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Canada’s top spy watchdog lobbying for Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline

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Chuck Strahl in a photograph by the CBC

Chuck Strahl, Chairman of the federal body which oversees Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), has registered to lobby on behalf of Enbridge’s ‘Northern Gateway Pipelines Limited Partnership’.

Two weeks before the December 19, 2013 decision of the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project, Strahl and his firm – Chuck Strahl Consulting Inc.– registered as a B.C. provincial lobbyist and listed the Enbridge subsidiary as his client starting December 6.

 Click on image to enlarge

Strahl’s registration declares that he is targeting B.C.’s Minister of Natural Gas Development, Rich Coleman, to arrange a meeting with representatives from Northern Gateway Pipelines on the subject of “Energy”. Strahl stated that he is lobbying on their behalf until June 2014.

"I do some contract work for Enbridge," Strahl told the Vancouver Observer. "I've registered just in case I arrange a meeting, but no meetings to report".

Strahl is a former Conservative Member of Parliament for the B.C. riding of Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon and was first elected in 1993. While in federal government, Strahl served as Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Minister of Transport and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons.

Strahl retired from politics in 2011 and was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to head the non-partisan and independent Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) on June 14, 2012 for a five-year term.  He also serves as Director and Chairman of the Conservative party's Manning Centre, an organization "dedicated to building Canada's conservative movement".

Strahl replaced disgraced Chairman Dr. Arthur Porter, who is currently in a Panamanian jail facing a range of charges from money laundering, to taking kickbacks and conspiracy to commit fraud while acting as a middleman for SNC-Lavalin and other private business interests.

The Security Intelligence Review Committee reports to Parliament on all activities undertaken by CSIS – and with the exception of cabinet secrets, Strahl’s position affords access to all intelligence gathered by the organization. 

Strahl’s move to represent Enbridge confounds prior assertions which downplayed the circumstantial relationships between CSIS, its oversight committee and the private sector. Former CSIS Assistant Director Ray Boisvert said at one point to the Vancouver Observer that “there is no collaboration between intelligence organizations and private industry. That is against the law”.  Boisvert retired from CSIS in 2012 and is currently a security consultant in the private sector.

(20) Comments

Patrick Hertel January 4th 2014 | 2:14 PM

"Strahl is a former Conservative Member of Parliament .... appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to head the non-partisan and independent Security Intelligence Review Committee ...." Oxymoron much?

keith cummings January 4th 2014 | 2:14 PM

so, we have CSIS, Harper, Clark, Alberta, Big Oil, China and who knows else, against us. this is going to be tough, but I'd venture the people of BC are even tougher.

Travis January 4th 2014 | 3:15 PM

Sino-Banana Republic of Tarberta-CONada

This is outrageous.


Whats coming will dwarf Clayoquot.



Greg Vezina January 4th 2014 | 3:15 PM

Or perhaps the may not have to answer in this life, but knowing they will spend an eternity in darkness and they all will eventually get what they so richly deserve for their crimes against humanity and the Canadian people.

Shelagh Bell-Irving January 4th 2014 | 6:18 PM

We have their weakspot in this Battle
We will stop giving them the money to control us
Can't pay RCMP goons without our tax money
Can't subsidize (ram through) pipelines without our TAXES
Think about it
Worldwide strike on money.
We want change? We want to stop this?
We have the power....TAX REVOLT

Warren Bell January 4th 2014 | 7:19 PM

I think something's missing here....

"Strahl did not declare in his B.C. registration that he held federal public office from 1993 to 2011, as the provincial Lobbyists Registration Act only applies to previous officers of the B.C. government. He is not restricted from lobbying the province of British Columbia on behalf of Enbridge or other interests."

Okay, that's maybe a bit of legalistic magic - he can lobby like mad as long as he doesn't lobby the exact precise government he was just part of. He can lobby that government's best pal. Maybe a bit dodgey...hmmm....

"Strahl previously stated that he “won’t lobby” governments..."

Uh oh....he just did! That sounds a bit contrary....

