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RCMP commissioner urges ‘caution’ on naming alleged foreign state colluders

Click to play video: 'RCMP commissioner urges ‘caution’ on naming alleged foreign state colluders'
RCMP commissioner urges ‘caution’ on naming alleged foreign state colluders
WATCH: Are the RCMP currently investigating the allegations of some MPs "wittingly" colluding with foreign states? ‘The West Block’ host Mercedes Stephenson sits down RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme to discuss foreign interference and whether the names of MPs flagged in the NSICOP report should be publicized – Jun 23, 2024

The head of Canada’s national police force waded into a deepening political debate about whether to name parliamentarians who are allegedly helping foreign governments, something opposition MPs have called for.

RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme urged “caution,” warning that revealing their identities could have unintended consequences.

“There are people’s lives that could be at risk because sometimes the information comes from a single source,” he told Mercedes Stephenson in an interview with The West Block.

Click to play video: 'Foreign interference: Liberals, Conservatives remain tight-lipped'
Foreign interference: Liberals, Conservatives remain tight-lipped

Earlier this month, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) released a stunning report alleging federal politicians are “wittingly” or “semi-wittingly” colluding with foreign states.

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NDP MP Jenny Kwan is the latest federal politician to call for their identities to be revealed.

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“I think we’ve got to be cautious about a right to know and the need to know,” said Duheme, who has read the unredacted version of the NSICOP report.

Click to play video: '‘Not entirely contradictory’: Elizabeth May on Singh’s foreign interference report interpretations'
‘Not entirely contradictory’: Elizabeth May on Singh’s foreign interference report interpretations

But Kwan says keeping the names secret damages the reputation of all members of the House of Commons, and the trust Canadians have in their elected officials.

The MP for Vancouver East raised a question of privilege and requested the matter be referred to a parliamentary committee to “explore options” on how to disclose who the parliamentarians are without “compromising national security.”

Kwan received a briefing from Canada’s spy agency that she was targeted by China over her criticism of Beijing’s human rights abuses.

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Click to play video: 'Alleged foreign interference: NDP MP says she was targeted by Beijing'
Alleged foreign interference: NDP MP says she was targeted by Beijing

The RCMP commissioner warned that investigations could be compromised if names are revealed.

“If we start disclosing a lot of secret and top-secret information, there’s tradecraft involved in that,” Duheme said.

“We have to be mindful about the impact we’ll have on the international partners who are supplying some of that information.”

The Liberal government says it can’t name names because it is bound by Canada’s official secrets act and doing so would break the law.

Duheme welcomed a new piece of legislation – Bill C-70, which aims to counter foreign interference.

Law enforcement and security experts have long said the laws were not on the books to prosecute foreign interference, a conclusion NSICOP also drew in its report.

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But the Senate passed Bill C-70 into law, which will create a foreign agent registry, expand powers for Canadian intelligence gathering and introduce new criminal offences.

“That’s going to help us … with new tools to disrupt the process,” Duheme said.

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