Strange threshold

The director of CSIS claims that cabinet ministers and municipal officials in two provinces are under the influence of foreign govenrments.

“We’re in fact a bit worried in a couple of provinces that we have an indication that there’s some political figures who have developed quite an attachment to foreign countries,” Fadden said.

“The individual becomes in a position to make decisions that affect the country or the province or a municipality. All of a sudden, decisions aren’t taken on the basis of the public good but on the basis of another country’s preoccupations.”

There are several municipal politicians in British Columbia and in at least two provinces there are ministers of the Crown who we think are under at least the general influence of a foreign government.

— “Some politicians under foreign sway: CSIS.”  CBC News, 23 June 2010. [Emphasis mine]

The director went on to say that he was in discussions with the Privy Council Office to determine what future action might be taken.

The wise will know that foreign influence of government officials is not a new phenomena; every country on the planet seeks to influence others—overtly or covertly—in order to advance its national interests.  No nation—and especially not a relatively wealthy Western one—is immune to such treatment.  Part of the role of any nation’s security intelligence apparatus is to monitor such activity and, if it seems like it may present a danger to the governance of the nation, to bring it to the attention of higher authorities (and eventually law enforcement) so that the damage may be contained and those responsible may be prosecuted.

It is odd, then, to see the director backpedal  two days later and reveal that he did not think the matter serious enough to bring to the attention of the federal government.

The statement by Richard Fadden, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, followed an uproar over comments he made in a CBC interview broadcast on Tuesday night.

I have not apprised the Privy Council Office of the cases I mentioned in the interview on CBC. At this point, CSIS has not deemed the cases to be of sufficient concern to bring them to the attention of provincial authorities,” the written statement says.

— Bell, Stewart.  “CSIS head did not warn Ottawa of spy infiltration.”  National Post, 24 June 2010. [Emphasis mine]

First, the director stated an untruth on national television—he had not, in fact, informed the PCO.  And that omission was because his agency did not consider the degree of influence to be great enough to be brought to the attention of federal authorities.  Which makes one wonder why it’s of sufficient interest to mention to a television audience.

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