While the Commons public safety committee returns to Ottawa today to grill the head of CSIS over his comments to the CBC regarding foreign agents influencing members of our government, I think it becomes incumbent upon all of us to read this op-ed by Senator Colin Kenny, late of the Senate National Security and Defence committee, to find out just what is really going on.
Kenny reminds us of many things. He reminds us that CSIS is not engaged in espionage – rather, it is engaged in counter-espionage, and there is a difference. He also reminds us that the kinds of “influence” that these provincial cabinet ministers are being subjected to often comes in the form of things like countries offering trips and other such niceties to politicians, so that they can see their country and get the “other side of the story” as it were. Israel does this a lot, as does Taiwan; South Africa used to a lot under the apartheid regime. After all, parliamentarians in Canada don’t really have travel budgets for these kinds of trips, and what junkets they do take are subject to hysterical cries of outrage by the likes of the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation. And as if to illustrate the point, a separate story was out the same day as Kenny’s op-ed, which said just that – travel junkets last year cost $1.6 million. It included a requisite quote from the CTF about how it was all one big waste of money.
Kenny says that what CSIS director Richard Fadden did was proper – that he put politicians on notice about the foreign trips and freebies that come from other countries. But this has been completely lost in the reporting of this story until now, and it does shed a new light on the issue, now that there is more context to just what the issue at hand really is.
Apparently almost half of MPs still have business interests outside the House of Commons, though this is seen as a positive in some circles because it means that they are not simply cloistered in Ottawa and are interacting with the “real world” as a result.
CBC takes a look at where we stand in the world on a variety of different metrics, such as foreign aid and environment.
Jeffrey Sachs, the United Nations special advisor on the Millennium Development Goals, takes a look at just what was accomplished at the G8 and G20 “accountability” summits in Toronto, and finds that they haven’t been very accountable for their promises at all.
The Queen is now in Toronto. Yesterday she attended church services there and then watched the Queen’s Plate horse race. Today she’s off to Waterloo to tour Research in Motion, have lunch at the Pinewood Toronto Studios and attend a dinner hosted by the government.
And on her trip to China, Her Excellency was stumped when touring a factory there. One of the girls asked her for her beauty secrets, seeing as she wanted to be a hairdresser. Jean was stuck for a moment, said something about good cosmetics and exercise, before getting back on track and talking about the value of goals and education.