[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Wednesday, May 15, 1996
The Chairman: Colleagues, we are considering the main estimates, vote 40, for the Security Intelligence Review Committee. We have today with us members of the review committee.
We're very pleased to see that all the members of the review committee were able to be present today, and I will allow the chairman, Mr. Courtois, if he would be so good, to introduce the members of the Security Intelligence Review Committee and staff.
Mr. Jacques Courtois (Chair, Security Intelligence Review Committee): With pleasure, Mr. Chairman.
With me today is the Hon. Paule Gauthier, who has served on SIRC before; the Hon. George Vari; the Hon. Eddy Goodman; and the Hon. Rosemary Brown. With the staff is Maurice Archdeacon, executive director; Claire Malone, my executive assistant, Sylvia MacKenzie, who is the chief complaints officer; Mr. Klein; John Smith; Judy Spallin; and Viviane Yu.
The Chairman: For the introductions, ten out of ten.
Do you have an opening statement that you'd care to present to the committee?
Mr. Courtois: No. I simply want to say that we are here to answer your questions to the best of our ability. I don't want to waste your time uttering platitudes.
The Chairman: Thank you.
We will then move to members for the first round of questions, ten minutes each. We'll start with the Bloc Québécois.
Mr. Langlois (Bellechasse): First of all, I would like to congratulate Ms. Gauthier on her appointment. She is the only person to have been appointed during the 35th Parliament in accordance with the normal process set out in the legislation. The Leader of the Official Opposition was consulted was consulted about and agreed to this appointment. I repeat what I have already said about how representative the Review Committee is of the 35th Parliament. There are no committee members who were appointed at the suggestion of the Official Opposition or the Reform Party. I mentioned this oversight again in the House yesterday and I mention it here again today.
The following is stated on page 6 in Part III and I quote:
Could you explain in further detail the exact nature of the Review Committee's concerns in so far as the above-mentioned case is concerned?
Mr. Courtois: I won't go into the details. The problem isn't overly obvious. The Committee simply wants to ensure that the person in question was not treated unfairly when a selection was made.
Certain allegations were made that the individual in question had been treated unfairly by CSIS and an investigation was conducted. We concluded that there was no basis for these allegations.
Mr. Langlois: Are you saying that the person who was hired was treated unfairly in the sense that that person had problems with his employer or supervisor?
Mr. Courtois: This wasn't someone who had been recruited, but rather someone who had applied for a job with CSIS.
Mr. Langlois: When you talk about the recruitment of a human source, you are talking solely about the selection process. If I understand correctly, this person was not hired and filed a complaint with SIRC over the manner in which his application had been processed.
Mr. Courtois: That's correct.
Mr. Langlois: And you concluded, in accordance with SIRC's usual rules and procedures, that all of the rules had been followed and that the person had been treated fairly?
Mr. Courtois: Exactly.
Mr. Langlois: We note the following in the next-to-last paragraph on page 8. The Review Committee
« reviewed the request for assistance by ministers for section 16 investigations and audited...
Do you have the same text as I do? I'm not certain that the French text should read «à vérifier». Most likely, the past tense «a vérifié» should have been used.
...the information retained by CSIS for national security purposes from section 16 operations and from Communications Security Establishment reports;
Could you explain to me the exact nature of the cooperation between the Communications Security Establishment, the CSE and SIRC?
Mr. Courtois: I will have to get that information from the Director General. SIRC and CSE often work together and we check to see what information is being passed along to SIRC by CSE to ensure that we are well-informed about everything that happens.
Mr. Langlois: Therefore, I would be correct in stating that you are aware of all of the requests for electronic surveillance that CSIS makes to the CSE.
Mr. Courtois: We verify all such requests.
Mr. Langlois: To your knowledge, Mr. Courtois, and to the knowledge of committee members, has CSIS ever asked the CSE to wiretap certain individuals, political parties or institutions?
Mr. Courtois: No.
Mr. Langlois: We're making progress because usually, you say that you cannot answer that question. Are you really certain of this? How is it that you can answer the question this time?
Mr. Courtois: You asked me if I was aware of any such requests. I'm saying that to my knowledge, the law has never been violated in this manner.
Mr. Langlois: You have never observed anything. Has this policy been revised?
Mr. Courtois: No, but I have not observed any breaches of the law.
Mr. Langlois: On the one hand, you're saying that you don't look into such matters and on the other hand, you're saying that you have not observed any violations. It's a little like a police officer who turns his radar gun off and then claims that no one is speeding.
Mr. Courtois: In that case, I didn't make myself clear. We do look at the information that is exchanged between CSIS and the CSE and to my knowledge, we have not received any requests to break the law.
Mr. Langlois: During an appearance before the committee, I asked you whether, to your knowledge, Mr. Bouchard and Mr. Parizeau had been the targets of electronic surveillance. Your response was: "I cannot answer that question". This was a similar type of question. Can you explain to me what is different now?
Mr. Courtois: When you mentioned Mr. Bouchard and Mr. Parizeau, you were referring to a specific case. You're asking me now in general terms whether any requests have been made. If you are asking me specifically about Mr. Parizeau, Mr. Bouchard or another politician, I couldn't answer that question.
Mr. Langlois: Therefore, no one was the target of electronic surveillance, but as far asMr. Bouchard or Mr. Parizeau are concerned, you can't say. You can talk in general terms, but not in specifics.
Mr. Courtois: That's not the question you asked. You asked me if, to my knowledge, the CSE had received any requests to carry out electronic surveillance and I answered that to my knowledge, no such requests had been received.
Mr. Langlois: The only type of electronic surveillance permitted is the kind provided for the Criminal Code with the authorization of a judge and at the request of a duly authorized Attorney. Is that right?
Mr. Courtois: Yes.
Mr. Langlois: Are you also including the period of last fall?
Mr. Courtois: Yes, certainly.
Mr. Langlois: You are quite convinced then that no requests were received, either from the Langevin Block or from CSIS, during the period leading up to last October 30th's referendum for surveillance to be carried out on a particular federalist or sovereigntist group in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada?
The Honourable George Vari (Member, Security Intelligence Review Committee): Our committee only reviews requests made by CSIS to the CSE along with requests made by other agencies. We have nothing to do with requests that CSIS receives from other agencies or institutions.
Mr. Langlois: Nevertheless, you do not operate in a vacuum.
Mr. Vari: No, but we do comply with the law that governs our operations.
Mr. Langlois: Everyone hopes so.
In the past year, how many section 54 reports have you submitted to the Solicitor General?
Mr. Courtois: Probably only one, but I will look into this and give you an answer.
Mr. Langlois: Would you be prepared to table these documents to the sub-committee so that it can examine them in camera?
Mr. Courtois: We're talking about a secret document.
Mr. Langlois: To avoid a long, drawn-out answer, you still do not recognize the authority of this committee to order you to produce a document?
Mr. Courtois: You mustn't speak in overly general terms. I do not recognize your sub-committee's authority to request that we hand over secret or top secret documents.
The Honourable Paule Gauthier (Member, Security Intelligence Review Committee): I would like to add something to that, Mr. Langlois. Once the report is tabled with the Solicitor General, he is the one who decides whether to make it public or not. We can recommend a course of action to him, but ultimately, the decision rests with him.
Mr. Langlois: I understand, but I don't wish to get into a discussion with your colleagues. We have already discussed at length the authority of the Canadian Parliament with Ms Davidson. Clearly, Mr. Courtois, Mr. Robert at the time and Ms Davidson did not share the opinion held by the majority of the members of this committee back then. However, some changes have since taken place.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Langlois. We'll move on to the second round, withMs Meredith.
Ms Meredith (Surrey - White Rock - South Langley): Mr. Courtois, I'd like to ask you a number of questions about your section 41 hearing into Pierre Roy's complaint in 1994. Internal security in Montreal raised some questions about the activities of a Russian translator in Montreal. His case was sent to headquarters, where an analysis was done. It was then decided to do a complete security screening on this translator. Is this correct?
Mr. Courtois: It was decided to do a standard security screening on that translator, yes.
Ms Meredith: Is it common to do a security screening investigation on a CSIS employee, other than involving an upgrading of that employee's security clearance?
Mr. Courtois: Every five years.
Ms Meredith: How many cases are you aware of when internal security sends it to security screening?
Mr. Maurice Archdeacon (Executive Director, Security Intelligence Review Committee): I don't understand the question.
Ms Meredith: What I'm asking is how often a full field investigation is done. My understanding is that it's not done every five years. It's done perhaps every ten years or when a person is getting special activity clearance.
