Inside Politics

Citing 'Porter Affair', NDP opposed former Reform MP's SIRC appointment

The New Democratic Party is taking the unprecedented step of going public with its opposition to the government's latest appointment to the committee that oversees the work of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service: former Canadian Alliance MP turned lobbyist Deb Grey.

Just moments after the news broke, NDP staffers hit the afterhours media circuit to make it clear that their leader had formally advised the PM against naming her to the Security Intelligence Review Committee, citing her lack of experience within the security intelligence environment or with Canadian and international law.

"If the experience of the Porter Affair has taught us nothing else," Mulcair noted in an undated letter to the prime minister, "it's that any further appointments to SIRC must have unqualified credentials to support SIRC's mandate and to reaffirm Canadians faith in this institution."

The full text of the letter:

Right Honourable Prime Minister,

I received your letter nominating Deborah Grey for appointment to the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC).

SIRC has been given extraordinary power to scrutinize the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Canadians must be certain that those review powers are carried out impeccably. It is therefore imperative that SIRC be equipped with the correct balance of experiences and expertise to fulfill this task.

Unquestionably Mrs. Grey has served her country honourably and given back to her community generously. She is truly an accomplished Canadian.

However, I believe SIRC necessitates a nominee that is abreast of today's security intelligence environment and, preferably, steeped in Canadian and International Law. Mrs. Grey's wealth of experience and training unfortunately fail to meet these requirements.

Canadians must have absolute confidence that CSIS is acting within the law; SIRC guarantees this and the appointed committee members underwrite that guarantee.

If the experience of the Porter Affair has taught us nothing else, it's that any further appointments to SIRC must have unqualified credentials to support SIRC's mandate and to reaffirm Canadians faith in this institution.

With that in mind and with my utmost respect, the Official Opposition cannot support this nomination.


Under the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, the PM is obliged to consult with the leaders of all recognized parties before adding a new member to SIRC, but there appears to be no requirement that any or all of those leaders actually sign off on an appointment.

Still, to borrow a quote from Mulcair, given the Porter Affair, it's likely that the PM would far rather have the other leaders on side, if only to inoculate the government from criticism should it turn out that a grave error in judgement has occurred. 


Tags: blackberry jungle, CSIS, deb grey, SIRC

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