"However, a B.C. lobbying registration from December 2011 states: “Charles Strahl, a consultant lobbyist with Chuck Strahl Consulting Inc, is arranging meetings on behalf of his client, Cascade Aerospace Inc, with the Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Innovation (and/or his staff)”."

Maybe Charles Strahl and Chuck Strahl are two different people? Maybe that's it.

Doppelgangers 101.

But it DOES seem a bit coincidental....

"[Strahl] said that he “has a system of ‘double make-sure’ to protect himself and the public from conflicts of interest and questions around ethics”."

Oh. So now he admits he did it. But....

But he has a system! A system of "DOUBLE MAKE-SURE"?? We used to play something like that when I was a kid -- "I DOUBLE DARE you!!"

Sounds something like that. But we were kids. He's a grown-up...

"Strahl’s son, Mark, is currently the Member of Parliament for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon."

So that's it! His kid taught him the game. That's his system -- if I don't get it right, my boy will step in and do it for me!


Of course!


"His former federal Chief of Staff, Laurie Throness was newly elected as MLA for Chilliwack-Hope in the 2013 provincial election."

Now he's doing "TRIPLE MAKE-SURE"! What a winner!

It's all falling into place now.

This is really good -- double make-sure might seem like nepotism or something, but TRIPLE make-sure....

Now it's clear; Chuck really REALLY wants to WIN! Or that Mr. Enbridge does.

Anyway SOMEBODY on his side does.

"Throness declared income from consulting fees for Chuck Strahl Consulting Inc."

Hey, you might as well pay them, no? This is a dog-eat-dog world. Can't leave a starving staffer out in the cold.

"In 2013, Strahl was publicly thanked by Christy Clark for his assistance in helping during her provincial election campaign.  At a media event, Clark said that Strahl is an example of a retired federal politician who is "very actively helping us on this campaign and I'm really proud of the contribution (he's) making”."

Hey, there it is: even if Chuck or any other politician does some dodgey things -- fibbing, word games, kids' games, saying he's going off to serve his country when he's really making nice to his old boss Stephen Harper -- who's best buds with Mama Clark, of course-- he's got an answer.

Mama Clark steps up and says "I'm proud, I'm really really proud...of my boy Chuck".

And then...then it's all good.

I like how they do that. TRIPLE MAKE-SURE.


I wonder if other kids' mums and dads let them play that sort of game....

Daisee January 5th 2014 | 8:08 AM
Patrick Hertel wrote:

"Strahl is a former Conservative Member of Parliament .... appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to head the non-partisan and independent Security Intelligence Review Committee ...." Oxymoron much?

 The potential for abuse is enormous. If the NSA is spying on Congress then we can be sure CSIS is spying on Parliament, but what's worrying is CSIS could spy on provincial gov'ts and relay the information back to Strahl who could give it to private businesses. 

Steve Schmidt January 5th 2014 | 10:10 AM

This is all marvellous fun, but no one has demonstrated any conflict of interest here.  The Intelligence Review Committee provides oversight, it doesn't direct CSIS in its activities.

Pretty much anyone of any political stripe who would be considered qualified to undertake this type of function is involved in many other things.  They are constantly juggling a number of responsibilities, and 'double-make sure' is a valid and routine fact of life.  It's called having a job.


David McNeil January 5th 2014 | 11:11 AM

Hi Steve,

There are two issues with conflict of interest; the reality of a conflict and the appearance of a conflict.  It is important to avoid both.

What the SIRC does from their website:

"Parliament has given CSIS extraordinary powers to intrude on the privacy of individuals. SIRC ensures that these powers are used legally and appropriately, in order to protect Canadians’ rights and freedoms. To do this, SIRC examines past operations of the Service and investigates complaints. It has the absolute authority to examine all information concerning CSIS activities, no matter how sensitive and highly classified that information may be."


"Why should Canadians trust SIRC?  ...SIRC's role is to show that knowledgeable individuals, independent from CSIS and from Government but familiar with the security intelligence environment, will render an honest and fair-minded assessment based on the facts."

