Question Period: National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Cityscape of Vancouver, British Columbia

Hon. Andrew Cardozo: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. Let me take a moment to start with the positive, and recognize that the people of Canada have just sent $500 million to the Ukrainian military efforts, as announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when in Kyiv this past weekend. My question is about foreign interference on our end in Canada, and I want to return to a question that I asked a couple of weeks ago when the Right Honourable David Johnston put out his report. I would like to suggest that there be a third option that would combine some of the ideas that he put forward, as well as other ideas that people have raised.

Taking the ideas of his that the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, or NSICOP, and the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, or NSIRA, would review all of the materials that he looked at, there should also be a national public inquiry — and NSICOP and NSIRA should be involved throughout that process to review materials that would not be made public during the process. I would assume that during a public inquiry of this kind, there are various materials that will be public, and various parts that will be in camera, and I think there’s an important role that NSIRA can play in reviewing that material. What are the government’s views on actually having a public inquiry at this point?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question and for your suggestions. As all members of the chamber know, and as all Canadians know, discussions are under way between the leaders of the opposition parties and the government with regard to the mandate for a public process, as well as the determination of what the public process should be, how it should be structured and, of course, who might lead that process. The Government of Canada is encouraged that the members of the opposition are working together. My understanding is that bilateral meetings are taking place, or are scheduled to take place, between the leaders of the two major parties — and it is the hope of the Government of Canada that we will soon have a consensus emerge amongst the parties in the other place so that the work can continue.

Senator Cardozo: Thank you for that, Senator Gold. I’d like to follow up by saying that I think it is vital that the inquiry be comprehensive in at least two ways: It looks at foreign interference from any and all countries, whether it’s China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela or any others. And it looks at all forms of interference, whether it’s political, economic, academic, scientific, communications, hi-tech or matters of immigration and international affairs.

Can you encourage the government to ensure that we have a broad and comprehensive review that looks at not only the issues that we face right now, but also the future of a problem that is increasingly becoming an issue for all countries to be concerned about in the years ahead?

Senator Gold: Again, thank you for your question and suggestions. Both the Government of Canada and the intelligence agencies have been aware — for some time — that this is a problem that is growing and a matter of great concern. That’s evidenced in reports issued by NSICOP statements and other statements, and, of course, it was also noted and underlined in the Honourable David Johnston’s report.

This stage of the process is one in which the representatives of all political parties of the other place are seized with the obligation to arrive at a common understanding of the mandate in the process, and the government hopes that it will bear fruit as soon as possible.

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