Mr. Speaker, I rise today to make what I consider to be a very serious question of privilege.
This question of privilege arises from a lawsuit that was launched against me in 1996 but does not pertain to the actions of the individual who filed the lawsuit. Rather it concerns the activities and conduct of a government agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, during the course of this lawsuit.
To begin, I want to say that I do not question the established precedent that prevents a member from using privilege to guard against the lawsuit for what is said outside of the House. This question of privilege has absolutely nothing to do with that. Instead, I will provide prima facie evidence to the Chair that demonstrates how the conduct and activities of CSIS regarding this case form what I believe to be a new and disturbing method of intimidation of a member of parliament.
I will show that CSIS improperly collected information and then subsequently disclosed that information in clear violation of CSIS policy to a third party. I will show 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 will show that CSIS misused its extraordinary authority to protect national security, was twice sanctioned for misconduct and deliberately misled the court to frustrate my ability to resolve the lawsuit.
Thus the gist of my question of privilege is the deliberate effort of CSIS to intimidate me from speaking freely in the House of Commons and from performing my role as official opposition critic.
I raise this issue today because this is the first opportunity to do so since the completion of my court case. Although the standing orders state that the sub judice convention only applies in a civil lawsuit during the trial days of the proceedings, I undertook an agreement with the Board of Internal Economy not to utilize this lawsuit for political purposes. At the time I entered into that agreement, I was unaware of the role that CSIS had played in the case up to that time, nor could I possibly have envisioned the role that CSIS would subsequently take in this case. I have lived up to my obligation with the BOIE and have bided my time until today, my opportunity to raise this issue.
As I previously mentioned, this form of intimidation is unprecedented. However in Erskine May, 21st edition, page 115 states that an offence for contempt “may be treated as a contempt even though there is no precedent of the offence. It is therefore impossible to list every act which might be considered to amount to a contempt, the power to punish for such an offence being of its nature discretionary”.
On October 29, 1980, a Speaker of this House had this to say:
—the dimension of contempt of parliament is such that the House will not be constrained in finding a breach of privilege of members, or of the House.
This is precisely the reason that, while our privileges are defined, contempt of the House has no limits.
Let me provide this brief summary of the evidence in the documents that I have before me that confirms their efforts to intimidate me. I am prepared to read it all but would prefer just to provide it to you, Mr. Speaker. Almost all the information contained in the plaintiff's statement of claim originated from CSIS. In fact the statement of claim contains a copy of my press release which bears the fax identification of the former solicitor general which was sent to CSIS.
The plaintiff's affidavit of documents consists of 107 documents which included some of my press releases, as well as newspaper clippings, radio and television transcripts from media outlets across the country. Every one of them came from CSIS, some of them before and some of them after the commencement of the lawsuit.
The plaintiff also included four video tapes of media reports, all of which were recorded by CSIS and forwarded to the plaintiff. In a discovery of the plaintiff conducted on February 17, 1998, the plaintiff admitted in regard to the video tapes that “they were provided to me without my asking”. Both the plaintiff and his lawyer admitted during the proceedings that CSIS assisted the plaintiff in the preparation of his lawsuit.
In a letter dated July 20, 1998, from the plaintiff's lawyer to my lawyer the following passage is included: “certain members of CSIS have co-operated with the plaintiff in preparation of his case”.
At a discovery of the plaintiff at the federal court on November 3, 1998, the plaintiff acknowledged that part of the reason he had contacted a senior manager at CSIS was to discuss the means by which he would proceed with his lawsuit. As well, at that same discovery the lawyer for the plaintiff admitted that “the legal counsel for CSIS had spoken with me from time to time, and I am sure with the plaintiff from time to time, trying to give us advice”.
Thus it is clear from these comments that CSIS played a role in the preparation and conduct of the lawsuit against me. What is of particular concern is the fact that throughout the discoveries it was confirmed that it was Mr. Tom Bradley who played the key role in providing all this information to the plaintiff. This is of concern because Tom Bradley is, or was until recently, a senior member of the CSIS secretariat.
On the CSIS organizational chart the secretariat answers directly to the director of CSIS and among their duties was liaison between CSIS and the solicitor general's office.