MPs say CSIS boss must quit over comments
CSIS Director Richard Fadden waits to testify at the Commons public safety committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, July 5, 2010. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
OTTAWA - MPs want the country's top spy to quit, saying his remarks about foreign meddling in Canadian politics created a "climate of suspicion and paranoia."
The government should demand the resignation of Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Dick Fadden over the comments, the House of Commons national security committee said in a report Wednesday.
Fadden's comments were "completely inappropriate and unbefitting" of his office, the committee said. It also called on Parliament to censure the prime minister and public safety minister for allowing Fadden to make the "dramatic and irresponsible statements."
The controversy erupted last year when Fadden told CBC-TV he was warning at least two provinces that cabinet members had come under foreign influence.
He also said CSIS had concerns about municipal politicians in British Columbia.
Though Fadden was cagey about the alleged foreign interference, he broadly suggested that China posed worries.
"Mr. Fadden's statements had negative and harmful impacts on Canadians of Chinese origins and other cultural backgrounds, and their elected representatives," the committee report says.
"Committee members gave Mr. Fadden full opportunity to substantiate his allegations, but he could not or would not."
The report calls for a prime ministerial apology in the Commons, and further recommends the CSIS director "not become an agent of influence of the government's political and ideological agenda and instead focus on CSIS's statutory mandate."
The report may effectively become a dead letter, landing shortly before the Conservative government is expected to fall in a Commons vote that would wipe the parliamentary slate clean.
The Conservatives on the opposition-dominated committee issued a dissenting report saying they could not support the majority's "reckless recommendations" even though Fadden's comments "were regrettable."
A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, responsible for CSIS, said the minister had nothing to add.
CSIS spokeswoman Isabelle Scott referred a request for comment to Public Safety.
Fadden has steadfastly refused to apologize to Chinese-Canadians, saying they are the victims of foreign influence. Citing security reasons, he has not publicly named the politicians allegedly targeted by foreigners.
The CSIS director told the committee he only addressed the subject with the CBC in June because he made similar comments during a question-and-answer session following a March speech to the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto.
The CBC was permitted to film the military institute session for a documentary, but Fadden says he "lost track of the fact" cameras were rolling and let slip more than he should have.
When the TV network raised the issue in its interview with him months later, Fadden felt he had "little choice" but to squarely address the matter.
The committee report recommends Fadden not be allowed to participate in any public forum other than parliamentary sessions.