Mr. Speaker, the CSIS Act clearly limits what information CSIS can collect, generally restricting it to information that may on reasonable grounds be suspected of constituting threats to the security of Canada. I would suggest that the CSIS collection of all this information was improper.
As limiting as the laws are restricting the ability of CSIS to collect information, they are equally restrictive with regard to the ability of the service to disclose any information collected. Section 19 of the CSIS Act severely restricts the information it may disclose and nowhere in this section does it permit the disclosure of information to a private individual to assist his lawsuit against a member of parliament.
In addition to the CSIS Act, section 3.(7) of the human resources policy manual states that employees must not support or oppose any person, organization or product by using information obtained through their employment by the service except when authorized by the director. It is quite clear that the disclosure of this information to the plaintiff was in violation of the service's own policy.
Unfortunately CSIS was not satisfied with the role in assisting with the preparation of the lawsuit against me. They proceeded to directly involve themselves in the case in what can best be described by the following: In July 1998 Madam Justice MacLeod of the Ontario court ordered that the plaintiff must answer 38 questions that he had refused to answer at discovery.
Immediately following the court's granting of the aforementioned order, counsel for CSIS filed a certificate of objection signed by Jim Corcoran, CSIS deputy director of operations, with Madam Justice MacLeod pursuant to sections 37 and 38 of the Canada Evidence Act. In that certificate Mr. Corcoran claimed that disclosure of the information requested in 32 of the 38 questions which were ordered to be answered would be “injurious to the national security of Canada”. The remaining six questions were considered personal.
In July, I was forced to challenge the validity of that certificate through a notice of application filed in the federal court.
In August, Mr. Justice Teitelbaum of the Federal Court of Canada issued an order which, among other things, instructed that cross-examination of the affidavit should occur prior to October 5, 1998. CSIS filed the affidavit by Barry Denofsky, director general of analysis and production, on September 11. However, in direct contravention of the order of Mr. Justice Teitelbaum, they refused to make Denofsky available for cross-examination.
On October 5, Mr. Justice Teitelbaum ruled that CSIS must make Denofsky available for cross-examination and costs were awarded against CSIS. Mr. Denofsky appeared for cross-examination. However he refused to answer almost all questions of substance, 51 in total.
My lawyer filed a notice of motion requiring CSIS to produce Mr. Denofsky for further cross-examination, requiring him to answer the questions he had previously refused. The day before the federal court hearing on January 14, almost 11 weeks after Mr. Denofsky's cross-examination, CSIS provided responses to 39 of the 51 questions they previously had refused to answer.
On January 15, 1999, the hearing before Mr. Teitelbaum took place and Mr. Justice Teitelbaum ruled on March 5. He ordered CSIS to answer an additional three questions, which meant out of the original 51 questions that CSIS had refused to answer only nine of them, less than 20%, were deemed to be valid objections. Once again costs were awarded against CSIS.
It is clear from the behaviour of CSIS that its main objective was to drag out the proceedings and deny me the opportunity of having this case heard in court. However the delaying tactics of CSIS were only part of the process. The content of its responses was even more troubling, which I have included in the documentation.
In answering a question about the information the service passed to the plaintiff they neglected to mention the 107 press releases. CSIS also stated that it had passed the video tapes to the plaintiff in response to a request from him. However, as I have mentioned before, the plaintiff in discovery said that they were provided to him without his asking.
In addition it mentioned that only one CSIS policy document was passed to the plaintiff. Yet the very affidavit that this discovery was about lists five different CSIS policy documents. In other words, of the three points that CSIS made in this answer all three of them were incorrect.
I cannot imagine, after making inquiries, that any member of a professional intelligence agency would be so incompetent that they could possibly inadvertently overlook all of this information, including the very affidavit that was being reviewed.
The last piece of evidence that I will mention concerns the very certificate of objection that CSIS filed. When CSIS filed the certificate on July 7, 1998, the deputy director of operations, Jim Corcoran, certified that he had carefully reviewed and considered all the questions set out in that statement. He then certified that “the information sought by this motion, either by confirmation or denial of the said information, would be contrary to the public interest as it would be injurious to the national security of Canada”.
One such question was where the plaintiff refused to state during discovery whether or not it was normal that a full scale security investigation be done for people getting their security clearance renewed. Despite the claim of CSIS that the answer to this question would be injurious to the national security of Canada, I have obtained the answer to this question from the Treasury Board's public website, listed under personal security standards.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I believe that I have provided you with sufficient evidence to find that there is a prima facie case of contempt against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. As an opposition critic who has previously been critical of CSIS, its role in this case has effectively prevented me from raising concerns about it for three and a half years.
In addition, CSIS has sent me and all members of the House a clear message that it is keeping track of us, watching what we do and listening to everything we say, and that it is prepared to pounce if it objects to the way in which we conduct ourselves. It has also shown that it is prepared to misuse the extraordinary authority that parliament has given to it to put us in an unwinnable situation.
The premier of Quebec launched an inquiry when officials in his government improperly released information about a federal member of parliament. While not raised in a question of privilege it was considered wrong and an inquiry was ordered. The National Assembly of Quebec chose to take action against this activity, and this parliament should do the same in the case concerning CSIS.
In my case CSIS conducted certain activities and utilized significant resources against me. The evidence shows that CSIS certainly took a role in orchestrating the lawsuit against me. As I have shown, CSIS improperly collected information and then subsequently disclosed that information to a third party in clear violation of CSIS policy.
I have shown that CSIS abandoned the traditional non-partisan role of the public service by taking an active role in the preparation of a lawsuit against an opposition member of parliament, including having its legal counsel provide the plaintiff and the plaintiff's lawyer with advice.
Finally, I have shown that CSIS has misused its extraordinary authority to protect national security, that it was twice sanctioned by the federal court for misconduct, and that it deliberately misled the court to frustrate my ability to resolve the lawsuit.
One of the basic tenets of democracy is that opposition politicians have the ability to oppose the government without fear of intimidation. I suggest that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has tried to introduce intimidation into Canadian politics.
I believe it is vital that this form of intimidation is stopped immediately. Opposition critics need to know that they can fulfil their function of criticizing a government department without fear that the department will retaliate by orchestrating a lawsuit against them.
I therefore encourage you, Mr. Speaker, to make a precedent in this case by finding the behaviour of CSIS in this case in contempt of the House. I will provide the document I have here to support this claim. If you find that there is a prima facie case of privilege, I will move that this issue be sent to the appropriate committee for consideration.