Mr. Courtois: With your permission, I'll ask Mr. Archdeacon to reply.
Mr. Archdeacon: Ms Meredith is quite right - sometimes it's five years, sometimes it's ten years, and if any question arises about the simplicity or otherwise of the standard renewal security clearance, then it is usually decided to do a full field investigation. There have been quite a number of them.
Ms Meredith: How many is quite a number?
Mr. Archdeacon: I don't know.
Ms Meredith: If it has been done quite often, is it more than five, more than ten, more than twenty? How many security clearances are done in a year and how many of them are full field security clearances?
Mr. Archdeacon: Mr. Chairman, we'd have to get back to the committee on that.
Ms Meredith: Can I get SIRC to please advise us of that in writing after the meeting?
A witness: Yes, you will.
The Chairman: The actual question was how many security clearance requests were processed in a particular calendar year -
Ms Meredith: And how many of them went into full field security screening for CSIS employees.
The Chairman: Which year, Ms Meredith, were you interested in?
Ms Meredith: Yearly since the inception of CSIS. I think you'll find, Mr. Chairman, that it doesn't happen very often.
I'd like to know who authorized the security screening for this translator. A position will do. Who authorized the investigation into this translator in Montreal?
Mr. Archdeacon: I don't know, Mr. Chairman. We didn't identify the particular individual, but it would have been the head of security screening, or the acting head.
Ms Meredith: That's all I want to know, the head of security screening.
The case was assigned to Pierre Roy in Montreal mainly because Roy didn't know the translator. He began his investigation on May 6, 1991, and it was the only file he was assigned for the next three months. Is that correct?
Mr. Archdeacon: I don't know whether or not he was involved in another file as well. It is true that he was assigned to that file, but it had nothing to do with whether he knew the person or not. It was just that he was available to do the file. He was a contract employee; he was not an intelligence officer.
Ms Meredith: He was contracted to do an investigation of the translator by the head of security screening, was he not?
Mr. Archdeacon: No, well...
Ms Meredith: Was he not?
Mr. Archdeacon: You could put it that way.
Ms Meredith: Well, I am putting it that way. Does the head of security screening not -
Mr. Archdeacon: I said you could put it that way. It was his job to do security clearances on people. That was his job.
Ms Meredith: And you will advise us how many security screenings are done on CSIS employees?
Mr. Archdeacon: What it would...?
Ms Meredith: Mr. Roy - could you tell me...?
Ms Cohen (Windsor - St. Clair): Excuse me, but I'm wondering whether we could slow down a little so that the witness could answer the question after it's been given. It's quite confusing, and quite frankly it must be uncomfortable for the witness.
The Chairman: Thank you for making that observation. On the last question, Ms Meredith, you may have assumed the answer. Mr. Archdeacon didn't really have a chance to give any kind of a full answer.
In any event, please continue.
Ms Meredith: In your opinion, was Pierre Roy's investigation sufficiently thorough and up to the professional standards that you expect from CSIS security screening?
Mr. Archdeacon: Mr. Chairman, it's a good question, but it's a rather difficult question. In fact, as Ms Meredith knows, security clearance was stopped before Mr. Roy would have considered that he had completed it. He was doing investigations in a whole lot of areas.
For the people in CSIS, some of what he did showed a naivety and a lack of understanding particularly of military intelligence, which led them to believe that he was going off on false trails. For other people in CSIS, generally those at a lower level, he was following something that could very well have been a great danger to Canada from a national security point of view. I think he did everything he did in good faith.
We can't really say that we can judge whether he did a good job, because he didn't finish the job. It wasn't his fault that he didn't finish the job, but he didn't finish it.
Perhaps I could just go on to say - and it might be anticipating another question - that when this committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Courtois examined this whole situation, the conclusion it reached was the conclusion Mr. Courtois reached. It was that the investigation should be reopened and redone.
To that extent I would have to answer Ms Meredith's question by saying that in the view of the chairman of this committee, the investigation had not been satisfactorily carried out. That's why he recommended to CSIS and told the minister that he had so recommended that the investigation be continued to resolve problems that, as far as CSIS was concerned, were still extant after the inquiry had been completed.
Ms Meredith: Mr. Courtois, would you go on record as saying that you felt the investigation that Pierre Roy did on this translator was not sufficiently thorough and was not up to professional standards? Would you go on record and say that Mr. Roy did not conduct himself in a professional way?
Mr. Courtois: To give you a fair answer to that, I'd like to look at the report I wrote after three years.
Ms Meredith: Pardon me.
Mr. Courtois: I wrote a report on that case, and I don't like to think that I'm being asked after two years to memorize the report I gave the minister.
Ms Meredith: One of the issues that Mr. Roy brought up in his third report was that he was just getting started in his investigation. He was looking forward or planning on continuing that investigation, in your opinion, and it would appear by your reactions that you felt the investigation should have been allowed to continue.
Mr. Courtois: You're putting words in my mouth. As I say, it was two years ago and I've seen rather a lot of reports since. I can't tell you whether what you're telling me is accurate or not.
Ms Meredith: Well, Mr. Courtois, can you tell me who cancelled the investigation that he was doing? What position? Who in CSIS cancelled that investigation?
Mr. Courtois: I can't tell you, but I'm sure Mr. Archdeacon can.
Mr. Archdeacon: The investigation was taken over when it was taken out of the hands of Pierre Roy.
Ms Meredith: Who was it taken over by?
Mr. Archdeacon: It was taken over by a man named Frank Pratt, who at the time was the investigator most trusted in CSIS for looking after questions that had gotten out of hand, as people thought this one had. The final decision was made by a deputy director whose name was Jim Warren.
Ms Meredith: In January 1992 Mr. Roy received some information about a regular visitor to the translator's residence. He promptly forwarded a report, the new information, to headquarters. Could you comment on the appropriateness of headquarters' response to that new information?
Mr. Archdeacon: I can only say, Mr. Chairman, that we went through everything thatMadam Meredith knows about this case, or at least everything she released. She may know other things besides those things that she released in her 11-page document.
All those things were assessed during the questioning of Mr. Pratt and other people, andMr. Courtois came to the conclusion that there were still questions outstanding. He therefore suggested that CSIS reopen the investigation and satisfy both itself...and we thought it was in everyone's best interests, including the translator's best interests, that these questions should be confronted and settled.
Each time Ms Meredith puts it in a particular way and particular words it's difficult to say, yes, that's exactly true, so I'm putting it in my words. We did not think that the security clearance investigation had been sufficiently thorough. There were a number of things that we did not like about the way it had been done initially. There were a number of things we did not like about the way it had been stopped. So there were effects in both areas. We thought there were a lot of wild trails being followed, but there were some other trails that hadn't been properly completed. So the recommendation was that it be done again.
Ms Meredith: Mr. Chairman, I'm a little concerned that all that's getting on record is an employee's opinion as to what happened. I'm looking for what happened. I'm looking for some assurances from the chairman of SIRC, who conducted the hearing, about the information that was going out. I don't want to use my time by having an employee give his opinions of what happened.
May I continue?
The Chairman: No, the clock won't permit you to continue, but certainly on the second round you'll have an opportunity.
Ms Meredith: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Edwin Goodman (Member, Security Intelligence Review Committee): Mr. Chairman, may I say something that seems appropriate.
The Chairman: You certainly may, after I'm finished my comment.
Mr. Goodman: I beg your pardon.
The Chairman: The answers that have been given are being given under the direction of the chairman of SIRC here today. If Mr. Archdeacon or any of the other members of SIRC give an answer, it's the answer of SIRC.
I am assuming I have that right, Mr. Courtois.
Mr. Courtois: Absolutely right, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Now, Mr. Goodman, did you want to add something?
Mr. Goodman: I won't start making my own speech, but just for future matters such as this, if there is going to be something that any member of this committee has some knowledge of, if we could just be told that this matter is going to be questioned, we can then look into our files and give more satisfactory answers about things that happened two years ago.
The Chairman: Thank you.
We'll move to the next round. Ms Cohen.
Ms Cohen: Madam Gauthier, I want to welcome you to our little gathering and welcome the rest of you back again.
I want to ask a couple of questions at the constituency level. I think probably most members of Parliament receive complaints from time to time in the immigration area that people are waiting for clearances from CSIS and they're not getting them. I'm wondering whether they are not happening quickly...and I know that's in part because they just have an awful lot of work to do. Have you received any of those complaints? Have you looked into it? Can you comment on that for us? Can you tell us what, if anything, CSIS is doing about it or what SIRC is doing to help CSIS deal with that?
