OTTAWA – The Hon. Erin O’Toole, Conservative Public Safety Critic, and Andrew Scheer, Conservative House Leader, today raised concerns about recent comments by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and the proposed National Security Committee of Parliamentarians. “The Minister made an announcement about the extremely important issue of intelligence oversight without any meaningful dialogue with the security and intelligence community in Canada and without any consultation with Parliamentarians.” “Canada has had strong processes for security and intelligence oversight that has functioned without intelligence leaks and has been free from political interference for over thirty years. Minister Goodale’s approach undermines the establishment of a committee that is supposed to be free from political agendas.” “Minister Goodale informed TV audiences last week that he will be travelling to the United Kingdom on a research trip to learn from the Parliamentary Committee and intelligence community in the United Kingdom, and in fact is there right now, but has not asked any opposition MPs to participate in this part of the process. For a government which pledged to work with all Parliamentarians, this is not a good sign.” “We are also strongly concerned that the Liberal Party has already appointed a Chair for the committee when they claim they are still conducting research. Had they done their research before appointing a Chair they will see that the Committees in the UK and Australia allow the committee to be formed first and for committee members to select their Chair.” “The proposed approach also goes against their campaign promise to elect committee chairs by secret ballot. In those countries, the position of Chair is also normally reserved for someone with considerable expertise in defence or security matters and is known for working across party lines. The appointment of David McGuinty as Chair ahead of the formation of the committee itself confirms the intention of the government to politicize a new committee that is supposed to be free from political agendas.” “If the Liberal government wants to make such a radical departure from the way Canada has effectively conducted security oversight for over thirty years under the guise of having Parliament responsible for the process, they should at the very least engage Parliament in the process. The present intelligence oversight body, the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), does not report to the Minister, but reports to Parliament. Any split from this decades-long approach should be determined by Parliament and not by a Minister acting unilaterally.”