MPs call on CSIS head to quit

A Commons committee has called for Richard Fadden to resign and for the government to apologize for his statements about alleged foreign influence in Canadian politics.
CSIS head Richard Fadden waits to testify at a Commons committee on Parliement Hill, Monday July 5, 2010. A report from the committee was released March 23, 2011. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The reputation of Canadian politicians and of the Chinese-Canadian community was damaged by CSIS Director Richard Fadden and the Conservative government should ask him to resign, a parliamentary committee has concluded.

The public safety committee issued a harsh report Wednesday that says Fadden created "a climate of suspicion" and "planted doubt about the integrity" of elected officials and Chinese-Canadians. Conservative MPs on the committee disagreed with the report's findings and issued their own dissenting report.

Fadden prompted a controversy last year after an interview he did with CBC's The National about public statements he'd made alleging foreign interference in Canadian politics. Fadden said the intelligence agency believed ministers in two provinces as well as municipal elected officials in British Columbia were under the general influence of a foreign government. He also said that some Chinese embassy or consulate officals help fund and organize protests against the Canadian government.

Fadden and other witnesses were called before the committee. The report says Fadden was given the opportunity to substantiate his allegations, "but he could not or would not" and did not retract his statements. No specific evidence was given to the committee to back up the CSIS director's comments, the report said, and no witness would name the individuals, provinces or municipalities that Fadden was referring to in his statements.

The report by the opposition-dominated committee also lays blame on the government because it "failed to either substantiate or refute" Fadden's allegations. Among the report's recommendations is that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Prime Minister Stephen Harper be held responsible for Fadden's "unacceptable" statements. It demands they issue an apology in the House of Commons, and that Parliament censure them.

Toews should require Fadden to quit, according to the opposition, because he "seriously damaged the reputation of elected officials," and his conduct was "unbefitting" of a director of the country's intelligence agency.

The government should implement the recommendations so that Canadians can have stronger confidence in their elected officials, the report concludes.

In their dissenting report, Conservative MPs on the committee said opposition MPs tried to advance "their political agenda at the expense of national security" and that the report "bears very little resemblance to the reality of the hearings and ignores testimony provided by witnesses."

"As a result, the Conservative Party cannot support the inflammatory and inaccurate recommendations contained within the report," it said.

In his testimony before the committee, Fadden said he regretted sharing details publicly but that he never compromised national security.