Mr. Goodman: I can answer that question. Yes, I had a matter that was just such a matter. It was a complaint that an immigration matter was not being looked after and there were unacceptable delays.
In the course of my hearing...what was the name of the chap who was in charge of immigration at clearance and SLOs at various places outside of the country? Anyway, it was a senior officer, whose name I do forget. He was in charge and he admitted clearly that they had a load that was too much to be handled. In addition to that, there were delays on this side of the water and CSIS had put into effect an entirely new system to expedite these delays.
Since that case, I have not had one, but there certainly were delays that people would suffer in the past, and of that there can be no doubt. Whether or not the new system, which has been put into effect recently, has cleared it up, I cannot say. I think from my discussions it has certainly been expedited now. But I can sympathize with people who are tired of those delays and I have said so in my report.
Mr. Courtois: Mr. Chairman, I might add that we are now doing a very thorough study of this process.
Ms Cohen: I'm sure there are many members of Parliament who will appreciate it if that can work out.
This may not be a fair question, but is there some other way that we could be handling these security clearances, perhaps without using CSIS or by using some other agency, or is there some way we could facilitate their handling of these clearances?
Mr. Goodman: Within the next six months we will have completed our search. As a matter of fact, Ms MacKenzie will be going out to check on certain aspects of the SLOs.
I felt, after that, we should be doing something. We can ask for the workload now. I think it's important that we find out what the workload is before we try to look for other ways.
Ms Cohen: We've been pretty interested in the extreme right-wing movement in Canada as a subcommittee, and I know you have been too. We know also that in March 1996 the Federal Court gave the go-ahead for the committee to consider the case of Mr. Zundel. Can you tell us under what circumstances this case was before you? Was it a citizenship or an immigration case?
Mr. Courtois: It's a referral from the immigration department.
Ms Cohen: Did it come from the minister's office? By what process did it arrive on your desk?
Mr. Courtois: They all come from the minister's office.
Ms Cohen: Did Mr. Zundel challenge your jurisdiction to deal with it in Federal Court?
Mr. Courtois: No, he's appearing before us. It's a long process, with a lot of people involved.
Ms Cohen: But what was the nature of the Federal Court ruling then?
Mr. Courtois: That was a challenge to the jurisdiction. On March 21, 1996, Madam Justice McGillis dismissed an application for a stay of the hearing of the committee scheduled to take place on March 25. Justice McGillis indicated that she had not been persuaded that the argument of the applicant concerning the existence of a reasonable apprehension of bias raised a serious question.
Counsel for the applicant, Mr. Doug Christie, had argued that the reasonable apprehension of personal and systemic bias existed with respect to the review committee and all its members, principally due to the following statement in the Heritage Front report.
Mr. Archdeacon: Mr. Chairman, you may find it of interest that the affidavit presented last week to the court by Mr. Douglas Christie stated that he wished to call as witnesses a number of other people, including Mr. Derek Lee, Mrs. Val Meredith, and Mr. Tom Wappel. That went to the court this week.
The Chairman: It's fair to say you've got my interest.
Mr. Rideout (Moncton): Now you can't leave your office.
The Chairman: Ms Cohen, you've still got three minutes left.
Ms Cohen: I wonder whether Mr. Lee can get a copy of that affidavit.
So you started your hearings, and this is ongoing.
Mr. Courtois: It's ongoing, and we have meetings scheduled right through to August.
Ms Cohen: Do you have counsels for your board? I appreciate that you have eminent counsel as part of SIRC, but do you retain counsel as well?
Mr. Courtois: We have counsel for the department, and the parties like Mr. Zundel have their own counsel.
Mr. Goodman: Sometimes we go to a justice or outside to a private firm, for example. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have Mrs. MacKenzie. So it varies.
Ms Cohen: I see. Do you have rules of procedure that you've published or that you follow?
Mr. Vari: We have published procedure.
Ms Cohen: Could we get a copy of those? Thanks.
Mr. Goodman: May I just remind the committee that the rules of procedure under the act are entirely open to the presiding member and they aren't always followed.
Ms Cohen: When someone like Mr. Zundel appears before you, they would have full access to all of the evidence that's led.
Mr. Courtois: No.
Ms Cohen: How does that work?
Mr. Goodman: Very often, in the cases that I've done - I can only talk about the cases I've been on, although I've read some of the others - CSIS takes a position that certain matters are under security, and on those occasions the cross-examination is done by the presiding member or by the hearings lawyer. Then when the evidence, which is secret, is finished, we give a summary of that evidence to the complainant. In those cases, the members feel it is their obligation to really cross-examine CSIS, and we have ordered CSIS, under the powers we have - I know in cases I've been on - to bring a particular person in to be examined and to give evidence.
You feel an even greater obligation when the party that has complained cannot hear certain parts of the evidence, and we have on those occasions given them a summary. We try to keep the evidence down to just the things that are clearly going to be a breach of security.
The Chairman: Your time is up.
Ms Cohen: I'll come back to that.
The Chairman: Could I just add to Ms Cohen's line of questioning? For the purpose of getting on the record, if possible, the nature of the determination that SIRC has been asked to make in reference to what we've referred to as the Zundel application... I don't think we have on the record here yet a description of the determination that SIRC has been asked under statute to make in this case.
Mr. Archdeacon: Mr. Chairman, there are three sorts of cases that come before us. I'll be very brief.
The first is citizenship. That is, the minister decides that he does not wish to grant citizenship. That requires him to send a report to SIRC. SIRC must then convey its conclusion to the Governor in Council.
The second is deportation.
The third is deportation, but for a different reason, and that's organized crime.
Every report from ministers comes under one of those three labels.
The Chairman: Is this particular case one of those?
Mr. Archdeacon: Yes.
The law says they're supposed to be considered in private, and I honestly don't know whether we should just say so. Would you mind if we checked on that and then let you know?
The Chairman: That's fine. We can probably make a good inference at this point.
In any event, if you can let our clerk know, please do.
We'll now move to the next round of questioning. This will be five-minute rounds, and we'll go to Mr. Langlois.
Mr. Langlois: Mr. Courtois, in Part III of the Main Estimates...
Mr. Courtois: Could you give me the number of the page in question?
Mr. Langlois: I was just about to do that. At the top of page 15, you indicate that the Committee will:
«evaluate CSIS investigative activities in one region in order to examine targeting decisions, warrant powers, surveillance activities, sensitive operations and interviews with community groups.
Is Quebec the region to which you are referring?
Mr. Courtois: We're talking about all regions. Each year, we examine a different one.
Mr. Langlois: Do you pick a region at random?
Mr. Courtois: Yes.
Mr. Langlois: Has chance would have it, does Quebec get picked more often?
Mr. Courtois: No.
Mr. Langlois: It hasn't been targeted in any particular way?
Mr. Courtois: No, there is no reason for that.
Mr. Langlois: Do you have any reason to believe that CSIS has overstepped the boundaries within which the law says it should operate?
Mr. Courtois: No.
Mr. Langlois: Then, you're merely conducting spot checks?
Mr. Courtois: We evaluate...
Mr. Langlois: In a hit or miss fashion.
Mr. Courtois: ...activities in all regions of Canada.
Mr. Langlois: Can you tell me whether, between September 1994, the date of the last general election in Quebec, and October 30 last, the date of the Quebec referendum, CSIS staff levels have increased along with the budgets allocated for Quebec?
Mr. Courtois: No, the contrary has occurred. All CSIS budgets have been cut.
Mr. Langlois: Even on a proportional basis, even taking into account budget cuts?
Mr. Courtois: Yes.
Mr. Langlois: Therefore, CSIS was not concerned about something that seemed to be of vital concern to the House of Commons and all Canadians.
Mr. Courtois: I don't understand your question.
Mr. Langlois: No, you probably don't. You don't feel that the Quebec question was... Was no one at CSIS concerned about this and did no one make any requests for additional information? Since we now know that CSIS works with foreign services and can obtain from the CIA and the DGSE information that it cannot obtain directly on it own, can you confirm to me that CSIS did not obtain any information from foreign security services concerning events in Quebec during the period from September 1994 up to the October 30 referendum?
Mr. Courtois: I can tell you that no, it did not.
Mr. Langlois: No information at all? You have no leads?
Mr. Courtois: None whatsoever.
