Interventions in Committee
For assistance, please contact us
 
 
 
RSS feed based on search criteria Export search results - CSV (plain text) Export search results - XML
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
View Joe Clark Profile
PC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We're very fortunate to have the opportunity to call upon Mr. Elcock's extensive knowledge here.
I'm interested in the institutional issue of balancing a responsibility to Parliament with operational effectiveness. I have to say that, in terms of balancing conflicting values, I think you have one of the toughest jobs in government.
I also think the issue of parliamentary control is one of the toughest issues for Parliament. The way this was dealt with when SIRC was established, after the McDonald royal commission, was in effect to make Parliament's role indirect. I'll describe what I mean by that.
SIRC was set up following a recommendation of the McDonald royal commission. Then there was a responsibility through the minister, who would then be questioned by members of Parliament in normal processes. But usually the members of Parliament would not be precisely informed on confidential matters, so there was a tenuous reporting relation to Parliament.
It's interesting, when you go back to the McDonald royal commission report, that they did not want SIRC to stand alone. They also recommended a parliamentary committee. They had considered, before recommending a parliamentary committee, a very special parliamentary committee—smaller, perhaps composed of leaders of parties, a joint committee—so that there would be a durability and memory wouldn't be lost.
They also said they had looked at the possibility of a committee of parliamentarians, such as exists roughly in the U.K., that would not expire with the end of every Parliament. The reason for not going that route and for going for a parliamentary committee was interesting. They said that a committee of parliamentarians would “go too far toward detaching this parliamentary committee from Parliament”, which is to say they saw a very active role for Parliament in oversight. That didn't happen 20 years ago.
What I wanted to do today was, first of all, go to the very end of your statement. You always choose your words deliberately. You said, “Twenty years ago a group of parliamentarians tackled the national security environment of the day and they came up with an enduring solution in the CSIS Act”. One question is, should we read that as your recommendation that the status quo, broadly speaking, with regard to reporting relationship should be as it is; in other words, through CSIS, through the minister, rather than through a committee of Parliament?
I then want to proceed, if I can, to how things work now and have worked over your experience. I don't want to get into what was discussed in the cabinet committee on security intelligence, because I know you can't deal with that. But I think you could tell us how often—and let me break this into two categories—before 9/11, in an average year, the cabinet committee on security and intelligence would meet.
Second, typically, would those meetings entail a briefing on a specific issue that arose, or was there an attempt to keep the cabinet committee informed on a quite regular basis of the substantive issues—not simply the procedural issues—that were before the intelligence and security arms of the Government of Canada?
View Joe Clark Profile
PC (AB)
How do we get to the views of informed people like you, who have worked from the inside out and who would have a perspective different from those of us who by and large work from the outside in, on the question as to whether the status quo is at all adequate? You can't testify, or won't.
View Joe Clark Profile
PC (AB)
Which is a dilemma for us. Could we go to the questions about—
View Joe Clark Profile
PC (AB)
I don't want to get into matters you or I are not free to discuss in detail. But I am interested in how well the.... Let me put it this way.
My experience with that committee would suggest that ministers are quite well informed when a particular issue arises—apart from the directly responsible minister of security, the Solicitor General at that time—but that there was not a practice, as I recall it, of being kept advised in any detailed way of an overview of security and intelligence activities. The Solicitor General may have been; the cabinet committee was not.
What I'm looking for here is where people who come from Parliament exercise an informed capacity to direct security and intelligence activities. I'm interested in knowing, as much as we can, what the previous record was, because that may help us define what the future arrangement should be.
View Joe Clark Profile
PC (AB)
I want to thank Ms. Neville and the committee.
One of the reasons I'm interested in this is that events in the U.S. and the U.K. in particular have indicated just how inherently imprecise the world you have to work in is. When we're talking about accountability in this case, what's really germane is not just the dollars and cents accountability, but the sense in the service that somebody outside the loop is able to look in. That kind of knowledge outside the loop imposes a discipline, it would seem to me, upon people doing your very difficult work, upon the way they operate. I think that as we're designing something for the future in a world that has changed dramatically, we want to be sure there is that kind of discipline among people whose job it is to carry this out. That's the reason for my question here.
I'm a little concerned by the reality your earlier answer exposed, that in normal circumstances we don't have access to the off-the-record experience of people who know this issue from a side other than Parliament's side. Even were you to move on to other responsibilities, you would be limited in the frankness you could show to this committee, unless we met in camera. The less important comment, I think, is on the discipline, unless you think I'm fundamentally wrong. The more important would be how this committee might have access to people who have the kind of knowledge from the inside that you do, so that we can make more informed recommendations on the shape of institutions in the future.
View Joe Clark Profile
PC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
To go back to the earlier issue, one way of course to have secrets respected would be to have a parliamentary committee of privy councillors who are already sworn and the number of privy councillors has now increased with the practice of the swearing of parliamentary secretaries, so that is more reliable than an in camera meeting.
Mr. Elcock, to your knowledge, is any other country urging Canada to establish a more explicit foreign intelligence agency?
View Joe Clark Profile
PC (AB)
No, and that wasn't the point of my question. I'm interested in where the drive is coming from for an independent foreign intelligence agency. Canadians may want to have one, as we want to have a lot of things.
