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Tories to create new security bodies: document

Last Updated Sat, 12 Jun 2004 16:57:44

MONTREAL - An internal party document obtained by the French-language service of CBC suggests the Conservatives want to set up a U.S.-style national intelligence agency to manage information from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP.

But while one of the party's candidates confirms the plan, a party official says it no longer forms part of the Conservatives' agenda should they be elected on June 28.

The new agency, which a Tory candidate in Quebec likened to the American National Security Agency, would report directly to the prime minister and account for itself privately before a parliamentary committee.

"It's a matter of having a super agency to co-ordinate efforts and information from each of these groups," Outrement candidate Marc Rousseau told Radio-Canada. "We must harmonize our policies with those of the Americans."

The Liberals have been reluctant to change Canada's internal security system so that it is integrated with agencies such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Central Intelligence Agency.

"It's certainly not the goal to have one policy that subservient to American policy," Rousseau said in the Radio-Canada interview. "We're really talking about a policy of collaboration and co-operation."

The same document revealed that Stephen Harper's party wants to create another super-agency that would blend Canada Customs, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority and the harbour police into one entity to monitor activity at the country's borders.

Yaroslav Baran, the Conservatives' deputy director of communications, said the months-old document Radio-Canada cites does not reflect the party's current platform on national security, released one week ago.

"It is not our policy to merge the RCMP and CSIS, nor is it our policy to merge our coastal security agencies," Baran told CBC News Online on Saturday.

He called the document "a general position guideline that served as a stop-gap until the platform came out. Our election platform, obviously, supercedes previous papers, and only the platform should be regarded as policy."

The Conservative platform, which Harper unveiled one week ago, is mostly silent on specifics of a national security policy, with the exception of a promise to more quickly deport a backlog of 30,000 to 36,000 "criminals and false refugees."

The closest it comes to giving a position on harmonized security is this statement: "We must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States and other allies when we should, in order to sit eye-to-eye with them when we must. We should have a stronger relationship with the U.S. to deal with issues like the increasingly protectionist stance of U.S. trade policy, border security, and the war on terrorism."

Written by CBC News Online staff

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