Mr. Langlois: As part of its regional investigations, has CSIS ever been tempted to do a spot check on the Quebec issue? Doesn't this bother you a little?
Mr. Vari: I'm not quite sure what you mean, because we don't do spot checks. We conduct extremely detailed investigations. Our investigative reports are often 200 or 300 pages long. These aren't spot checks, but rather highly systematic controls.
Mr. Langlois: The Chair of SIRC just said the exact opposite.
Mr. Vari: Not at all, sir.
Mr. Langlois: We can settle this after the meeting. On page 17 in Part III, after the figure in the middle of the page, the following is stated and I quote:
I would be interested in your comments on the number of complaints received which, at first glance, appears extremely high. Secondly, what procedure was used to settle complaints having to do with the use of official languages?
Mr. Courtois: A total of 2,200 complaints were received in 1985-1986. CSIS hired a lawyer, Mr. Pierre Gagnon, to conduct an investigation. He produced a detailed report which was submitted to the minister.
Mr. Langlois: What special procedure was used? Was Mr. Gagnon asked to suggest an additional procedure?
Ms Gauthier: Perhaps I could answer that question since I was there in 1984. Counsel Pierre Gagnon conducted an investigation at the request of our committee. Since the number of complaints filed was extremely high, it was essential that a thorough investigation be conducted. Counsel met with all Service members, various groups, and directors to ascertain the nature of the complaints and to find out why so many had been received. Subsequently, he made some recommendations to the Service and follow-up action was taken. The complaints were then withdrawn. There were no legal procedures involved, but rather some negotiations with a view to settling the complaints.
Mr. Langlois: It was more of a mediation/arbitration process.
Ms Gauthier: Exactly.
Mr. Langlois: We are all familiar with the ruling handed down in the Gingras case and with the conditions under which members of the RCMP integrated the Service. I'm referring to those who received the bilingualism bonus and then had it taken away from them by the Director of CSIS. The minister confirmed last Friday that the Service could dip into its current budget to pay the bilingualism bonus. Are you prepared to recommend that the bilingualism bonus be paid retroactively to the time it was abolished and that it be restored to all CSIS employees, not only to clerical, secretarial or civilian employees?
Mr. Courtois: What is your question?
Mr. Langlois: I'm asking you if you are prepared to recommend that the bonus be paid to CSIS employees, in particular to those who were transferred from the RCMP to CSIS with a guarantee that their entitlement to the bonus would be maintained, a right which was later struck down by the Director of CSIS? Are you prepared to make this recommendation?
Mr. Courtois: Our mandate is not to make recommendations concerning bilingualism bonuses or any other bonus that could or should be paid.
Mr. Langlois: I'm interested in what Ms Gauthier has to say.
Ms Gauthier: We have to go back to 1984-85. We have to look at what was decided at the time. You say that it was the director himself who made this decision. I don't think that that was the case. I think there were discussions with the employees. It wasn't something that happened suddenly. Negotiations did take place.
Mr. Langlois: Could you provide the committee clerk with information as to what happened at the time?
Ms Gauthier: Information about the bilingual bonus?
Mr. Langlois: Yes. Thank you.
The Chairman: Ms Meredith, for five minutes.
Ms Meredith: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to continue the discussion on your section 41 hearing. In addition to yourself,Mr. Courtois, the only participants were Gene Assad, representing CSIS; Simon Noël, representing SIRC; and eight witnesses. Is that right?
Mr. Courtois: Which case is that?
Ms Meredith: It is the Pierre Roy complaint.
Mr. Courtois: Oh yes. To tell you the truth, I don't remember. The information is always accessible from the records, but I don't remember from one hearing to the other who was present, who was counsel, who said what.
Ms Meredith: Do you remember Mr. Roy being at that hearing and testifying before you?
Mr. Courtois: Vaguely, I do, yes.
Ms Meredith: Was he represented by anybody other than himself?
Mr. Courtois: I don't know.
Ms Meredith: You don't remember whether he had a lawyer with him?
Mr. Courtois: No, I don't.
Ms Meredith: Was the answer no, he did not?
Mr. Courtois: That's not the answer. The answer is I don't remember whether he did or not.
Ms Meredith: In a letter from Mr. Tom Bradley, the director general of the secretariat for CSIS, to Maurice Archdeacon, he described the hearing as occasionally having ``the air of a three-ring circus and the service accepts its responsibility in that regard''. Can you explain why these hearings turned into a three-ring circus?
Mr. Courtois: You'd have to ask Mr. Bradley who so qualified them.
Ms Meredith: So you don't remember these hearings getting out of control or why Mr. Bradley would in his letter to Mr. Archdeacon say this particular case at times had the ``air of a three-ring circus and the service accepts its responsibility in that regard''? Unfortunately from the service's perspective, and I suspect SIRC shares this view, this carried over into the hearing. You don't remember anything that would cause Mr. Bradley to acknowledge that this hearing turned into a three-ring circus?
Mr. Courtois: No. I think this may be a descriptive way of referring to some commotion, but I don't remember any three-ring circus.
Mr. Archdeacon: There was no commotion at the hearing. He used that phrase to describe the situation of people putting up big charts describing the interconnections between all sorts of esoteric groups with Russian and other names, friends of people who had other names, and friends of Cubans. Some people at the hearing said how important that was and other people stood up and said it was absolutely ludicrous, that it was the product of a mind that knew nothing whatsoever about intelligence. There were strong views expressed on both sides, but it wasn't a three-ring circus in any other sense.
Ms Meredith: Why would Mr. Bradley accept the responsibility for that situation on behalf of CSIS?
Mr. Archdeacon: I think you'd have to ask him.
Ms Meredith: I guess because I wasn't there and the information we get is very censored...a lot of it is missing and probably the explanation for why he felt that...I assume that because this came from you, you would have access to it and would be able to answer some of these questions.
I would like to go on to recommendations that SIRC made. On September 4 -
Mr. Archdeacon: Access to what?
Ms Cohen: I have a point of order, Mr. Chairman. It's fine for the member to continue to make statements and run over them, but I think it's fair to allow the witnesses to comment.
Ms Meredith: This was a letter to Mr. Archdeacon, dated August 22, 1994. I would assume that he has a copy of this letter.
The Chairman: We're not going to have a debate across the floor here. Before you continue with your question or your statement, Mr. Archdeacon did interject to inquire about some element of your statement.
Mr. Archdeacon: I said ``access to what?'', Mr. Chairman, because Ms Meredith had implied that we should have access to something and I had somehow said we didn't have access. What I said was we of course have access to that. I have that letter. The letter was written to me, I read it, and I still have it. What I said I don't have access to is precisely what Tom Bradley was thinking when he read it, but I gave it a shot because I thought you might be interested. That's all.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Ms Meredith: I would assume it was in the letter.
I would like to continue. You issued your report on September 1, 1994. You put forth a 21-page report. Unfortunately, seventeen and a half pages are censored, but I do have four recommendations that were made and the conclusion of that report. To refresh your memory I will read the recommendations: that the security screening investigation be reopened and a number of questions be re-examined; that a new interview be granted to the translator, conducted by impartial and experienced investigators in order to clarify any unanswered questions; that a uniform investigative procedure be applied when questions of security arise in relationship to an employee; and if at all possible that investigators not know the party.
Do you recall those four recommendations?
Mr. Courtois: Not literally, no.
The Chairman: This will have to be the last question on this five-minute round.
Ms Meredith: I'm finding it very difficult, Mr. Chairman, to ask questions about an investigation and to find out that the people who conducted that investigation do not know why comments were made, cannot explain to me how many questions they were to review.
How many questions did you ask this new investigation to answer?
Mr. Courtois: Ms Meredith, you perhaps have a very good memory, but when you hear one case after another and four or five years go by, you just get these things out of your mind because you have to make room for other cases or other information.
Ms Meredith: Mr. Courtois, it's been two years.
The Chairman: Okay, Ms Meredith.
Ms Meredith: Mr. Chairman, to get it on the record -
The Chairman: Order, please.
Ms Meredith: -the clerk was asked if this was going to be brought up.
The Chairman: Ms Meredith, please. I would ask you to defer to the chair occasionally.
We have essentially completed this five-minute round. You may well wish to return to it on a subsequent round.
The questioning you've embarked on is relatively detailed. You've prepared yourself apparently specifically to follow this line of questioning. SIRC members appear not to have been aware that you would be pursuing that line. Consequently, they aren't apprised of sufficient details.