My understanding of what you have said today, and I don't want to put words in your mouth, is, one, if we were to have one it would take quite some time--I think 10 or 12 years, you said--before it would likely mature to the point.... Secondly, I assume there would be quite a high cost, because the establishment of any new agency involves a high cost. That would either involve diversion of funds from some other security intelligence-related destination or new funding.
View John Herron Profile
PC (NB)
View John Herron Profile
2004-04-21 16:00
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I have a couple of questions. Overall, with respect to the infrastructure programs, do you see the role of Infrastructure Canada as a facilitator and partner for provinces and municipalities to obtain objectives that fit the criteria of your program, as opposed to the other way around, where the federal government would have their eye on a project and seek partners?
View John Herron Profile
PC (NB)
View John Herron Profile
2004-04-21 16:01
Let's say a given municipality clearly defines what its objective is, a city-size project. When they make it very clear in their own house that this is a project they want to go forward with, what are the next steps they need to take in order to obtain those types of funds? Do they need to have the province cheek and jowl with them?
View John Herron Profile
PC (NB)
View John Herron Profile
2004-04-21 16:03
With SIF, when a municipality that's large in nature has its act together on where it wants to go, how do they “apply” for that type of funding? Where are the appropriate forms? How do they notify your department when it's seriously time for them to engage?
View Joe Clark Profile
PC (AB)
Thank you.
Let me begin by thanking my colleagues on the committee for conferring my associate member status. I appreciate that very much. It will not be any kind of souveraineté association exercise here, I assure you
I have a suggestion on the bank question. In addition to the experience in the diaspora, in a country like Canada there are a lot of people, now retired, with extensive experience in both private banking and international financial institutions. I'm quite sure that a concerted effort--which this committee might want to recommend--to call upon that expertise need not be very expensive. Working with the diaspora could be quite helpful.
I want to follow the question Mr. Macklin raised, which interests me a lot. I'm extremely sensitive to the point that was made in earlier hearings by Madame Lalonde and others here respecting developments, and particularly any strengthening of institutions in Haiti and taking account of the 200 years of thriving existence, in many cases, of Haiti. It's been 200 years, but it has been a mixed record. I'm very sensitive to the issues of sovereignty. I'm aware of how badly the idea of trusteeship would be recognized anywhere.
I wonder if FOCAL is in a position to prepare a design, perhaps working with some of its counterpart organizations in some of the countries or organizations that Mr. Dade mentioned. It needn't be a complete route map.
There's no question it's fair to say--and I don't say it at all critically--that the testimony from CIDA and from Foreign Affairs the other day indicated that those two formal departments are skeptical about reaching beyond national responses. They are also properly worried about committing Canada to something that would cost us more than we can anticipate.
But we need some models, and it seems to me that FOCAL might be in a position to work with others to provide us with a draft design that we could at least look at and that others could look at. Is that practical?
View Joe Clark Profile
PC (AB)
I can only say as quickly as possible. We're under the unusual circumstances that if this committee is to do anything, it has to be conscious of an impending election. So it should be much sooner rather than later.
View Joe Clark Profile
PC (AB)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
The more we hear about this, the more aware we become of just how complex it is, and there are unquestionably abundant reasons for caution and probably for pessimism as we go forward. I couldn't help but thinking, as Mr. Rishchynski was speaking, that one of the dilemmas here is that national sovereignty entails a veto. So if the Haitian authorities, whatever their legitimacy, do not go along, that can undercut what is done.
That's really what I want to pursue.
Marc Lortie raised the issue in answer to Mr. Day's question, I thought, in a very interesting way. He said the question was, how do we deal with these fundamental issues--and I hope I'm quoting him correctly--without imposing on a society an outside will?
That's the issue, and that's an issue here and we've dealt with it before.
There has been reference in this committee hearing and elsewhere to East Timor. The Prime Minister in the debate referred, I thought, positively to some of the elements involved in the East Timor situation.
In Bosnia it's worth remembering that international organizations were able to transfer some of the government functions in a way that was set out in the Dayton Accords. Now, it took the Dayton Accords and it took the various and quite unique processes that led to that, but do we reject outright the idea of something like an East Timor approach or a Dayton Accords approach? Should we be looking at some equivalence? Is the government looking at some equivalence?
One of the questions that of course faces Canada is, if we do that, who is Dayton? We're probably Dayton in the circumstances. So this is not a casual suggestion that we can put forward without a full examination of its consequences. We have to ask ourselves this in that context. Is Haiti now, particularly with the drug trade and other implications, less serious or less dangerous than Bosnia was at the time of the Dayton Accords? Does it require some kind of extraordinary effort?
I fully understand and applaud the degree to which Canada and other countries are mobilizing the normal responses. There are needs assessments. There are meetings of the kind talked about at Port-au-Prince. The question is whether a normal response will work. It hasn't worked in the past.
The other question is whether there's an abnormal response that will work. I don't know that, but I'd be interested in knowing whether that is being seriously examined and whether it is the considered assessment of officials that this, for various reasons, is just not a time to try to undertake an initiative of that kind in this hemisphere, in a pre-election period in the United States, which is a reality one can't dismiss or ignore.
I'd welcome comments on the question of the possibility or need of some extraordinary action.
Results: 1 - 15 of 5189 | Page: 1 of 346

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>|