Today the head of CSIS, Richard Fadden, will be hauled before the Public Safety Committee of Parliament to explain his remarks in a CBC interview about foreign influence in Canadian politics. One hopes the MPs will be more interested in getting at the truth about Canada’s national security than in scoring points by attacking the bearer of bad news.
This hearing is a continuation of a saga that began on June 22nd. Fadden’s initial interview generated ample comment and opinion including a series of posts by MLI Managing Director Brian Crowley available here: Fadden Files I, II, III and IV.
This weekend Senator Colin Kenny weighed in in Saturday’s Ottawa Citizen in defence of Fadden, declaring that he “did Canadians a service by pointing out that too many Canadian politicians are effectively on other countries’ dole.” And the Falun Dafa Association of Canada, which has been active in protesting Chinese activities in Canada, will be holding a joint press conference with Federation of a Democratic China in Ottawa today. But what will happen in Parliament?
Our parliamentarians should rise to the occasion and take a reasoned approach to their questioning of Mr. Fadden. They should look, not for political gain, but for a better understanding of precisely what CSIS does and does not do and what it does and does not know about the issue Mr. Fadden highlighted. MPs should certainly recognise that the agency he heads is in the business of counter-espionage. And they should take note of the statement on the CSIS website that its “…programs are proactive and pre-emptive.” It is clearly part of the agency’s mission to track precisely the types of activities that its head outlined a couple of weeks ago.
Richard Fadden has played the role of physician in identifying, in broad strokes, some potential problems that exist. In doing so he has also, perhaps unwittingly, created an environment where Canadians can learn more about the vital role that CSIS plays in this modern world.
MPs on the Public Safety Committee today should be trying to enhance that education and understanding. The temperature outside should not be reflected inside the House as MPs question this dedicated public servant in what I hope will be a respectful and intelligent manner.