Ms Meredith: I have a point of order, Mr. Chairman. SIRC asked the clerk of this committee whether this might be on the agenda. So they were aware that it was a possibility that this might be on the agenda.
Mr. Archdeacon: Mr. Chairman, may I?
The Chairman: Mr. Archdeacon, I'll give the last word to you before I move to the next -
Mr. Archdeacon: I have just a slight addition to that.
Ms Meredith is quite right. The notice came to us from the clerk of this committee at noon today, when we were in the midst of a monthly meeting on other things. There has not been time since the receipt of that notice, which was noon today, to look into a case that took place in 1993. The report went to the minister in 1994.
I can answer the questions, but I'm just an employee. Mr. Courtois would need to read through that report again. Even I don't remember the number of items that had to be looked into. It was several, but I don't remember the number.
The Chairman: Thank you. Ms Meredith may well want to pursue this in more detail later today or as circumstances permit.
We'll move on to Mr. Discepola for a five-minute round.
Mr. Discepola (Vaudreuil): Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm glad to see there's an awful lot of interest in this. We're really bypassing the whole purpose of this meeting, which was to discuss the main estimates.
But I may as well jump in right along with everybody else. I'd like to know if you're satisfied with the way CSIS actually followed up on your recommendations for the security screening in the case of Mr. Pierre Roy.
Mr. Archdeacon: The committee instructed me to go over to CSIS and go completely through the file from start to finish, which included all of the stuff that had been done originally. I reached the point of our report, then started again.
I went through the file from start to finish. Although some questions were not finally answered, they weren't crucial questions. All the others were answered, and CSIS replied to the minister. The minister had asked particularly to be informed about the outcome of this new investigation. They reported to him and the committee.
But we didn't just accept the report. I went over and looked through the whole file again. Unfortunately, we're in a situation in which privacy and all sorts of things apply.
I just wish to say that there were particular circumstances. This was an extremely traumatic experience for one person, and you can guess who that would be. It's extremely traumatic to be accused of spying for the Soviet Union or Russia when he felt that he was a loyal Canadian and had been working for this country for many years. It affected him really seriously.
So CSIS took some considerable time to do the investigation, because subjecting the person at that time to cross-examination and trying to get him to get his mind around the sorts of questions that CSIS wanted to ask was quite difficult. It was a very traumatic experience and it has ended up rather sadly.
Mr. Discepola: As you may have guessed, this committee has a passion with right-wing extremist groups. We've been studying them desperately.
I'd like to know this. When it was determined in 1990 that extreme right organizations and their activities were essentially viewed as having a petty criminal nature and did not constitute a main threat to Canadian security, what was the rationale behind asking CSIS to continue its investigation on these types of extremist groups after that time if you viewed that they weren't a major security threat?
Mr. Goodman: I think I can answer that question because I asked myself... I didn't know who would send it over, but I went over our report again to find out.
About that time, Droege came back. We knew that Droege was a very - ``able'' is not the right word - sort of charismatic person. We had Droege put under surveillance because we thought he might have the capacity to put together the disparate right-wing groups, which is exactly what he tried to do.
I don't know if you've had the opportunity to read the report on the Heritage Front. In 1988 - I only remember that because I went over it today, not because I can remember to 1988 - Droege and -
Mr. Archdeacon: He came back to Canada in 1988.
Mr. Goodman: Yes, he came back to Canada; then in 1989 or 1990 he went to Libya.
Mr. Archdeacon: It was 1989.
Mr. Goodman: In 1989 he went to Libya. At that time, in Libya, he saw that the right-wing groups here were not united and were not a great threat, but that they were trying to get it reorganized.
He managed to get some approval from several of the groups to put them together. Just before that time, ``the source'' offered his services. The source was on that trip to Libya.
The result of that was the formation of the Heritage Front, of which Droege was the head. There were two or three others on the Libyan trip who were in senior positions, including the source.
So that was why they wanted Droege. He was a man who was dangerous to this country. Droege had started revolutions in the Dominican Republic. He was in the drug business. He was a very dangerous person. He had been in jail for a considerable period of time, and he had links with the worst types. In the report, we covered those types of persons.
That is why they continued using Droege as the person they were investigating. They went all out.
What TARC was that? What kind of a TARC? What number?
Mr. Archdeacon: Three.
Mr. Goodman: They had a third TARC on that.
Mr. Discepola: I have two more questions, but you took all my time, so I hope we get back to that.
Mr. Goodman: I'm sorry. I thought it was important.
Mr. Discepola: It was interesting.
Mr. Goodman: You may not have read the report of the background and when it all started.
Ms Rosemary Brown (Member, Security Intelligence Review Committee): I'd just like to make a general comment. I think it would be a very serious mistake for either CSIS, SIRC, or indeed this nation, to think that right-wing activity in this country is on the decline, that it is not a threat or that it does not constitute a threat to national security.
So whether it was 1990, 1993, or 1996, I certainly hope that CSIS continues to take this seriously. SIRC certainly is continuing to take it seriously because it does constitute a threat to our national security.
Mr. Discepola: I have two more questions if I'm allowed to continue.
The Chairman: No, I have to move to another member.
Ms Meredith: I find it amazing, Mr. Chair, that the investigation of the Heritage Front took place at the same time as the Pierre Roy investigation, and we have people who have instant memory of the details of one but not the other.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to -
Mr. Goodman: I went over that report today and I started off by saying that I had read that report today. That is why I have such a good memory. If you ask my wife or daughter, they'll tell you I don't have such a good memory.
Ms Meredith: I'd like to ask Mr. Courtois if he is satisfied with the expeditious timing. CSIS did the reinvestigation after you recommended that they reopen and reinvestigate it. You were told that they would deal with it expeditiously. When did you receive a reply from them, and did you feel it was expeditious?
Mr. Archdeacon: We received the report, Mr. Chairman, in I think the first week of January 1996. That was, I think, 17 months from the time we sent the report both to the minister and to the director.
Ms Meredith perhaps didn't want to hear what I said earlier, but what I tried to say, without breaching privacy regulations and all sorts of other things, is that we understand that this is a fairly long time. We're not idiots. CSIS are not idiots. I tried to say, without breaching privacy to too great an extent, that this was a very traumatic experience for one of the people involved. Without that person's cooperation and full ability to respond, it was very difficult to do a complete... It's not fair to say any more about this person. He's been hurt enough. But there is a reason for that. We were satisfied that 17 months was the best any reasonable people could do.
Ms Meredith: It is no coincidence that the briefing note, which was basically a page and a half of information in response to a 21-page report, and which was received 17 or 18 months after the fact, appeared three weeks after Normand Lester asked SIRC if they had received the report. Is there any coincidence that it was received after the request?
Mr. Archdeacon: I think Normand Lester was on Le Point on February 22.
Ms Meredith: I believe he asked SIRC where the report was in the latter part of November or the first part of December.
Mr. Archdeacon: He may have made an access to information request for the report that went to the minister on September 1, 1994. He may have made a request for that report in November under access to information, but he certainly did not make any request for any further report because he wouldn't have known about one.
Ms Meredith: Did this one and a half pages of information, which was the response to a 21-page report, deal with an unreported contact, the translator going to another region and visiting a human source in that other region? Did they give you an answer to why that happened and whether it was accepted?
Mr. Archdeacon: The report that came back, Mr. Chairman, did not cover those things because, as Ms Meredith knows, it was a rather short report. I looked at the whole file. Because the implication that he went to see a human source in another region leaves so many clouds hanging in the air, perhaps I could clarify that.
That human source was in fact a lady who was popping into CSIS and calling CSIS, and therefore not truly a human source by any stretch of the imagination, complaining that her husband was a KGB operative. CSIS looked into it because you always look into those sorts of things, but didn't take it very seriously. To designate one of this quarrelling couple as being a human source is not quite reasonable. That human source was indeed the wife of a person whom she accused of being a KGB agent, although there was little evidence to that effect anywhere.
Ms Meredith: Mr. Chairman, did the Montreal translator have permission from somebody in the Toronto region to meet with this source?
Mr. Courtois: No.
Ms Meredith: Is it normal procedure for a translator from one region to go to another region to meet with source people who provide information?
Mr. Courtois: Maybe because they all spoke the same language and they came from the same place. They're all Russians.
Ms Meredith: Is it normal for a translator from one region to visit a source in another region without permission? Is it normal?
Mr. Courtois: I would say no.
Ms Meredith: Did anybody in Montreal region have permission to meet that source?
Mr. Courtois: Are you referring to the wife or a real source?
