Tory MP Rob Nicholson named to top-secret national security committee
Rob Nicholson speaks with the media in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Thursday, February 7, 2019 1:47PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 7, 2019 5:10PM EST
OTTAWA – Longtime Conservative MP and former cabinet minister Rob Nicholson has been named to the top-secret National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.
Nicholson will be filling one of two of the outstanding vacancies in both of the spots reserved for Conservative MPs on the 11-person committee comprised of MPs and Senators.
Nicholson represents the riding of Niagara Falls, Ont. He has been a Conservative MP since 2004 and has held several positons in former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government, including minister of justice, minister of foreign affairs, and minister of national defence.
There have been two vacancies on the committee for some time, though the high-level group has continued to meet. Earlier this week it spelled out its study plans for 2019, which include examining the threat foreign interference poses to Canada, and looking into how the military collects and uses information about Canadians.
"The credibility of the Committee rests in part on its multipartite, bicameral membership, allowing it to review sensitive national security and intelligence issues from a non-partisan perspective. With his experience as a parliamentarian and as a former minister, Mr. Nicholson will add an informed voice to the Committee’s deliberations," said committee chair Liberal MP David McGuinty in a statement about Nicholson's appointment.
The first vacancy was created back in May of 2018 following the death of Conservative MP Gord Brown. There has already been a byelection in the riding he held, where a new Conservative MP has been named.
The second vacancy was created after then-member Tony Clement stepped down from all parliamentary roles after revealing he sent sexually explicit images and a video of himself to someone he thought was a consenting female, but who was actually a "foreign actor" seeking to financially extort the long-time MP. Months later, two men in West Africa were arrested and accused of being behind the blackmail attempt.
The high-level oversight body was created in 2017, and mirrors similar committees set up in the other "Five Eyes" alliance countries. Members include MPs and Senators, who must have the highest level, or “top secret” security clearance.
The appointments and necessary clearances to be named to this committee rest with the Privy Council Office and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
A government source speaking to CTV News on background said that the second Conservative vacancy is expected to be filled in the coming weeks.