Strahl named to ‘watch dog’ role over Canada’s spy agency

Former Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon Mp Chuck Strahl named to head committee that reviews the activities of the Canadian Intelligence Service.

Former Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Chuck Strahl has been named to chair the committee that reviews Canada’s spy agency — the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

BC Civil Liberties Association president Robert Holmes welcomed Strahl’s appointment, but hoped the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) will be given adequate resources to carry out its “watch dog” duties over CSIS, especially in light of the elimination of the Inspector General’s Office.

That million-dollar cut was contained in the omnibus bill that Conservative MPs approved last week.

The Inspector General’s role was also to monitor CSIS, and Public Affairs Minister Vic Toews was criticized by Opposition MPs for making the cut while the committee chair was still vacant.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the appointment in a brief news release last Thursday.

Strahl said it’s true SIRC shared the job of monitoring CSIS with the Inspector General, but he believed his appointment was more the result of the resignation of the former chair.

He said SIRC – which meets three or four times a month — can’t function without a chair.

“I wasn’t angling for the job,” Strahl said. “But when the PM’s office calls, it’s hard to say no.”

“It’s an honour to do it,” he said.

CSIS was given “extraordinary powers”  to investigate terrorist activities around the world, but sometimes those investigations touch the lives of Canadians and their Charter rights.

“This committee was put in place to ensure those rights are adequately protected,” Strahl said.

Holmes said SIRC’s annual report to Parliament is “one of the checks and balances that Canadians look to in order to ensure government agencies …. are kept within their proper boundaries and won’t discredit or embarrass us by failing to live up to the standards we expect.”

“But unless you give them the resources to do the job in an effective way … you really don’t get the results you want,” he said.

In 2007, Harper gave an apology and $10.5 million compensation to Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen detained by U.S. authorities in 2002 on suspicions of being a member of Al Qaeda and deported to his native Syria, even though the government there was known to use torture.

A Canadian commission publicly cleared Arar of any links to the terrorist group.

Holmes said CSIS has in the past “tramped upon the rights of people within Canada, who have the right to “not having their private affairs snooped into.”

“I have to say Mr. Strahl is well qualified as a public servant and former cabinet minister,” he said, but “one hopes they give him and the committee the kind of resources needed” to meet the agency’s obligations at home and abroad.

Just Posted

Men accused in Michael Bonin’s murder knew him: IHIT

20-year-old’s body found on a rural service road North of Hope in April

Freezing rain warning in effect for B.C. Southern Interior

Environment Canada issued the freezing rain warning for most of the Southern Interior Tuesday morning

Union files human rights complaint over Chilliwack school trustee’s LGBTQ comments

Board and trustee Barry Neufeld facing $50,000 tribunal charge over alleged ‘unsafe work environment’

Drone photos show Hope from above

Chris Barker captures a new perspective of Hope

Smokers will soon have fewer places to light up, smoke hookah and vape in Hope

New Hope district bylaw to expand definition of smoking and add more banned areas

VIDEO: Drone race in Chilliwack kicks off west coast league in new year

Indoor course starts 2018 for B.C.-wide group at Heritage Park

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag for Canada at 2018 Olympics

The pair earned a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games

More places in Hope to pick up Naloxone

Hope and Area Transition Society opens doors for people seeking overdose antidote

5 to start your day

‘Young, innocent’ teen dies in Vancouver shootout, 152 Street overpass repairs start and more

Diplomacy on agenda at North Korea summit in Vancouver

Foreign ministers from 20 countries are meeting Tuesday to discuss security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Congestion points or distance: How Metro Vancouver could pay for its roads

Mobility pricing commission identifies two options in report

Kids chained in Calif. house of horrors; parents arrested

Authorities say an emaciated teenager led deputies to home where her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions

‘Reprehensible’: Trudeau abortion policy raises ire of U.S. right

“This man is reprehensible,” tweeted former White House staffer Sebastian Gorka

‘I shouldn’t have to have a husband:’ Winnipeg woman criticizes men-only club

Jodi Moskal discovered the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club continues to ban women as members, as it has done since opening in 1909.

Most Read