Ms Meredith: I'm referring to a person who is a source of information in the Toronto region. Whether one considers her information to be great or marginal, she was a person providing information in one region. I am asking if anybody had permission in Montreal to visit a source of information to CSIS in another region.
Mr. Courtois: I think it would be easier to ask whether it was reasonable for the person who made the visit to make a visit in another city to that particular person, not to a source. If you call it a source, it establishes a general parameter that is not accurate.
Ms Meredith: Is it normal -
The Chairman: This will be the last question, Ms Meredith.
Ms Meredith: Mr. Courtois, is it normal for a translator from one region to visit a contact person in another region with somebody who is not a CSIS employee?
Mr. Courtois: I don't know.
Ms Meredith: You don't know if it's normal for a CSIS employee to take someone who is not a CSIS employee with him when he visits a person who is a source of information.
Mr. Courtois: It's probably not normal, Ms Meredith.
Ms Meredith: Thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you, Ms Meredith.
Mr. Discepola, for five minutes.
Mr. Discepola: Do you feel the service now has a set of ministerial directives on human source management that you're comfortable with? Have you reviewed that policy?
Mr. Courtois: Yes.
Mr. Goodman: No.
Mr. Courtois: We're not?
Mr. Goodman: I don't think we are. After the SIRC report, the minister made some directions to change the source handling.
Mr. Discepola: That was in August 1995, I presume.
Mr. Goodman: Yes, and when we reviewed them we thought he had gone a good way toward what we recommended and wanted in our report to him. We thought there was some doubt about how you would interpret a portion of them, so we requested that he still clarify, although we thought they were much better than they had been prior to the investigation.
Mr. Discepola: Does that direction incorporate the recommendations you made in 1994?
Mr. Goodman: We thought there was some -
Mr. Discepola: Not fully?
Mr. Goodman: Not quite. There was some doubt about a small portion of them, and we thought that should be corrected.
Mr. Discepola: Could you elaborate on which ones the ministry didn't incorporate that you feel are important?
Mr. Goodman: Certainly.
Go ahead, Maurice.
Mr. Archdeacon: They didn't talk clearly enough about people in leadership positions who were being used as sources by CSIS. It talked about people in positions of extreme influence and great influence and stuff like that, but it just wasn't as clear as we thought it should be, given what we had seen in the Heritage Front affair.
Mr. Discepola: Do you believe the CSIS act should be changed to allow the service to disclose information on individuals or organizations that have been threatened?
Mr. Goodman: That's a pretty wide question.
Mr. Courtois: That's a big question.
Mr. Goodman: What exactly do you mean?
Mr. Discepola: If you know that a group or an individual has been threatened, should we not allow that person or group to be informed that they've been threatened? Under the act, I believe you can't do that right now.
Mr. Goodman: We are not the police, but we do inform the police. The question of upholding the law is a police responsibility, and if any changes are required, the police should be in the discussions with the group. As soon as we hear anything that would be dangerous to any group of people, we tell the police in that municipality.
Mr. Discepola: How much time do I have?
The Chairman: Just to clarify, Mr. Goodman, when you use the word ``we'', are you referring to CSIS?
Mr. Goodman: Yes, I'm sorry.
Mr. Archdeacon: May I add something? Judge David McDonald, who unfortunately died recently at a very young age... In his three-year report on the misdeeds of the RCMP security service, he came down very strongly. He has lots of stuff to back it up if you want to read it - if you're thinking of changing the law, which is your prerogative. Judge McDonald thinks that an intelligence service should not under any circumstances be allowed, except either through the political power or the police power, to warn the police. You may think of some exceptions or you may disagree with him, but that was the result of the McDonald commission in the 1979-1982 period.
Mr. Discepola: How much time do I have, Mr. Chairman?
The Chairman: A minute.
Mr. Discepola: With regard to the Heritage Front question, do you believe the source was a law-abiding citizen?
Mr. Goodman: The who?
Mr. Discepola: The source - was it a law-abiding citizen?
Mr. Goodman: It's not easy to be what you and I might think of when you have to appear to be in concurrence with the views of people who aren't necessarily law-abiding citizens. We think that on the whole, with a couple of exceptions, he tried not to do anything that he could be charged for.
We do know, and we said so in our report, that there were a couple of matters where we thought he had gone beyond the bounds to try to do something that actually worked out, but which we thought was dangerous to do. We believe that he was a very successful source for CSIS, and that he saved certain groups from a lot of trouble and allowed CSIS to protect certain groups in society.
Ms Brown: Mr. Chairman, I think the record shows that he never broke any laws. I think that's one thing the report was very clear on. The police were very clear that he didn't break any laws.
Mr. Discepola: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Mr. Langlois: I have been patient, as usual. Getting back to my initial question, aside from the Preston Manning file, which has been rechristened, are there any other politicians who have been investigated by the Service?
Mr. Courtois: I would prefer it if you asked me if there are any politicians who have been the target of an investigation. When you say that there are no other politicians...
Mr. Langlois: I'm the one who's asking the questions here.
Mr. Courtois: Then ask. I can't answer that because it is ambiguous.
Mr. Langlois: Thank you. At the bottom of page 14, you state that the Committee will:
«assess domestic changes of information, including a review of any collection, retention and dissemination of criminal intelligence;
Can you tell me if the Service currently has access to the CPIC national register either to enter or to retrieve information?
Mr. Courtois: Yes, CSIS has access to this register.
Mr. Langlois: I see. Does it enter information into the system?
Mr. Courtois: No, it does not.
Mr. Langlois: It retrieves information, but does not make any entries?
Mr. Courtois: That's correct.
Mr. Langlois: At which level are CSIS employees authorized to access the CPIC?
Mr. Courtois: That is an internal CSIS matter. If someone wishes to access the register, I would imagine that that person has to get the proper authorization. I don't know who gives that authorization.
Mr. Langlois: I would like one further piece of information. At which level is a person authorized to have access to this system?
Mr. Courtois: We can find that out for you.
Mr. Langlois: You will, of course, pass along that information to the clerk.
The Chairman: Just before we move on that, do I have this right? You were asking SIRC to determine the RCMP criteria for access to CPIC?
Mr. Langlois: No. They set their own criteria. I'm referring to the CSIS personnel who are authorized to receive this information. I understood that they do not pass any along. Is that right,Mr. Vari? To your knowledge, no information is passed along under any circumstances.
Thank you. I have no further questions, but I will likely learn a little more by watching the Fifth Estate or Le Point when Mr. Lester makes a guest appearance.
The Chairman: Okay, back to the government side.
Ms Cohen, you were signalling me earlier. Did you wish to take a five-minute round?
Ms Cohen: Yes.
Yesterday Mr. Gray appeared in the House of Commons with his national security statement. He talked quite a bit about various security concerns. One that seemed to get a lot of attention in the press yesterday was international economic spying, or espionage.
Unlike others here, I don't have any secret information. I'm just running on what I see on TV. Last night the Minister of Foreign Affairs said on the news that he didn't think it was necessary for us to establish some sort of CIA-type agency or agency to come to grips with these things.
I see from your outlook that you're talking about areas of economic security and that sort of thing. What kind of an oversight investigation have you undertaken? How do you think we stack up in terms of protecting our own industrial and economic security in Canada?
Mr. Courtois: You have to distinguish between what the press was talking about, which is in effect establishing an espionage service abroad...
Ms Cohen: Yes.
Mr. Courtois: The other point you're making is whether we are well equipped to protect our own values.
Ms Cohen: Yes, I'm more interested in how we're protecting ourselves at home. How are we doing?
Mr. Courtois: I think we do quite well there.
Ms Cohen: And...?
Mr. Archdeacon: There is a program under way by CSIS to go around the country on a volunteer basis with Canadian industry, particularly in high-tech industry and areas where Canada is strong, such as in telecommunications and biotechnology, to alert people to some of the things that other countries do.
It seems to have been received very well, so it's continuing. Everybody has to be aware of this sort of thing. Some countries are really keen on stealing secrets, and Canada is right at the leading edge in places like telecommunications.
Ms Cohen: Is it possible for CSIS to - and I'm almost free-associating here - provide services and get reimbursed for them or get user fees?
Mr. Goodman: Everybody is into user fees now, especially the provinces.
Mr. Courtois: If you're talking about CSIS doing espionage work -
Ms Cohen: No, protection work, consulting or...
Mr. Courtois: Well, they can do it, but they have to do it within limits. We shouldn't ask CSIS to do protection work the company can do itself.
Ms Cohen: You're making the point I was going to make.
