What CSIS knew

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The investigation into the 1985 Air India tragedy will forever be associated with rival intelligence agencies. Since that time officials insist CSIS and the RCMP do work together. But a new report on the Jeffrey Delisle spy case asserts the FBI had to tell the RCMP what CSIS already knew.



The Canadian Press Reporter, Jim Bronskill

"This weekend we learned for months Canada's top intelligence agency, CSIS, watched convicted spy Jeffrey Delisle pass classified info to another power without ever informing the RCMP. The mounties only learned about it from the FBI. That was a devastating leak, yet one key department failed didn't even know what the other was doing. Why did CSIS fail to inform the RCMP about Jeffrey Delisle".

NDP Opposition Leader Tom Mulclair

The Jeffrey Delisle case will likely never make an exciting spy novel. But there are a couple of interesting twists and turns. NDP Opposition leader Tom Mulcair is intrigued by a report from the Canadian Press that suggests Canada's spy agency -- CSIS -- became aware that the former navel officer was selling information to the Russians after receiving a tip from the FBI.

But CSIS just watched. And waited for months apparently. Eventually the FBI took its information to the RCMP. The Mounties investigated and got their man.

The story raises questions about why CSIS sat on the information -- and also about its relationship with the RCMP. It raises those questions -- but Vic Toews, the Public Safety Minister, isn't about to answer them.

"We do not comment on operational matters of national security however what I can say is that the conclusions drawn in that story are totally incorrect. Information is shared between law enforcement agencies in occurrence with Canadian law".

Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews

Jim Bronskill is the Ottawa-based reporter for The Canadian press who broke this story -- along with one of his colleagues. Jim was in our Ottawa studio.


We asked CSIS to take part in an interview. It said it couldn't comment on specific investigations. It did send a written statement saying in part quote, "national security investigations, from espionage to terrorism, are often team efforts involving domestic and international partners."

"CSIS and the RCMP have specific protocols to ensure the appropriate transfer of information and intelligence between the two agencies and allowing each agency to fulfill its mandate."

CSIS also said " it's worth noting that the 20-year conviction of Delisle was a historic first and points to the fact that it was a successful national security investigation."


Professor at University of Ottawa, Wesley Wark

NDP Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair is not alone in wondering about the fraught relationship between Canada's spy agency and the RCMP.

Wesley Wark is a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa's graduate school of Public and International Affairs. We reached him in Ottawa.

Integrated Strategies, Ray Boisvert

Ray Boisvert is a former assistant director of intelligence for CSIS. He's now President and CEO of I-SEC Integrated Strategies, a consulting company that focuses on corporate risk management and security. He believes there are more subtle issues at play in these investigations than the CP story suggests. We reached him in Toronto.

This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino and Dawna Dingwall.

To weigh in with your thoughts ... tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Call us toll free at 1877 287 7366. Or e-mail us from our website.


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