Politics

RCMP surveying potential damage in wake of charges against top intelligence official

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki says the force is still trying to understand the fallout of allegations levelled against one of their top intelligence officials and that RCMP officers are "shaken" by the charges.

Cameron Ortis was the director general of the RCMP's national intelligence coordination centre

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has issued a statement on the charges laid against civilian member Cameron Ortis. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki says the force is still trying to understand the fallout of allegations levelled against one of their top intelligence officials and that RCMP officers are "shaken" by the charges.

Cameron Ortis, director general of the RCMP's national intelligence coordination centre, was arrested late last week and charged with preparing to share either safeguarded or operational information with a foreign entity or terrorist group in the past year.

He's also charged under the rarely-used Security of Information Act with communicating special operational information back in 2015 and faces two Criminal Code charges.

"By virtue of the positions he held, Mr. Ortis had access to information the Canadian intelligence community possessed. He also had access to intelligence coming from our allies both domestically and internationally," said Lucki in a statement Monday, confirming reports Friday and over the weekend describing the work Ortis did.

"While these allegations, if proven true, are extremely unsettling, Canadians and our law enforcement partners can trust that our priority continues to be the integrity of the investigations and the safety and security of the public we serve."

Lucki pointed out that the investigation is still ongoing and said the case has "shaken many people throughout the RCMP, particularly in federal policing."

'Mitigation strategies' in place

"We are assessing the impacts of the alleged activities as information becomes available. We are aware of the potential risk to agency operations of our partners in Canada and abroad and we thank them for their continued collaboration," she said.

"We assure you that mitigation strategies are being put in place as required."

Federal departments across government are also running in-house damage assessments to get a sense of the ramifications, according to sources speaking to CBC on the condition of anonymity.

Even former government people in retirement are getting calls — meaning investigators are going back years to assess the damage.

Diplomatic sources said members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance — the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada — are waiting for a formal damage assessment from the public safety minister's office, and some members are already questioning how Ortis was able to hoard information within the RCMP.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was asked on the campaign trail how this case might affect Canada's international relationships.

"I think people will understand I can't make any public comments on this, but I can assure you this is something that the responsible authorities are engaged with at the highest levels, including with our allies," he said from Waterloo, Ont.

Ortis, 47, is back in court later this week. He has worked at the RCMP since 2007.

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