to take that into account in our activities.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Madam Speaker, I think the Solicitor General does not understand the object of the request made by the Official Opposition. The request for a royal commission of inquiry in this case is not just a whim.

If you look back over past events, you see that so far we have had the McDonald Commission and the MacKenzie Commission, which were both Royal Commissions of Inquiry. Meanwhile, some joint committees have examined the issue of national security. But the only reports Parliament has followed up on are those of the McDonald and the MacKenzie Royal Commissions. Parliament has always ignored the reports tabled by the joint committees, except to implement two or three minor and watered-down recommendations to amend the legislation.

A royal commission of inquiry would help us to clarify the whole situation and might even prove to be in the interest of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which is increasingly losing its credibility in the mind of the Canadian taxpayers.

As Solicitor General, you seem to trust SIRC completely. Then, tell me why SIRC is not aware of the allegations recently published in the newspapers, as you put it? Because these allegations relate to events which happened during 1990 and 1991. We are now in 1994-