Mr. Speaker, earlier today I gave notice that I would be rising on a question of privilege. Monday of this week, the government presented its response to written Question No. 10 concerning the cost of security at the two sites of the G-8 Summit, in Calgary and at Kananaskis, as well as the total cost of the Summit.
A number of departments provided figures: Health, Foreign Affairs, Industry, Justice, National Defence and Public Works, as did Correctional Services and Customs and Revenue Canada. Yet the Solicitor General and the RCMP maintain they do not yet have a total for their costs.
The response from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is a matter of huge concern to me, and should be to the rest of the hon. members as well. CSIS stated:
[It is the policy]...the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS, does not comment on operational activities nor release specific details of its budget and expenditures for reasons of national security.
I find this response, that it is a blanket policy not to disclose information to Parliament, to be troublesome. I understand fully that some of the information in which CSIS deals must by its nature be treated as confidential. There are specific cases, perhaps several of them, where national security can be involved. CSIS is stating a quite different principle here. It claims to be beyond the reach of Parliament on every single issue. It claims a right to live in a black hole and to operate without any responsibility to the House of Commons.
The Department of National Defence does not claim that blanket exemption from responsible government although that department, too, deals in matters which must sometimes be held confidential. The same is true of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
CSIS is not more important than these two departments. Its attempt to put itself in a special, secret status above the rules, is a fundamental affront to this Parliament.
I want to know if this policy was established by the minister or have the director and the agency decided to thumb their noses at Parliament. Are we supposed to blindly vote the funds for CSIS and never again think about those expenditures?
I have today written the chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee to request answers to a number of questions, including how this policy was established. At this time, I want to give notice to the House that I am reserving my right to raise this matter later as a possible contempt of Parliament.