(This column was published in the North Shore News on Sept. 1, 1999)

 

Duo blow whistle on immigration scandal

By Leo Knight

DURING the course of the past week, The Province has been running a series on triads and the way they penetrated the Canadian Consulate in Hong Kong.  

 

The story detailed how the computer system used by Immigration Canada had been compromised and some 2,000 visas were taken from the consulate.  

 

But inherent in the story was the courage of two men, a foreign services officer and a Mountie who fought the system to bring the serious situation to light.  

 

Brian McAdam is the former foreign services officer. A career civil servant, he spent time in a variety of overseas postings, including two stints in Hong Kong. It was during his last assignment there that was highlighted by the events detailed in The Province story.  

 

In 1992, McAdam was the immigration control officer at the Canadian High Commission. It was part of his responsibility to monitor the activities of the triads and known gangsters to ensure they were not getting into Canada. He is a recognized expert in the intelligence world on Asian organized crime.  

 

One morning he tried to access the CAIPS computer (Computer Assisted Immigration Processing System) and found the triad leader's file he was loading disappeared before his eyes. He tried another and the same thing happened.  

 

He immediately summoned the RCMP liaison officer, Insp. Gary Clement and demonstrated for him what was happening. Clement reported the matter to Ottawa and two investigators were sent to look into the matter.  

 

Evidence was turned up of deleted files, unauthorized security clearances to non-Canadian employees and fake immigration stamps, yet the investigation was terminated without any apparent action being taken.  

 

McAdam continued to raise the alarm and at one time was told by an External Affairs employee who had conducted a review of the situation that he had been ordered to soft-pedal his report. In effect, to cover up what had really occurred.  

 

McAdam's own analysis indicated that 788 highly sensitive files on gangsters, high level organized crime figures, had been removed from the computer system.  

 

Despite the information he provided and the calls for action, McAdam was virtually ignored and brought back to Canada. Once here, he filed a complaint with the RCMP and a new officer, Cpl. Robert Read was assigned to investigate the allegations of corruption.  

 

In the interim, McAdam was ostracized by his former colleagues. He was labelled a troublemaker and it was even suggested he wasn't mentally sound.  

 

For two years Read looked into the matter. He found what he called "gaping holes" in the earlier investigations, leads that weren't followed up and inaccuracies in the reports filed.  

 

He demanded a full-blown investigation.  

 

He got transferred to a desk job for his trouble and was told to keep quiet and be a good little boy.  

 

But Robert Read is a good cop. He took the courageous step of filing an internal complaint alleging a coverup and obstruction of justice against his own superior officers.  

 

Only when it appeared that nothing was ever going to be done about the problem, did Read and McAdam go public.  

 

The Province stories have generated headlines around the world, but barely a murmur here, apart from the National Post running The Province stories.  

 

It seems in the Vancouver media that if the story can't be matched then it will be ignored. Pretending it doesn't exist seems to be the norm.  

 

This story is hugely important.  

 

It seems absolutely ludicrous to me that The Vancouver Sun and BCTV have not said a word about it. What about The Globe & Mail, our purportedly national newspaper?  

 

What McAdam and Read are alleging is a coverup and corruption at the highest levels of the national police force, External Affairs and the federal government.  

 

The implications are stunning. Yet, The Sun et al are still navel gazing trying to figure out who may have tipped John Daly about the police raid on Glen Clark's house.  

 

But I digress.  

 

What is clear is that elements of Asian organized crime have penetrated and compromised our consulate in Hong Kong.  

 

The CAIPS computer system, which operates around the world, is not secure. McAdam alleges that senior embassy officials have been bribed. Also clear is that the RCMP, for whatever reason, are not doing their job in getting to the bottom of this mess, preferring, it seems, to shoot the messenger.  

 

Consider the case of the Upper-Capilano-area woman who came here shortly after the alarm was raised by McAdam.  

 

She was a Hong Kong citizen employed by our consulate.  

 

Somehow she had a high-level security clearance reserved only for senior Canadian nationals working in foreign embassies.  

 

During the original investigation, bogus immigration stamps were found in her desk, stamps that are used to authenticate visas and other immigration documents.  

 

She flew the coop and the RCMP said they lost her trail in Taiwan.  

 

Somehow she turns up in North Vancouver with landed immigrant status, living in a $350,000 house paid for in cash and working in our country as an immigration consultant. And she's doing this in her own name. She's not in hiding or anything of the sort.  

 

I'm telling you someone has been bought and paid for and it is the duty of the RCMP to find that someone and bring them to justice.  

 

The Mounties are conducting another investigation into the matter. But they are also investigating Cpl. Read for allegedly taking sensitive documents from the file. The so-called sensitive documents are nothing more than newspaper clippings, I'm told.  

 

Both Read and McAdam have done the right thing by blowing the whistle. Throughout their careers they have worked diligently within the system. But when the system itself appears corrupted, they took the only avenue left open to them.  

 

Senior government types may call them a lot of things these days. I call them heroes.  

 

  -30-

 

 

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