The Richard Fadden appearance before MPs on the House of Commons Public Safety and National Security Committee is now history. The head of CSIS acknowledged that his specificity – or as he called it “granularity” – in the interviews and at the Royal Canadian Military Institute on March 24, 2010 was excessive. He also noted that he had not advised anyone up the food chain about any particulars related to individuals who may be under foreign influence, although he went on to state that he would be reporting, if required, within a month. Fadden also made mention of the fact that both the Minister’s Office he reports to and the Prime Minister’s Office were aware of the speech that he delivered at the RCMI. Finally, Fadden maintained that he did not endanger public safety with his comments and that there is “no reason” to resign.
I did not have a chance to actually view the testimony, which lasted about two hours yesterday. Nor are the transcripts yet available. However, I have noted several media reports of it. Some things are striking.
First, it was surprising that the Liberal Co-chair of the Committee apparently was not in attendance, especially since he was the point man for the Grits up until now. Second, the tone of the Conservative Parliamentary Secretary, Dave MacKenzie, has been described as “almost accusatory” by Kady O’Malley of CBC. Third, the Liberals spent most of their time trying to link the episode to the PMO and/or Minister of Justice and, in the end, according to CanWest, “…were satisfied that Fadden, a respected and experienced federal public servant, had learned from the incident.” Fourth, the NDP played to their script and were still demanding Fadden’s resignation at the end.
But, the most amazing thing about the day was a line of questioning reported by Reuters, from Maria Mourani, one of the Bloc Québécois members of the Committee. She asked, “Who are the traitors in the current political class, Mr. Fadden?”, as she tried to get to the names of people who are under influence. After Fadden responded that the question was inappropriate and treason was not involved, Mourani came back with, “You don’t use the word ‘traitor’ but I’ll say it…. I’m giving you a chance to tell us. Who are these ministers who are traitors to the nation?”
Say what? It must have taken every fibre of strength in Richard Fadden’s being not to point out that the only people in the room who wanted to break up Canada were the Bloc MPs. Other MPs present must have also exercised some considerable restraint.
What’s next? At the end of the day, nothing new and untoward was added to the file yesterday. Richard Fadden should stay as the head of CSIS and the Prime Minister should make this clear.