The Harper government has received a formal complaint from the official opposition today, demanding an investigation into the activities of Chuck Strahl, chair of the watchdog committee that oversees the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). The NDP has also demanded the immediate reinstatement of the CSIS Inspector General — a position government dismantled in 2012 — in the wake of revelations that Strahl has been lobbying on behalf of Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.
“It is alarming to many Canadians that the Chair of the CSIS oversight committee is engaged in this kind of lobbying,” NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen said. “The government must take quick action to show that our national spy agency is properly monitored – and restore Canadians’ faith in the impartiality of civilian oversight.”
Liberal MP Joyce Murray has also filed a complaint to Mary Dawson, Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.
Strahl was found to have registered as a provincial lobbyist in December 2013 for Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines and a joint First Nations-Chinese tar sands development while serving as Canada’s spy watchdog. The registrations happened after the federal government abolished the CSIS Inspector General position in its omnibus budget bill, a move that critics warned at the time would “open the door to abuses of power”.
“The head of the SIRC is trusted with sensitive information, not only regarding the safety of Canadians, but relating to private projects such as the Northern Gateway Pipeline. This clear conflict of interest involving the head of the SIRC has a direct effect on the performance of his duties and functions. His lobbying on behalf of Enbridge is cause for concern and must be reviewed,” wrote NDP MP Randall Garrison to Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, whose ministerial portfolio includes CSIS.