Straight Talk

MPS May Oversee CSIS

By charlie smith

Publish Date: 31-Mar-2005

Veteran Ontario Liberal MP Derek Lee has strongly hinted that Prime Minister Paul Martin will follow through on a 15-month-old promise to create a parliamentary committee to oversee the country’s security and intelligence services. The idea was first proposed by a 1989-90 parliamentary subcommittee that reviewed the CSIS Act and the Security Offences Act.

“For me, it’s a 15-year wait to get this committee in place,” Lee told the Straight. “For me, it’s like a celebration. It just shows you sometimes in politics, you’ve got to hang around for a while to get your stuff through.”

Lee, a member of the 1989-90 subcommittee, said that Canada’s major allies—the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand—all have legislative oversight of their intelligence agencies. When Martin became prime minister in December 2003, he promised that he would create a parliamentary committee on security and intelligence.

A few months later, Martin appointed a multiparty committee of MPs chaired by Lee, which did not have the same powers as a parliamentary committee. Instead, it reported directly to Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan. Last October, the committee submitted a set of recommendations, which still haven’t been released. Lee, however, said that this report will be made public at the same time as the government issues its response, likely within the next month.


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