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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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Trudeau says some promises ‘clearly’ touch provincial jurisdiction after premiers slam Throne Speech, but calls for unified approach

News|By Palak Mangat
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the Liberals' Throne Speech committed to 'more policies that would invade provincial jurisdiction than I could count.'

Throne Speech’s climate promises draws mixed reviews, with NDP saying it’s a rehash of old pledges

The Throne Speech promised action on climate change like the country has never seen before, but some experts and politicians are skeptical the Liberal government can deliver.

Former PM Turner was a ‘living legend,’ ‘a great defender of Parliament,’ say politicos

News|By Palak Mangat
While the conditions for Liberal longevity might not have been ripe, Liberal strategist Charles Bird says late former prime minister John Turner came to the leadership when 'he was already something of a living legend.'

Foreign policy focus in new session should be on China, U.S., and human rights, say Parliamentarians

News|By Neil Moss
'The No. 1 [foreign policy] priority is our relationship with the United States,' says Independent Senator Peter Boehm as the U.S. presidential election quickly approaches.

Political parties reach last-minute deal to temporarily change House rules for hybrid Commons, electronic voting

The rule changes includes a sunset clause, with the terms expiring Dec. 11.

‘Whatever it takes’: Trudeau says austerity not an option in the face of staggering job losses, health crisis 

News|By Beatrice Paez
The speech did not promise a full-fledged budget, but said an update to the feds’ COVID-19 Economic Response plan would be coming this fall.

‘I wrote this memoir from the heart’: former Supreme Court chief justice wins Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for memoir, Truth Be Told, a ‘unique and tantalizing glimpse’ into top court  

News|By Palak Mangat
'Writing this book has brought me close to Canadians and the wonder of our national diversity. This prize is the icing on the amazing cake that has been my life': former Supreme Court chief justice Beverley McLachlin.

Presidential election could change course on unilateral tariff use, but Canada-U.S. trade tensions will remain: experts

News|By Neil Moss
If Joe Biden wins the U.S. presidency, he will be constrained in the use of unilateral tariffs, say experts, while Donald Trump's re-election may leave Canada once again targeted by national security tariffs.

COVID-19 containment, economic recovery expected to drive fall lobbying

Lobbyists will also be keeping an eye on progress on the government's backlog of big-ticket legislation and regulatory reforms this session.
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