Mr. Courtois: CSIS will mention if they're aware of a threat, but we believe, or I believe, the threat should be met by the corporation whose secrets we're protecting.
Mr. Vari: Especially, CSIS doesn't have the know-how wherein these secrets can be taken out in complicated technical matters, in different fields of the industry. So CSIS can give only superficial protection of documents and telephone...secret answers. As Mr. Courtois says, really, this can only be done by the companies themselves.
As well, we have to take into consideration that these companies are going into joint ventures with all kinds of foreign companies. We don't know where the border of secrets, or not secrets, is, but common knowledge is the case. It's a complicated matter. At the same time, we have said in our next yearly report that some damage, considerable damage, has been done by some recording services who were infiltrating in Canada, who stole secrets and gave information that should not have been given, especially in competition and consulting areas. We cannot name the countries, but some of them are friendly countries.
Mr. Courtois: Imagine what the unfriendly ones do.
Ms Cohen: Right. Thanks.
The Chairman: Ms Meredith, five minutes.
Ms Meredith: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to continue on the one-and-a-half-page response to a 21-page investigation SIRC did. I'd like to know whether SIRC is satisfied with the answer as to whether or not this female in Toronto was a real source. Did the Montreal translator learn about this woman through his duties with CSIS? Why did he go to see her? Wasn't he asking questions about information she passed on to CSIS investigations? Are they satisfied in that one-and-a-half-page response as to why the translator failed a polygraph, why the translator had unexpected regular contact with somebody who had known association with the GRU and the KGB about the translator's finances? Did the translator have unrecorded contact -
The Chairman: Ms Meredith, are you...?
Ms Meredith: I'm asking a question.
The Chairman: There are about a half dozen bullets there. The way you're presenting the question, one might want to make notes. If you could pause and give the witnesses an opportunity to answer, it might help.
Ms Meredith: I'm basically reviewing, Mr. Chairman, the things I have brought up before. I'm asking them if SIRC is satisfied in the one-and-a-half-page response they received from CSIS in the reinvestigation they asked for as a conclusion of a 21-page investigation. Are they satisfied?
Mr. Vari: Mr. Chairman, as Mr. Archdeacon said before, we were notified only two or three hours before this meeting that one of the members would put these questions, and we are not prepared for them. Ms Meredith goes into details nobody can answer here. Maybe Mr. Archdeacon remembers something.
If we have to answer in detail, we'd prefer to come here another time, be prepared for it and answer what is in the file.
Mr. Courtois: Furthermore, Ms Meredith, if I may, you keep saying it's a ``one-and-a-half-page reply to a 21-page memorandum''. The value of the reply is not necessarily to be judged by its length.
Ms Meredith: I repeat my question: is SIRC satisfied with the one-and-a-half-page response to your investigation? Are you satisfied with that response? Did it answer the questions you had asked?
Mr. Vari: We'd have to go back to the file.
Mr. Courtois: Mr. Archdeacon went through the whole file. It went way beyond a one-and-a-half-page record. We were satisfied.
Ms Meredith: My understanding is that after 17 months, CSIS responded with a briefing note to SIRC that this was the response, which entailed three pages, one and a half pages of which dealt with the investigation.
Now, there may be a whole file there; there's a 21-page report from SIRC. But the response by CSIS to the reopening of that investigation was a total of three pages - one and a half pages of information. I am asking if those one and a half pages answered all the unanswered questions. They had asked for this investigation to be reopened to address the unanswered questions. I am asking: did that one and a half pages of information answer those unanswered questions?
Mr. Archdeacon: We can now understand the confusion, Mr. Chairman. Ms Meredith just said she understands that CSIS sent a one-and-a-half-page - or three-page, whatever - report to us in response to what we said. That is not the case. They did not send us a one-and-a-half-page response to our report. They sent a note to the minister and they sent us a copy of that note.
As was understood from the very beginning, as soon as they had completed their investigation, our researchers - or the members of our committee, had they wished - would go over and go through the whole file and look at all the questions that were asked, all the answers, all the financial information, everything. They were not going to send us a 30- or 40-page document. They were going to give us the file. We don't judge anything by one-and-a-half-page memos or by letters. We go and look at files. That is the way we do our job.
So that is where the confusion lies. Ms Meredith misunderstood the system.
Ms Meredith: Just to clarify this, I understood from the 21-page report that the conclusion of it was that SIRC asked CSIS to reinvestigate the case, to answer questions they felt were left unanswered. They made recommendations that this investigation be done by somebody who did not know the translator. You made four recommendations. I would suggest to you -
Ms Archdeacon: Ms Meredith, I can't remember from thirty minutes ago, and you are asking Mr. Courtois to remember from three years ago.
Ms Meredith: Here are the recommendations: that the security screening investigation be reopened and a number of questions be re-examined; that a new interview be granted to the translator, conducted by impartial investigators in order to clarify unanswered questions; that a uniform investigative procedure be applied when questions of security arise in relationship to an employee; and investigators should not know the party.
The Chairman: Excuse me, but if you could wrap it up into a question, that would be the last question.
Ms Meredith: I asked the question, are they satisfied that CSIS has answered all of these unanswered questions in that one-and-a-half-page report? I understood from the letter fromMr. Courtois that SIRC was not going to do an investigation on this, and that's why it was done under section 41.
Mr. Archdeacon: I don't understand that last sentence.
The fact is, those recommendations made by Mr. Courtois were actioned by CSIS. It is just like the title on a TARC report; we are talking about the fact that there's a one-and-a-half-page memorandum, or letter, from CSIS to SIRC. As far as we're concerned, that one-and-a-half-page memorandum has nothing to do with it. We never, ever accept situations like that. We go and look at the files, and we interview people to find out when we are missing something on the files.
So that's what we did. The file is a very large one.
The Chairman: Could I just ask you to comment, then? Is it the view of SIRC that this file is closed now, or does SIRC take the view that there is more work to be done by CSIS?
Mr. Archdeacon: The committee completely examined everything. I verbally briefed them. I've forgotten exactly where it was, but in any event I did that with the whole committee. The committee asked me questions, and then the committee decided that the case was now closed and that the concerns they had were satisfactorily answered.
May I finally reiterate that we spent I think seven - I can't remember how many - days of hearings and we cross-examined and we heard both sides. Mrs. Meredith has heard one side of this whole thing, as is evident. We heard both sides of it and we came to a conclusion. Mrs. Meredith clearly has not heard both sides, but even if she had, she may not agree with us. That's absolutely her prerogative. I hate to get into an argument like this, but it's really silly. Having heard both sides we came to a conclusion. She is challenging that conclusion having heard only one side. I don't know how we can answer that.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Ms Cohen: Quite a bit in the media we hear and read about criminal organizations from abroad, from the former Soviet Union, from the Far East. I'm wondering if CSIS looks at these kinds of things. I'm not asking for specific information, but in general where would they draw the line? At which point would CSIS stop and turn it over to someone else? When they do turn it over to a policing organization, how do they choose which one? I'm looking for some general information on that because I think it's something Canadians get concerned about.
Mr. Goodman: Canadians certainly do get concerned about it.
Ms Cohen: Should they?
Mr. Goodman: Yes. What happens is that sometimes, though not often, the police don't notify them. For example, when the big hey rube with the Canadian Jewish Congress, I think, took place and we came across some information... Who was that? Oh, I can't say anyway.
Ms Cohen: Listen, you can tell us. We won't tell a soul, of course.
Mr. Goodman: That's what my wife used to say to me about my legal cases: you can tell me.
There was information that somebody was going out to kill one of the heads of the Canadian Jewish Congress. We immediately informed the Metropolitan Toronto Police. The Metropolitan Toronto Police knew that the person who said he was going to kill this person was in jail. They had just arrested him that day or half a day earlier, something like that. So they did nothing about it and they didn't inform this chap.
Of course, they were wild at us because we didn't... It's not our job. As Mr. Justice McDonald says, it would lead to all sorts of complications. But I think that whether they had this fellow arrested or not, the chap was entitled to know there was somebody in jail who wanted to kill him. I thought that was a mistake.
Those are the problems you run into occasionally. The only thing we can do is try to impress upon the police that they either have to do something or they have to tell somebody. But law enforcement has to be done by the various police forces that have jurisdiction.
Ms Cohen: I'll just go back to the original question. I would think that the landing on our shores of big criminal organizations or tentacles of them would be something CSIS might become aware of before, say, the RCMP or the Metropolitan Toronto Police or the OPP or one of these other agencies.
