Mulcair calls on Strahl to end Enbridge lobbying or quit CSIS oversight
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has called for Chuck Strahl, head of the watchdog committee which oversees Canada’s intelligence agency (CSIS), to end Enbridge lobbying or quit CSIS oversight.
Strahl has been heavily criticized this week for working as a lobbyist on behalf of Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, while serving as the chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC). SIRC oversees the spying activities of CSIS, and also receives complains about their operations.
“I was distressed to see that he was doing this. It is a pure conflict situation and he should either put an end to that conflict or he should resign." Mulcair said. "Strahl can’t have it both ways. What’s compromised is the public interest.”
Strahl was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to SIRC in 2012. Strahl had a contract with Enbridge dating back to 2011, shortly after he retired from federal politics. Strahl registered to lobby the B.C. government on behalf of Northern Gateway Pipelines on December 6, 2013. Three days earlier, he registered to lobby the Alberta government on behalf of a joint First Nations – Chinese tar sands development.
“He understood the sensitivity of the position he was inspiring to when he told everyone he wouldn’t lobby governments when he took that job, and he is lobbying governments” said Mulcair.
“How can he continue to supervise the security apparatus of the state, and then be paid money by companies that are directly involved in that security apparatus?” said Mulcair, referring to the close relationship between CSIS, Enbridge and other industry stakeholders.
Mulcair isn’t the only one calling for Strahl to extract himself from the perception of conflict of interest.
Norman Spector, Former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, told CBC Radio today: “Frankly, I think he has to go”.
Maclean's political editor Paul Wells told CTV's Power Play that, "he's got to pick." Robert Fife, Ottawa Bureau Chief for CTV News, said Strahl "should either resign from that position" at SIRC or stop working for Enbridge.
Dan Veniez, a former Mulroney aide, thinks that more needs to be done to support those that oversee Canada’s state secrets:
"The mandate and responsibility of the chairman of the Security Intelligence and Review Committee is a very important, solemn, and serious one," he said.
"Effectively, he is the last line of defence between our constitutionally guaranteed Charter protections and civil liberties, and the role of our intelligence apparatus in the post-9/11 world. That is an extremely onerous task and critically important charge that should not be taken lightly. And in my judgment, it should certainly not be a part-time one."