Intelligence official charged seemed to be 'exemplar of discretion': former colleague
An RCMP intelligence official charged with breaching Canada's secrets law seemed to be an "exemplar of discretion," a professor who once worked with him said Saturday.
Paul Evans, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia, said he had trouble reconciling the charges against Cameron Ortis with the man he worked with years ago.
Ortis, 47, was charged under three sections of the Security of Information Act as well as two Criminal Code provisions, including breach of trust, for allegedly trying to disclose classified information to a foreign entity or terrorist group.
An insider familiar with the case who was not authorized to speak about it publicly has said Ortis had served in a civilian position as director general of an RCMP intelligence unit.
Evans said he served on Ortis's doctoral dissertation committee and worked with him on several projects. They continued to see each other socially from time to time after Ortis took his job with the RCMP in Ottawa, Evans said.
"He did not discuss the details of his work and throughout was an exemplar of discretion and integrity in our interactions," Evans said in a written statement. "Nothing in my experience with Cameron would lead me to suspect he would be any way involved in activities that would lead to such charges."
Ortis had been a political science graduate student starting in 1999, finishing his PhD at UBC in 2006, Evans said. The pair worked together on training programs for junior researchers from policy institutes in Asia, which included two essays they published together.
Evans said the essays, published in 2002 and 2003, were about ways "the internet was being used for positive and negative purposes in the region."
In one of those papers, Ortis and Evans wrote that readers should try to fight the urge to categorize the internet as purely good or purely bad.
"In an era of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and the reverberating rhetoric of the 'Axis of Evil,' it is difficult to resist looking at the world in terms of good and evil, the light side and the dark side," they wrote in the 2003 paper. "Grey might be the colour of the mind, but black and white is the imagery of the moment."
The paper published in The Pacific Review goes on to examine the ways the internet was being used by bad actors at the turn of the millennium, while acknowledging that it is also sometimes a force for good.
"While social scientists still need to pay attention to the positive uses and effects of the internet and variations in diffusion patterns, it is equally important to understand the darker side of the picture," they wrote.
Evans said the paper gives "a good sense of (Ortis's) skill set and inquiring mind."
Another UBC colleague, political science professor Brian Job, has also said he was surprised by news of Ortis's arrest.
"Nothing in my experience with Cameron would lead me to suspect his alleged involvement in the activities for which he charged," Job said on Friday. "Indeed, the exact opposite is true."