I'm curious to know at which point, when you become aware of one of these organizations, do you... You have an obligation to tell the police that there's something criminal going on - I'm sorry, CSIS does - and it's not up to CSIS to investigate criminal activity. There must be an overlap there. It must be convenient sometimes to have CSIS take a look at organized crime.
Mr. Goodman: The act entitled us to enter into agreements. We do enter into agreements with the various police forces. But I agree with you. The question of the cooperation between law enforcement and security of the nation is not always clear. It has to be worked out by the bodies in question. That's why the act does that; it permits.
You would know better than I do about the type of cooperation there is or isn't.
Mr. Archdeacon: I would just say, if this does answer your question, that CSIS lets the RCMP know right off the bat, as soon as it has any criminal intelligence. Sometimes it might look further, because it might be a pretty vague reference. Often they start off that way.
The second thing is that foreign intelligence services have often a funny view or a view that we consider a bit odd in this country in that they will not talk to police people. They will talk only to other intelligence agencies. So a lot of transnational crime - which is the new buzzword - information comes from other intelligence agencies and they send it to CSIS. They won't send it directly to the RCMP; they send it to CSIS. So CSIS becomes a funnel for a lot of this stuff.
Of course, when you get a lot of information, you can sometimes put two and two together when you might not otherwise be able to do that. So it's not a good idea. We think it's not a good idea to tell other intelligence agencies not to do that and to send it to the RCMP, because we know they won't be as open as they are with CSIS.
Ms Cohen: I see. Thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you, Ms Cohen.
Ms Meredith: You may find this very funny, but I don't find it funny when you don't get an opportunity to get information.
Mr. Courtois, at the end of your report, when you asked that this investigation be reopened, can you tell me who...? In CSIS's briefing note, it states that a senior tasked a senior service official to conduct a comprehensive investigation. Can you advise us who? Was it a top individual who did this investigation? Who was the person? The position is good enough. Who did this investigation?
Mr. Archdeacon: I know him, but I don't know what his position was at the time. He was a senior up and coming - not only senior, but up and coming.
Ms Meredith: Could you please advise us in writing of the position of the individual who did the investigation as a result of a recommendation in your 21-page report, and who initiated the 3-page response?
Mr. Archdeacon: Mr. Chairman, I'd like to mention that the one-and-a-half-page and three-page responses... If anybody has ever worked for a minister of the Crown in Ottawa, you know very well that you had better be brief or he or she won't read it, because they have so much to read. Nobody sends matching 21 pages for 21 pages to a minister. If you don't send it in a page and a half, you don't get it read.
That was not an answer. The minister wanted to know whether CSIS now felt comfortable with it and had done what had been asked of them, and it wrote a short note to say it had. We looked at the whole file. I hate to appear silly, but I'm not sure about whether or not we can reveal the name of the person who might have it, but we will try anyway.
Ms Meredith: Mr. Chairman, I am not asking for the name. I asked for the position of the individual who conducted the investigation as a request by the SIRC report.
The Chairman: There's the question. I hope SIRC can provide an answer to Ms Meredith.
Mr. Vari: We will analyse this question.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Ms Meredith: I think that's it, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: I will go to Mr. Discepola, who has another question.
Mr. Discepola: The two questions I had related to the Heritage Front report, and the gentleman has just left. He's the one who has read it recently, so I'll defer my questions.
Mr. Courtois: I wouldn't give up. We have a copy of it.
Mr. Discepola: I'd like to know, then, in your opinion why in the world Preston Manning's name was used at all in any of the documentation that related to the investigation of the suspected third country contribution to the election campaign.
Mr. Archdeacon: I've forgotten the exact date but the original title was ``Unknown Contributor(s) to Preston Manning's Electoral Campaign''. It should have had more on it than that, but that was the exact title. It was not titled ``Preston Manning'', and Mrs. Meredith has a copy of the sheets of paper.
Here it is, and the title on it is ``Unknown Contributor(s) to Preston Manning's Electoral Campaign''. Then there's the text of what is to be looked at, which is whether somebody, some country, was going to contribute money to Preston Manning's electoral campaign.
When you have a talk like that you must then open a file, and this talk was sent down to the management information section in CSIS. Because it didn't have LNU/FNU in front of the ``Unknown Contributor(s)'', which means last name unknown, first name unknown, the only name the clerk down there could see was Preston Manning, and you have to have a name on a file. So he didn't write ``Unknown Contributor(s)'', he wrote ``Preston Manning''. That was an error. He shouldn't have done that.
That error remained like that for at least three months without being corrected. It wasn't corrected until about March, when the assessment was being done.
There have been allegations that the title on the talk was changed. Written in ink was ``LNU/FNU'' ahead of what had always been there and had never been changed. BecauseMrs. Meredith was so sure of this, and because we knew she had our information from somewhere else, we decided to have the original talk X-rayed.
We have exact evidence that everything Mrs. Meredith has said about this - about it having been titled ``Preston Manning'', about things having been typed around it, and about all those sorts of things - is completely and totally incorrect. The file was mistitled and the file does not give anybody any reason to investigate anybody. A file title does not authorize anybody to investigate anybody. There was never any time when every CSIS agent across the country could have investigated Mr. Manning. That is a figment of someone's imagination.
Mr. Discepola: On the question of the source, I would like to know if in your opinion you felt that he acted as an agent provocateur in the Heritage Front. In your opinion, did he just cross the line in this regard?
Mr. Archdeacon: I think the members of our committee would think that he came very close to the line.
Mr. Vari: Very close.
Mr. Discepola: Did he act as an agent provocateur?
Mr. Archdeacon: It was damned close. We thought that given the circumstances and the violent, racist group of people he was among...it's a judgment. If you judged after reading our report that he actually did cross that line, I don't think we would fight with you at all. We thought that given all the circumstances and trying to take account of the fact that it's so easy to use hindsight...but when you're on the ground in the thick of it, it's not so easy to decide about things. We thought he'd stretched the limit - I mean the members of the committee did. It isn't my opinion. I'm just expressing to you what they said and what they wrote, in fact. They said he did stretch the limit of what we would consider appropriate. They took into account the mitigating circumstances of where he was -
Mr. Vari: And they criticized CSIS for this.
Mr. Archdeacon: - and they did criticize CSIS for the management not helping...for leaving it to the guys on the ground who have a tough row to hoe.
Mr. Discepola: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The Chairman: I'm reluctant to go to an additional round, Ms Meredith.
Ms Meredith: I think I deserve a chance to respond to the accusations that have just been made.
Mr. Archdeacon: They're not accusations.
The Chairman: I don't think it's fair to characterize it as an accusation; however, if you'd care to be -
Ms Meredith: I'll be very brief.
The Chairman: Let me say this. I don't want to turn this into a debate. You are entitled to your view, as are the members of SIRC. I just don't want to see a debate here, but if you'd care to make a comment...
Ms Meredith: Then I would like to put something on the record, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to put on the record, Mr. Archdeacon, that the comments you just made are in complete contradiction to a letter you wrote on January 27, 1995, addressed to Mr. Derek Lee, and in testimony you've given before this committee. It's a complete contradiction.
The Chairman: I'm sure SIRC would want to address that. Perhaps this is something that can be clarified later.
Can I take it, Mr. Archdeacon, Mr. Courtois, that you would differ?
Mr. Archdeacon: We would differ with that characterization.
The Chairman: There may be ample room here to explain the difference of views that appears to have arisen.
I want to thank the members of SIRC for their appearance here today as part of the estimates procedure. Members of SIRC will know that the subcommittee is pursuing a report on the Heritage Front report, which SIRC has prepared. So we are engaging in 20-20 hindsight consideration of your report.
I would hope that we can make arrangements for future meetings, not on the Heritage Front, but on other matters of mutual concern. You are, after all, Parliament's instrument in review/oversight of CSIS and there are a number of issues that committee members here, I'm sure, would want to take up, not just on the estimates procedure.
I want to close by welcoming back two individuals, because they have a history in this area. One is the Hon. Paule Gauthier, who has already been noted as returning as a member of SIRC, who has a number of years of experience with SIRC. The other is our colleague, George Rideout, who was on the five-year review of CSIS committee and he is now sitting with the subcommittee. Those are two welcome returns to the subcommittee.
If there is no further business... Mr. Archdeacon.
Mr. Archdeacon: May I just say something quite out of order and say that we welcomeMr. Rideout back too.
The Chairman: The meeting is adjourned.
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