Harper accepts spy watchdog's resignation
The head of the civilian board that oversees Canada's intelligence service has resigned his position following media reports on his past business dealings.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper accepted the resignation of Dr. Arthur T. Porter as chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, according to a brief statement issued Thursday by the Prime Minister's Office.
In the statement, Harper thanked Porter "for his service on the Security Intelligence Review Committee and to his country" and said a process to replace him would begin soon. Former Conservative MP and cabinet minister Carol Skelton, who was appointed to SIRC in July 2010, was named acting chair.
Porter has been the subject of Postmedia reports this week chronicling a failed business deal he arranged for a company he owns in his native Sierra Leone. The reports also noted that Porter bills himself as "Ambassador Plenipotentiary, Republic of Sierra Leone," and questioned recent absences from his job as CEO of the McGill University Health Centre.
In a letter to Harper dated Nov. 9, which was released to the media Thursday, Porter said articles in the National Post "raised the spectre of conflict of interest and questioned my good judgement." Porter called the Post's portrayal of him "scurrilous" but said he worried it could tarnish SIRC during a period of "significant transition," and had to resign.
Porter called himself as "a proud Canadian" in his letter, and also defended his failed business deal in Sierra Leone as motivated by his desire "to explore options to help the country to rebuild its infrastructure" after its civil war.
Porter was named to SIRC in 2008 and appointed chair in 2010.
SIRC is an independent review body that reports to the Parliament of Canada on the operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.