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.