Does Stahl appear to have a conflict?  Given his history and association with the CP I think Canadians have reasonable grounds to think he is not "independent" of Government.  I also think that his ability to assess CSIS activities related to anti oil sands groups in an unbiased fashion would appear to be in conflict with his employment as lobbyist by an oil company.  Lastly, I think Canadians would legitimately have reason to fear that information he obtains in his role as SIRC chair could be used to benefit his consulting firm and/or his oil company clients.

Reality of a conflict?  A question of fact which should be determined by independent review. 

Appearance of conflict?  No question.

He should resign or be removed from the post.









dmmillar January 5th 2014 | 11:11 AM
A major question is: If CSIS is hosting and taking money from Enbridge ( And the Chair of the committee that is supposed to oversee or challenge those activities is doing the exact same thing, then we have a major problem on our hands.
adanac January 5th 2014 | 12:12 PM

Anything even remotely touched by Harper, is automatically fouled. Enbridge has used every dirty tactic in the book, to force their way into BC. Petro China has put in a bid, to build the Enbridge pipeline. Communist China is taking all of the mine jobs, in Northern BC, with Harper's permission. Christy Clark is so much a coward, she refuses to call Legislature. Christy Clark also lied about the Enbridge pipeline. She too lied and cheated to win her elections just as, Campbell and Harper did. She too works for Harper, just as Campbell did before her.

Harper signed a deal with, the Communist China Army. That is what it is going to take, to force the Enbridge pipeline into BC.


BC citizens are supporting the F.N. to stop the atrocity of the Enbridge pipeline from, Harper, Clark and Communist China.

KMHouston January 5th 2014 | 5:17 PM

This looks like a very good partnership as both parties could be described as  oily, toxic, inept, pushy, enviro challenged, less than honest, uncaring, conservative hacks. I'm sure a company like Enbridge/Keystone Kops will be thrilled to have a guy like Strahl in bed with them and even more sure there will be a job somewhere for Chucky

Jeff Beck January 5th 2014 | 5:17 PM

I wonder if it's the "same 3 or 4 people" that disagree with "every" comment on this page. Are there only 3 or 4 con trolls out there?

Dave Turchynsky January 6th 2014 | 2:14 PM

Keep in mind that Mr. Strahl is also Director and Chairman of the Manning Centre which is (yet another) right wing "think" tank closely associated with the Harper Conservative government.

This looks really nasty....

Andrew January 6th 2014 | 7:19 PM

We are screwed.

m bruce January 6th 2014 | 8:20 PM

"Harper signed a deal with, the Communist China Army. That is what it is going to take, to force the Enbridge pipeline into BC."

Even though you have no "proof", this is also what I believe will happen.

Earl Richards January 7th 2014 | 12:00 AM

Putting Strahl in charge of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, is like putting the fox to guard the hen house. Where are the conflict of interest laws?

Warren Bell January 7th 2014 | 11:23 PM

Chuck Strahl has claimed that he needed to work after leaving the Commons because he isn't independently wealthy.

I don't think he's telling the truth - in this as in so many other areas related to his current lobbying activities.

Looking at pension incomes of other ex-MPs, where they are known or can be guessed at, and with a similar record of political employment, tells another tale.

Chuck Strahl was first elected in 1993, held 3 cabinet positions after 2006, and also was deputy speaker for a time.

I would estimate his pension at somewhere between $120,000 and $150,000 a year -- for the rest of his life.

Chuck Strahl is not mixing his Enbridge lobbying with his oversight of CSIS because he needs the money. He's doing it because he's a strategic appointee of Stephen Harper, put in place to facilitate the relentless drive to promote Tar Sands development from an invisible and unaccountable insider vantage point.

He is an ethical nihilist, pure and simple.

william steinke January 25th 2014 | 9:21 PM

And we pay for all these so called ethics staffers who are just a bunch of puppets at the trough. This country needs a revolt , the divide has gotten to big between the rich and the poor and most of it due to Harper and his no morals government.