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Who should our spies spy on?

By Phil Gurski      

The Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence can descend into petty politics sometimes, but it shouldn't on national security issues.

CSIS director Michel Coulombe, pictured in this file photo, did not testify before the Senate National Security and Defence Committee last week, but Brian Rumig, assistant director of CSIS operations, told the committee that CSIS had spied on reporters either directly or indirectly. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

OTTAWA—In the wake of news out of Quebec that police in that province were given court warrants to intercept the communications of journalists, it turns out that CSIS cannot rule out the possibility that sometime over its 30-plus-year history that it too listened in on some members of the fifth estate. In a session of the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence in Ottawa on Nov. 28, Brian Rumig, a senior CSIS official, noted that the service would never investigate someone just because that person happened to be a journalist but that if that person engaged in activities spelled out in Sec. 2 of the CSIS Act then she or he could have come under scrutiny. Another senior CSIS agent noted that “there are no safe havens” for those kinds of activities (terrorism, espionage, foreign interference). CSIS was also careful to add that it fully recognizes the “sensitivity” surrounding institutions such as the media and academia and that, as a result, investigations in those sectors are held to higher thresholds.

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Rota, first Speaker of Italian descent, encourages MPs to break the glass ceiling

News|By Palak Mangat
'I didn’t plan a speech at all, so it came from the heart,' says House Speaker Anthony Rota of his first remarks when he was elected to the post on Dec. 5.

Iranian investigator into downed Flight 752 should be replaced due to past, says former Liberal justice minister

News|By Neil Moss
Iran's chief justice Ebrahim Raisi was part of a 'death commission' in 1988, during a period of political repression which saw thousands of dissidents executed.

‘We’re flying the plane while we build it’: demolition work in Centre Block has begun

By this winter, PSPC expects work to assess the state of the Centre Block building to be completed, with schematic design plans expected by spring.

Platform costing measure gets nod, but fixes for getting info needed, says PBO

News|By Palak Mangat
'Different leadership could have decided that ‘no, we won’t collaborate with you, because we don’t have to under the legislation,’ says Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux. 'We want legislation to be clarified.'

Rookie MPs get crash course on life in ‘Ottawa bubble’

News|By Beatrice Paez
Learn to reach across party lines for relationships and resist sticking to talking points, new MPs told at a Carleton University-hosted orientation event.

Lingering Phoenix issues ‘no surprise’ to union leaders, as annual survey shows increase in pay problems

News|By Mike Lapointe
The 2019 federal budget allocated $523.3-million over five years, starting in 2019–20, to 'ensure that adequate resources are dedicated to addressing pay issues,' according to PSPC.

Senate should be ‘very careful’ of widespread rule changes and ‘unintended consequences,’ says retiring Sen. Day

From a boyhood dream of holding the country’s top political office to almost 20 years in the Red Chamber, retiring Sen. Joseph Day reflects on his parliamentary career.

Agriculture Minister Bibeau was the most-lobbied MP in 2019

In an election year, lobbying activity dropped by 30 per cent compared to 2018.

No more shush deals: Senators ready to press for accountability, harassment reforms once Parliament returns

A Senate subcommittee approved a new policy for dealing with harassment in the Red Chamber before Christmas.
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