column was published in the North
Shore News on
Oct. 11, 2000)
Valuing Canada's sovereignty
By Leo Knight
price do you put on the independence and sovereignty of this
is the integrity of our government worth to you, as a Canadian?
If the answer to these questions isn't "priceless,"
then I truly despair for the state of our nation.
the course of the past year, I have been trying to bring you
information detailing the apparent interference of the Prime
Minister's Office with the joint CSIS/RCMP Project Sidewinder
and perhaps some of the reasons why such interference might have
taken place. The story, in and of itself, is far too complicated
to explain in a single column or indeed, in a newspaper story.
the past few weeks, I told you that the SIRC committee's report
into the demise of Sidewinder was compromised. I explained the
relationships between the prime minister's son-in-law, Andre
Desmarais and the China International Trade and Investment
weeks ago we looked at Bob Rae, former NDP premier of Ontario. A
man leading a party in power which accepted political
contributions from the Canadian companies owned by the very
people being investigated by the Sidewinder project and a man
whose brother, John, is the campaign manager for the Prime
Minister and a senior executive for Power Corp, Desmarais'
company. And how he was now a part of SIRC, charged with
deciding whether or not there was political interference by the
Prime Minister's Office.
fact, Sidewinder was, in part, about the very activity of
political contributions. In Canada, it is illegal for foreign
nationals to give contributions to our politicians. But, what
happens when they own businesses in Canada and through the
companies, give substantial donations? Does that somehow make it
I wrote that the SIRC report had been compromised, tainted by
the appearance of conflict of interest, no information on the
report had been made public. And, to a degree, that is still the
case. But, in the House of Commons two weeks ago, Lynn Myers,
the Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General, answered
Alliance member Jim Abbott's question on Sidewinder by saying
that SIRC has established that there was no political
interference resulting in the conclusion of the investigation.
that the Chairman of SIRC stated a week earlier that the report
wouldn't be completed until late in the year, it is interesting
how Myers could even make such a statement. Myers tried to
contain the damage a few days later by raising a Point of Order
in the House.
said, "I would like to emphasize that I was not reading
from or directly quoting the SIRC report, which is a classified
report as this House knows, during question period. But I can
advise the House that the solicitor general has asked the
Security Intelligence Review Committee to make as much of that
report available as possible, subject of course to any national
solicitor general has advised me that he will be tabling the
resulting report as reviewed by the Security Intelligence Review
Committee once that is available," Myers concluded.
Myers has already used the "conclusions" of the report
as a defense to Abbott's allegations yet he says that the report
is not yet available. How does that work? It would appear this
is further evidence that the fix is in.
original Sidewinder report was ordered buried with all related
documents shredded. Who made that order is not clear. Why, is
equally unclear. Over four years of investigation done with the
investigators calling for an increased probe and some bureaucrat
orders a whole file destroyed?
destruction of documents to a bureaucrat is sacrilegious. This
becomes even more so when the bureaucratic organization is CSIS,
whose very business is information gathering, not information
is clear is that Sidewinder was all about Asian organized crime,
political corruption and influence peddling. The publication by
various news outlets of excerpts of the original report
establishes that without question. The government and the brass
at CSIS have been falling all over themselves trying to convince
you that there was no undue influence exerted by the Prime
Minister's Office and that the Sidewinder investigation was
little more than rumour and innuendo.
prove it, SIRC, in their role as civilian watchdog of CSIS,
announced a review. That report, which is supposedly not yet
complete, has been referred to in the House of Commons by a
junior member of cabinet. In fact, he stated the SIRC report
cleared the PMO.
a few days later, he backs off and says the report isn't
complete and the Solicitor General will tell us as much as he
can when the report is done.
what's with the Canadian Alliance in all of this? This could be
a lethal political blow to the Chretien government. Yet, on the
day the matter is raised in the House, it is way down the list
and gets dealt with by a junior cabinet minister. If the
Alliance doesn't raise the temperature on the government in this
matter, you can rest assured the government will skate on this
much the same as they did on the HRDC scandal of last winter.
Sidewinder investigation and its ordered collapse is the
metaphoric "smoking gun" for the Alliance. The trail
appears to lead right to the PMO. Yet, it was for them the fifth
question on the list.
the top of this column, I asked what price you place on the
sovereignty of our country and the integrity of our government.
To do and say nothing about all of this tells me the price is
very low indeed.